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Any business, no matter what physical goods or services it produces, relies on business records. It needs to record details of what it produces in terms of concrete information. Business artifacts are a mechanism to record this information in units that are concrete, identifiable, self-describing, and indivisible. We developed the concept of artifacts, or semantic objects, in the context of a technique for constructing formal yet intuitive operational descriptions of a business. This technique, called OpS (Operational Specification), was developed over the course of many business-transformation and business-process-integration engagements for use in IBM's internal processes as well as for use with customers. Business artifacts (or business records) are the basis for the factorization of knowledge that enables the OpS technique. In this paper we present a comprehensive discussion of business artifacts—what they are, how they are represented, and the role they play in operational business modeling. Unlike the more familiar and popular concept of business objects, business artifacts are pure instances rather than instances of a taxonomy of types. Consequently, the key operation on business artifacts is recognition rather than classification.
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