Origin of the Project
Observing the Environment
The designing architecture of a IT application, whatever its nature is, beholds always the following functions that are more or less developed:
- Interaction with the user.
Through a human-machine interface.
- Treatment realized by the computer.
Computing or applying business rules.
- Exchange of information.
With other applications running on the same computer or on another one reachable through a network.
- Production of documents.
Working lists or official reports.
Saving information that would be lost when the application ends.
According to the technological or technical choices, the set-up of this functional architecture is more or less easy, more or less robust, more or less performing and the application is more or less costly.
At end for the user is this conceptual architecture however identical and the benefits brought by the "technological progress" is not so important. An application is most often technically old-fashioned and non functionally.
To limit this endless race to technology, in order to resize the investments in information systems to the just necessary level, the idea is to formalize each of these functions in a fulcrum format in order to make abstract the used technologies or techniques.
While comparing these six fulcrums, it is possible to define a common core corresponding to the state of art of the functions delivered by the most common programming languages.
Due to the evolution of the potential of the technologies, describing the fulcrum formats using a static formalism would quickly let it old-fashioned. On other hand, for a given specialization, it ought not be sharp enough.
The second idea is then to define a static formalism for the common core and a meta-formalism to build dynamically the specificities of the six fulcrum formats.
Moreover, the IT applications targeting men with a specific culture, the convivial approach is to translate these formalisms into the language of the counterpart.
By this way was born Up ! Fifth Generation Language - Up ! 5GL -, high-leveled, extensible and self-defining language to build fulcrum formats.
Its characteristics are closed to a natural language:
- Use of a dictionary.
The dictionary of the meta-language allows defining new concepts.
- Use of spell-checking or grammar rules.
This is the formalization of the language and the meta language.
- Close system.
For a given language, the dictionary is written is this language as the spell-checking and grammatical reference. It is a the same for Up ! 5GL.
Instead of manually translating each fulcrum format in a particular technology or technique, we use a program in charge of doing it automatically and when it is needed. This is the first role of Up ! Compiler.
This principle does exist partially. For example, when you print from Microsoft Word, this last describes to Windows the document using the private fulcrum format of Microsoft that is converted by printing drivers into the formalism of the targeted printer.
As the information system of the firms are mature for most of them, the objective is then to collect the existing that is already described in a particular technique or technology. Instead of converting the existing, which is risky for the firm and which need a heavy workload to test, the simple is to be interfaced with it using a dedicated formalism. Up ! Compiler is also in charge of this reverse translation.
Up ! Compiler is thus a bi-directional compiler. To be independent of the technologies and the techniques, the one is based on dedicated adaptors and drivers:
A simple driver is used when Up ! Compiler must not be enhanced to take into account a technology. A adaptor is used when Up ! Compiler must be enhanced to take into account the specificities of a technology.
Moreover, in order to execute the application without using a third-party system, Up ! Compiler can produce automatically a translation for Up ! Virtual Technical Machine. This base software, which is working on the same way whatever the computers we supported, beholds a virtual operating system, a virtual communicating system, a virtual graphical system, etc.
Applying the Technology
Observing the Environment
With the year 2000 or the Euro switches and numerous merging & acquisition operations, the large private or public firms are using quite almost generic vertical software that is very costly.
Even if they are delivering undeniable services, they are really like delayed bombs for which the first effects can already be lived in business lines for which the product cycles are short:
Thus, slowly but surely, the generic vertical software are destroying the value of the firms:
- Destruction of the corporate culture.
Due to the standardization of the processes and the working methods "as English people do".
- Limitation of the creative potential - Resources-based approach.
The new offers cannot admit of some elements that the information system can integrate. The impact is on the Research & Development and strategic marketing activities.
- Convergence of the mix marketing - Market driven approach.
When two competitors are using two generic vertical software, with the same functional potential that is broadcasted periodically by vendors, they cannot be differentiated on the mix-product, the mix-distribution and the mix-communication. Due to the strength of the clients and the dealers, the price of the offer can only decrease.
- Financial value.
Fall of the Return on Capital Engaged (RCE) due to the fall of margins.
- Market value.
Convergence of images and positioning.
- Human value.
Destroy of the corporate culture and the motivation.
The idea is to adopt a strategic approach to build an information system or to consolidate an existing one. After a business modeling of the firm, it is possible to explicit the business processes of the firm. It is then possible to simplify them or to make them more robust.
While analyzing them according the global value chain that integrates suppliers and dealers - the business channel -, it is then possible to order the atomic activities in three categories:
The idea is then to associate a business component to each atomic activity, which could be compared to micro vertical software, according to its category:
- Ordinary activity.
