Skip to main content

2021 | Book

Engineering the Transformation of the Enterprise

A Design Science Research Perspective

Editors: Prof. Dr. Stephan Aier, Prof. Dr. Peter Rohner, Dr. Joachim Schelp

Publisher: Springer International Publishing


About this book

The topics in this book cover a broad range of research interests: from business engineering and its application in corporate and business networking contexts to design science research as well as applied topics, where those research methods have been employed for modeling, data warehousing, information systems management, enterprise architecture management, management of large and complex projects, and enterprise transformation.

The book is a Festschrift for Robert Winter in order to appreciate his work and to honor him as a personality with a high reputation in the information systems community. To this end, many professional colleagues or long-time companions both from the Institute of Information Management at the University of St. Gallen as well as from the international research community dedicated articles on topics related to Robert’s research. They reflect his ambition to uncompromisingly conduct high-class research that fuels the research community and at the same time contributes to improved industrial practice.

The book is organized in three major parts: Part I “Business Engineering and Beyond” focuses on the methodology strongly shaped by Robert in St. Gallen with a focus on research being applied in corporate contexts. Part II “Design Science Research” spans from reflections on the practice of design science research to perspectives on design science research methodologies and eventually up to considerations to teach design science research methodology. Part III “Applied Fields” combines various applications of design science and related research methodologies with practical problems and future research topics.

Table of Contents


Business Engineering and Beyond

From Business Engineering to Life Engineering
Starting with a reflection of the business engineering discipline and its focus on the corporate value perspective, this contribution positions life engineering as a new discipline focusing on the individual perspective of the quality of life. Based on the example of a sleep coach it develops the different tasks a discipline life engineering has to address.
Hubert Oesterle
Management of Artificial Intelligence: Feasibility, Desirability and Viability
Artificial Intelligence is evolving and being used in more and more products and applications in business and society. Research in artificial intelligence is dominated by computer science. The focus is on the development of innovative algorithms and the design of processors and storages required for different application scenarios. Numerous prototypes are developed for a wide variety of applications. Only a few of these prototypes make it into productive applications that create lasting business benefits. Discussions with numerous companies show that professional processes and structures are needed to develop and operate artificial intelligence applications. We refer to these processes and structures as management of informatics. This article describes our understanding of artificial intelligence, shows examples of concrete business benefits, lists exemplary challenges, and describes the basic processes of the management of artificial intelligence. This article is based on a comprehensive literature review as well as numerous structured and open discussions with people from applying companies and computer scientists from the academic environment who deal with artificial intelligence and its use. An extended version of the article has been published in the German Springer Essentials series titled “Bausteine eines Managements Künstlicher Intelligenz: Eine Standortbestimmung”.
Walter Brenner, Benjamin van Giffen, Jana Koehler
How Fair Is IS Research?
While both information systems and machine learning are not neutral, the identification of discrimination is more difficult if a system learns from data and discrimination can be introduced at several stages. Therefore, this article investigates if IS Research has taken up with this topic. A literature analysis is conducted and its discussion shows that technology, organization, and human aspects have to be considered, making it a topic not only for data scientist or computer scientist, but for information systems researchers as well.
Mateusz Dolata, Gerhard Schwabe
From Business Engineering to Digital Engineering: The Role of Metamodeling in Digital Transformation
Many of the digital technologies developed in recent years provide the foundation for digital innovations and through their value contributions also contribute to digital transformation. This transformation is imposing tremendous challenges for all enterprises since it allows for radical changes and an increasing pace of transformation. Against this backdrop the paper discusses the role of metamodeling in digital transformation processes as a systematic way to address digital innovation. We show how metamodeling supports the development and adaptation of business and technical systems in an efficient and effective manner. We discuss the benefits and challenges of metamodeling and highlight its contribution to digital transformation from a scientific and practical perspective. We derive the changing requirements for transformation projects and introduce the profile of a digital engineer. Finally, we evaluate metamodeling from a practical perspective and address its lack of dissemination in business practice.
Susanne Leist, Dimitris Karagiannis, Florian Johannsen, Hans-Gert Penzel
Potentials and Limits of Modeling Using the Example of an Artificial Real-World Model
Models and modeling play key roles for understanding the world and how it works including artificially created real worlds, and for representing and transferring knowledge about the world. Based on an example the paper aims to show the possibilities, but also the limitations of models. Particularly we discuss what knowledge can and cannot be transferred by model abstractions on type level and how they contribute to understanding the functioning of the world.
Ulrike Baumöl, Reinhard Jung
On Model-Based Coordination of Change in Organizations
Change seems to be an inherent property of organizations and the enterprises they undertake. During such changes, coordination among the different actors involved is key, in particular when there is a need to consider the longer term impact of change.
When the complexity of an organizations, and/or the context in which it operates, is high, the need emerges to use “represented abstractions” of the organization and its context to support coordinated change. These “represented abstractions”, taking the form of e.g. sketches, narrative descriptions, diagrams, spreadsheets, or formal specifications, are used for informed decision making about changes, as well as to coordinate changes among the different actors that may be involved. We take the stance that these “represented abstractions” are all forms of models. Doing so, does requires us to look beyond the “boxes-and-lines” metaphor that seems to be the traditional way of looking at models in our field.
Meanwhile, the transition to the digital age has resulted in organizations to be (and operate in) a complex and hybrid mix of human and digital actors, while the pace of change has increased as well. This also puts more pressure on the coordination of the changes, and as a direct consequence also puts more pressure on the use of model-based instruments.
The goal of this paper is to explore some of the challenges that these model-based instruments will need to meet (while indeed looking beyond the “boxes-and-lines” metaphor). To this end, we will start with a discussion of our current understanding of the notion of model. We then zoom in on the use of models in the coordination of change. Using this as a base, we finalize with a discussion of some of the main challenges we see in improving the use of model-based instruments for the coordination of change in organizations.
Henderik A. Proper

