The Action Layer

The Action Layer is where the necessary interpretations of the Information Layer have rules and decisions applied using elements of the Trust Layer, such as Identity as well as business requirements to send information, screens, forms, notifications to the Interface Layer in the correct manner for them to be displayed. The key to this layer is process abstraction and the metadata defined by various pieces of software.

Process Abstraction: This is a process of removing or hiding details about the processes of an enterprise. Abstractions may be formed by reducing the processes that can be viewed, often to keep only the processes which are needed for a particular purpose. Collaborations, visualisations, etc. involve an abstraction of a process. Often these process abstraction definitions will include rule definitions based on insight on applying knowledge or information generated in the systems that run the organisation.

Process: A process, in a business context, is a collection of logically related, structured activities or tasks that perform together to produce a defined set of results that are fundamental to the running of an enterprise. These processes can occur at all levels of an organisation’s activities and include events that certain stakeholders see. These processes will involve requests for information as well as the creation and deletion of information. (SH, CCTA)

Collaboration: Collaboration enables individuals to work together to achieve a defined and common business purpose. It exists in two forms:

  • Synchronous, where everyone interacts in real time, as in online meetings, through instant messaging, or via Skype; and
  • Asynchronous, where the interaction can be time-shifted, as when uploading documents or annotations to shared workspaces, or making contributions to a wiki

Apps (applications): Apps is an abbreviation for application. An app is a piece of software. It can run on the Internet, on your computer, or on your phone or other electronic device. The word “app” is a more modern usage, but this is really the same thing as a program (or what used to be called an Application). Behind the app is a process that provides or allows the input of information. Many people think of an app only in terms of a small, specialised program downloaded onto mobile devices, but this is not the whole picture. Apps can be delivered in this way but they can also be delivered from legacy or cloud applications that organisations already use. The key to selecting an app is the support that it gives to achieving a business objective. (Google, SH)

The emerging view is that Apps are bite-sized and allow specific end point of process activities to be customised and optimised for the user. This is fine but it is merely a point of view (it could equally apply to the design of the user interface for conventional legacy applications). There is a risk that if Apps become seen as fundamentally different to Applications, then different (which usually means lower) standards of governance and risk management will be applied and this may have a deleterious impact on business governance – and even in the brave new world of mobile apps, the directors of a company do still have real governance obligations.

Visualisation: the act or process of interpreting in visual terms or of putting into visible form. The purpose is the communication of data; that means that the data must come from something that is abstract or at least not immediately visible. The visual must be the primary means of communication; other modalities can only provide additional information. The visualisation must provide a way to learn something about the data. A primary goal of data visualisation is to communicate information clearly and efficiently to users via the statistical graphics, plots, information graphics, tables, and charts selected. Effective visualisation helps users analyze and reason about data and evidence. It makes complex data more accessible, understandable and usable. (

Cognitive: In dynamic, information-rich, and shifting situations, data tends to change frequently, and it is often conflicting. The goals of users evolve as they learn more and redefine their objectives. To respond to the fluid nature of users’ understanding of their problems, cognitive computing provides a synthesis not just of information sources but of influences, contexts, and insights. Cognitive systems are probabilistic. They generate not just answers to numerical problems, but hypotheses, reasoned arguments and recommendations about more complex and meaningful bodies of data. To do this, systems often need to weigh conflicting evidence and suggest an answer that is “best” rather than “right”. They identify and extract context features such as hour, location, task, history or profile to present an information set that is appropriate for an individual or for a dependent application engaged in a specific process at a specific time and place. They provide machine-aided serendipity by wading through massive collections of diverse information.

Cognitive computing systems redefine the nature of the relationship between people and their increasingly pervasive digital environment. They may play the role of assistant or coach for the user, and they may act virtually autonomously in many problem-solving situations. The boundaries of the processes and domains these systems will affect are still elastic and emergent. (Wikipedia)

Software as a Service (SaaS): SaaS is a software licensing and delivery model in which software is licensed on a subscription basis and is centrally hosted. It is sometimes referred to as “on-demand software”. SaaS is typically accessed by users using a thin client via a web browser. SaaS has become a common delivery model for many business applications. It offers the potential to reduce IT support costs by outsourcing hardware and software maintenance and support to the SaaS provider. The use of Software as a Service (SaaS) offers many benefits for organisations of any size, but is especially beneficial to smaller organisations that lack the budget and resources to manage in-house technology deployments, or for larger, highly distributed organisations with large numbers of mobile workers. (Bloor, Wikipedia)

Development Operations (Dev-Ops): DevOps is about encouraging a culture of collaboration across the development, operations and business silos (and, by implication, removing these silos), with all of the appropriate stakeholders involved, focused on agile delivery of automated business outcomes. It isn’t, primarily, about deployment automation or cloud or virtualisation. It is, in part, a governance process, protecting existing service delivery and the quality of enhancements with “just enough” controls; whilst also ensuring that business agility isn’t compromised by unnecessary delays and inefficiencies in the automated business service delivery process. (Bloor)

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