INSO – Industrial Software

Research focus of INSO

The inter-university research group Industrial Software (INSO) deals with the planning, architecture, construction, operation, maintenance and evolution of (software) systems in the large, real IT environment. The methodological and empirical focus points are quite "conventional": it is about appropriately required technologies and architectures, the structure of relevantly effective projects, suitable or unsuitable processes, effective or unsuitable products, and the necessary and capable people and delivery resources (experts, suitable teams, engineering & research) for a successful implementation, i.e., enforcement of an excellent solution.

INSO is the science & research of building very complex, very large IT systems. These include global platforms, whole-of-government systems, overarching mobility solutions, whole-of-government infrastructures, and highly secure or high-performance systems. As an "Engineering Science Group", the empiricism of concrete construction is the methodological primacy in INSO.

Aristotle: "The whole is more than the sum of its parts":

Classical scientific approaches push "research in-depth" and thus detailed disciplines as their primacy. The think tank community of INSO is naturally concerned with all innovations and proposals from the refinement of the associated scientific subdisciplines. At the same time, a very high (engineering) scientific, methodical impetus is appropriate to that sphere, which is dedicated to the concretely required elements, building blocks, and procedures of the overall integration towards a functioning overall IT system in the large real environment.

These have to be identified, marked, made visible, and documented. They are definitely to be found in technical and very technology-related tasks and problems and are not - as a widespread assumption criticizes - simply to be located as an abstract-general "waste product" of stakeholder topics such as budgets, resources, program management, project policy, project risk management, and promoter handling. The esprit of INSOlanians is devoted to these often hidden mechanisms of the overall system, with active respect and natural exchange with the scientific mainstream.

Empiricism of End-to-End-Engineering (EEE):

INSO can, understands, and dedicates itself to this, among other things, particularly the methods, problem circles and experiences around the topic EEE. In this context, weighing and weighting, i.e., the concrete assessment of procedures, methods, resources, and specialists, plays an important, dominant methodological role. Even more so than the spontaneous, situational "McGyversian" invention.

Large IT projects always contain a very large amount of research and development beyond conventional implementation, not least because of the uncertainty, volatility, and ambiguity of the "right recipe". Empirical evidence in the field shows that for IT innovation investments of €50 million or more, a rate of 60% coverage of the subsequent implementation reality with the original planning in the actual implementation of a large-scale project is more of a positive stroke of luck than a reliable method. In practice, a poorly understood in-house IT brownfield or a currently critical mix of new technologies (e.g., IoT with AI) is enough to lead to much smaller budgets of €5-10 million and 500 person-months far past the target and plan. Appropriate, experienced, engineering-driven EEE is the most essential, non-trivial engineering solution method to "tame" IT innovation in this aspect.

3 classes of research groups

End-to-end engineering has three major pillars in information and software engineering at large, derived from the IT experience of the last 40 years, which INSO tries to map through its groups:

  • the technical pillar, if the "potentially in its complexity underestimated project and technology adventure" cannot be implemented via conventional technologies and their simple and natural "blending" but requires new, possibly transverse mixtures or even new technologies
  • .
  • The domain pillar, if the "potentially in its complexity underestimated project and technology adventure" cannot be "tamed" via good technologies and smart procedures and processes alone, i.e., if a comprehensive technical immersion and high domain knowledge should enter into a sensitive and intensive alloy with modern information technology, so that the system goal, the arrival in the Far Island (a great, useful solution) can also be achieved.
  • The methodological dual pillar, if for the achievement of the goal two disciplines interact due to digitization needs, which methodologically "tick" very differently and therefore "speak different languages". In such a case of cooperation between information technology and more anthropocentric or not always scientific disciplines (e.g., art, psychology, medicine, design), which should nevertheless result in a complex IT system, INSO falls back on the tradition of action of the Weimar BAUHAUS (joint workshop as a method) and has already had positive experiences with its implementation.

The commandment of intellectual humility

In this way of thinking and with this paradigm, exciting detailed research groups can be found in INSO, which are aware of the overriding scientific goal and nevertheless "modestly" first conduct conventional research and science in order to finally obtain the essence as the "spice of knowledge" at the long end of the research work. To work out that little extra that comes from reversing the classical path of knowledge from the laboratory to the field: INSO groups should be more interested than other groups in information technology research in what is going on in the large, real environment (in the EEE), what deviates from the expectation of the top-down and thus yields different insights than those directly attainable on the mainstream science path. Naturally, the mainstream is always also duty and basis, i.e., the everyday partner, measurement, and interaction place.

Does INSO achieve this claim always, in every group, at every time? No! This also depends on cycles, topics, people, and scientific fortune. INSO operates two classes of research groups. Those whose empiricism is strongly in information technology (the technical pillar) and those whose empiricism is in the application and domain (the domain pillar). We are always looking forward to the scientific-theoretical discourse on whether our experiences with "technological blending" or "subject-technical alloys" are methodologically authentic and useful. We are gladly available for an exchange in epistemology.

Background, history, future

The INSO research group was founded by Professor Grechenig in 2004 and grew out of a research group at TU Wien called RISE, whose activities date back to the 1990s. Today, RISE is an independent, successful digital technology manufacturer and innovator in the European and global market, which has supported the INSO research group economically since its founding, thus giving it a continuity that will extend beyond the personal activities of the founder. INSO sees itself as a driver of Europe's digital independence, which naturally builds on cutting-edge global research and is capable of producing globally leading digital technology.