IoTUseCase: A New Concept
for the Modeling of Business Information Systems in the Age of IoT
Gaetanino Paolone
, Romolo Paesani
, Jacopo Camplone
and Paolino Di Felice
2 a
Gruppo SI S.c.a.r.l, 64100 Teramo, Italy
Department of Industrial and Information Engineering and Economics, University of L’Aquila, 67100 L’Aquila, Italy
IoT, Software Engineering, UML, Use Cases, Business Modeling.
Today, Business Information System (BISs) are the pillars of business operations. The integration of traditional
data with data sensed by Internet of Things (IoT) devices can increase remarkably the future of BISs and their
importance for the firms. Conceptual modeling is a fundamental stage in the development process of BISs,
since it allows to build an abstraction of the reality, which usually is too complex. Browsing into the published
literature, it emerges that so far minimal research has been carried out in the area of conceptual modeling of
BISs in the age of IoT. The present position paper discusses the modeling of BISs in the age of IoT, as an
evolution of the modeling of pre-IoT BISs. The conceptual modeling perspective this paper refers to concerns
the Business Modeling of IoT software systems, in the sense meant by the Rational Unified Process (RUP). It
is well-known that RUP is a use-case-driven approach, in fact use cases constitute the foundation for the entire
software development process. A new UML stereotype, called IoTUseCase, is introduced, formalized and its
role within the Business Modeling is discussed. Moreover, the study answers two research questions: (RQ1)
Are the electronic devices that collect the data of interest part of the Business model or the System model?
(RQ2) Is there a Unified Modeling Language (UML) construct that allows modeling the IoT devices?
A Business Information System (BIS) is a combina-
tion of software, hardware, and telecommunication
networks devoted to collect and process data in order
to implement the firm’s core processes. Humans are
also usually considered a component of BISs. BISs
have gained immense popularity in business opera-
tions over the years. The integration of traditional
data with data sensed by Internet of Things (IoT) de-
vices can increase enormously the future of BISs and
their importance for the firms which make use of the
information technology.
Conceptual modeling is at the center of the devel-
opment of BISs, since it is a fundamental abstraction
of the most relevant aspects in the reality. The story
of conceptual modeling, started in 1970s, looks like
to be endless, since conceptual modeling efforts are
necessary to support new technologies as they emerge
(Storey et al., 2023). The more the daily relevance of
the information technology increases for the human
beings, the more the conceptual modeling emerges as
absolutely vital for the digital world. According to
the findings in (Storey et al., 2023), so far minimal
research has been carried out in this area for the IoT.
The same conclusion is drawn in another very recent
mapping study about the state of the art of conceptual
modeling of IoT systems (Kohan et al., 2023).
The present position paper discusses the concep-
tual modeling of BISs in the age of IoT, as an evolu-
tion of the modeling of pre-IoT BISs. The adopted
perspective comes from fifteen years of dealing with
the conceptual modeling of BISs (mostly business
Web applications for banking). It is our strong be-
lieve that the RUP-oriented approach introduced in
(Paolone et al., 2010) can be extended to the con-
ceptual modeling of BISs in the age of the IoT. Of
course, we are aware that the soundness of such a feel-
ing needs to be verified against a number of real case
studies, as it was done by Paolone and his colleagues
after the publication at ENASE 2010 of their position
paper (Paolone et al., 2010). In the meantime, any
sort of feedback from the community is welcome.
The conceptual modeling perspective this paper
refers to belongs to the early stage of the development
process of IoT software systems: the Business Mod-
eling, in the sense intended by the RUP (Kruchten,
Paolone, G., Paesani, R., Camplone, J. and Di Felice, P.
IoTUseCase: A New Concept for the Modeling of Business Information Systems in the Age of IoT.
DOI: 10.5220/0012681400003687
Paper published under CC license (CC BY-NC-ND 4.0)
In Proceedings of the 19th International Conference on Evaluation of Novel Approaches to Software Engineering (ENASE 2024), pages 458-465
ISBN: 978-989-758-696-5; ISSN: 2184-4895
Proceedings Copyright © 2024 by SCITEPRESS Science and Technology Publications, Lda.
