History of the
Object Interest Group
The OIG was formed in May 1990 by Norman Plant of British Airways and initially consisted of sixteen leading UK companies involved in banking, insurance, airlines, manufacturing, chemicals, oil and steel production, telecommunications and government.
The needs of businesses after many years of investment in IT were about :
Most businesses wanted to meet these needs by building on the resources - usually large-scale, legacy, MIS-type systems - they already had, rather than redeveloping from scratch time and time again. Objects were being presented as a major
enabling factor in responding to these needs. It was therefore important for these businesses to understand the approaches, techniques, emerging
products, successes and failures of objects.
- Increased importance of the integration of previously separate systems.
- Being responsive to changes in business requirements.
- Either obtaining, or sustaining competitive edge from new emerging appraoches such as client/server, open systems, downsizing etc.
The existence of the OIG helped members in this task by providing them with :
The Group was run by Norman and Trish Wooding. The work was always project-based with objectives and deliverables so that it remained focused, and was based around interactive workshops and supplier/practitioner visits.
- The combined effort of all members.
- Good project-focused speakers.
- International visibility of the application and progress
of object technology.
- Solutions to problem areas.
- A repository of evidence.
- A social network of people they could easily contact.
A conferencing system (CIX) was used to sustain visibility and enable
The first project the OIG carried out (90 - 91) was to take a look at object technology as a whole and to find hard evidence of its use by practitioners/early adopters and development by suppliers/standards bodies. The aim of this work being to enable members to assess the relative maturity of OT at the time and its potential success.
The findings from the first project were very encouraging, and so once sufficient members had taken up the approach a second phase
project (92 - 93) was formed. This was focused on
developing method, technique and management to address the key management concerns :
The solution process consisted of members sharing their practical
experiences which resulted in a detailed and continuously evolving
set of questions and concerns. The influence of the corporate
OIG name list was used to attract international experts, practitioners
and suppliers to share their experience and respond to members
questions. This worked well and we attracted good speakers at
an average rate of one each week.
We were again encouraged by our findings but felt these could not be regarded as final since both the issues
and the solutions would continue to evolve as the take-up of object
technology grew and matured. We therefore continued
to address these issues and in addition, we started to look at
a number of new areas but this time taking a more practical
approach to assessing the value and impact of OT.
The issues we looked at in Phase III (94 - 95) were :
We therefore decided, to investigate the application of the object approach to BPR and take a closer look at both business objects and frameworks as the potential enabling components. What we found positively supported many of the above claims. In addition, we produced a number of basic CBOs, a skeleton design for a business framework and guidelines for the application of these components to BPR, which the members could use as they wanted in their own companies.
- Reusable components - common business objects and frameworks.
A project (Managing Reuse) was started in Phase II that addressed management concerns,
project concerns and library issues, surrounding reuse. It became
apparent, that in most cases, our members had started with a bottom-up
approach to reuse, ie by working with and across project teams
to identify technical and semi-technical reusable components.
However, effective reuse needs both a top-down (identifying
stable business components) and a bottom-up approach.
This suggested that we needed to continue to investigate reuse at the project level, but we also needed to focus on the top-down
contribution and how it could be better enabled. This would be dependent on the quality
of the reusable components and the commitment to reuse.
Another Phase II project (The Feasibility of Common Business Objects - CBOs) had started to look at CBOs as a means to assuring domain model quality and thereby reuse. It concentrated on domain definition and scope for common
business objects, initial criteria for inclusion in the domain,
how to start assessing the feasibility of such components and
their benefits. But to confirm and build on our initial findings from this project we needed to move the project forward by widening
the involvement in assessing the feasibility of CBOs,
ie by involving suppliers and as many organisations as we could.
At the same time, we became interested in frameworks as a result of some of the barriers that were being discussed about libraries of objects. Because of their unintegrated, non-collaborative nature libraries required extensive learning on the part of the user, and they offered little guidance on application construction.
Frameworks, as sets of collaborating objects, on the other hand, were being presented as exhibiting default behaviour and therefore as being more coherent and active than libraries. If this was true, they might provide a far more meaningful and manageable vehicle for establishing OT in corporates than non-collaborating libraries. They might also provide the necessary glue for CBOs, so together business frameworks and CBOs might supply a better bridge to deliverable applications.
- Business process re-engineering (BPR)
During the previous year, we had seen evidence of the growing
attraction of the object approach to BPR. Re-engineering
needs to combine business data and processes into
the stable business components that reflect the core
business of the enterprise, thus providing a foundation for change management. Objects with their ability for encapsulation, were being presented as the enabling technology.
And beyond .......
The work of the Object Interest Group (OIG) is now concluded as
members are confident that object technology (OT) is well
enough established in the UK sector. All phases have been notable for their spirit of friendly and
willing co-operation within the Group - despite several member
companies being commercial competitors - and the very positive
response from the IT industry. Concentrating on method and technique
rather than the business role of software has allowed companies,
which compete commercially, to co-operate on OIG projects. The
result has been several years of unique collaborative work and
a rewarding experience for all who have been involved. But after
five years, we consider that the OIG has now fulfilled its mission
Objects are here to stay !
Created : 30th April 1996
Updated : 11th August 1996