Developing eBusiness solutions with a Model Driven Approach: The Case of Acer EMEA


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This presentation addresses the problem of developing enterprise-class eBusiness solutions in a more economically viable and time-effective way, by adopting Model Driven Development (MDD). Specifically, we report on an experience of more than six years of collaboration between Acer Inc. (the 4th branded PC vendor worldwide) and Web Models, an Italian startup company spinoff of Politecnico di Milano, innovator in the market of software tools and methodologies for MDD. The results clearly demonstrate that MDD can shorten the development of complex eBusiness solutions, improve the quality and conformance to requirements, and increase the economic profitability of solutions, by lowering the total cost of ownership and extending the life span of systems.

Published in: Technology
  • More industrial cases and lessons learned (also in integrating BPM practices):

    Lessons learned on applying BPM and MDD practices to large banking and industrial scenarios with BPMN, WebML, and WebRatio.

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Developing eBusiness solutions with a Model Driven Approach: The Case of Acer EMEA

  1. 1. Developing eBusiness solutions with a Model Driven Approach: The Case of Acer EMEA Roberto Acerbis Aldo Bongio Marco Brambilla Massimo Tisi Stefano Ceri Emanuele Tosetti
  2. 2. Context and motivations <ul><li>Acer Inc: </li></ul><ul><ul><li>the 3rd* branded PC vendor worldwide </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>US$ 11.32 B consolidated revenues in 2006, operations in more than 100 countries, 5300 employees </li></ul></ul><ul><li>Situation in year 2000 </li></ul><ul><ul><li>A manufacturing-oriented company, with increasing market shares and brand value, but: </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>Regionalized structure with continental HQs and highly independent national subsidiaries </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>Countries with very variable market approach, customer service levels, and even visual identity and local branding </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>Low perceived value by customers as a knowledge and business partner </li></ul></ul>* Source Gartner
  3. 3. Technical Goals <ul><li>Launched in EMEA in Dec 2000 as a worldwide pilot </li></ul><ul><li>Business Goals: </li></ul><ul><ul><li>Supporting the new corporate strategy: “from manufacturing to Total Brand Company”, the so called “New Acer” </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>Improving the customer-perceived value by: </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><ul><li>Centralizing the conception and realization of eBusiness solutions for the (initially 14, now 34) EMEA & PA countries </li></ul></ul></ul><ul><ul><ul><li>Deploying innovative B2C & B2B services effectively on the Web </li></ul></ul></ul><ul><ul><ul><li>Homogenizing marketing and communication, technical support, and customer service across national subsidiaries </li></ul></ul></ul><ul><ul><ul><li>Building an added-value online community, serving channel operators (dealers, VARs, distributors) and end-users in a one-to-one, yet resource-effective, way </li></ul></ul></ul>
  4. 4. Technical Goals <ul><li>Division of competences between IT & MarCom in the development of customer solutions </li></ul><ul><ul><li>The MarCom business unit is responsible of the project, from business requirement analysis, to early prototyping, development, and verification </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>The IT unit sets technical standards, manages infrastructure and runs the developed solutions </li></ul></ul><ul><li>Methodology for “lossless” transition from business requirements to technical requirements </li></ul><ul><li>Inject Customers’ and MarCom managers’ feedback into the projects as early as possible </li></ul><ul><li>Time to market of services and solutions & effort consumption </li></ul><ul><li>Long-term sustainability w.r.t. business strategy and ICT infrastructure evolution </li></ul>
  5. 5. Methodology <ul><li>Integrated approach to Business Process Reengineering, through Model Driven Development </li></ul><ul><ul><li>Visual Language: WebML </li></ul></ul><ul><li>Extensive use of automatic code generation from application models </li></ul><ul><ul><li>IDE and Code Generator: WebRatio </li></ul></ul>
  6. 6. 7 years experience: B2C+B2B porfolio
  7. 7. Case History 1: Acer Euro CMS <ul><li>B2C + CMS Web applications initially for 14 EU countries (year 2000) </li></ul><ul><li>Corporate news, Product technical & commercial data, Service & Partner area, Where to Buy… </li></ul><ul><li>Multilingual, multi-actor, distributed workflows for local and central PMs, local and central MarCom managers </li></ul><ul><li>... and a: very limited Time to Market (7 weeks!!) </li></ul>
  8. 8. Size & effort
  9. 9. Size & effort
  10. 10. Critical Considerations <ul><li>On the positive side: </li></ul><ul><ul><li>Almost 80% of the delivery effort concentrates in the phases of data design, hypertext design and prototyping: </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><ul><li>more development time is spent with the application stakeholders </li></ul></ul></ul><ul><li>MDD allows a more flexible distribution of responsibilities between the IT department and the business units </li></ul><ul><li>The peak productivity rates has reached five times the number of delivered function points per staff-month of a traditional programming language like Java </li></ul>
  11. 11. Critical Considerations (continued) <ul><li>On the negative side.. </li></ul><ul><ul><li>Acer estimates that it took from 4 to 6 months to have fully productive developers with MDD, WebML, and WebRatio. </li></ul></ul><ul><li>..but.. </li></ul><ul><ul><li>The initial investment in human capital required by MDD pays off in the mid term </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><ul><li>MDD benefits testing, maintenance, and evolution (which account for over 60% of the total lifecycle cost) </li></ul></ul></ul><ul><ul><ul><li>reasoning on the system is far more effective at the conceptual level </li></ul></ul></ul>
  12. 12. Conclusions <ul><li>The company estimates that with a traditional development methodology the project would have required at least three times the resources that have been invested </li></ul><ul><li>MDD appears to be a powerful tool for renovating businesses and taking advantage of the advent of low-cost distributed network infrastructures (no magic but it really helped) </li></ul>
  13. 13. Thank you