. This point of view offers a high level of ab-
straction because, in the Business Modeling, business
processes are documented in terms of business use
cases. This perspective is independent of the com-
plexity of the architecture of the IoT system as well
as it is independent of the application domain, while it
is mostly focused on assuring a common understand-
ing among all stakeholders of what business processes
need to be supported in the organization.
As recalled above, the RUP is a use-case-
driven approach. A new UML stereotype, called
IoTUseCase, is introduced, formalized and its role
within the Business Modeling is discussed. Hence,
this study addresses two research questions about the
changes that the introduction of the IoT technology (a
disruptive technology in the today’s world) brings to
the software development process:
(RQ1) Are the electronic devices that collect the
data of interest part of the Business Model or the Sys-
tem model?
(RQ2) Is there a Unified Modeling Language
(UML) construct that allows modeling the IoT de-
By analysing the similarities and differences of
BISs in the age of IoT against the pre-IoT BISs, we
are able to answer the previous research questions.
The remaining part of the paper is structured as
follows. Section 2 recalls the related work, while Sec-
tion 3 summarizes the Use-Case-centered methodol-
ogy proposed in (Paolone et al., 2010) for the de-
velopment of pre-IoT BISs. Hence, Section 4 pro-
poses an extension of such a previous approach to
deal with BISs in the age of IoT. The IoTUseCase
UML stereotype is the core of the proposal because
it allows to model the behavior of the IoT devices.
Specifically, the Abstract syntax (i.e., the UML meta-
model) of the IoTUseCase is proposed and discussed.
An IoTUseCase represents one specific IoT device.
The answer to the two research questions mentioned
above is given in Section 5. Section 6 ends the paper
and provides an overview of the long-term industrial
research project.
It has been widely remarked that IoT systems are
complex. To govern such a complexity and get the
maximum possible benefit from them, it is essential
to manage the IoT systems through the IT technol-
ogy. From the literature, it arises that there is an in-
creasing engagement of the scientific community in
(Storey et al., 2023) lists Business Modeling as one of
the topics belonging to the Conceptual Modeling domain.
conducting researches regarding the formalization of
methods about the development of software for BISs
that include IoT devices (Fahmideh et al., 2022).
The investigation of the existing literature high-
lights that many scholars have approached the devel-
opment of software systems that include the IoT start-
ing from the architecture of this category of systems
(Patel and Cassou, 2015), (Berrouyne et al., 2022),
(Kirchhof et al., 2022), (Fahmideh et al., 2022), (Dias
et al., 2022), (Saidi et al., 2023). Such a commitment
is definitely complex, as it comprises many hetero-
geneous elements, such as: devices, communication
protocols, computing resources (edge, fog, cloud).
Such a complexity is the main reason why, despite
the rapid growth in IoT research, a general software
engineering approach for the development of IoT sys-
tems is still missing. This concept is expressed, for
example, in (Geller and de Moura Meneses, )p.81
as follows: “The usage of software engineering prin-
ciples for the implementation of IoT systems is still
being adapted. A similar message may be found in
(Fahmideh et al., 2022).
Modeling languages have gained increasing rele-
vance in the IoT domain as a conceptual tool for rais-
ing the level of abstraction in system specification,
hence improving the productivity of developers and,
at the same time, the quality of the IoT applications.
(Arslan et al., 2023) is an up-to-date survey on mod-
eling languages that have been designed for IoT soft-
ware development. In the study, authors analyze 32
different languages with respect to three categories of
requirements, i.e., language definition, language fea-
tures, and tool support.
Modeling languages can be either general-purpose
or domain-specific. UML is the most known and
widely used general-purpose language. Such a feature
limits its suitability for modeling particular domains,
for which Domain Specific Languages (DSLs) may be
more appropriate. (Kosar et al., 2016; Mernik, 2017;
Thanhofer-Pilisch et al., 2017) present a systematic
mapping study on DSLs.
