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Data at the heart of business strategy

With the goal of drastically reducing design times, Airbus has launched a transformation program to find efficiencies across the development cycle of new aircraft. The program is based on the principle of allowing different stakeholders to collaborate using the same data across departments and job functions.

This approach to representing business data, from the conceptual level to its logical and physical layers, forms the basis of the digital continuity program. It allows Airbus to aggregate data that was previously isolated from many stakeholders because it resided in silos. The approach forms part of a broader framework of enterprise architecture initiatives that are taking place across the organisation.

Definition of a common framework between business and IT

One of the major challenges Airbus faced was to bring business and IT employees together through the provision of a common representation of information and data. To do this, CIMPA implemented digital continuity in HOPEX, our integrated business transformation platform, by:

  • Agnostic representation – in other words making the data compatible with the different tools used and approaches used by different business units
  • Creation of the logical layer that links existing representations
  • The technology layer that defines how the data is stored.

This three-layer framework is part of a larger enterprise architecture framework and enables the business and IT to work on a common understanding of the data.

A model based on a semantic approach

Using a simplified example, Michel showed us how CIMPA, with the various actors involved in Airbus’ business divisions, managed to model a subset of the aircraft from a shared vision.

The challenge was to separate the business operating mode from silos. The solution chosen to describe the business model was then based on a consistent, common approach, "because it is the only way to unite employees around a common language taking into account use-cases and contexts".

The next step was to make these models understandable and usable by information systems (IS). This is firstly for people in different job functions to be able to understand and use these models, and secondly to enable IT to link the functions to the data in order to be able to interconnect the different information systems. This is why, "to formalize the implementation of digital continuity at Airbus, the business teams have been trained in MEGA's modeling practices."

Today, Airbus has several challenges still to overcome; ensuring the interoperability of models through the implementation of a single repository to centralize them, and automate the linkage between the logical and technological layers.

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