Work plan

The project started on October 1st, 2016 and has a duration of 36 months.

The work will be developed according to the following main objectives and sub-objectives:

  1. Develop the collaboration infrastructure with core services -> to be developed by month 10
    • Establish with stakeholders, the requirements for core services of the platform. Establish with the stakeholders early success criteria. (Please see the impact section for metrics of early uptake).
    • Design the top-level architecture and modules. We will be guided by the Industrial Internet Reference Architecture (IIRA) and the Reference Architecture Model Industrie 4.0 (RAMI).
    • Use permissive open source software wherever possible.We have analysed Apache and FIWARE and will base the work in NIMBLE on existing tools that have a combined value of over 100m €.
    • Deploy the basic infrastructure with core services, to industrial use case partners in the consortium.
    • Learn from early validation (release early, release often approach).
  2. Ensure Ease of Entry and Ease of Use -> to be demonstrated in month 15
    • A company can publish its product catalogue in bulk or via semantic product descriptions, at different levels of granularity and completeness.
    • Two companies can establish private, encrypted information channels for a business collaboration. In NIMBLE phase two, arbitrary supply chains can be established between any number of firms.
    • Services for matchmaking between producers and consumers (B2B, B2C) are available to establish business collaborations fast.
    • Joint planning and real-time adjustment of contractual commitments to gain mutual benefits from shared information leading to optimized re-planning, instead of sticking to outdated default plans.
    • Data collection, management and analytics: Firms can choose data collecting, management and analytics services freely, from different providers that are all available on the same platform.
  3. Growing the use of the platform -> 100+ early adopters testing the platform services by month 24
    • Each of the use cases demonstrates benefits for businesses of the sector (white goods, textiles, furniture, ready-built homes) leading to a “me too” effect.
    • Start early adopter scheme, recruiting external industrial users of the platform.
    • Provide a core software tool set to initiate the software supply side of the platform.
    • Continually improve business integration pushing further down barriers to entering the platform.
    • Ensure “balanced multi-sidedness” of the platform by specialising the integration tools to the needs of different sectors (manufacturing, retail, logistics, etc.).
  4. Mastering the platform and achieving higher maturity levels -> advanced services by month 30
    • Develop a methodology for establishing B2B collaboration with the help of asset virtualization mechanisms, going from enterprise level to operations management down to shop-floor control.
    • Adapt collaboration methodologies for SMEs that are on varying digitalization levels on ISA-95 hierarchy or that have no digitalization at all, yet.
    • Establish rules of governance – ideally, these will emerge as platform-etiquette.
    • Establish KPIs and benchmark methods – the platform will automate many of these methods.
    • Based on benchmarks, establish measures of the economic value of the platform and its services.
    • Develop novel features of the platform and encourage others through the open source approach, to join our development efforts and to add further common value.
  5. Ensuring Trust, Security, Privacy, Reputation and Information Quality -> from day one !
    • The platform will support user-adjustable levels of security and privacy in order to maintain customer trust in balance with ease of use.
    • The platform will be designed modular and resilient so that security breaches can never “sink the whole ship”.
    • Data storage must be entirely at the owner’s control – from cloud to storage on personal devices.
    • Strength of encryption will be controlled by the business actors who communicate.
    • The platform will be develop as a federated ecosystem. The principle of subsidiarity will ensure co-opetition and service innovation. This “many-sidedness” will contribute to its overall stability.
    • Grow trust on the platform by a) fair gain distribution among the platform sides; b) maintaining strict interoperability; c) providing privacy in B2B communication and data exchange.
    • Information quality will be a fundamental value to be maximised in the platform. Wherever possible this will be achieved by automation and semantic modelling.

To achieve those objectives the project has been organised in 9 Work Packages:

The major activities of the intensive first year are WP1 (Use Case Requirements and Collaboration Design), WP2 (Platform Technology Specification), WP3 (Core Business Services for the NIMBLE Platform) and parts of WP6 (Trust Security, Privacy, Reputation and Information Quality) and WP8 (Platform Adoption – Communication – Exploitation) .

WP4 (Use Case Experimentation, First-Round Validation and Evolution) is the first validation phase for the platform, leading to the second phase of implementation in WP5 (Value-Added Business Services for the NIMBLE Platform).

In parallel with the first and second development phase is WP6 (Trust, Security, Privacy Reputation and Information Quality). The first phase of WP6 ensures that the platform is safe for doing business on it, so it will cover threat modelling, implementation of security features and encryption. The second phase will be more focussed on privacy and security applications, reputation algorithms and safe collaboration under rules of confidentiality.

Development will be reduced in the final year, but we will continue to improve the platform in response to the validation that will happen in WP7 (Use Case Validation). This validation will not only include the use cases, but also feedback that will come from external early adopters. Note that the large majority of issues raised in external validation will be based on automatically generated feedback of the NIMBLE platform. Equipping the platform with the necessary feedback mechanisms is done in WP2 and WP3.

The following picture depicts the partners’ roles with respect to the main planned activities.