The UML profile specialization mechanism by
OMG is a more pragmatic approach than the use of
DSLs. Based on this, the UML abstract syntax can be
specialized to the domain of interest by using the ex-
tension mechanisms defined in the Profiles package of
UML (OMG, 2017), namely: stereotypes, tagged val-
ues, and constraints. One of the most important bene-
fits of using a UML profile instead of a DSL is that the
developer is able to use the existing UML tools (e.g.,
diagram drawing and code generation) in the devel-
opment process. UML4IoT is an example proposed
for the integration of cyber-physical components into
an IoT-driven manufacturing industry (Thramboulidis
IoTUseCase: A New Concept for the Modeling of Business Information Systems in the Age of IoT
and Christoulakis, 2016).
(Prakash and Prakash, 2022) adopts a completely
different approch, characterized by a high level of
abstraction. The position expressed in such a study
is that a problem-driven specification of an IoT ap-
plication is highly desirable because it would over-
come most of the problems that arise when a low-
level perspective is adopted. The paper introduces
the notion of Information System of Things as an
extension of pre-IoT ISs and proposes a set of con-
cepts about what it is called a Conceptual Model of
Things (CMoT), necessary for the description of the
IoT system to be developed. An instance of the CMoT
gives rise to a Conceptual Schema of Things, an arti-
fact about the system to be developed shared among
problem/domain experts. Moreover, it sets the ba-
sic guidelines of the system to be implemented, and
thus, it represents the meeting point between system
designers and system implementors.
The perspective we adopted in the present position
paper offers a level of abstraction that is comparable
to that in (Prakash and Prakash, 2022).
The present position paper relies on the work by
Paolone and his colleagues described in (Paolone
et al., 2010). In that study, they introduced a RUP-
driven methodology for drawing the Business and the
System Model. Use case modeling and realization are
the pillars of their methodology. Their proposal is
centered around the four distinct layers of Figure 1.
The objective of the first two layers is to get a com-
plete representation of the business reality under in-
vestigation; while the objective of the remaining two
layers is representing the software system. In detail,
the first layer of Figure 1 concerns the Business Use
Cases (BUCs) analysis, which are then specialized
into Business Use Case Realizations (BUCRs) in the
second layer. Subsequently, a trace operation is car-
ried out to define the system Use Cases (UCs) (third
layer), which are then specialized into Use Case Re-
alizations (UCRs) (fourth layer). The latter ones can
be implemented by a Java class. In addition, Fig-
ure 1 shows the relationship between the four layers
with the Computation Independent Model (CIM) and
the Platform Independent Model (PIM) widely men-
tioned in the software engineering literature (OMG,
The journey started in (Paolone et al., 2010) ended
in (Paolone et al., 2020). The latter study describes
an automatic process to develop enterprise Web ap-
plications within the MDA frame of reference. The
pillars of the final proposal are, besides the UCs, class
and sequence diagrams, which cover, in sequence, the
structure and the behavior of the system to be de-
veloped, as well as their interactions. The adopted
methodological process provides continuity between
Business Modeling, System Modeling, Design, and
Figure 1: The four methodological layers in (Paolone et al.,
The extra challenge in the development of BISs in the
age of the IoT, with respect to the pre-IoT case, comes
from the need to take into account one or more IoT
devices. Our proposal consists in modeling the IoT
devices from the point of view of the classes of actors
that use them. In detail, we introduce the IoTUseCase
which is a stereotype of the UML UseCase
struct, in order to model the behavior of these de-
. Each IoTUseCase represents one and only
one IoT device.
Hereinafter, we join the words Use and Case as in
Clause 18 of (OMG, 2017).
A UseCase is a specification of behavior. (OMG,
2017), p.639.
ENASE 2024 - 19th International Conference on Evaluation of Novel Approaches to Software Engineering
From the methodological point of view, we also
propose to bring the IoTUseCase construct, defined
within the Business Modeling, till the implementation
of the system (hardware and software, as well), in the
same way as proposed for the UseCase construct in
(Paolone et al., 2010) and (Paolone et al., 2020).
Stereotypes are specific metaclasses that allow de-
signers to extend the vocabulary of UML in order to
create new model elements from existing ones but
specialized to a domain. The class diagram of Fig.2
shows a simplified version of the Abstract syntax (i.e.,
the UML metamodel) of the IoTUseCase
. The dia-
gram is based on the Abstract syntax of the UseCase
construct in Clause 18 of (OMG, 2017), to which
the reader is referred to. Below, we describe the
IoTUseCase by specializing the description of the
UML UseCase construct.
