Slater, Stuart (University of Wolverhampton, 2010)
Characters in games and virtual worlds continue to gain improvements in both their visual appearance and more human-like behaviours with each successive generation of hardware. One area that seemingly would need to be addressed if this evolution in human-like characters is to continue is in the area of characters with emotions. To begin addressing this, the thesis focuses on answering the question “Can an emotional architecture be developed for characters in games and virtual worlds, that is built upon a foundation of formal psychology? Therefore a primary goal of the research was to both review and consolidate a range of background material based on the psychology of emotions to provide a cohesive foundation on which to base any subsequent work. Once this review was completed, a range of supplemental material was investigated including computational models of emotions, current implementations of emotions in games and virtual worlds, machine learning techniques suitable for implementing aspects of emotions in characters in virtual world, believability and the role of emotions, and finally a discussion of interactive characters in the form of chat bots and non-player characters. With these reviews completed, a synthesis of the research resulted in the defining of an emotion architecture for use with pre-existing agent behaviour systems, and a range of evaluation techniques applicable to agents with emotions. To support validation of the proposed architecture three case studies were conducted that involved applying the architecture to three very different software platforms featuring agents. The first was applying the architecture to combat bots in Quake 3, the second to a chat bot in the virtual world Second Life, and the third was to a web chat bot used for e-commerce, specifically dealing with question and answers about the companies services. The three case studies were supported with several small pilot evaluations that were intended to look at different aspects of the implemented architecture including; (1) Whether or not users noticed the emotional enhancements. Which in the two small pilot studies conducted, highlighted that the addition of emotions to characters seemed to affect the user experience when the encounter was more interactive such as in the Second Life implementation. Where the interaction occurred in a combat situation with enemies with short life spans, the user experience seemed to be greatly reduced. (2) An evaluation was conducted on how the combat effectiveness of combat bots was affected by the addition of emotions, and in this pilot study it was found that the combat effectiveness was not quite statistically reduced, even when the bots were running away when afraid, or attacking when angry even if close to death. In summary, an architecture grounded in formal psychology is presented that is suitable for interactive characters in games and virtual worlds, but not perhaps ideal for applications where user interaction is brief such as in fast paced combat situations. This architecture has been partially validated through three case studies and includes suggestions for further work especially in the mapping of secondary emotions, the emotional significance of conversations, and the need to conduct further evaluations based on the pilot studies.
This thesis is concerned with the exploration of a framework for ICT adoption by ICT microsized companies in the West Midlands. The thesis evolved out of the author's sense of dissatisfaction with several cardinal aspects of traditional approaches to facilitating adoption of the latest technologies in small companies to enhance business performance. Four main weaknesses were identified: first, there is often a lack of a theoretical foundation for the approach taken with regard to interventions. Second, there is ample evidence to suggest that the environment of small companies is complex and volatile and fundamental to the economy and yet hitherto success of the support in this area is patchy. Third, the role of those working to support small companies is largely unsupported in terms of their understanding of the problems. Fourth, small companies themselves are often uninformed of the issues and unaware that simple changes will aid their approach to ICT adoption. Inspiration from three sources helped the author to develop the work behind this thesis and attempt to remedy weaknesses: first, the work of many researchers in ICT Evaluation methods and frameworks provided insights into the value placed on ICT within organisations and the subsequent impact of the perception of value. Second, developments in the study of SMEs provided new insights into the unique environment that exists within small companies and the issues that these organisations face on a daily basis. Third, research around the new field of EDI and eBusness adoption provided the basis for the exploration of frameworks and models that were applicable to the SME environment and could be developed to work with any technology adoption. This thesis is therefore the exploration of a new model for micro-companies, supported by a thorough grounding in these three areas, which was achieved by taking an exploratory research approach. The model will indicate to a small company the weaknesses in their environment regarding ICT adoption and what they need to do to increase the success rate of any proposed ICT adoption. The framework has been developed to incorporate the issues regarding the personal factors of the owner-manager, the firm, organisational readiness, external pressures, strategy and perceived value. The author describes the methodology behind the development of the framework and makes recommendations for improved ICT adoption initiatives. Application of the general methodology through exploratory research has resulted in new opportunities to embed the ethos and culture surrounding the issues in the framework into new projects developed as a result of Government intervention. The thesis proposes three main themes: first that an understanding of the issues inherent in small companies is necessary in order to work effectively in supporting them to make ICT adoption more successful in the future. Second, that a greater knowledge of these issues and the impact that adoption of technology has in small companies can assist those involved in intervention projects. Third, that by drawing together existing models this new framework can guide these companies in their own ability to adopt successfully and raise awareness regarding the need to address these factors. Taken together, these areas represent a new approach to ICT adoption. The thesis demonstrates originality in four key areas: 1. It extends and develops an understanding of the micro-company environment and the issues inherent when faced with the adoption of new technology. 2. It introduces a new model for use by micro-companies constructed from acknowledged academically grounded models, to develop and highlight their ability to adopt new technology successfully. 3. The exploration of the issues within the ICT sector gives unique insight to a vertical business sector. 4. Investigation of the sector within a UK sub-region gives new insights for that region giving an opportunity for intervention to be augmented by the findings.
