Interoperability, what's that?

John Blanchard delivered a very thought provoking talk this morning at WBF. His topic, written with the help of Bob Mick, also of ARC, was "Achieving Interoperability Using B2MML and Beyond." Their thesis was that it is becoming critical for manufacturing companies to have seamless interoperability and integration in P2B (Production to Business). These guys are into TLAs. The challenge, John said, is not just creating standards, and not just interoperability on a technical level, but the ability of applications to share information and exchange services with each other based on standards and to cooperate in processes using the information and services. P2B has been underserved by standards-making, and the standards bodies (like ISA, MESA and WBF) need to be coordinated and interoperable themselves. Interoperability requires a complete set of implementation standards, Blanchard pointed out, and this requires industry agreement to be effective. Blanchard showed a model of how to do this, using a Standards-based Capability Model. He called for better ways to share information and processes out-of-the box, and new concepts for information and process sharing that haven't been invented yet. The key to all this is that WBF (and others) as I said in my talk last night, are where the rubber meets the racetrack. The TLA consultants tell us what we should be doing, the standards bodies enshrine it, and the user groups like WBF actually set out to show people how to implement the plan.