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Über dieses Buch

This book deals with experience management in the context of real-world applicability and realistic applications. A particular focus is given by the requirements that arise in complex problem solving and by the fact that modern experience management must be implemented as Internet-based applications. Concrete application areas that are discussed in this book are electronic commerce, diagnosis of complex technical equipment, and electronic design reuse. This book explores how experience management can be supported by information technology, especially by techniques that stem from knowledge-based systems, case-based reasoning, machine learning, and process modeling. It surveys different methods in a unified terminology and investigates them with respect to application requirements. Further, the process of application development and maintenance is highlighted, pointing out successful practically proven ways for obtaining and operating experience management applications.



1. Introduction

Business organizations have started to give more attention to their knowledge; they are looking for ways to grow, capture, explore, and maintain their knowledge. This is what is called knowledge management. Experience management is a special kind of knowledge management that is restricted to the management of experience knowledge, i.e., specific knowledge situated in a particular problem solving context. Experience management deals with collecting, modeling, storing, reusing, evaluating, and maintaining experience. For experience management, Web technologies for the Inter- and Intranet play an important role. They provide the connectivity that is required to share experience.
This chapter motivates this work and gives a first introduction to experience reuse and management. The three application areas addressed in this book are briefly characterized. Each of them requires Internet or Intranet-based approach to experience management. This chapter ends with an outline of this book, which provides further guidance for the reader.

2. Experience Management

Systematic experience reuse supports humans to make better use of their own experience, and more importantly, to make use of experience which is made by a community rather than which is made by an individual. Experience management does not come for free. It involves changing existing or introducingnew activities at well as IT technology that efficiently supports these activities. In this chapter we introduce in detail a general model of experience management and define the basic processes and terms involved. Finally, we discuss several related models.

3. Representing Experience

Experience management requires representing experience in appropriate data structures. Experience representation must enable efficient experience retrieval and adaptation. On the other hand, the effort required for experience base development and maintenance must be taken into account.
As shown in the previous chapter, all knowledge related to experience reuse can be subdivided into the three knowledge containers: vocabulary, experience base, and reuse-related knowledge. Since the discussion of the experience representation cannot be separated from the vocabulary, this chapter will address these two issues together. Each of the two following chapters will cover the representation of reuse related knowledge. Chapter 4 deals with the knowledge required for retrieval while Chapt. 5 deals with representing knowledge required for experience adaptation. The representation approaches discussed are primarily based on methods from case-based reasoning and more generally from knowledge-based systems research.

4. Assessing Experience Utility

The central task for experience management is the retrieval of reusable experience. This retrieval task requires additional knowledge besides the experience itself. It requires knowledge about the utility of an experience item (or case) in a certain problem solving situation. This kind of knowledge is part of the general reuse-related knowledge in the experience management model (see Sect. 2.1). This chapter deals with various approaches for modeling utility through its approximation by similarity measures.

5. Representing Knowledge for Adaptation

An important task for experience management is the adaptation of experience in order to improve its reusability. This adaptation task requires additional, general knowledge besides the experience itself. This kind of knowledge is part of the general reuse-related knowledge in the experience management model (see Sect. 2.1). This chapter deals with various approaches for modeling adaptation knowledge.
The modeling approaches for adaptation knowledge have their origin in the projects INRECA, INRECA-II, and WEBSELL. They have been first published by Bergmann et al. (1996),Wilke and Bergmann (1996b),Meyfarth (1997), Schmitt and Bergmann (1999b), Schmitt and Bergmann (1999a), Stahl and Bergmann (2000), and Stahl et al. (2000). Please note also that this chapter is restricted to the knowledge representation issues; the processing of the various kinds of adaptation knowledge is discussed separately in Chap. 8.

6. User Communication

The ultimate goal of experience management is to achieve a communication of experience between an experience provider and an experience user. Although both, the experience provider and the experience user are usually humans, the communication between them is achieved through an experience management system, which allows bridging time and space frontiers between the two communication partners and to overcome the availability and capacity problems of the experience provider. As a consequence, the computer is inserted into this communication channel, which causes two new communication channels:
  • •the communication of the experience provider with the experience management system and
  • •the communication of the experience user with the experience management system.
The first communication channel requires much more effort than the second; the development and maintenance methodology of the experience management model (see Chap. 9) deals with this communication and is not within the scope of this chapter. This chapter addresses the second communication channel. This communication is of bidirectional nature: The user must be able to tell the experience management system about his problem and the experience management system must be able to communicate appropriate experience to the experience user. The difficulties involved here are to organize this communication efficiently and to enable access from several experience users at a time.

7. Experience Retrieval

This chapter deals with the process of selecting experience items from the experience base that are relevant for the current problem to be solved. The key to experience retrieval is twofold: first it requires a good notion of when some kind of experience is relevant for a certain situation. This knowledge is captured in the similarity measures which are part of the reuse-related knowledge as discussed in Chap. 4. During retrieval the similarity measures are computed and the experience is evaluated with respect to the similarity results. Second, the retrieval must also be able deal with large case bases in order to ensure the scalability of an experience management system when the amount of available experience increases. Both issues are closely related to each other.

8. Experience Adaptation

In this chapter we will have a closer look at the process of experience adaptation. In situations in which the available experience captured in the lesson part of a case is not suited for solving the current problem at hand, it is necessary to modify it appropriately. This is particularly important if the number of available cases is low with respect to the variety and complexity of the domain and its solutions.
The results presented in this chapter stem primarily from research on adaptation in case-based reasoning, considering also configuration approaches. Initial versions of these results have been published already by Bergmann et al. (1996), Wilke and Bergmann (1998), Bergmann and Wilke (1998), Schmitt and Bergmann (1999b), Schmitt and Bergmann (1999a), Stahl and Bergmann (2000), and Stahl et al. (2000).