Apulu, Idisemi (University of Wolverhampton, 2012-02)
In recent years there has been an increase in the adoption of Information and Communication Technology (ICT) in organisations, as the use of ICT causes some form of revolution in business practices. All over the world, ICT has greatly transformed the manner in which companies conduct business. However, there is considerable evidence to show that Small and Medium Sized Enterprises (SMEs) in developing countries, particularly those in Sub-Saharan Africa (SSA), are yet to reap the full benefits offered by ICT as compared to their counterparts in the developed countries. Although the contribution of SMEs’ is of notable importance to many countries’ economy, yet those in developing countries lag far behind. For SMEs to survive and remain competitive in the current highly competitive business environment there is a need to adopt and use ICT effectively, in order to attain some level of competitive advantage. This research investigates factors affecting the adoption and effective utilisation of ICT, with particular emphasis on SMEs in Nigeria. It is presumed that SMEs’ adoption of ICT in Nigeria will provide opportunities to accelerate the country’s socio-economic growth as it will offer Nigeria the chance to ‘leapfrog’ some stages of development. The methodology adopted in undertaking this study is the qualitative research approach although a survey was used at the initial stage, to provide an exploratory snapshot of the SMEs in context. This research has empirically identified key factors motivating ICT adoption in Nigerian SMEs, and benefits resulting from the use of ICT in their organisational performance. Factors affecting the adoption and effective utilisation of ICT in Nigerian SMEs were also identified. Following this, strategies were proposed which led to the development of a framework that will assist to increase the adoption and effective use of ICT amongst SMEs in Nigeria and also, aid the further deployment of more sophisticated ICT solutions by these SMEs. The framework was validated via a survey and analysed with the aid of SPSS software. The findings obtained from the validation procedure indicated that the framework is valuable and suitable for use in practice since the research shows that the majority of respondents accepted the research findings and recommendations for success. This research offers recommendations that will assist the Nigerian government, stakeholders such as ISPs, as well as owners/managers of SMEs, in resolving the problems confronting SMEs in Nigeria.
Kühl, Lukas W. H. (University of Wolverhampton, 2009)
Flexibility and Interoperability have become important characteristics for organisations and their business processes. The need to control flexible business processes within an organisation’s boundaries and between organisations imposes major requirements on a company’s process control capabilities. Workflow Management Systems (WFMS) try to fulfil these requirements by offering respective product features. Evidence suggests that the achievement of flexible business processes and an inter-organisational process control is also influenced by implementation processes for Workflow Management Applications (WFMA). [A WFMA comprises the WFMS and "all WFMS specific data with regard to one or more business processes" [VER01]]. The impact of a WFMA implementation methodology on the fulfilment of these requirements is the research scope of the project. The thesis provides knowledge in the following areas: 1. Review of the relationship between workflow management and the claim for process flexibility respectively -interoperability. 2. Definition of a research-/evaluation framework for workflow projects. This framework is composed of all relevant research variables that have been identified for the thesis. 3. Empirical survey of relevant workflow-project objectives and their priority in the context of process flexibility and –interoperability. 4. Empirical survey of the objectives’ achievement. 5. Empirical survey of methodologies / activities that have been applied within workflow projects. 6. Derivation of the project methodologies’ effectiveness in terms of the impact that applied activities had on project objectives. 7. Evaluation of existing workflow life-cycle models in accordance with the research framework. 8. Identification of basic improvements for workflow implementation processes with respect to the achievement of flexible and interoperable business processes. The first part of the thesis argues the relevance of the subject. Afterwards research variables that constitute the evaluation framework for WFMA implementation processes are stepwise identified and defined. An empirical study then proves the variables’ effectiveness for the achievement of process flexibility and –interoperability within the WFMA implementation process. After this the framework is applied to evaluate chosen WFMA implementation methodologies. Identified weaknesses and effective methodological aspects are utilised to develop generic methodological improvements. These improvements are later validated by means of a case study and interviews with workflow experts.