Figure 2: IoTUseCase Abstract Syntax.
The IoTUseCase allows capturing the require-
ments of an IoT system, i.e., what it is supposed to do.
Actors and subjects are two key concepts relatively
to IoTUseCases. In this paper, an IoTUseCases
subject represents an IoT device; while Actors rep-
resent IoT users (namely humans or other systems)
that may interact with a subject.
An IoTUseCase
is a kind of BehavioredClassifier (i.e., an abstract
class) that represents a declaration of a set of offered
Behaviors. An IoTUseCase may be owned by a
In the diagram, arrows specify, as usual, navigability
of the associations. Adornments, dot notations, and associ-
ation ends are omitted with just one exception: the subject
association end because its relevance in this study.
The notion of IoT user is detailed in Sec. 5.
Each IoTUseCase specifies some behavior that an
IoT device can perform in collaboration with one or
more Actors of a class. IoTUseCases define the of-
fered Behaviors of the IoT device without reference
to its internal structure. These Behaviors, involv-
ing interactions between the Actors and the IoT de-
vice, may result in changes to the state of the IoT de-
vice and communications with its environment. An
IoTUseCase can include possible variations of its ba-
sic behavior, including exceptional behavior and er-
ror handling. It is worth mentioning that if UML
modelers adopt the level of abstraction we refer to in
this paper, then they do not have to take care of sev-
eral well-known severe issues of IoT devices, namely,
limited processor capacity, reduced battery power, in-
teroperability, data and network management, and so
on (Dias et al., 2022). This is an objective simplifica-
tion, with respect to the scenario where the modeling
takes place at a lower level of abstraction.
The IoTUseCase can be used both for specifica-
tion of the market requirements on the IoT device
to be selected and for the specification of the func-
tionality offered by the available IoT devices. More-
over, the IoTUseCase may also state the requirements
the specified IoT device poses on its environment by
defining how the Actors should interact with the IoT
device so that it will be able to perform its services.
Fig.3 relates the IoTUseCase to the Actors and the
two categories of requirements.
Figure 3: IoTUseCase, Actors and requirements.
Within the context of Business Modeling, we also
define the Business IoTUseCase Realization.
So, we propose to proceed with the trace opera-
tion and, within the System Modeling, we define the
System IoTUseCase and the System IoTUseCase
Realization. The latter will be implemented in the
system to be developed through the chosen IoT device
and a software component that allows the use of such
a device by a class of actors, according to the mean-
IoTUseCase: A New Concept for the Modeling of Business Information Systems in the Age of IoT
ing of UML Use Case (Booch et al., 1999): “[...] a use
case is a description of a set of sequences of actions,
including variants, that a system performs to yield an
observable result, which is valuable for an actor.
Figure 4: Business & System Modeling of BISs in the age
of IoT.
Figure 4 schematizes the mapping between the
phases of Business Modeling and System Modeling
in the age of IoT as an evolution of pre-IoT BISs.
Below, the answers to the two research questions
listed in Section 1 are given.
(RQ1) Are the electronic devices that collect the
data of interest part of the Business Model or the sys-
tem model?
A fundamental step of Business Modeling consists
in eliciting the business use cases. Before writing the
use cases, it is helpful to come up with the domain
model. The latter forms the foundation of the static
part of the model, while the use cases are the foun-
dation of the dynamic part. The static part describes
structure; the dynamic part describes behavior.