It admits no particularities, neither for the firm nor for an actor belonging to the same business channel.
- Specialized activity.
It admits at least a particularity that is shared by other actors of the same business channel. It contains at most secondary competitive advantages that belong to the state of art.
- Specific activity.
It admits at most a particularity that we cannot find into the other actors of the same business channel. If valorized by the clients, it is a source of value creation for the firm. It must be protected and to be in favor of without any particular constraint except by law.
In analogy with the framework of industrial production, we have:
- Ordinary activity.
The business component is coming from a generalist bank.
- Specialized activity.
The business component is coming from dedicated bank. In order to integrate secondary competitive advantages, it can be enhanced.
- Specific activity.
The business component is tailor-made to integrate key competitive advantages.
Instead of encoding them in a particular technology or technique, the business components are then describe in Up ! 5GL for the exchanged information and de services delivered to the user. These descriptions are called business interfaces.
This allows then profiting of the potential of abstraction brought by the high-leveled language, automatic translation and the core software.
As large firms have a mature information system that they do not want to change but to consolidate, the business interfaces can be declined either in:
- Functionalities of existing vertical software - 80 % of cases.
Either generic vertical software that are integrated or specifically written software.
- Business components - 20 % of cases.
Either components coming from some banks or components developed specifically.
If the business interfaces allow defining the exchanged information and the services delivered, they cannot allow modeling the know how of a unique firm, other source of competitive advantages. This role is the one of business expertise rules, proper to the enterprise, which are influencing the behavior of the business interfaces.
Some components have furthermore a peculiar role. They allow watching on the application built with business components bringing services:
These business services and the virtual technical machine are making Up ! Virtual Business Machine.
- Controlling of the business model of the activity.
Here are the business services:
- Revenue Insurance.
To control statistically the coherence of the information flowing in the business processes by the use of unvarying expressions to avoid leakages.
For example, all that was ordered was really invoiced, was really delivered, was really settled or is in due-payments, etc.
To measure through a survey the frequency and the importance of events characterizing the activity in order to verify that the reality is validating the forecast business model.
For example, how many products were sold today, in the week, in the month; per distribution channel, etc.
- Capacity planning.
To measure the saturation level of the production means, which is essential for high growing activities, in order to have a projection to know the saturation date.
For example, the number of pieces made; the number of users connected to an Internet server; the volume of a database, etc.
- Optimizing the use of Up ! Application System at low cost.
Here are the business services:
To watch over the good running of the applications with a centralized mean: batch running, number of records proceeded or in error, information or alert messages.
To watch over the respect of confidentiality of information.
To be sure of the integrity of information.
A business component is not a operational application. An application is constituted of business components that are built and animated by the application system called Up ! Application System. The one allows to the firm choosing:
Depending of the opportunities and the threats of its environment to which the firm is reacting, it can reconfigure its application system either at a application level or at some components level. The firm is thus more reactive without starting long and costly projects that are sometimes old-fashioned at the time when the delivery is coming.
- Its organization, its working methods, its processes.
The corporate culture is preserved.
- The technological or technical target.
According to its IT policy and its existing.
- Its working environment.
The application is adapted to the language and the habits of employees. Their culture is respected, what is essential to maintain their motivation when they have coming from different historical or ethnical ways of life.
There is no more correlation between the definition of the business, which is stable with time, since this is the result of strategic plan of the firm and its culture, and the particular set-up of the business, which is unstable with time, since its is reengineered due to events arising in the environment.
Decreasing of the Total Cost of Ownership
An IT project is an activity that is not belonging of the core business of large private or public firms. This is thus a support function that can be usually compared to a common activity, which objective is to minimize the cost of the delivered service.
The one could be evaluated by the Total Cost of Ownership (TCO) of the application. It could be minimized through an approach that was a success in other domains:
Up ! Workbench is thus the sole tool with a process-oriented approach. It is multi-facet in order to present to actors only the functionalities that they need.
- A process-oriented approach to build and to maintain the information system.
- A rationalization of the working methods and the used tools.
Up ! Workbench a particular program running into Up ! Application System using particular business components. By this way, it could be declined according to the organization, the IT choices of the firm and the cultural choices of the user.
Synthesis of the Offer
The product offer of Up ! Company can be summarized as following:
Other needed services to promote, to develop, to perpetuate and to defend the Up ! Application System product offer:
To master the tools, language and functional content of the business components.
To align the information system on the strategy of the firm. To set up Up ! Application System.
- Technical support and maintenance.
To secure a continuously and satisfying running of the business applications.