In the recent years, the paradigm of ubiquitous computing changed the perception of the collaboration, which now evolved into more dynamic and more flexible forms even in the highly complex enterprise environments. The rise of social networks made possible the crowd-sourcing of knowledge, information and data, occurring now fully in the digital communities. The rapid development of social and ubiquitous aspects of computing contributed not only to opening new fresh perspectives for resolving some of the most difficult social challenges, but also to creating new visionary objectives that could transform the way in which we live and work in the future information society.

This special issue aims to show that this future information society, made of dynamic and collaborative e-communities will soon become a reality. Such an optimistic assumption is inspired by the exhaustive scientific discussion carried out at the 4th International Conference on Information Society and Technology (ICIST 2014), held on Kopaonik, Serbia, March 9-13, 2014. In specific, two challenges were recognized as especially important by the majority of conference participants and selected authors were invited to provide their latest contribution in facing those challenges. The first challenge is related to the ways in which the human roles in the information society are now transformed and assisted by the next generation cooperative information systems. The second challenge addresses the growing complexity of the information systems we use in these roles and consequent rise of the issues related to their integration and interoperability. According to this division, all papers are grouped in two sections.

Explosion of data and even harder demands for prompt response to fast changing market circumstances affect the traditional human roles in interaction with relevant information systems. The first section of this Special Issue aims at illustrating this change in enterprise domain.

In his paper with title “Collaborative predictive business intelligence model for spare parts inventory replenishment”, Nenad Stefanović highlights that traditional inventory management activities have shown as inadequate for volatile and turbulent business environment in which supply and demand decisions are made. Thus, he proposes a data mining solution for inventory management, based on unified business intelligence semantic model, coupled with a data warehouse. The solution is demonstrated in the case of automotive industry.

Ubiquitous availability of data is today considered as a challenge, but also as opportunity for the enterprises. In their work (“A Framework for Enterprise Context Analysis Based on Semantic Principles”), Ferro-Beca et al discusses about all data relevant for analyzing the context in which one enterprise performs, data coming from a range of sources, from sensors to web analytics. Then, they proposed a framework that can assist in acquiring, filtering, managing and processing all this data, to assist in context analysis.

The following paper, by Nešković and Matić, with title „Context Modeling based on Feature Models Expressed as Views on Ontologies via Mappings“ complements the previous work by presenting the approach for context modeling in complex self-adapted systems consisting of many independent context-aware applications.

As the volume of data inflates beyond the human capability to process it effectively, even when assisted by the information systems, its automatic processing becomes very important challenge. In the paper with title “Towards Analogy-Based Reasoning in Semantic Network”, Stojković et al proposes a complex framework for analogy-based reasoning in semantic networks. The framework aims at automating the recognition of semantic similarities and thus, reducing the need of human involvement in knowledge modeling.

In the second section, the papers addressing different issues of system integration and interoperability are presented. The invited authors provided multiple perspectives to this growing problem, by investigating different interoperability approaches and methodologies in context of different domains, namely Geographical Information Systems (GIS), Disaster Management (DM), Energy and Business Process Management (BPM).

The first paper („Enabling Interoperability as a Property of Ubiquitous Systems for Disaster Management“), by Zdravković et al highlights the interoperability as an inherent capability of the next-generation enterprise information system. It contributes to the interoperability theory by proposing a formal definition of the interoperability and corresponding model, which takes anthropomorphic approach. Then, this model is discussed in context of its application in the ubiquitous computing systems for managing the disaster situations.

Semantic interoperability is considered as one of the most important and difficult problem to be resolved both in theory and practice. The paper with title “The Use of Ontologies in Cadastral Systems” by Sladić et al highlights the role of ontologies in dealing with semantic mismatches in the field of real estate cadastres. More important, it demonstrates the methodology for their use in resolving practical problems, arising from the different standards used in cadastral systems on the different national and international levels.

While the previous paper addressed the semantic issues, Bogdanović et al (“An Approach for the Development of Context-Driven Web Map Solutions Based on Interoperable GIS platform”) proposed the novel technical architecture which enables the appropriate visualization of the geospatial data, based on the context. Therefore, it is a candidate for a generic web mapping solution which meets the needs of the diverse groups of users, working in different domains.

Aubry et al („Toward an interoperable software platform for sustainable energy“) takes holonic approach to discussing interoperability in proposing a solution for collaborating energy systems. The conceptual interoperation framework encompassing feature, scale and domain dimensions is proposed. Based on this framework, the detailed interoperability architecture is defined with exhaustive analysis of the involved different tools and modules.

The final paper in this section, with title „Enhancing BPMN 2.0 Informational Perspective to Support Interoperability for Cross-Organizational Business Processes“, by Janković et al addresses cross-domain interoperability issues. In specific, the authors highlight the problem of lack of assets for modeling information in BPMN notation and propose its extension.

Information overload is not a new challenge. So far, it was dealt by the search engines which continuously improved their algorithms in order to facilitate discovery of the most relevant data on web. However, with advances in the fields of Cyber Physical Systems (CPS) and consequent commoditization and de-verticalization of the sensors and processing platforms, new sources of data on web started to appear at the rapidly growing rate. The papers published in the first section of this Special Issue illustrate possible solutions for dealing with this data (e.g. in supply chain management related decisions); they also present the new opportunities for their use (namely, for enterprise context modeling and analysis). Finally, it is shown that transformation of data into meaningful information, namely knowledge can be done even without a human assistance, by semantic reconciliation.

Still, the volume and consequent diversity of new data lead to explosion of new software tools and systems for their acquisition, management and processing. As their number and diversity increases, it becomes even more difficult to collaborate in e-communities, due to the increasing challenges related to integration and interoperability of these tools and systems. Hence, the latter becomes one of the most crucial challenges for the future information systems architectures. In the second section of this Special Issue, it is proposed that interoperability will be in fact an inherent capability of the future information systems. Also, it is shown that interoperability will be achieved at the semantic level, namely by using ontologies, not as simple facilitators but as the backbones of the future formal-model-based information systems. Such an approach would decrease the differences in design approaches and even erase the consequent boundaries between domain-specific systems.

We would like to highlight that this Special Issue would not be possible without generous support and help of Prof. dr Miodrag Ivković, chair of the organizing committee of the 4th International Conference on Information Society and Technology (ICIST 2014). Also, we would like to thank Prof. dr Mirjana Ivanović, Editor-in-chief of ComSIS journal and editorial board for a great guidance and all the help provided during the process in which this Special Issue was prepared. The work in editing the Special Issue was partly funded by the Ministry of education, science and technological development, Republic of Serbia, within the project III41017 “Virtual human osteoarticular system and its application in preclinical and clinical practice”.

Guest editor
Milan Zdravković

Guest editor
Miroslav Trajanović

Guest editor
Zora Konjović