Smart Collaborative Processes Monitoring in Real-time Business
Applications of Internet of Things and Cloud-data Repository
Ahm Shamsuzzoha
, Sven Abels
, Simon Kuspert
and Petri Helo
Department of Production, University of Vaasa, PO Box 700, Vaasa, Finland
Ascora GmbH, Innovation & Product Development, Birkenallee 43, 27777 Ganderkesee, Germany
Keywords: Collaborative Business Network, Virtual Factory, Business Process Monitoring, Internet of Things, Cloud-
based Data Repository System, SMEs.
Abstract: In today’s business world there is a growing concern with business collaboration among companies,
especially small and medium enterprises (SMEs). The objective of forming and operating such collaborative
networks is to achieve market benefit through sharing resources, expertise and knowledge among the
networked partners. It is therefore necessary to track and trace each business process within such business
networks in a real-time environment in order to enhance their success level and reduce possible risks or
uncertainties. Keeping such an objective in mind, this research highlights the basic principles of business
process monitoring through smart technologies such as the Internet of Things (IoT) and cloud-based data
repository. Smart process monitoring through the combination of Internet of Things technology and cloud-
based data repository system is rarely discussed in the field of collaborative business. Within the scope of
this research, generic scenarios of both the IoT and cloud-based data storage are described with the
objective of implementing them in a collaborative business process monitoring domain. An implementation
example is highlighted in this paper, where IoT and cloud-based data storage are showcased in business
process monitoring and management. The overall research outcomes and future research directions are also
articulated in the conclusion section of this paper.
An increasing level of market diversification and
customers’ complex needs are exerting extra
pressure on global manufacturing companies,
especially on small and medium enterprises (SMEs),
where there is a shortage of costly resources, expert
knowledge and innovative skills. To overcome such
constraints, SMEs are looking for an effective
collaboration environment where they can explore
their business opportunities through enhanced
capacities and capabilities. In such perspectives,
business collaboration among companies (SMEs) is
becoming of growing interest globally due to its
inherent benefits (Romero and Molina, 2010).
In order to execute successful business
collaboration, it is necessary to monitor and manage
business processes within a real-time environment.
This business process monitoring demands the
interoperability of existing technologies as used by
the individual partner companies. Within a business
network this interoperability process monitoring
contributes to process synchronization that ensures
reliability and safety (Smith, 2003). Synchronized
business processes within the VF environment
support monitoring and managing effectively and
efficiently. This real-time process monitoring would
be beneficial to the process owners in planning
ahead in case of process abnormality. This planning
process contributes substantially to avoiding or
minimizing the risk level.
Therefore, the objectives of this research are to
ascertain the obstacles to business process
monitoring, look for appropriate technologies and
tools which are available in the market or the need to
design and develop process monitoring from scratch,
and, in addition, to ensure a secured database design
that can store and retrieve the monitoring data across
a collaborative business network. These objectives
can be summarized into two specific research
themes: (i) to find out how sensor-based
Shamsuzzoha A., Abels S., Kuspert S. and Helo P..
Smart Collaborative Processes Monitoring in Real-time Business Environment - Applications of Internet of Things and Cloud-data Repository.
DOI: 10.5220/0004864805560563
In Proceedings of the 16th International Conference on Enterprise Information Systems (ICEIS-2014), pages 556-563
ISBN: 978-989-758-028-4
2014 SCITEPRESS (Science and Technology Publications, Lda.)
technologies and tools such as the Internet of Things
(IoT) can support collaborative business processes
monitoring, and (ii) to check how a cloud-based data
repository system can be implemented successfully
to store and retrieve data as used to monitor and
manage collaborative business processes.
IoT is a topical issue nowadays in the technological
world, which can be successfully implemented to
achieve increased business control through its
sensor-based technologies in either wired, wireless
or hybrid systems. It is an integrated part of the
future Internet technology that can be defined as the
dynamic global network infrastructure with self-
configuring capabilities based on standard and
interoperable communication protocols that can be
used as an intelligent interface to business process
monitoring within a VF network.
In addition to the implementation of IoT there is
growing concern within the business community
with storing a maximum amount of VF process
monitored data securely, which can then be retrieved
according to need. This brings about the necessity to
harness a data storage facility which can easily be
accessed with minimum time and cost. Recently,
researchers have been focusing on the issue of
cloud-based data repository in the form of cloud
manufacturing, cloud computing, cloud-based
information systems and monitoring, etc., which can
easily fulfil the needs of different kinds of
manufacturing data storage and retrieval.
