Centre for Information Management

Our research

Research projects & grants

Research topics that are currently being pursued are:

AI2M: Adaptive Informatics for Intelligent Manufacturing
Principle investigator: Professor Thomas Jackson
Funded by: ESPRC (2012) / Fund amount: £2.4m

This ESPRC project brings together a cluster of academic and industrial practitioners in information science and manufacturing to research and develop an on-demand, intelligent product lifecycle service system for increased yield for products and processes that can bridge the information gaps associated with inefficient supply chain integration and the lack of knowledge on product usage throughout design, development and operational lifecycles. The outcomes of this project will have application across a diverse range of industrial sectors, for both those consortium members already identified (aerospace, automotive, defence, R3 (i.e. reuse, recycle and remanufacture)) and other manufacturing and service companies alike.

This project built a new network between academic research staff from across the domains of mathematical sciences, information and communication technology, and engineering at Loughborough University. The project has provided a platform for interdisciplinary based research projects and resulted in a collaborative research environment between academics and industrial partners.

The challenge of this project is to develop an on-demand intelligent product lifecycle service system for increased yield (Table 1) for products and processes that can bridge the information gaps associated with inefficient supply chain integration and a lack of knowledge on product usage throughout lifecycles. Current commercial solutions are limited to “on-site” silos of information that are restricting UK manufacturing in terms of its ability to: (i) optimise efficiency in materials, resource, energy utilisation, (ii) speed up innovation, (iii) improve the generation and exploitation of manufacturing intelligence, (iv) support supply chain collaboration throughout the product and process lifecycles and (v) enable new business models and technologies to be readily adopted (e.g. product service systems (PSS) supporting either product operation, usage or results oriented business models).

Key research challenges cover: (i) Service Foundations (e.g., dynamically reconfigurable architectures, data and process integration and sematic enhanced service discovery); (ii) Service Composition (e.g. composability analyses, dynamic and adaptive processes, quality of service compositions, business driven compositions); (iii) Service Management and Monitoring (e.g. self: -configuring, -adapting, -healing, -optimising and -protecting) and (iv) Service Design and Development (e.g. engineering of business services, versioning and adaptivity, governance across supply chains).

AURA: The African Universities’ Research Approaches
Principle investigator: Dr Mark Hepworth
Funded by: DIFID (2014) / Fund amount: £2million

The African Universities’ Research Approaches programme (AURA), funded by UK Aid and led by the Institute of Development Studies (IDS) in partnership with the Information Training and Outreach Centre for Africa (ITOCA) and Dr Mark Hepworth at the Centre for Information Management (CIM), Loughborough University, will work with up to nine universities in Sub-Saharan Africa to enrich the research and teaching practices of academics working in health, agriculture and the environment.

AURA’s overarching aim is to address the continent-wide goals of supporting universities to transform Africa through investments in people-centred innovations that will bring about economic prosperity and democratic and responsive governance.

April 2016 update: Dr Hepworth and colleagues from the AURA project were in Kenya conducting fieldwork, see photos below, with an impact report that followed (link coming):

Dr Mark Hepworth with AURA colleagues and academics in Kenya      
Dr Hepworth (front row, white top) 

For more information, please go to the AURA website.

Benefits Realization Management
Principle investigator: Dr Crispin R. Coombs and Professor Neil F. Doherty

Many organizations fail to achieve the intended benefits from their IS/IT investments. While there are many theoretical prescriptions as to how planned benefits may be realized from IS/IT investments, there is very little empirical evidence as to how such advice is being followed in practice. Our research addresses this gap through a series of projects examining different aspects of the benefits management process, both during and post implementation.

Benefits realization from ERP systems: The role of customization: Crispin Coombs, Neil Doherty, Usman Aslam 2010 – 2013 Funded by: School of Business and Economics
One recommended approach to improve the likelihood of ERP system success and thereby delivery of benefits, is to avoid package customization. However, it appears that implementing a truly ‘vanilla’ system, although desirable, is rarely achieved. Research that explores the relationship between ERP system customization and benefits realization is lacking. This study helps to fill this gap using an existing benefits management framework and explicitly examining the role of customization in ERP projects.

An assessment of the Benefits Dependency Network as a post-hoc evaluation tool: Crispin Coombs, Mazer Hussain 2009 – 2011
Previous studies have recommended formal benefits realization approaches to improve the outcomes of systems development projects through proactive management of organizational change. However, benefits are often only considered during the initial business case and many IS/IT projects end with the project being technically completed, but with benefits lacking. This study examined a recently completed under-performing information system using an existing benefits framework: the Benefits Dependency Network (BDN). The study critiqued the BDN as post-hoc evaluation tool and demonstrated that the BDN provides valuable insights to explain why planned benefits are not realized.