9. Developing and Maintaining Experience Management Applications

Today, there is already an increasing number of successful companies developing industrial experience management applications. In former days, these companies could develop their early pioneering applications in an ad-hoc manner. The highly-skilled expert of the company was able to manage these projects and to provide the developers with the required expertise. The experts did not have guidelines or methods which helped their developers implementing new projects and there was no way to preserve the experience made in previous projects for future use. This could cause serious problems when members of the staff left, taking their experience with them, and new staff had to be trained. The result was an inefficient and/or ineffiective system development. Nowadays, the situation has changed. The market for experience management applications increased significantly. Therefore, these companies have to face the fact that the market demands companies executing more and larger projects than in earlier days. It is required that they develop software fulfilling current quality standards. Consequently, contemporary IT companies can no longer sustain inefficient or ineffectual application development. What is required is a development and maintenance methodology for experience management applications. This methodology is located in the outer shell of the experience management model as introduced in Sect. 2.2.
This chapter presents the INRECA methodology targeted at industrial experience management applications. The methodology has been developed in the INRECA-II European ESPRIT project (1996-1999). Full details are discussed by Bergmann et al. (1997), Bergmann and Altho.( 1998), Bergmann et al. (1998), Bergmann and Göker (1999), Bergmann et al. (1999a) and on electronic media (Bergmann et al. 1999b; INRECA Consortium 1999).

10. Experience Management for Electronic Commerce

A major requirement of today’s online shops is the availability of competent virtual sales agents that guide the customers through the vast space of available products, services, and other opportunities. Today’s state-of-the-art online shops provide search functions that should help customers to find relevant product information. While these search functions are considered quite important by the online sellers, the quality of the retrieval results is miserable (Hagen 2000). The key to enhancing search quality, and more generally, to approach the vision of intelligent knowledgeable virtual sales agents, is to incorporate more knowledge about products, customers and the sales process into the sales agent. This is particularly important in the world of today and tomorrow, which is characterized through continuously increasing globalization. The quality of service becomes the dominating factor for achieving customer satisfaction and a good customer relationship. As a consequence customer relationship management (CRM) (Martin 1999; Newell 1999; CRM Forum 1999) and knowledge management (KM) have been recognized as core disciplines with strategic importance for successful future business. In the context of companies which communicate with their customers and partners via electronic online media, this requires making the company knowledge available and visible thorough the virtual agents that are supposed to be the primary access points to the company.
This chapter describes a generic experience management approach for electronic commerce. The results presented in this chapter have been achieved as part of the WEBSELL project and have been previously published in part by Vollrath et al. (1998), Wilke (1999), Schmitt and Bergmann (1999b), Schmitt and Bergmann (1999a), Cunningham et al. (2001), Schmitt et al. (2000), Bergmann, Traphöner, Schmitt, Cunningham, and Smyth (2002), and Bergmann, Schmitt, and Stahl (2002).

11. Experience Management for Self-Service and Help-Desk Support

The ever-increasing complexity of technical equipment makes it difficult for the users of these systems to operate and maintain them without support. While the probability that technical systems will fail grows exponentially with their complexity, the expertise needed to be able to control every feature of such complex systems usually exceeds the resources available to end-users.
Help-desks support end-users of complex technical equipment. Help-desk operators use their own experiences to solve most of the problems that are relayed to them. However, as systems become more complex, the areas helpdesk operators are experts in tend to diverge, i.e., problem solving experience is distributed among experts and the areas of expertise do not necessarily overlap. The goal of developing an experience management system is to create a knowledge repository that contains problem solving experiences for a complex technical domain that changes over time. This knowledge repository will be used in an organization, by a group of people with varying levels of expertise, in a time-criticalo peration.
The HOMER (in German: “HOtline Mit ERfahrung”) system presented in this chapter has been developed as part of the INRECA-II project and has been published by Göker et al. (1998), Göker and Roth-Berghofer (1999a), Bergmann, Breen, Göker, Manago, and Wess (1999a), and Bergmann, Göker, Roth-Berghofer, and Traphoener (1999). Although HOMER has been developed for a specific application in mind, i.e., the CAD/CAM help-desk at DaimlerChrysler in Sindelfingen, it is still a generic vertical platform for realizing help-desk and self-service experience management applications in various domains.

12. Experience Management for Electronic Design Reuse

The design of electronic circuits is a discipline in which two contrasting tendencies can be observed:O n the one hand, modern circuit designs get ever more complex and difficult to handle by electronic engineers. On the other hand, global competition requires a continuous reduction of development times. At the same time, the correctness and reliability of the designs should, of course, not suffer from shorter development cycles.
These requirements have become so dominant that they cannot be met anymore without extensive utilization of design reuse. It is getting vitally important for an electronic engineer to reuse old designs (or parts of them) and not to re-design a new application entirely from scratch.
This chapter describes a generic experience management approach for electronic design reuse. The results presented in this chapter have been achieved as part of the project READee (Reuse Assistant for Designs in Electronic Engineering), the project IPQ1 (IP Qualification for efficient system design) and the European MEDEA+ project TOOLIP2 (Methods and TOOLs for IP) and have been previously published in part (Vollrath 1998; Oehler et al. 1998; Oehler et al. 1998; Bergmann et al. 1999; Bergmann and Vollrath 1999; Koegst et al. 1999; Vollrath 2000).


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