Usi4Biz Has Its Second Journal Publication

We are happy to inform that an article reporting recent contributions on Usi4Biz research was accepted to be published on the Business Process Management Journal. The article is entitled “Getting Users Involved in the Alignment of their Needs with Business Processes Models and Systems” and it was written to report the experience of applying the Usi4Biz methodology at Belgacom, the biggest telecommunication company in Belgium.

Simulation of customer service

Simulation of customer service

This work was possible thanks to the support of Amandine Lievyns, a UCL master student at the time, who had an internship at Belgacom and helped us to apply the methodology in some internal processes. Her master dissertation was about this experience and she could give a significant contribution for this article.

Usi4Biz has been applied in two large organizations and with this article we have completed the publication of each one of these applications in journals. The previous one was an article in JUCS, reporting how Usi4Biz was conceived and applied in an insurance company, which is part of a Belgian bank.

A complete reference to this article will be available in our research page, as soon as we have more information from the publisher.

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Important Milestone: Usi4Biz PhD Thesis Defended

An important milestone was achieved last month at IBM Forum Brussels. Kênia Sousa, who is now a doctor in Management Science, defended her PhD thesis on June 24th. Her thesis represents the consolidation of all research produced on the promising field of UI-Business alignment so far.

Kênia Sousa on her PhD defense at IBM Forum Brussels

The ceremony was preceded by a presentation of Dr. Noi Sukaviriya, a distinguished researcher of the Watson Research Center, NY. The subject of her presentation was “Human Aspects & Entity-Centric Business Process Modeling”, summarizing the IBM contributions on rethinking the way how business processes might be managed in the future.

The ceremony began when the jury entered the room and the president of the jury, Prof. Philippe Chevalier, presented the members of the jury, who were Prof. Jean Vanderdonckt (UCL, Belgium), the advisor; Prof. Gaëlle Calvary (UJF – Grenoble INP, France); Prof. Stéphane Faulkner (UCL, Belgium); Prof. Manuel Kolp (UCL, Belgium); and Dr. Noi Sukaviriya (IBM Research, United States). Unfortunately, the jury could not count on the presence of Prof. Elizabeth Furtado (Unifor, Brazil), who was Kenia’s advisor during her scientific initiation. Although, she had an important participation on Kenia’s private defense early this year.

Kenia answering questions from the jury

Kenia presented her research during 35 minutes. After that, the president passed the word to the jury for questions. She was questioned for more 15 minutes, going very well in all answers. Then the president called the jury in private out of the room to the final deliberation. After some minutes the jury and the president came back to the room and announced their decision, assigning to Kenia the title of “Docteur en sciences économiques et de gestion” for her thesis titled “A Model-Driven Approach for User Interface – Business Process Alignment”.

The ceremony was witnessed by friends, relatives, co-workers and IBM employees. Most of them were kindly mentioned in the thesis acknowledgments for their direct support for the success of this challenging journey. This post is one more opportunity to say “thank you” to all the supporters. At last, Congratulations Kênia! We hope you keep your motivation high to continue this impressive and highly recognized research.

Official picture of Kenia's PhD defense

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Trust is Everything in Business

Going back to the experience at the Dagstuhl seminar. We noticed that a lot of products, from beverages to snacks, are available for sale near the cafeteria area. All we need to do is to pick what we want. The interesting thing is that there is nobody checking the products available to make sure that you’ve included your choices in your expense sheet. Another point is that all room doors do not close from outside, so when you go out to the seminar, to have dinner or out for a walk, your room is open. What is common in both situations? They simply trust us and it makes us thrust everyone.

There is a recent article at the Harvard Business Review that mentions the importance of trust in business. In any domain, from carpentry to IT, there is no technical skill that overshadows trust. This you cannot learn or teach, you can only feel it. Besides trusting your instincts to make decisions in the market place, trust between people plays even a larger role in the work environment. It is fundamental for everything to work smoothly.

Another great example of thrust with customers is by O’Reilly. First, they kindly convince customer to choose e-books saying “save a tree, go digital”, which is cheaper than buying the printed version. Second, when you buy e-books, they send an unprotected pdf file, trusting that you are not going to inappropriately share it with your friends and co-workers. When customers feel the trust, they are inclined to buy even more.

Trust is a sign of health in the business world, from workers to top management and from simple deals to global market confidence level. When you are recruiting people, how do you know they are trustworthy? Do you transmit to your customers how trustworthy you are? And how much do you trust them to take some risks?

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Participation in the Dagstuhl Seminar

Last week, we have attended a Dagstuhl Seminar on the theme of “Enabling Holistic Approaches to Business Process Lifecycle Management”. During the seminar, we came up with a set of challenges for business process management that included ideas from different domains, such as the human involvement, conceptual modeling, reuse, etc.

The purpose of the Dagstuhl Castle is to promote events on informatics research at an international level where people are invited to present ideas, discuss and interact. Dagstuhl is located in southwest Germany, near the French and Luxembourg borders, in a very green and peaceful place. There, professionals and researchers definitively get off-line from their problems and go deep inside the creative work.

Dagstuhl Castle

In this seminar, there were participants from different domains, such as software engineering, database, business process management, enterprise modeling, information systems,  human-computer interaction, etc. Such a diverse group brought interesting and different points of view to the table.

What really called our attention was the interest on end-user involvement on business process management. Even though we have been working on this topic for the past 4 years, we were not expecting such a diverse group to find interest in this topic. Much to our amusement, we participated in two workgroups with very interesting researchers who were motivated to discuss about the upcoming trends concerning end-users involved in the business process management lifecycle. We believe, and hope, that this interest on end-user involvement for business process management just keeps on growing. This experience is very motivating for Usi4Biz.

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