Domain modeling is the task of building a glos-
sary (i.e., a dictionary of terms) about the main con-
cepts and their relationships specific to the software
project to be developed. The purpose of domain mod-
eling is to make sure that all the stakeholders taking
part on the software project understand the problem
space unambiguously. Referring to a common vocab-
ulary enables clear communication among stakehold-
Hereafter, we recall briefly the proposal in (Haller
et al., 2013) that allows us to provide an answer to
RQ2. The IoT Domain model in (Haller et al., 2013)
plays an equivalent role of the Conceptual model in
(ISO/IEC, 2018). Both models are generic, abstract
and simple. They introduce the basic concepts about
IoT systems to be known about and describe how the
concepts relate to each other logically. Both models
are introduced by means of a small number of UML
class diagrams where two different types of relation-
ships between classes are used: generalization and as-
The IoT Domain model in (Haller et al., 2013)
is abstracted in terms of the following five core con-
cepts (which are also part of the Conceptual model in
(ISO/IEC, 2018)):
Augmented Entity (AE): a real-world object (the
Physical Entity – PE) and its digital twin (the Vir-
tual Entity – VE);
User: either a human or a digital artefact (e.g., a
machine, a device, a service);
Device: hardware to interact with (a sensor) or
control (an actuator) physical entities. A Device
can be composed of Devices; a Device is a Physi-
cal Entity. Sensors and actuators are Devices;
Resource: software component that gives access
to information about, or actuation capabilities on,
a Physical Entity;
Service: exposes Resources through an interface
and make them available (to applications and
other Services).
(Haller et al., 2013) provides details about these
five core concepts and their relationships. Figure 5
shows a simplified version of the UML class diagram
of the Domain model.
In light of what just recalled, it follows that de-
vices are a central entity/concept in the development
of BISs in the age of IoT. So, it is correct to state that
they have to be taken into account since the Business
Modeling. This answers to RQ1.
(RQ2) Is there a UML construct that allows mod-
eling the IoT devices?
Designing IoT-based software systems is chal-
lenging, but their modeling using UML is a candidate
to become a resource to overcome this challenge. De-
spite many scholars have already been engaged in a
debate on the role of UML in the modeling of IoT
systems, so far a standard has not been established.
(Geller and de Moura Meneses, ) provides evidence
in this sense by citing 11 articles concerning as many
proposals to facilitate the modeling of IoT systems
via UML. Each of those studies presented an UML
ENASE 2024 - 19th International Conference on Evaluation of Novel Approaches to Software Engineering
Figure 5: The Domain Model of the IoT.
extension to model IoT systems. Regardless of the
solutions that will be available in the coming years,
one element emerges loud and clear from the litera-
ture, namely that they cannot ignore UML due to the
variety of supported models.
In the previous section, it has been argued that to
carry out the Business Modeling of IoT systems it is
sufficient to introduce the IoTUseCase UML stereo-
type. This answers RQ2.
Nowadays the IoT is a notion that denotes a revolution
in the information technology that is producing dis-
rupting changes at the information system level. In re-
cent years, information systems developers have been
engaged in debate on practical and theoretical issues
on the adaptation of information systems to the IoT
features. Most scholars approached this domain from
the architecture perspective and the infrastructure re-
quired for communication. The present position pa-
per introduced, formalized and discussed the notion
of IoTUseCase (a UML stereotype) at the Business
The future work concerns, in sequence, the activi-
ties listed below:
initially, it will be defined a frame of reference re-
garding the features of the electronic devices com-
monly used in the development of real-world IoT
Subsequently, it will be carried out the analy-
sis and the specification (via UML diagrams) of
the requirements and software architecture of the
component (it will also be called IoTUseCase)
which implements the abstract IoTUseCase de-
scribed in previous sections.
Then, the (Java) implementation of the prototype
of the IoTUseCase software component will be
Finally, the requirements of few case studies de-
voted to validate the functioning of the aforemen-
tioned software component will be formalised. In
fact, as part of the experimental activities to be im-
IoTUseCase: A New Concept for the Modeling of Business Information Systems in the Age of IoT
plemented, the industrial partner involved in the
research described in this position paper will de-
velop case studies that use the IoTUseCase com-
ponent in specific domains of interest for them.
This step is preparatory to the next step in which
the development will be aimed at adding intelli-
gence to the aforementioned prototype applica-
tions. This extension will be aimed at the de-
velopment of an AIoT (Artificial Intelligence of
Things) application prototype for the management
of technological plants.
This research was funded by B2B S.r.l., 64100 Ter-
amo (Italy).
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IoTUseCase: A New Concept for the Modeling of Business Information Systems in the Age of IoT