Sunday, June 14, 2009

CAiSE / PRET 2009 - looking back in review

Last week I spent the day at CAiSE / PRET as my chapter was included in the proceedings. It was a rather interesting day spent listening and discussing topics related to research being pushed over the line into practice. My favorite topic!

The PRET (industrial papers) section of the conference was opened by W. van der Aalst with a nicely integrated look at process mining. He tied it up in a story line based on TomTom, so with process mining they expect to provide navigation like functionality to your business by mining the various data sources. This is done with a tool called ProM.

Lots of pretty stuff can be done with this tooling. I really loved the live simulations of processes running through a generated process flow that the tool came up with after mining some data source. To be truthful, I was left with the feeling that even though the ideas and such are interesting it misses the connection to reality. My biggest problems were that you can only cut some costs in a project by generating the process flow (i.e. less hours spent on modeling by the IA/BI gals). What about the rest of the project players? It does nothing to speed up my work as a team lead developing these processess. The use cases are not generated... what about integration to the various business data sources, this was left blank in the presentation.

Finally we were put through a long story about nothing from a Cordys executive. Must have been a reason, but I only got the message that Cordys can solve all your problems, but no details included.

When the break came about it was time for viewing our posters, which is always fun to watch. I put these things together and am always curious to the reactions or even if anyone will stop to ponder my work. Luckily I did not waste my time creating this poster as it was well pondered!

After the break it was time for a new concept, a sort of mini overview of the papers grouped in my session, followed by an audience discussion with author participation coming from within the ranks of the audience. My paper was well received and I even had some nice reactions from the Session Chair (he liked my use of "Happy Flow" so much, it is a standard in his vocabulary now).

It was nice to have a chance to mix it up with people from not only the practical side of the business, but researchers and manager level minds as well. It was a rather lively discussion and I was rather impressed with this type of session. Often simple conference presentations can be incredibly bad, to downright awful if the presenter is having some English troubles.

The afternoon session was more in Enterprise Architecture and not really my area of interest. Soon after this we were all headed into the city of Amsterdam for some dinner and social talks over beer. I walked past some of my old hangouts from my university days and was devastated to find my regular bar twisted into some sort of hip lounge place now called 'Mini Bar'. I must be getting really old... ;-)