Research Laboratory :

Prof. Alain Wegmann and the members of his research team develop methods for analyzing and designing business and IT services.

The main original aspects of our research are

  • bridging discipline boundaries by adding philosophical and social foundations to disciplines such as marketing, requirements engineering and enterprise architecture.
  • applying our research in small and large industry projects.
  • extensively using the results of our research in our courses on strategic thinking and business/IT alignment.

This enables us to innovate in our academic disciplines, validate our research in real projects with our industrial and institutional partners and offer courses that are concretely linked with industrial frameworks such as ITIL and ISO 9000.

Past, Present, Future :

LAMS was created in late 1996 when Prof. Alain Wegmann joined EPFL. Coming from Logitech, Prof. Wegmann’s initial endeavor was to teach EPFL students the complexities of the interface between engineering and marketing in the organizations they would work for. From 1997 until 2000, we taught about the relationships between business issues and software engineering, as well as about engineering management. We taught about software engineering to first year bachelor students, business/IT alignment to master students and engineering management to continued-education students. The software engineering methods of the day were the Rational Unified Process RUP), Craig Larman’s version of Fusion and Catalysis. Our courses were based on the UML notation, which had just been adopted by the OMG. Our experience showed that UML was too complex to be used by first year bachelor students. At the master’s level and in continued education, UML was not expressive enough to truly represent business issues. We therefore defined guidelines on how to use UML. After a while, we had so many of them that we decided that it would be simpler to develop our own method that would integrate all these guidelines under a coherent theory.

We began developing our own approach to teach business and software engineering in the emerging context of enterprise architecture. This was the beginning of the construction of our method, called SEAM. The name SEAM refers to the seamless integration of business and IT. The first paper that named SEAM was published at ICEIS 2003 (http://infoscience.epfl.ch/record/89690/files/Wegmann_ICEIS2003.pdf).

The development of SEAM resulted in extensive research into system modeling as can be seen in the following papers

This research into fundamental systems principles led us to the exploration of regulation as a source of stakeholder motivation. This has become the SEAM goal-belief module

We maintained the rigor of our research in computer science by studying organizational and behavioral refinement, and using formal methods such as Alloy and Leon

Beginning in 2005, we completely reengineered the courses we teach in order to offer significantly more problem-based and systemic learning. This led to several published papers, for example

Since 2010, we have added embodied cognition to the SEAM foundations

We created a more explicit mapping between SEAM and existing marketing theories, as illustrated in

Since the creation of LAMS, we have maintained close relationships with industry. We continually work on strengthening the relations between SEAM and industrial best practices such as ITIL, TOGAF and various ISO standards. Results from some of these projects were published in the following papers

Over the years, we have participated in many small and large industry projects (the results of which have not yet been published). Most significant are the following

  • EPFL building internal architecture (2003 to 2005)
  • Maintenance management at the Geneva Airport (2012 to 2015)
  • EPFL IS strategy, organization, IS cartography (2009 to present)

We developed tool support for SEAM, both on the Web and standalone. SeamCAD is a general-purpose SEAM modeling stand-alone modeling tool. TradeYourMind is a web-based modeling tool specialized for entrepreneurship. We also developed a meta-model for the SOLU-QIQ to represent IS cartographies.

We have been at the forefront of the service-sciences movement having received the IBM Faculty Award in service sciences in 2006, when service science was hardly known. Since then, we have worked exclusively on service modeling.

In 2013, we invited social sciences students to explain ethnographic techniques in order to understand business problems in one of our courses. Our first paper related to ethnography was published in: G. Regev, L. Regev, Y. Naïm, J. Lang and A. Wegmann. Teaching an Ethnographic Approach to Requirements Elicitation in an Enterprise Architecture Course. STPIS’15. We continued on this interdisciplinary work, bringing a social-sciences approach to help solve non-technical business problems.

We are currently working on improving the SEAM notation for intuitive service modeling. We are developing analysis and design patterns for service oriented organizations. We are now developing a new version of the WWW tools, called TradeYourMind, to target IT system specifications.

Prof. Alain Wegmann

Alain Wegmann worked for 15 years at Logitech: in engineering management, manufacturing and OEM marketing. He worked in Switzerland, Taiwan and the US. When he left Logitech to join EPFL, he was VP of Engineering and Director of OEM Marketing. During these 15 years, he developed the intuition that tools and methods could be developed to help reduce the gap between disciplines and cultures in companies.

He created the LAMS (Laboratory for Systemic Modeling) in late 1996. All teaching, research and collaborations are in the field of business and IT analysis and design – or in how to concretely help people in business and technology to work together.