This research particularly emphasizes
investigating the possibilities of how an
implementation of IoT technology and cloud-based
data repository can be realized effectively to monitor
business processes thoroughly. Figure 1 displays the
proposed research model to monitor business
processes in a VF environment.
SMEs can achieve manufacturing agility and higher
competiveness through forming collaborative
business networks, where valuable resources,
knowledge and expertise can be shared for mutual
benefits (Rabelo, 2008). From the SME point of
view, business collaboration is an alternative to
traditional supply chain management, where
companies can enhance their value adding activities
and have better control within the business
domain (Walters and Rainbird, 2007).
Figure 1: The research model.
Business process monitoring can be viewed from the
contribution it makes in adding value to the potential
customer and the alignment and realization of the
strategic business objectives. Process improvement
as achieved through process monitoring will start by
obtaining better understanding of the customers and
their demand on the business. There is a lack of
automated support in process monitoring, which is
mostly an isolated set of activities separated from
the actual process execution. It is critical for
business network partners to monitor and manage
accompanied processes. Various sensor-based
technologies are applied to monitor individual
products or processes (Angeles, 2005; Krastela et
al., 2011; Miorandi et al., 2012), but only limited
research has been performed to monitor processes
within business networks. Most of the research work
in network process monitoring has been done mainly
to identify focused abnormalities in the partner’s
premises (such as machine breakdown, labour
unrest, production delay, etc.) and not necessarily to
obtain information on the processes as a whole
(Hallikas et al., 2004).
With increased awareness of business process
monitoring it needs to be approached holistically and
with the support of technology (Jeston and Nelis,
2008). Recently developed technologies such as the
Internet of Things and smart objects can successfully
contribute to process monitoring through their
inherent sensor-based approach (Bandyopadhyay
and Sen, 2011). Wireless sensor networks have been
a very promising development in business process
monitoring during the last few years, but there is a
distinct lack of real applications in collaborative
networks. This process monitoring is enhanced
through smart technologies such as RFID tags,
GPRS trackers, smart objects, IoT, etc (Kortuem et
al., 2010).This monitored data needs to be stored and
retrieved within a secured and encrypted database
such as a cloud-based data repository system. To
enable process monitoring and management over the
cloud is a concept that companies are embracing,
and this service is growing in popularity among
different manufacturing companies that have yet to
transition IT operations over to the cloud (Lombardi
and Di Pierto, 2010). The process monitoring related
to network business operations is defined and stored
within the cloud storage. All the relevant
information associated with a process such as
process template, process model, process editor,
process design, etc., is stored and retrieved from the
cloud storage as necessary. This functionality from
the cloud storage provides extra benefits in terms of
managing the processes from the user side to the
data management side (Shamsuzzoha et al., 2013).
The application of IoT is mainly the result of a
global network interconnecting smart objects by
means of internet technologies (Kortuem et al.,
2010; Uckelmann et al., 2011). It envisions a future
in which digital and physical entities can be
interfaced through appropriate information and
communication technologies. In industry, where
there is a demand for smart environments it helps to
improve automation in industrial plants through the
automatic identification of objects with a massive
deployment of sensor-enabling technologies and
tools such as RFID tags, sensors/actuators, machine-
to-machine communications devices, etc., (Atzori et
al., 2010).Implementing RFID tags as a source of
smart objects enables the tracking objects and the
EPC (electronic product code) serves as a link to
data which can provide information about each
individual object through the Internet.
This automatic identification of objects can be
used extensively to improve data handling
capabilities for an individual product or batch
identification. Its implementation perspective may
fill the information gap between logistics and supply
chain networks through tracking and tracing objects
as they move along the supply chain. This tracking
includes both real-time position tracking of object-
flow monitoring to improve the workflow in supply
chains and the tracking of motion through choke
points, such as access to designated areas. It ensures
the foundation for product identification and
authentication, anti-counterfeiting and other supply
chain integrity. This product identification and
authentication supports the reduction of incidents
harmful to products (such as wrong
place/time/condition), comprehensive and current
product maintenance to meet the requirements of
security procedures, and avoiding theft or losses of
important products.
Figure 2: A holistic scenario of the Internet of Things
within the business domain.
A holistic scenario of the Internet of Things can be
presented as in Figure 2, where the concerns related
to its implementation are highlighted. From Figure
2, it is noticed that the IoT is needed to define itself
with its inherent security issue and benefits to the
business community. In the definition it is
highlighted that IoT enables distributed intelligence,
identification, data management and integration of
smart objects. In terms of its security concern, IoT
needs to comply with trust management, data
encryption and confidentiality, authentication,
protocols and rule engine. The benefits of IoT are
mainly focused on real-time business process
monitoring, supply chain visibility, promotion of
business collaboration and resource management.