Jackson, Martin (University of Wolverhampton, 2007)
Emerging information and communication technology (ICT) introduces many opportunities for the improved transfer of business documents throughout the trading process in the construction industry. Perceived and actual benefits have been realised throughout many studies however the relative success or failure has not been fully investigated for neither an individual organisational basis or throughout a complete supply chain. This research fills this knowledge gap by focusing on the feasibility of success before any design or development is undergone. The primary objective was to explore, explain and understand the nature of an organisation in the construction industry with reference to the adoption of technology and electronic trading methods such as electronic data interchange (EDI) and other methods of electronic commerce (Ecommerce). The second objective was to dissect the primary research and discover the key construct elements that exist and make an organisation what it is. These four quadrants or related business influences will form the basis for the factors governing success or failure of an adoption for both a stand-alone organisation and one within a supply chain. The third objective was to development a new analytical tool for determining success prior to the adoption of new technology into an existing business framework. The fourth objective was to test the tool within the construction industry in the UK and analyse the results. This research adopted a quantitative research approach in the form of a questionnaire that when data was recorded and analysed could produce a graphical representation of an organisation. Three models have been developed, they are focused toward determining success; (1) stand-alone organisational success, (2) supply chain success, (3) period of time taken to achieve successful adoption. This research helps us to understand the nature and extent of intra-organisational factors that influence the adoption of new technology. Secondly it provides the four key factors (four quadrants) that determine successful adoption: human resources, management, processes, and culture. Thirdly, these factors provide the building blocks for newly developed models. This provides for a clearer understanding of whether new information technology and communication developments can be successfully adopted into any organisation. Lastly, the research can help us understand the barriers to, and levers for, successful adoption. This research has some limitations that need to be acknowledged, most importantly the ‘target model’ was constructed from four quadrants that are evenly sized and weighted based on a questionnaire that suffers from a similar issue, further research is needed to address this weighting issue.
The Open Source Software Development (OSSD) model has launched products in rapid succession and with high quality, without following traditional quality practices of accepted software development models (Raymond 1999). Some OSSD projects challenge established quality assurance approaches, claiming to be successful through partial contrary techniques of standard software development. However, empirical studies of quality assurance practices for Open Source Software (OSS) are rare (Glass 2001). Therefore, further research is required to evaluate the quality assurance processes and methods within the OSSD model. The aim of this research is to improve the understanding of quality assurance practices under the OSSD model. The OSSD model is characterised by a collaborative, distributed development approach with public communication, free participation, free entry to the project for newcomers and unlimited access to the source code. The research examines applied quality assurance practices from a process view rather than from a product view. The research follows ideographic and nomothetic methodologies and adopts an antipositivist epistemological approach. An empirical research of applied quality assurance practices in OSS projects is conducted through the literature research. The survey research method is used to gain empirical evidence about applied practices. The findings are used to validate the theoretical knowledge and to obtain further expertise about practical approaches. The findings contribute to the development of a quality assurance framework for standard OSSD approaches. The result is an appropriate quality model with metrics that the requirements of the OSSD support. An ideographic approach with case studies is used to extend the body of knowledge and to assess the feasibility and applicability of the quality assurance framework. In conclusion, the study provides further understanding of the applied quality assurance processes under the OSSD model and shows how a quality assurance framework can support the development processes with guidelines and measurements.
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