Many smart applications allow enterprises to communicate effectively with and through interconnected computing resources, however, successful communication presupposes a shared understanding; a so-called semantic alignment. Devolved ontology was developed to promote semantic alignment in agile partnerships. We consider the approach to be promising for any environment where multiple contexts interface and co-locate, including, for example, the Pragmatic Web, virtual organisations and indeed smart applications. We motivate and introduce devolved ontology and show how to use this to foster semantic alignment. © Springer-Verlag Berlin Heidelberg 2007.