An analysis of ontologies and their success factors for application to business

Christina Feilmayr, Wolfram Wöß

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

84 Citations (Scopus)


Ontologies have been less successful than they could be in large-scale business applications due to a wide variety of interpretations. This leads to confusion, and consequently, people from various research communities use the term with different - sometimes incompatible - meanings. This research work analyzes and clarifies the term ontology and points out its difference from taxonomy. By way of two business case studies, both their potential in ontological engineering and the perceived requirements for ontologies are highlighted, and their misuse in research and business is discussed. In order to examine the case for applying ontologies in a specific domain or use case, the main benefits of using ontologies are defined and categorized as technical-centered or user-centered. Key factors that influence the use of ontologies in business applications are derived and discussed. Finally, the paper offers a recommendation for efficiently applying ontologies, including adequate representation languages and an ontological engineering process supported by reference ontologies. To answer the questions of when ontologies should be used, how they can be used efficiently, and when they should not be used, we propose guidelines for selecting an appropriate model, methodology, and tool set to meet customer requirements while making most efficient use of resources.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)1-23
Number of pages23
JournalData and Knowledge Engineering
Publication statusPublished - 1 Jan 2016
Externally publishedYes


  • Data modeling
  • Data models
  • Ontologies
  • Ontology engineering


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