A cloud-based data repository system is nowadays
an attractive element within a business domain. This
data repository system has a relation between cloud
computing and the Internet of Things by collecting
and storing data in the cloud. The tracking
information as received from the smart objects
allows for the combination of real-world object data
and IT-based process information. In this case, a
cloud-based data warehouse is created containing
Internet of Things
Distributed intelligence
Computing, communication,
Data management
Smart objects integration
Trust management
Data encryption
Data confidentiality
Protocols and rules engine
Real-time business process
Supply chain visibility
Promotion of business
Resource management
current and former manufacturing process
information and it also provides cloud-based data
management and archiving solutions. This data
management system provides necessary support in
collaborative business through data analysis and
reporting in order to detect process failures, to
perform risk assessment and to identify space for
improvement. It also allows for business traceability
and continuity and provides competitive advantage
for manufacturing companies.
Figure 3: An architecture of cloud-based data storage
A high-level architecture description of cloud-based
data storage service is illustrated in Figure 3. This
architecture consists of three different entities: cloud
user, cloud service provider and trusted third party
auditor (TTPA). The cloud customer employs the
cloud storage and computing resource facilities to
remotely store and process data, whereas the cloud
service provider, which has significant storage space
and computation resources, manages and operates a
cloud infrastructure of storage and computing
services. The TTPA is considered as a seller of a
cloud privacy service in collaboration with the cloud
service provider (Wang et al., 2010; Lin and
Squicciarini, 2010). From Figure 3, it is assumed
that a cloud customer has a large amount of data
files which he/she wants to store on a cloud server,
which is managed by a cloud service provider. For
this purpose, the user needs to register with TTPA
before receiving output data securely. The Internet is
the basic communication system for information
exchange between the cloud customer and the
computing cloud.
As outlined above, a lot of research has been
performed in the area of three core technologies: (i)
Virtual Factories and their application of
manufacturers and especially SMEs, (ii) The Internet
of Things and its impact on monitoring and
informing manufacturers about their goods, and (iii)
Cloud Storage for managing information in a
scalable and distributed manner. The following
section demonstrates a use case for combining these
approaches into a holistic information system.
The combination of both always-on connections and
cheap hardware provide a vital base for the Internet
of Things. In the FP7 EU ADVENTURE project
the consortium created a virtual factory environment
for collaborative business. ADVENTURE allows
different manufacturers to collaborate with the help
of an ICT platform (ADVENTURE, 2011). The
ultimate aim of this platform is to realize a “plug &
play factory” approach in order to support the
collaboration of partners in all phases. This plug-
and-play virtual factory helps companies to move
beyond existing operational limitations with
technologies and methodologies that can establish
and execute cross-organizational manufacturing
ADVENTURE plug-and-play factory offers real-
time process monitoring and makes process status
information available to the process owner. The
valuable information or data source is made
available through the IoT. The data sources required
for manufacturing processes, intermediate goods and
manufactured goods are often enriched with
identification, sensor and communication
technologies. Through well-defined interfaces, up-
to-date and real-time status information can be
transmitted from ‘smart objects’ such as RFID tags,
which are the formats of IoT. Accessing data from
smart object sensors may be performed in three
different ways in the ADVENTURE platform: (a)
Firstly, dashboard users interface, (b) Secondly
through a REST (Reliability Estimation System
Testbed) interface and (c) Finally, an Android app.
(a) VF process Monitoring through ADVENTURE
The dashboard system enables collaborating partners
to view their processes and to drill down into
accessing IoT data from their processes. Figure 4
show an extract from the ADVENTURE dashboard.
The dashboard uses IoT approaches to allow each
partner to be informed about the overall
manufacturing process and the current state of the
The ADVENTURE dashboard contains several
widgets or portlets based on the VF process needs.
Figure 5 displays a snap shot of ‘My Smart Object’
widget. This widget mainly provides the visibility
and status information of each of the smart objects
within the VF processes. Along with the status
information it also visualizes the location of the VF
partner’s smart objects and presents their status
through displaying different colours (e.g. red for
urgent, yellow for alert, green for normal). This
widget may also be used to monitor temperature,
values and other relevant information received
from the smart sensors.
For example, collaborating partners may be
informed as to whether the temperature of a
transport exceeds a specific limit and receive an alert
whenever a specific threshold is passed.
