Business Insight Toolkit - overview
The Business Insight Toolkit project is exploring the activities by which various people identify and articulate opportunities for creating value to a business and its customers in order to design a new type of flexible modeling tool.
Software engineers and their business stakeholders encounter a serious tool problem in the earliest stage of the software lifecycle. The primary activities at this stage, before requirements are formalized, are gathering information, organizing it to gain insight, and presenting insights and recommendations to stakeholders. Office tools are usually used, for many good reasons. However, these tools are semantics free, are limited in organizing information, and do not have an underlying domain model. Consistency can only be maintained manually, and even small changes can take a lot of effort to propagate. In real practice in IBM, days are often spent on mechanics of maintaining consistency.
Formal models, such as Business Process Models (BPM), are sometimes appropriate even at this early stage. Modeling tools have the opposite problem to office tools: they require conformance to a metamodel. A pre-sales consultant told us that almost as much time is often spent making up stuff just to remove the error messages as mapping out the process.
The Business Insight Toolkit (BITKit) is a prototype of a new kind of modeling tool. The objective is to offer the flexibility of an office tool with the advantages of the domain-specific assistance and consistency management of a modeling tool. BITKit is built as a Rich Internet Application using Adobe's Flex.