A benefit focused approach to develop a NHS Trust clinical trials support system: Neil Doherty, Crispin Coombs, Ron Summers, Mark Hepworth, Nilesh Dudhal, Hiten Vyas 2006 – 2008 Funded by: University Hospitals of Leicester and Department of Business Innovation and Skills
The aim of our research project was to develop a purpose-built clinical trials support system [CTSS], which would be sufficiently comprehensive, integrated and flexible, so as to support the vast majority of research studies that were to be managed and conducted by one UK-based health authority. It was agreed at the project’s outset that an explicit benefits’ realization approach should be integrated into the system’s development activity. The project provided new insights into the integration of benefits realization and structured development tools and practices: we describe how the benefits dependency network has been successfully related to use case diagrams.

Outputs: Doherty, N.F., Dudhal, N., Coombs, C.R., Summers, R., Vyas, H., Hepworth, M. and Kettle, E., ''Towards an Integrated Approach to Benefits Realization Management - Reflections from the Development of a Clinical Trials Support System'', The Electronic Journal Information Systems Evaluation, 11(2), April 2008, pp 83-90http://issuu.com/academic-conferences.org/docs/ejise-volume11-issue2-article723 

Business transformation and benefits realization through information systems: Neil Doherty, Colin Ashurst, Joe Peppard 2002 – 2007
This project provided a fresh perspective on the challenges of benefit realization from IT. It explored how to build the organizational capability to realize the strategic potential of information technology. It is sought to tackle the gap between theory and practice and explore how to gain wider adoption of successful socio-technical and benefits-driven approaches to investments in IT.

Outputs: Ashurst, C., Doherty, N.F. and Peppard, J., ''Improving the Impact of IT Development Projects: The Benefits Realization Capability Model'', European Journal of Information Systems, 17, 2008, pp 352-370 http://hdl.handle.net/2134/8182

Doherty, N.F., Ashurst C. and Peppard, J. “Factors affecting the successful realization of benefits from systems development projects: findings from three case studies” Journal of Information Technology (2012) 27, 1–16 http://hdl.handle.net/2134/9404
Ashurst, C. (2011) Benefits Realization from Information Technology, Palgrave Macmillan.

DIVA: Data Intensive Visual Analytics
Provenance and Uncertainty in Human Terrain Analysis
Principle Investigator: Dr JD Wood; Co-Investigators: Dr D Stephens Professor JA Dykes, Dr K Xu.
Funded by: ESPRC (2012) / Fund amount: £215,000

Dr Derek Stephens and other researchers at City University London and Middlesex University are spearheading the development of methods for Data Intensive Visual Analytics (DIVA) through a project funded by the Engineering and Physical Sciences Research Council (EPSRC) and the UK's Defence Science and Technology Laboratory (DSTL).

The £215,000 exploratory project investigates visual approaches for understanding and communicating dynamic, uncertain and frequently conflicting data that are derived from numerous sources. The research team will develop methods for storing, communicating and utilising metadata about the data themselves and the processes used in their analysis and interpretation. They will focus on issues such as data origin, data quality and analytical process. The methods will use cutting edge visualization methods and be transferable and applicable at both operational and strategic levels in a number of domains that rely upon data intensive systems.

Email Knowledge Extraction
Principle investigator: Professor Thomas Jackson

EKE is a world-leading email knowledge extraction system that currently has the best f-measure output in the world. The software has gained interest from many organisations, for example, Citi Bank, Welsh Assembly, The National Archives. We are continuing to develop the research with the ASA and The National Archives and software to perform an extended range of tasks, for example, automatic email classification that can be used on email archives at The National Archives. The research has also led to a number of academic publications and keynote talks at the Records Management Society Conference and the Public Sector Forum Conference.

EMOTIVE - Extracting the Meaning Of Terse Information in a Geo-Visualisation of Emotion
Principle investigator: Professor Thomas Jackson Co-Investigator: Dr. Ann O’Brien
Research Associate: Dr. Martin Sykora

Funded by: ESPRC (2012) / Fund amount: £88,500

For more information, please visit the Emotive website.

iMAPS - Integrated Mapping of Factors for Participation in Swimming

This project will use the output, a statistical model, from previous research (Jackson, Bartlett, Parboteeah) on profiling and predicting swimming demand in the UK to create a visual analysis and prediction tool for the Amateur Swimming Association (ASA). With the Olympics renewing interest in sport, this is an ideal opportunity to validate the model and to add a visual interface that will enable end-users easy access to what is currently a complex SPSS interface. By testing the model on swimming data and other sports, and providing a user-friendly interface, it will bring the tool closer to commercialisation.

