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Title: The design and engineering of innovative mobile data services : an ontological framework founded on business model thinking
Author: Al-Debei, Mutaz M.
ISNI:       0000 0004 2685 8574
Awarding Body: Brunel University
Current Institution: Brunel University
Date of Award: 2010
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This research investigates mobile service design and engineering in the mobile telecommunications industry. The mobile telecommunication business is shifting from one that was voice-centric to one that is almost all data-centric; thanks to recent rapid advances in Information and Communication Technologies (ICTs). The underlying reasons behind this shift can be traced back to two main issues that are interlinked. The first and major reason is that telecoms (telecommunication companies) are trying to generate new revenue streams based on data and information transmissions, given the saturation of the voice market. This is rational given the market opportunities in one direction and the pressures being generated by the current economic downturn from the other direction. The second reason relates to the flexibility of data, compared to voice. Indeed, the number of services that can be developed on the basis of data are much greater than those that can be developed on the basis of voice. However, the design and engineering of successful and innovative mobile data services has proven to be a complex undertaking. The number of effective mobile data services is relatively small and the revenue generated from such offerings has generally been below expectations. This research develops an ontological framework to help in changing this situation, and making mobile services engineering more effective and successful, following the design-science research paradigm. Design-science research, in general, aims to solve unstructured but relevant organizational or social problems through the development of novel and useful artefacts. As the current research aims to help in solving the mobile data services engineering dilemma by developing a purposeful ontological framework, the design-science research paradigm is deemed fitting. Within this paradigm, the author develops a novel design approach specified for ontology engineering, termed “OntoEng”. This design approach is used in this research for developing the ontological framework. The developed ontological framework is founded on business model thinking. The idea is that creating innovative mobile data services requires developing innovative business models. Indeed, innovative business models can help translate technological potential into economic value and allow telecoms to achieve their strategic objectives. The ontological framework includes the development of an ontology, termed “V4 Mobile Service BM Ontology” as well as “Mobile Key Value Drivers” for designing and engineering innovative mobile data services. The V4 Mobile Service BM Ontology incorporates four design dimensions: (1) value proposition including targeting; (2) value architecture including technological and organizational infrastructure; (3) value network dealing with aspects relating to partnerships and co-operations; and finally (4) value finance relating to costs, pricing, and revenue structures. Within these four dimensions, sixteen design concepts are identified along with their constituent elements. Relationships and interdependencies amongst the identified design constructs are established and clear semantics are produced. The research then derives six key value drivers for mobile service engineering as follows: (a) Market Alignment; (b) Cohesion; (c) Dynamicity; (d) Uniqueness; (e) Fitting Network-Mode; and (f) Explicitness. The developed ontological framework in this research is evaluated to ensure that it can be successfully implemented and performs correctly in the real world. The research mainly utilizes case analysis methods to ensure the semantic correctness of the ontological framework. Indeed, the developed ontological framework is employed as an analytical lens to examine the design and engineering of three key real-life cases in the mobile telecommunications industry. These cases are: (1) Apple’s iPhone Services and Applications; (2) NTT DoCoMo’s i-mode Services; and (3) Orange Business Services. For further validation, the developed ontological framework is evaluated against a set of criteria synthesized from ontology engineering and evaluation literature. These criteria are: Clarity; Coherence; Conciseness; Preciseness; Completeness; and Customizability. The developed ontological framework is argued to make significant contributions for theory, practice, and methodology. For theory, this research provides (1) a novel ontological framework for designing and engineering mobile data services; (2) a unified framework of the business model concept; and (3) a new design approach for ontology engineering in information systems. For practice, the current research provides practitioners in the telecommunications industry with systematic and customizable means to design, implement, analyze, evaluate, and change new and existing mobile data services to make them more manageable, effective, and creative. For methodology, the use of the design- science research paradigm for ontology engineering signifies the focal methodological contribution in this research given its novelty. This research also contributes to the understanding of the design-science research paradigm in information systems as it is relatively new. It provides a working example in which the author illustrates how recognizing design-science research as a paradigm is essential and useful to the research in information systems discipline.
Supervisor: Fitzgerald, G. Sponsor: Not available
Qualification Name: Thesis (Ph.D.) Qualification Level: Doctoral
EThOS ID:  DOI: Not available
Keywords: Mobile Data Services ; Innovation ; Business Model ; Ontology ; Mobile Telecommunications