Business Informatics

Research topics

The MIS research vision has been translated into “Business Architecture & Process Management”. It consists of three interrelated research pillars: (1) Enterprise Modelling, coordinated by Prof. dr. Poels, (2) BPM methods & tools, coordinated by Prof. dr. Gailly, and (3) Process Orientation, coordinated by Prof. dr. Van Looy. Across these three pillars, different themes have been identified on which future research may particularly focus, such as SMEs, public sector, healthcare, service sector, Business-IT consultancy and disruptive technologies. Every theme has one or more expert(s) within the MIS research group.

The “Enterprise Modeling” research pillar

Enterprise Architecture (EA) is a discipline within Business Informatics that studies the joint design, implementation and management of an organization’s business, data, application and ICT infrastructures. Key objectives of EA are enterprise coherence, strategic alignment and the functional integration of all component architectures (i.e., business/IT alignment). The “Enterprise Modeling” research pillar investigates the conceptualization, representation, visualization and analysis of business architecture components in relation to the other enterprise architecture components. The focus of the research can be one or more of the following: goals, strategic plans, business models, value models, capabilities, business services, business processes, etc. Through investigating the modeling of these concepts we aim at improving the understanding, communication and design of an organization’s business architecture and supporting systems. Pertinent research questions relate to issues of goal satisfaction and strategic fit, value delivery, and capability-oriented thinking. Past and current research includes the conceptualization of business services and service systems, decision-support for value-driven strategic sourcing, the design of personalized information flows for tactical managers, and the strategic fit of business process architectures. The main application fields are SMEs, which require specific EA solutions, and the business/ICT consultancy sector, which requires analytical decision support for the creation of digital enterprises exploiting opportunities offered by (potentially) disruptive information and communication technologies. The “Enterprise Modeling” research pillar further focuses on fundamental research questions related to its primary research method, conceptual modeling, with specific attention for quality and efficiency issues (e.g., investigating the mechanisms and benefits of pattern-based modeling).

The “BPM methods and tools” research pillar

Business Process Management (BPM) is a key research line within the MIS research group, and focuses on both the technical and organizational aspects of business processes. Business Process Management is about supporting business processes using methods, techniques, and software to design, enact, control, and analyse operational processes involving humans, organizations, applications, documents and other sources of information. The “BPM methods and tools” research pillar follows the design science research paradigm during the development of methods, techniques and tools that can be used to discover, model, and execute knowledge intensive business processes. Knowledge intensive processes require specific methods and tools because the tacit knowledge of the process participants plays a fundamental role in the actual execution of the process. During the development of these BPM artefacts specific attention is paid to how process mining techniques, ontologies, decision modelling and recommendation systems can support the discovery, the modelling and execution of knowledge intensive processes. In line with the identified application fields of the research group, the developed artefacts are primarily demonstrated and evaluated in the context of the public sector, healthcare and the service sector. These sector are selected because they primarily consist of knowledge intensive processes.

The “Process Orientation” research pillar

The” Process Orientation” research pillar investigates the organizational aspects of business processes and Business Process Management (BPM). In particular, this pillar examines the managerial aspects related to business processes (e.g. skills and training of process participants and process managers, strategic alignment, stakeholder relationship management) and the impact of a process-oriented way of working on an organization’s culture (e.g. values, attitudes and behaviors, rewards and appraisals and top management commitment) and structure (e.g. organogram and governance bodies). As such, it concerns a multidisciplinary pillar, aiming at creating synergies between the domains of business informatics and organization management (e.g. human resources management) in order to enhance the efficiency and effectiveness of business processes and business (process) performance in general. This pillar also helps organizations reorganize properly and take advantage of digital transformation by investigating best practices to become more process-oriented, and this by considering a fit with an organization’s business context.


Prof. Poels initiated the Business Informatics research at UGent and developed the conceptual modeling, business ontology, and business modeling research lines (now clustered as business modelling). His current research also involves Enterprise Architecture, Business Process Management, and Service Science.

Prof. Gailly’s research focuses on enterprise ontologies and on how they can be applied in the context of conceptual modelling, This research focus has resulted in the reengineering of existing enterprise ontologies (e.g., the Resource Event Agent enterprise ontology), the development of ontology-based conceptual modelling approaches and the evaluation and integration of enterprise modelling languages.

His research is oriented towards the strategic use of business processes and the integration of business process models with other conceptual models (DMN, SBVR, etc.). Other research interests are data mining with Ant Colony Optimization and BPMN.

Her research focuses on business process maturity and capabilities in public and private organisations by considering the traditional process lifecycle as well as the organisational culture and structure. Other research interests include business process integration and business process modelling, among others.