From the Editor's Desk
Welcome to the inaugural issue of the Service Science Society of Australia Newsletter. 

My name is Joel Kocherry, and I am a researcher and practitioner in AI-driven service innovation. 

In this issue, we are pleased to present 2 interviews. The first is with Prof. Athman Bouguettaya, the Founding President of the Service Science Society of Australia and the current Head of School of the School of Computer Science at the University of Sydney. The second is with an innovator in the business process management space, Niranjan Deodhar from Open Orbit. We also have an article on service innovation in the age of the virus, authored by Prof. Aditya Ghose, the current President of the Service Science Society of Australia (he is Professor of Computer Science and Director of the Decision Systems Lab at the University of Wollongong).

We aim to bridge the gap between the research community and industry. To that end, we would like to introduce an interactive section in the newsletter called "Ask the Guru's". We invite professionals from the industry to ask questions about technology via email. Please send your queries through to "".  Interesting questions will be published in our next edition of the newsletter. 

And finally, we would love to hear from you about what topics or technology interests you. We will consider all feedback when creating new content for the next newsletter. Please send through any feedback or suggestions to ""

Joel Kocherry

Professor Athman Bouguettaya
Head of School
School of Information Technologies
Faculty of Engineering and IT

What got you interested in service science?  

 It was a natural progression for me. I was working in the area of autonomous and heterogeneous databases up until the late ’90s when I realized that the interesting part was commoditizing the layer above, i.e., the application. It was called back then e-services. 

What inspired you to establish the Service Science Society of Australia (of which you served as founding President)? 
Back when I was at CSIRO, I realized that there were a lot of people working in the area of service science, but we had no formal framework to cooperate and advocate for such great potential. I got together with several of my colleagues from academia and industry and started talking about creating a national organization to educate and advocate for service science. This is how the service science society began.

What do you find most exciting in what you do? 
Services are ubiquitous, and yet we have not scratched the surface of opportunities in terms of deploying congruent solutions that apply to all types of services (government, social services, tourism, transport, etc.). I love the idea of services and how powerful it is. I can explain the powerful concept of services to all types of people, and yet I can also provide a very robust implementation of a service system.

What keeps you awake at night? 
We are missing the opportunity to capitalize on this great concept! I have made it my mission to delineate the concept of services from that of their implementation. We should be selling the concept and not its various implementations. As a community, we should focus on how it can be the right framework for addressing all kinds of problems because of the high commoditization we are experiencing. 

What are the most compelling opportunities for service science researchers at this time? 
Without any doubt in my mind that the confluence of big data, AI, and IoT, the service paradigm has a unique opportunity to make all the advances in these three areas accessible to a large number of people. There is a lot of research in service science that needs to take place to make that happen.

Does the coronavirus crisis present special challenges for service scientists? 
With every challenge, there is an opportunity. There is an opportunity here for service scientists to provide service-based solutions that deal with an environment where services are delivered home and where medical supplies and other essential supplies need to be delivered through advanced technologies like drones, enabling, for instance the emergence of concepts such as drones as a service or swarms of drones as a service.


Niranjan Deodhar
Director (Founder)
Open Orbit

What got you interested in business process and business service management? Was it the lessons learnt from your long and distinguished career in senior management of well-known consulting, IT and BPM companies?

It was the ethos that attracted me. When you look at the science and the art of processes – yes it is a bit of both – it is about always looking for better ways to do something. Always be in problem-solving mode, in improvement mode. If we only take instructions, we are no better than machines! But if we take what needs to be done, and also look to improve upon it, our work gets so much more interesting. 

I first found myself thinking and working like that quite early in my career when I was writing software. Instead of just writing more code that looked almost the same as the code I had just written, I wanted to write a code generator that wrote the new code. This was before object-oriented programming, so it needed some doing! Script generators that automatically created test jigs, and so on. Thereafter in management consulting, I worked on data warehousing programs, and we were not just building warehouses and reports, but improving how reporting got done in the business. 

Later on, when working with a BPM major, I came across Lean and Six Sigma and immediately took a liking. Now I step out of a conference hall and without stopping to think, I can see how they could change the layout of the tea and coffee station to reduce the queue length! It’s like a bug that gets you. Now everything is a process. 

What do you find most exciting in what you do at Open Orbit? 

The very purpose of Open Orbit is to apply Lean Six Sigma back onto itself. To improve how improvement is done. So in that sense, it is the ultimate recursive loop and hence doubly exciting for me. 

If you look at an improvement project, you could almost draw a value stream map of the project itself – look at all the value-adding workshops where new insights got created, and compare it to all the non-value-adding waste in between….waiting for data, creating status reports, pointless meetings about meetings…the business having to explain all their work in great detail to an external ‘change agent’ or practitioner. And then the inefficiencies in producing deliverables, getting approvals, dealing with resistance. 

At Open Orbit, we change all that, by turning Lean Six Sigma into common sense and putting it in the hands of the business user. The change practitioner then becomes the mentor – quite like the doctor reading an x-ray. The technology enables the business user to prepare their own x-ray of the broken process, and the doctor can quickly comment on the analysis. You wouldn’t call a doctor in to live with you for 3 weeks and give you a spiral-bound report – so why do that with a consultant or a BA? 

