This thesis contributes to the research field information logistics. Information logistics aims at improving information flow and at reducing information overload by providing the right information, in the right context, at the right time, at the right place through the right channel.
Ontologies are expected to contribute to reduced information overload and solving information supply problems. An ontology is created to form some kind of shared understanding for the involved stakeholders in the domain at hand. By using this semantic structure you can further build applications that use the ontology and support the employee by providing only the most important information for this person.
During the last years, there has been an increasing number of successful cases in which industrial applications successfully use ontologies. Most of these cases however, stem from large enterprises or IT-intensive small or medium-sized enterprises (SME). The current ontology development methodologies are not tailored for SME and their specific demands and preferences, such as that SME prefer mature technologies, and show a clear preference for to a large extent standardised solutions. The author proposes a new ontology development methodology, taking the specific characteristics of SME into consideration. This methodology was tested in an application case, which resulted in a number of concrete improvement ideas, but also the conclusion that further specialisation of the methodology was needed, for example for a specific usage area or domain. In order to find out in which direction to specify the methodology a survey was performed among SME in the region of Jönköping.
The main conclusion from the survey is that ontologies can be expected to be useful for SME mainly in the area of product configuration and variability modelling. Another area of interest is document management for supporting project work. The area of information search and retrieval can also be seen as a possible application field, as many of the respondents of the survey spend much time finding and saving information.