A number of objectives have been identified for this project:

  1. Conduct a systems requirement analysis to determine how the ASA would use the visualisation analysis and prediction tool, and understand their needs for the system.
  2. Design the analysis and prediction tool using UML and liaise with project stakeholders (as identified in objective 1) to determine the final design.
  3. Create the historical analysis of part of the visualisation tool. This aspect will take historical data inputs, conduct the analysis identified during the previous research, and present a visual representation of the results. The view would be customisable and could focus on certain areas/demographics if desired. Output – visual data analysis and presentation tool for swimming.
  4. Test and validate the results and interface of the tool.
  5. Construct the prediction component of the visualisation tool. This aspect will use the approach identified in the previous research project to conduct analysis on the same dataset previously imported (objective 3) and make predictions on swimming numbers and factors. Output – visual demand prediction tool for swimming.
  6. Test and validate the results and interface of the tool.
  7. Once tested and validated, explore opportunities to apply the modelling and visualisation techniques to swimming on a worldwide scale, and other sports to aid with potential commercialisation of the tool. Output – visual demand prediction tool for other specific sports.

 The outputs of this project will have significant societal impacts.  The positive impact of participation in sport and active recreation on physical health is now well accepted. The overall aim of the ASA is to increase the number of people who swim. Better understanding the reasons for both participation and non-participation, as well as being able to easily analyse and interpret the data will help achieve this aim and, ultimately, increase the health of the nation, both physically and mentally.  

Understanding of localised factors for swimming participation will enable campaigns to be tailored specifically with the aim to break down the barriers facing participation within certain communities and under-represented groups.   Accompanying this impact on well- being and health comes the economic benefits of there being less resources spent on health care, where currently considerably more medical costs are incurred for inactive people.  Thus increased participation potentially will reduce premature mortality.  Additionally the project will create new business models for leisure centres and the like based upon the embedded knowledge from understanding the localised factors for participation. 

One of the five legacy promises of the previous Governments published Legacy Action Plan (June 2008) was to make the UK a world-leading sporting nation: this included a commitment to help at least two million more people in England be more active by 2012.  The output of this project will enable analysis of this legacy with relation to swimming.  It will also enable informed decisions on campaigns, like free swimming to the over-60 and under-16 age groups that some local authorities are endorsing.

It is also envisaged that this tool will be able to do some post event evaluation, to assess any extra interest in sport generated by the Olympics, making this project very timely. Beyond swimming, the model will be adapted so it can be applied to other sports. This enable benefits to the country as a whole, as it will enable coordination of leisure resources in a particular region; having the knowledge to know when and how to target a particular audience and, having the ability to accurately predict demand and usage, brings clear economic benefit in times of austerity.

MAIPLE (Managing Access to the Internet in Public Libraries)
Principle Investigator: Dr Louise Cooke; Co-Investigators: Claire Creaser and Adrienne Muir Research Associate Rachel Spacey

The Arts & Humanities Research Council has provided funding of over £200,000 to a team from the former Department of Information Science (DIS), now comprised in the Centre for information Management at the School of Business and Economics, and LISU to conduct a two-year study investigating the Management of Access to the Internet in Public Libraries (MAIPLE).

The introduction of internet access in public libraries has been important in generating greater equality of access to information for UK citizens and has enabled significant steps to be taken in the provision of electronic public services (e.g. the ability to renew driving licences online). This offers considerable potential benefit to both the government and the citizen, in terms of cost-savings, accessibility, democratic participation, environmental sustainability etc. However, the provision of public internet access has also led to concerns that such access would lead to misuse and the downloading of inappropriate and illegal content.

To date, there has been little research undertaken that provides a comprehensive picture of measures taken in the UK to address these concerns, or of the effectiveness and impact of alternative approaches. The project therefore aims to fill this gap by identifying and quantifying measures implemented in UK public libraries to regulate and manage access to Internet content. It will investigate the adoption of technical measures such as filtering software, and organisational measures such as Internet Use Policies, as well as the provision of user education.

For more information, please visit the MAIPLE website.

Navigating the Gap
Principle investigator: Professor Thomas Jackson

Research is carried out on the development of new models and tools to overcome the language barrier that exists between business managers and technologists. Tools need to be sufficiently robust in order to support systems development in settings that are both multi-disciplinary and multi-agency and also to support different modes of research, diverse theories and perspectives. The practical rewards can be great, offering contributions that are beyond the scope of a single discipline or field of research.