(b) VF process Monitoring through REST Interface
Within the scope of this research, a REST interface
has been provided by the cloud storage component,
allowing external developers to access the data in a
programmatic way. In this REST engine, VF
operations are defined in the messages and offer a
unique address for every process instance. It also
offers the loose coupling of components, and each
object supports the defined (standard) operations.
(c) VF process Monitoring through an Android App
An Android app designed and developed in this
research allows virtual factory partners to access
their sensor data as received from smart objects
using a mobile tablet device. This mobile app allows
manufacturers the possibility to check sensor data
even when in the production hall. Figure 6 displays
the screen design of the ADVENTURE Android
Figure 4: The ADVENTURE Dashboard.
Figure 5: Snap shot of ‘My Smart Object’ widget.
There is a growing need to create and execute
business collaboration whatever the formats are
(Camarinha-Matos and Afsarmanesh, 2007;
Shamsuzzoha et al., 2013). The concept of virtual
factory, which is a kind of plug-and-play factory,
helps companies to move beyond their operational
limits. Using this concept, companies will be able to
manage cross-organizational manufacturing
processes as though they are being carried out within
a single company (Schulte et al., 2012). Currently,
manufacturers lack the appropriate real-time
information that would let them assess process
status. The main problem exists in such cases where
there is missing interoperability between business
partners’ IT systems as well as potential loss of
information due to prevailing data silos. Ultimately,
new methods and technologies are needed to connect
diverse technologies and aggregate the data from
them. In consequence, this research has
implemented state-of-the-art technology and tools to
execute collaborative business process monitoring in
a cross-organizational environment and it closes all
information gaps and integrates data seamlessly.
This research begins with high-level
collaborative business process monitoring with
special focus on the Internet of Things technology,
along with cloud-based data repository. Growing
interest in the IoT in the form of smart objects can
be successfully applied to business process
monitoring. These smart objects are mainly sensor-
enabled technology that is used to identify proposed
conditions and locations at the same time. These
process conditions and location characteristics
support real-time business process monitoring
successfully. This technology is demonstrated
through a mobile app, which works as a smart object
and is used in collaborative business process
monitoring. This mobile app was tested and
validated successfully to be implemented as an IoT
technology, applicable in smart process monitoring
and management within a collaborative business
Another concern in business process monitoring
is the need to store and retrieve process monitoring
data and information securely. One such business
objective, a cloud-based data repository system, is
also presented within the scope on this research. The
basic framework for cloud-based data storage along
with its implementation aspects is also discussed in
this paper. A generic model of cloud data storage is
formulated that supports the storage and retrieval of
data in collaboration business processes
successfully. This model also contributes to
Figure 6: Android app view showing information about a process status.
providing benefits like availability (being able to
access data from anywhere), relatively low cost
(paying as a function of need) and on demand data
sharing among collaborative partners. In cloud-
storage systems, the data owner may represent either
an individual partner or all collaborative partners,
who rely on the cloud server for remote data storage
and maintenance and thus are relieved of the burden
of building and maintaining a local storage
This research presented a case example where
the virtual factory’s business process monitoring is
highlighted. This monitoring process is
accomplished by the application of IoT technology
in the form of smart objects and sensors and is
visualized through the ADVENTURE dashboard,
REST interface and Android app. All the process
monitored data is stored within cloud-based data
storage, which was designed and developed within
the scope of this research. Different types of data
such as structured, semi-structured, binary and
semantic are stored in separate buckets of cloud-
storage in order to avoid data becoming mixed up
and maintaining data security and individuality.
This is on-going research, where the future
research activities are planned towards the
development of an open source Web-enabled
communication infrastructure that is accessed and
used by potential companies (mainly SMEs) to
monitor and manage their business processes within
a collaborative business environment. The research
results in the form of business process monitoring
are validated in one case company and will be
validated in another case company in the near
future.. In future work, the business process
monitoring data will be analysed and used as the
performance measures of KPIs (key performance
indicators) and the governance model o virtual
factory partners.
The authors would like to acknowledge the co-
funding of the European Commission in NMP
priority of the Seventh RTD Framework Programme
(2007-13) for the ADVENTURE project (ADaptive
Virtual ENterprise ManufacTURing Environment),
Ref. 285220. The authors also acknowledge the
valuable collaboration provided by the project team
during the research work.
ADVENTURE (Adaptive Virtual Enterprise
Manufacturing Environment) (2011), European RTD
project, Grant agreement no: 285220, Duration
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