Design Science Research

Reflections on the Practice of Design Science in Information Systems
Design science research (DSR) now enjoys a degree of recognition in information systems, with special issues in journals, dedicated tracks in conferences and well-recognized guidelines for the conduct of DSR. A number of issues regarding DSR, however, are still the subject of debate. This essay addresses these issues, drawing on prior analytic work and personal experience and reviews of DSR in practice. Variation in the incidence of DSR publications amongst leading journals is shown. Other conclusions are that the need for inductive and abductive thinking in addition to deductive methods for knowledge generation is not as well accepted as it could be, that further work could be done on gathering evidence for the impact of DSR and that there is reason to think that work on the epistemology of DSR has value.
Shirley Gregor
Design Science Research of High Practical Relevance
Dancing Through Space and Time
Design science research (DSR) is an established research paradigm aiming to create design knowledge on innovative solutions for real-world problems. As such, DSR has the potential to contribute to the solution of real-world problems of great societal value. In this article, we discuss how DSR can maximize such practical impact. Reflecting on our long-standing collaboration with the globally operating Hilti company, we report on a rich empirical case and derive principles in order to increase the practical relevance and societal contribution of DSR projects. We also derive quality criteria through which DSR articles can demonstrate practical relevance and societal value contribution.
Jan vom Brocke, Manuel Weber, Thomas Grisold
Design Pattern as a Bridge Between Problem-Space and Solution-Space
Designing novel technologies provide challenges to developers. To support developers in designing these technologies, design knowledge must be codified and made applicable for the future. In systems development, design patterns provide proven solutions to solving recurring problems. They contain templates for describing design information, often in tabular form, and are established tools for making complex knowledge accessible and applicable. Design patterns play a critical role in both practice and research in finding potential solutions. For researchers, patterns can provide a method for codifying design knowledge for future research. For practitioners, design patterns provide established solutions to recurring problems. By applying them in a particular context, the pattern represents elements of both the problem-space and the solution-space, providing an opportunity to bridge the gap between the two spaces. Due to the abstraction of design patterns, they can be used for different application scenarios. The preparation of the design knowledge in the design pattern is a critical step to support the user in the best possible way, that determines the usefulness of the pattern.
Jan Marco Leimeister, Ernestine Dickhaut, Andreas Janson
Incremental Accumulation of Information Systems Design Theory
This paper proposes an organizing device for accumulation of information systems (IS) design theory components within a study but also across research studies. The proposed framework enables actors to understand the relationship over time between search spaces of information systems design science theory (ISDT) development by one and the same or different actors. The proposition rests on the notion that ISDT development is an iterative and incremental process that often happens across different research studies. Finally, we argue that with the proposed framework, ISDT knowledge is more easily transferred and combined with the search processes.
Tuure Tuunanen, Jan Holmström
Assessing the Temporal Validity of Design Knowledge
Design science research (DSR) aims to generate generalizable knowledge on how to design effective solutions to real-world problems. In some instances, however, previously evaluated design knowledge may no longer be suitable to build effective solutions for current-day problems. This paper therefore proposes a framework to assess the temporal validity of extant design knowledge. By analysing inferences made in the creation of design knowledge, I identify four preconditions that must be met to apply previously evaluated designs in a similar way to more recent problem instances. Furthermore, specific checks are proposed to guide practitioners and researchers in their verification of previously evaluated design knowledge. The proposed framework and checks support the reuse of previous design knowledge to solve new problem instances and complement ongoing efforts in the scientific community to facilitate the cumulative collection of design knowledge over time.
Jannis Beese
Pedagogy for Doctoral Seminars in Design Science Research
Doctoral instruction in design science research (DSR) must surpass the learning of fundamental concepts and processes. Doctoral students should be prepared to perform cutting edge research that extends prescriptive knowledge bases of design artifacts and design theories. This chapter proposes a two-dimensional pedagogy of research challenges and fields of information systems (IS) research with a robust focus on doctoral education. Experiences with a pilot course using this novel instructional approach are discussed.
Alan R. Hevner

