Impact and societal relevance

The work of the AIS group is world renowned, especially in the fields of

  1. the modeling and analysis of workflow processes (cf. workflow nets and the seminal soundness notion),
  2. workflow patterns (the DAPD paper on the workflow patterns is the most cited paper in the BPM domain and the Workflow Patterns web site is the most visited web site on workflow management over the last decade), and
  3. process mining (e.g., we established an international process mining community).

The impact of our work is reflected by the many citations of the publications of the AIS group. For example, Wil van der Aalst is the highest ranked European computer scientist based on Google Scholar. His work has been cited more than 63,000 times and his Hirsch Index is 120. During the last evaluation of all computer science groups in the Netherlands, the AIS group got the highest marks possible: 5-5-5-5-5 (i.e., a perfect score). The workflow patterns have had a very positive effect on commercial WFM/BPM products. Today, the patterns are widely used to describe workflow functionality in a language/system-independent manner. In addition, the patterns are also highly visible. The Wokflow Patterns web site has been one of the most visited web sites in the field of BPM averaging more than 300 unique visitors per working day over the last decade. Several vendors changed their tools to support more patterns and some have provided wizards based on the patterns. For example, IBM recently added a wizard-like functionality to their WebSphere product inspired by the patterns. Also standardization efforts were influenced by the patterns, see for example BPMN.

AIS is closely collaborating with various software vendors and consultancy firms. For example, we have been working with working with Lexmark and its legal predecessors for more than 15 years. AIS also collaborates with end-user organizations. For example, Philips Healthcare uses our software and sponsored a PhD position during the review period. In the CoSeLoG project we are working with 10 municipalities (Bergeijk, Bladel, Coevorden, Eersel, Emmen, Gemert-Bakel, Hellendoorn, Oirschot, Reusel de Mierden, and Zwolle). The core processes of these Dutch municipalities are compared and analyzed using process mining. Moreover, we are realizing a prototype BPM system where the different municipalities are sharing a cloud-based BPM solution based on configurable processes models (C-YAWL). Another example is the Stress@work activity in the context of EIT ICT Labs where we develop e-services for job stress management, based on the methods developed for operational support (prediction and recommendation) services for business processes. Combinations of innovative stress measuring sensor technologies and data and process mining techniques are tested in collaboration with Philips Research, Aalto University and HumanCapitalCare (an occupational health organization).

These examples illustrate the societal relevance of our techniques. We are continuously exposing our research to challenging questions from industry. For example, in collaboration with the IS group within the IE&IS department at TU/e we are organizing the Dutch BPM Roundtable where BPM practitioners and academics meet to discuss problems.

Two recent spin-offs in the area of process mining (Futura Process Intelligence and Fluxicon) also show that younger researchers are encouraged to transform great scientific ideas into viable commercial software tools and services.

Open Source Software

The AIS group aims to impact society by developing open-source software that is widely used. Our tools serve as examples for commercial systems. This impact is illustrated by the number of downloads. YAWL has been downloaded more than 265,000 times (approx. 55,000 times last year), ProM has been downloaded more than 133,000 times (approx. 23,000 times last year), and CPN Tools has been downloaded more than 87,000 times (approx. 9,000 times last year). Note that ProM, YAWL, and CPN Tools are not commodity tools, but advanced software products related to the business process analysis and enactment. Hence, these numbers are quite remarkable. Our open-source software tools also serve as examples for developers of commercial tools. For example, our ideas related to process mining have been used in BPM|one, Reflect, Disco, and ARIS PPM.

We have applied ProM in over 100 organizations. Examples are municipalities (about 20 in total, e.g., Alkmaar, Heusden, and Harderwijk), government agencies (e.g., Rijkswaterstaat, Centraal Justitieel Incasso Bureau, and the Dutch Justice department), insurance related agencies (e.g., UWV), banks (e.g., ING Bank), hospitals (e.g., AMC hospital and Catharina hospital), multinationals (e.g., DSM and Deloitte), high-tech system manufacturers and their customers (e.g., Philips Healthcare, ASML, Ricoh, and Thales), and media companies (e.g., Winkwaves).