Embedding Systems Engineering in Jaguar Land Rover: Dr Donna Champion 2011-2012Funded by: Jaguar Land Rover Value: £36,000
This research project is developing new frameworks and tools to address the business challenges associated with implementing the new future state and the associated Systems Engineering principles across the Electrical Departments in Jaguar Land Rover.

Developing new measures of organizational resilience: Shi Tang, Dr Donna Champion Dr Nicola Bateman Funded by: School of Business and Economics
This research is focusing on systems approaches to resilience with an emphasis on systems engineering and managing large, multi-discipline teams.

Bridging the Gap -Enabling a strategic and long lasting alliance between academic research staff at Loughborough University: Principal Investigator: Professor R. Kalawsky Co Investigators: Dr D. Champion, Dr J.P. Ward, Dr E. Edirisinghe, Professor R. Summers 2006-2010 Funded by: EPSRC Grant Number: EP/E018521/1 Value: £194,280

Robust Lifecycle Design and Health Monitoring for Fuel-Cell Extended Performance (RESILIENCE)
Principle investigator: Professor Thomas Jackson
Funded by: ESPRC (2013) / Fund amount: £909,687

The durability and reliability of producing high quality power for long periods of time have the potential to be the leading marketing factors for future hydrogen and fuel cell power sources.  Improvements to current real-world environment durability levels, and hence improving the performance criteria, is limited by: (i) a lack of understanding of the state of the cell/stack, (ii) the lack of ability to deal with data currently obtained in an informed manner, and (iii) the limited support and decision making throughout the lifecycle to optimise performance.

The vision of this proposal is to develop an optimal integrated fuel cell system design, encompassing an intelligent health monitoring capability, to enable maximised lifecycle performance.  This will be achieved within a real-time dynamic and adaptive intelligent lifecycle infrastructure yielding the increased optimised performance of cells (e.g. self: -monitoring, -adapting, -optimising and –protecting). Providing an intelligent information infrastructure leading to smarter, optimised cells will require leading edge research to semantically model relationships between the cell and environmental data coupled with the necessity of performance techniques which enable systems to be optimally designed for reliability, with an intelligent diagnostic and prognostic capability.

RESILIENCE aims to improve the current real-world environment durability levels, hence improving the performance criteria, through:

● Understanding of the state of the cell/stack;

● Dealing with data currently obtained in an informed manner;

● Support and decision making ability through the lifecycle to optimise performance.

From RESILIENCE, an optimal integrated fuel cell system design will be developed, which encompasses an intelligent health monitoring capability for maximised lifecycle performance. This will be achieved within a real-time dynamic and adaptive intelligent lifecycle infrastructure yielding the increased optimised performance of cells (e.g. self: -monitoring, -adapting, -optimising and -protecting). Providing an intelligent information infrastructure leading to smarter, optimised cells will require leading edge research to semantically model relationships between the cell and environment data coupled with the necessity of performance techniques which enables systems to be optimally designed for reliability, with an intelligent diagnostic and prognostic capability.

The proposed research will form a new platform of activity in hydrogen and fuel cell reliability and durability intelligence, underlining the principles of one of the UK’s key strategic targets on energy production and reduced emissions, and having direct commercial utilisation and impact with engagement from one of the leading fuel cell companies with the UK. The RESILIENCE project is a timely extension of the current SUPERGEN Hydrogen and Fuel Cells HUB programme activities aimed at research into hydrogen and fuel cell technologies.  The area of research of this proposal is distinct in nature though will prove insightful to the work within the HUB, in particular to Work Package 2 (Hydrogen and Fuel Cell Systems), Work Package 3 (Hydrogen and Fuel Cell Safety) and Work Package 7 (Polymer Electrolyte Fuel cells).

The research will deliver a broad generic capability applicable to industries where replacement of current high emission power sources is paramount.  The RESILIENCE beneficiaries include: Intelligent Energy via improved fuel cell technology development, improved system design, and enhanced prognostic ability, all enabling improved service provision and enhanced reputation in the low carbon power source field; and other power source companies currently utilising fuel cell power source technologies, such as automotive, aerospace, railway and electrical power distribution, via an improved capability to maximise the durability of the system.

All of these beneficiaries highlight the national importance to addressing the long term UK emission targets for a sustainable future. The proposed research activity will position the Hydrogen and fuel cell community with new, internationally leading capabilities to offer in durable low emission power generation.  Commercialisation may be via UK fuel cell third parties, new UK business investment or SME supply chain development and partnerships.

The Resilience website is: www.resilience.lboro.ac.uk