Applied Fields

Management of Enterprise-Wide Information Systems
This article offers a short retrospective on the research streams about enterprise-wide IS management at the chair of Robert Winter. Both research project streams on analytical integration (data warehousing, information integration etc.) and transactional integration (application integration, enterprise architecture, transformation management) reside in the same understanding of the extended application landscape developed by Robert Winter.
Stephan Aier, Barbara Dinter, Joachim Schelp
The Competence Center Health Network Engineering: A Retrospective
Founded in 2005 at the Institute of Information Systems at the University of St. Gallen (IWI-HSG), the Competence Center Health Network Engineering (CC HNE) represented an association of researchers and practitioners whose goal was to support the transformation of the Swiss healthcare system with models and methods from the St. Gallen business engineering approach. This paper provides a retrospective of the work of the CC HNE. Starting with a motivation for the research focus as well as a classification in the research of the IWI-HSG, the main research results of the Competence Center are presented. This includes in particular work on networkability, performance management and maturity models as well as a Networkability Maturity Model. Subsequently, it will be discussed how the research results have found their way into practice (keyword: relevance). Here, the focus is on established communities of practice, whereby the application of the results in the context of the IT community of practice is examined in more detail. Finally, the results are subjected to a critical appraisal and an outlook on the need for further research is given.
Lars Baacke, René Fitterer, Anke Helmes, Tobias Mettler, Peter Rohner
A Research Agenda for Studying Platform Ecosystems
Platform ecosystems are complex ecologies of firms with individual and collective, intertwined interests, whose expansion and growth follows through the co-evolution of the digital platform core and the ecosystem participants’ interests and stakes. Adhering to a sociotechnical perspective, this chapter proposes a research agenda to study the co-evolution of platform ecosystems’ technical and social aspects comprising the digital platform and its ecosystem of heterogeneous stakeholders. The proposed research agenda seeks to provide a basis to generate both descriptive and design theories when studying platform ecosystems.
Kazem Haki
A Concept for an IT-Supported Integrated Earnings and Risk Management to Strengthen the Resilience of Companies in Times of Crisis
In this article, a multi-purpose performance measurement system is developed enabling companies from all industries to manage their business activities with uniform enterprise-wide earnings and risk measures as a value-oriented corporate management geared towards sustainability and resilience. In particular, the developed KPI system consistently supports continuous performance measurement and risk monitoring as well as ex ante decision support as core tasks of an IT-supported integrated earnings and risk management. Its application, especially in good times, strengthens the resilience of companies in times of crisis.
Hans-Ulrich Buhl, Björn Häckel, Christian Ritter
Data Vault as a Modeling Concept for the Data Warehouse
The choice of appropriate data models has been intensively discussed since the early days of the debate on the design of data warehouse architectures. Initially, the two camps of the multidimensional and the normalized relational modeling paradigm opposed each other.
However, since both modeling techniques prove to be suboptimal due to the specifics of the data warehouse concept, data vault models are increasingly used today. Data Vault not only supports the requirement for agility, but also enables complete traceability and auditability of any changes. Data Vault has therefore established itself as the standard in large core data warehouses.
Peter Gluchowski
Evaluating a Forward-Looking Maturity Model for Enterprise Performance Management
Enterprise performance management (EPM) helps in executing a company’s strategy. As current benchmarking approaches against the so-called “first quartile” are backward-looking and, thus, fail to capture the disruptive nature of digital technologies, a new zero-quartile benchmarking compares companies against the expected (collectively deemed best possible) state. However, its relevance was not yet demonstrated. Therefore, the objective of this article is to evaluate this new zero-quartile benchmarking approach with the help of a case study at a global supplier of natural ingredients and nutrition solutions which currently improves their EPM by leveraging digital technologies. We subsume our findings towards digital EPM as follows: (1) From playground to pitch: It is not easy to implement a digital enterprise platform. However, it should be a company’s future single source of truth. (2) Powering up a company’s crystal ball: Leveraging predictive analytics, companies should rethink their budgeting and forecasting. (3) Setting the scene: Companies should continue harmonizing their ERP while automating their standard reporting and analysis using finance bots.
