In a world in which every business is a digital business and where everyday objects have a digital footprint, organisations cultivate interactions via apps as the channel to the customer to make better decisions at faster speeds.

The ability to customise the context in which data sits, means details on who is accessing the data and for what purpose is available. For example, by customising the context for a user account allows you to directly access data on one consumer whether as a car owner presenting data relevant to his vehicle, as a home owner with data on his home, or as a patient with his medical history.

Today’s digital platforms that provide data and services do apply context, but are built to support predefined scenarios where onboarding new content or updating existing data and services require heavy IT projects. This approach lacks the agility needed in accommodating new capabilities, new clients, and even new industry domains.

Success in the digital space lies in the ability to be agile, and identify and capitalise on new opportunities. The Context-Aware Digital Platform is able to create context-specific data and services via the assembly and customisation of existing components.

Context via a Model-Based Approach

The Context-Aware Digital Platform (referred to as “Platform”) uses a metadata (defined as “data about data”) model that can map core data and services to various domains and implementations. The model’s agility lies in its use of a graph-based resource description framework (RDF), a format that enables the addition of new relationships as they emerge.
Take the example of a connected car. By extending the Platform model with a domain model that specifies automotive context like an owner, manufacturer, body, and engine, the extended Platform model captures relationships that detail how to adapt its core data and services for the automotive context.

Further, the Platform model’s notion of a messaging service can be extended with details including what it does, how to access it, the costs, and the service provider as part of the connected car offering.

At a glance, this model-based approach may sound like the classic object-orientated approach in software engineering. The key difference is that with this model-based approach, the mapping is done at the data layer and so does not require changes or recompilation of the core platform - thus allowing one core platform to serve multiple domains.

The Context-Aware Digital Platform

The Context-Aware Digital Platform’s metadata model-based approach allows for efficient creation and maintenance of many context-specific versions built from the same core capability. The model’s flexibility allows for domain experts to maintain their respective models in a divide-and-conquer approach that keeps the models most up-to-date and accurate. Ultimately through the amalgamation of multiple domain models, the Context-Aware Digital Platform quickly adapts to address the context needed by new applications from connected car, connected home, or smart cities.

This metadata model-based approach is already being used today and at scale. Today’s Platforms can leverage common industry models including ISO 15926 for the Oil and Gas industry, Unified Medical Language System (UMLS) in the biomedical information space, and Topology and Orchestration Specification for Cloud Applications (TOSCA) for cloud architectures. For example, each Oil and Gas organisation maps their particular implementation onto the ISO 15926 core model which in turn unlocks the interoperability amongst all the other representations already mapped (such as allowing for comparing one organisation’s representation of a pipe with a particular inner diameter expressed as a standalone attribute with another’s whose representation houses the same detail within the name field).

The Context-Aware Digital Platform enables organisations to create the context-specific data and services needed to play in the fast-paced, emerging digital world.

Posted by Teresa Tung, Senior Manager, Accenture Technology Labs