Interoperability is the ability of diverse systems and organizations to work together (inter-operate). The term is often used in a technical systems engineering sense, or alternatively in a broad sense, taking into account social, political, and organizational factors that impact system to system performance.

While interoperability was initially defined for IT systems or services and only allows for information to be exchanged (see definition below), a more generic definition could be this one:

Interoperability is a property of a product or system, whose interfaces are completely understood, to work with other products or systems, present or future, without any restricted access or implementation.

This generalized definition can then be used on any system, not only information technology system. It defines several criteria that can be used to discriminate between systems that are "really" inter-operable and systems that are sold as such but are not because they don't respect one of the aforementioned criteria, namely:

  • non-disclosure of one or several interfaces
  • implementation or access restriction built in the product/system/service

The IEEE Glossary defines interoperability as:

the ability of two or more systems or components to exchange information and to use the information that has been exchanged.

James A. O'Brien and George M. Marakas define interoperability as:

Being able to accomplish end-user applications using different types of computer systems, operating systems, and application software, interconnected by different types of local and wide area networks.

Read more about InteroperabilitySyntactic Interoperability, Semantic Interoperability, Interoperability and Open Standards, Telecommunications, Search, Software, Medical Industry, EGovernment, Public Safety, Achieving Software Interoperability, Interoperability As A Question of Power and Market Dominance, Railways

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