Jörg H. Mayer, Christian Hebeler, Markus Esswein, Moritz Göbel, Reiner Quick
The Evolution of IT Management Standards in Digital Transformation: Current Status and Research Implications
For more than three decades professional standards have been popular as guidance and orientation to manage IT organizations. Although major standards like ITIL and COBIT have been updated with several versions to reflect changing requirements, their basic goals, concepts, and structures remained stable over time. In recent years this situation changed, when a number of new standards appeared to support new requirements for mastering digital transformation. This study explores the evolution of ITM standards during the last 20 years through analyzing a set of 60 formal, de facto, and emerging standards. Besides the rapid increase in number and update frequency starting in 2015, a shift of goals towards agility, lean management, and innovation was found. Finally, new problems and research questions raised by this evolution are presented.
Gunnar Auth
Towards Conscious Enterprises: The Role of Enterprise Engineering in Realizing Living Sciences Paradigms into Management Sciences
In this paper, we address the challenge of endowing enterprises with a “nervous system,” which enables its consciousness as a means to better deal with systemic aspects, the whole, of an organization. We propose using the Enterprise Engineering body of knowledge and expand that knowledge by using paradigms of life sciences as foundational bases for the continuous explanation of the whole and the emergence of organizational consciousness. Enterprise Engineering body of knowledge allows us to create artifacts to support the explicitness of its systemic aspects, dynamically continuously updated, which will help the parts, humans, and computers, to deal better, align themselves, and contribute to the whole. We present the Enterprise Operating System concept as a contribution to further research aiming to implement the proposed enterprise “nervous system” and realize the identified living science paradigms into governance and management systems.
Antonio Fernandes, José Tribolet
Digital Resilience to Normal Accidents in High-Reliability Organizations
Digital technologies play a dual role on organizational resilience. On one side, digital systems introduce new technological risks. On the other side, digital systems increase the performances in response to hazardous accidents. Normal Accident Theory (NAT) and High-Reliability Organization (HRO) provide useful ground to explain the dynamics of digital resilience. However, the two theories have been either used as alternatives or with one theory dominating the other. We posit that to fully understand digital resilience we need to integrate NAT and HRO concepts instead of using them in isolation. We conduct a bibliometric analysis to identify major themes and application domains characterizing HRO and NAT research. We look at similarities and differences between the two streams and we build an integrated framework for the analysis of digital resilience. With our systematic analysis of the NAT and HRO discourses we advance the current understanding on resilience in digitally enabled operations.
Paolo Spagnoletti, Stefano Za
Mind the Gap: Why There Is a Gap Between Information Systems Research and Practice, and How to Manage It
In this paper, we investigate the gap between information systems (IS) research and IS practice; why it exists and how it can be managed. In a qualitative study, we interview experts from both sides of the gap: IS researchers and IS practitioners. We identify different incentive systems, abstraction levels, and time frames as the main factors for the gap between IS research and practice. First, accepting and actually embracing the differences between research and practice is crucial. Building on mutual acceptance and shared understanding, we then draw on the notion of “boundary spanners” as a potential way to manage the IS research/practice gap via human agents that are considered legitimate and knowledgeable in both worlds. Eventually, we provide a set of specific recommendations for both IS research and IS practice to facilitate collaboration and improve mutual understanding, and some avenues for further research.
Ralf Abraham, Stefan Bischoff, Johannes Epple, Nils Labusch, Simon Weiss
The Connection Between Winter and Information Systems
The article documents a systematic literature review on the impacts of the season of winter on Information Systems. The search delivered 43 articles, of which 36 ended up to content analysis. On the contrary to the original research idea, winter seems to have no whatsoever impact on information systems, at least according to our sample. On the contrary, information systems are used to support key society activities in winter conditions. According to the findings the most important areas are road and airport maintenance and management in winter conditions, and increasing of wheat crops in winter time.
Reima Suomi
Engineering the Transformation of the Enterprise
Prof. Dr. Stephan Aier
Prof. Dr. Peter Rohner
Dr. Joachim Schelp
Copyright Year
Electronic ISBN
Print ISBN

Premium Partner