New information services quickly

April 3, 2013, Fraunhofer-Gesellschaft

Be it Smartphone apps, monitoring the temperature of food stuffs or help against product piracy, setting up new services is costly. In the future, the NSEB service engineering platform intends to simplify that.

There is a beautiful view of the Alps from the beer garden – for most vacationers a sheer delight... But which of those peaks is the Herzogstand? An app could be of help here. Developing this and other services, however, is costly, because each services has processes, humans, information systems and the respective corresponding behind it. It does not matter whether we are dealing with an app on a cell phone, the monitoring of food stuffs or finding counterfeit brand name products.

Researchers from the Fraunhofer Institute for IIS in Erlangen have developed a service engineering platform with which they are able to quickly and strictly develop various services. "So far there have been no reasonable procedure models and development platforms, in particular for designing information services that are based on new communication technologies" says Prof. Dr. Alexander Pflaum, head of department for Supply Chain Technologies at IIS. "We have closed this gap with our NSEB platform." It guides the researchers through the development of the service and combines technology, business administration and information technology. "We are working closely with our partners from business and incorporate them permanently into the development process. We provide the methodology, tools and contents, our partners supply the specific information that we need for a successful development process," explains Pflaum.

The platform comprises four activity steps. In the first step (the "Quick Shot") the researchers discuss in a two-day workshop with the service provider whether the project is generally feasible and if it would be profitable economically. In the second step, which takes up approximately two to four weeks, they determine the costs and benefits of the project in detail – again in close cooperation with the service provider. In the third step, once the decision for the further development has been made the scientists include the service provider's customer to settle a number of design questions. Altogether, there are almost 40 design questions that must be answered specifically. In a final step, the researchers write down the specification with which they can realize the service.

Each of the four action steps in turn consists of eight parts. They are based on methods and design questions, such as: What does the customer expect of this service? Which technologies are to be used? How much would the customer pay for the service? The researchers determine whether there are already partial solutions in existence and which technologies are available. For this, they utilize, among other things, basic technologies that are in development at Fraunhofer. In addition, they create technology forecasts, check the economic feasibility and support all that with software.

The scientists will be able to use a new type of development center from now on to test and further develop technologies in their later applications at the L.I.N.K. Test and Demonstration Center, which IIS will open on 26 April at the Nuremberg location where there are test and special laboratories on 1,400 square meters of hall space. In addition, there are 10,000 square meters of available open space and a secure driving stretch of 100 meters for vehicles outside. The plethora of technologies that can be tested in the L.I.N.K. ranges from innovative driver assistance systems and various logistics applications to popular tracking and wireless technologies.

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