How technology can get inside the mind of the business-user-turned-problem-solver, and always be there like a mentor with the next relevant suggestion – that is the most exciting part of working at Open Orbit. 
More specifically, during this COVID-19 lockdown and work-from-home era, we are finding clients are benefiting greatly from how we enable remote, dispersed groups to come together into the same thinking space and solve problems together. Enabling clients to solve problems despite these constraints, and also to keep teams engaged and cohesive because they are solving problems together – that is also very rewarding. We are helping build resilience of teams in the face of this disruption. 

What keeps you awake at night?

It doesn’t get that bad! But there are things that get in the way and keep us from growing faster. 

In the first place, not all managers are ready to turn their people into assets, into problem solvers. They just want to see people as cost and reduce their number. A company going through a painful and drastic reduction in head-count will not have the management headset to do something that empowers and builds capability. 

Then there is the occasional defensive reaction from practitioners and consultants. They reject the idea that their thinking pattern can be algorithmised. That is starting to change – many now see the potential to be at the head of the disruption that is going to happen to management consulting anyway, and want to be the winners from it. But some still resist. 

Then there is the usual background of change resistance in any large enterprise. But that is not unique to us – all enterprise software companies have to find ways around it, and there are many tried and tested tricks to it!

What are the most compelling opportunities for professionals in this space?

To be at the head of this curve of disruption! We should not see ourselves as building process maps or RPA specs. We should see ourselves as doctors who can read the x-rays self-administered by the patient – the business user in this case. There is plenty of work out there, and this way we will address a broader scope of problems, and earn higher rates in the process. The doctor charges – what….$80 dollars for 20 minutes….but patients don’t complain because they only need 20 minutes. With us, it won’t be quite down to minutes, but it can get down to hours, and at a significantly better rate than is presently the case when we sell at ‘daily rate’ and do jobs that go over months. 

Does the coronavirus crisis present special challenges for BPM professionals?

Yes – our profession has traditionally been seen as a contact sport, and you can’t play contact sport right now. No workshops, no sticky notes all over the wall…

It has also been seen by some (though not all) as somewhat optional in a time of crisis….so something like “let me just get past today, I will worry about improvement tomorrow”.

However as they say, every crisis has an opportunity. Under lockdown, we can, if we want to, show that our work doesn’t have to be a contact sport. And when done right, it can create immediate relief in times of crisis, rather than get in the way of survival. For that, we have to be orders of magnitude faster – create change in hours and days, not weeks and months. And we have to do it with less intrusion on the SME’s time than the traditional workshop method. So it is a win-win situation.

We enable this and know it can be done. Our clients will back up this statement. It would be great to see the profession as a whole embrace this new method of getting patients to self-administer x-rays of their broken process so we can (remotely if need be) read them as doctors would, and advise on the course of action.
Service innovation in the age of the virus
Prof. Aditya Ghose
President, Service Science Society of Australia
Professor of Computer Science
Director, Decision Systems Lab
University of Wollongong

For someone interested in the enabling technology and theoretical underpinnings of service innovation, recent moves in the service delivery landscape as a response to the coronavirus pandemic have been quite exciting. 

Consider what the Australian government has achieved in a matter of days. The public and private hospital systems have been merged into one for treating coronavirus patients. Medical staff, ICU beds and such have been merged into a single shared resource pool.

Australian Defence Force personnel and law enforcement officers now constitute a shared pool of resources for managing overseas arrivals who go into quarantine. You will see ADF personnel and police engaged in escorting overseas arrivals to hotels and in patrolling these hotel premises to ensure there are no “quarantine-jumpers”.

The hotel rooms themselves are another shared resource pool.

The supermarket chains have had a sudden surge in demand for workers, and there has been talk of using airline workers who have been stood down as a similar resource pool.

This is not a uniquely Australian phenomenon, but it is the one that I am able to observe up close and first-hand.

If we are able to swing these kinds of outcomes in war-like circumstances, can we also do this in more normal settings? Is there value in doing this in more normal settings?

I think the answer to both questions is yes. 

Viewed through the lens of service science, what we’re looking at is the rapid configuration and deployment of a resource cloud. The resource clouds of interest might include as components a people cloud, an equipment cloud and a facilities cloud, each interdependent on the other. The pool of medical personnel will be able to access a shared pool of medical equipment (PPE, ventilators and such) and operate out of a shared pool of facilities (railway carriages re-purposed as ICUs as has been done in India or a naval hospital ship such as the one that recently sailed into New York harbour).

What kinds of technological support can we provide to this enterprise? We could use IT in various manifestations to discover resources, maintain a resource register, negotiate SLAs, merge workflows and work-practices, resolve policy and business rule conflicts and optimally allocate resources, to list just a very few. Each of these provides rich pickings for anyone interested in developing commercially promising new technologies. This is also an exciting research roadmap for those of us in academia.

Taking a step back, what are the larger tectonic shifts at play? Has the coronavirus forced us to become more egalitarian? As a society, are we showing a greater willingness to dilute claims to personal ownership in times of crisis? Is it going to be a case of sometimes placing the community above self?

Without necessarily subscribing to a socialist political agenda, these might be good things after all.

(This article originally appeared as a Linkedin blog post)
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