LASER - Laboratory for Service Economics, Accounting and Engineering

What is it about

The research Laboratory for Service Economics, Accounting and Engineering (LASER) is a self-financed venture between the Research Programmes Division of ALTEC Software S.A. and the Accounting and Finance Department of the University of Macedonia, the leading business school not only for Greece but for the entire area of Balkans and South-Eastern Europe and is headed by Assistant Professor Nikos Protogeros.

The research areas of the laboratory lie in five main fields:

  • Service Strategy and Structures: Development and realisation of service growth strategies, design and operation of re-configurable service and organisation structures.
  • Management of Service Innovation: Service technologies and innovation strategies, Optimised service innovation and service delivery processes.
  • Service Accounting and Economics: Advanced approaches and post-modern methodologies for organising service accounting infrastructures in the enterprise environment. Economic models to assist prediction and optimisation of service performance.
  • Service Planning: Knowledge-based, opportunity-oriented service distribution management, Market-sensitive, innovation-oriented service management. Service
  • Software Engineering: Creating and realising of service conceptualisation and implementation platforms, evolution-capable service ‘factories’ and service logistic systems as well as adaptable services using most modern methods and tools. All four fields do provide a competitive advantage to the Laboratory as participant in the project, as they support the multidisciplinary approach to the researched areas of FUSE.

 

About Professor Nikos Protogeros

Dr. Nicolaos Protogeros is Assistant Professor of Information Systems and E-Commerce at the the Accounting and Finance Department of the University of Macedonia.

He received a PhD in Information Systems from the National Polytechnic Institute, France, an MSc in Remote Sensing from the University Paul Sabatier, France and a Bachelor Degree in Mathematics from Aristotle University of Thessaloniki, Greece.

He has had 15 years of working experience in the private sector specializing in Information Technology and Electronic Commerce applications and over 10 years of teaching experience.

Before entering the academic world, he had been the founding partner and CEO of Heletel, the first start-up company in Greece for E-Commerce which has developed some of the most innovative solutions for the business services domain.

He has been the project leader for many research and development projects in the area of Web based technologies, Software Agents and Virtual Organisations.

He has published papers in academic journals and he has participated in many international conferences. His current research and teaching activities are concerned with the implementation and application of SOA based ecommerce systems to support inter-organisational collaboration and Virtual Enterprises.

In 2007 his book on Agent and Web Service Technologies in Virtual Enterprises” appeared by IGI Global publishing house.

Why ALTEC Software invests on a Services Innovation Laboratory now?

The service sector has dominated advanced economies for years. In many countries, it accounts for more than 70% of gross domestic product, and approximately the same percentage of all employees work in this sector. To reflect the economic relevance of the service sector, services science must be established as an academic discipline. But the path in pursuit of this goal is riddled with challenges, especially in the fields of services research, service-oriented education and service-related collaborations.

Evolving business models and emerging academic paradigms suggest that “all businesses are service businesses.” Services have become a driving force in economies around the world: they dominate advanced economies and represent critical growth levers for emerging economies. This growth, coupled with the complex nature of services, has created significant opportunities and challenges for businesses worldwide as they seek to compete and innovate through service.

As a result, governments, academic institutions and businesses are calling for increased focus on building a science of service. Ideally, this new science will direct and support emerging business models, innovations, and service paradigms that will shape our world for generations to come.

The LASER Laboratory aims at innovating in ALTEC Group the current services and nurturing new ones. We address some of the key research challenges raised by services and service delivery systems. It is currently leading the development of the FUSE services research platform which will be used to evaluate, develop and deliver building blocks, concepts and prototypes for future information services.

Service Science is a fledgling field and a hot topic worldwide. But what is service science? In a nutshell, the concept was first introduced by IBM, and at its core lies the recognition our modern world is built upon service systems that are at once crucial and highly complex. Think education, healthcare, the pension system and so on. Designing and managing these services in an efficient, reliable and cost effective way is no easy task, and there is increasing recognition that the traditional, one-dimensional approach is no longer sufficient. Service science offers a way forward. Under a single, interdisciplinary umbrella, it brings together experts from fields as diverse as mathematics, economics, electronics, IT, psychology, social science, HRM and more. The goal: to ‘co-create’ value by connecting people, organisations, knowledge and resources, in order to address the full spectrum of issues involved in today’s service systems.

About the research field

Traditional methodologies for Software development life cycle such as the Unified Process or the Object Oriented Process, Environment and Notation (OPEN) are proven to be flexible and robust for developing traditional Information Systems.

However in the new Service-Oriented Computing (SOC) paradigm large systems emerge comprised of self contained building blocks: the services, which can be combined to form complex business processes located in different servers and companies, where users may customize and create their services dynamically and negotiate Service Level Agreements electronically. In such systems the traditional software development methodologies are simply inefficient.

Our Laboratory has designed what we call the ‘FUSE approach’ i.e. a Framework for Unified Service Engineering will provide a methodology and a full toolset to be used both by the IT-industry and individuals with little or no IT-experience, such as specific domain experts, end-users, testers and community members.

This will support common efforts in the efficient development of more reliable Service-oriented systems of the future.

Such an innovative and user-friendly toolset enabling state-of-the-art visual technology will increase the flexibility, reliability and maintenance efficiency of the developed systems and will ease the participation of the non-experts to the system’s development life cycle, deriving the maximum of benefits for them.

FUSE builds on and makes use of the Unified Process, OPEN, extended participatory design (PD) and other similar methodologies.

More on FUSE…

FUSE vision can be reflected with respect to goals:

  • To provide a new methodology and an open development paradigm on how user communities, development communities and IT-industry can coexist and co-work for the definition of new mission-oriented application concepts based on an on-going integrated change management that make extensive use of Service Provisioning.
  • To provide the tools to manage the development process life cycle including the organization of the requirements elicitation processes, the compliance validation and quality checking processes in a synergetic way with both users and developers communities forming essential part of the intellectual service and software engineering processes

 

Based on these and the above findings, FUSE aims to tackle the problem of developing a framework that will cope with the life cycle of distributed business processes, with their inevitable evolution and required adaptation to changes.

The framework will include methodologies with advanced forms of coordination, end-user and community participation, instance based modification of process models, less structured process models, and automated planning techniques as part of the integration/composition process.

It will also include tools for supporting the evolution and adaptation of business processes.

It is hard to define compositions of distributed business processes that work properly under many circumstances without the intervention of end-user communities. So FUSE will concentrate on the development of a Web based virtual design portal that will allow the integration of business requirements in the business process life cycle. FUSE will support the abstraction of the logic at the business level from its non-business related aspects, the “system level”.

The service composition at the business level will be supported by user-centred and highly interactive web virtual design portal, while system level service compositions may be fully automated and hidden to the humans.