Friday, January 9, 2009

ICIS 2008

Indeed it was a busy weekend. Around 1,400 people gathered in Paris for the 2008 International Conference on Information Systems (ICIS). Several great presentations and exciting panels (for example Design Science in IS, and IS Reserch and Education in the Post-industrial Economy) argument the need and urgence to transform the IS field in a profound way. I agree - let's move in a pro-active way.

My small contribution was to discuss three excellent teaching cases. A great teaching case has to be like Leonardo da Vinci's "Mona Lisa" painting: intriguing, well crafted, and provoking. The three teaching cases were:

Tracking Freight Railcars in Indian Railways: Technology Options and Stakeholder Interests by Srivastava, Shirish, HEC School of Management, Paris; Mathur, Sharat, Indian Railways; and Teo, Thompson S. H., National University of Singapore.

To Make or to Buy? Outsourcing Decisions at Zurich Cantonal Bank by Katharina Reinecke, Abraham Bernstein, and Stefanie Hauske, University of Zurich.

Indo Gives Its Sales Force New Mobility Technology by Sandra Sieber, IESE Business School.

We also organized on Monday December 15, 2008 the CBS-HSE-RSM reception in Hotel Le Meridien, see picture. Great to have colleagues from around the world at our reception.

WISE 2008

Great presentations and a great crowd. The Twentieth Workshop on Information Systems and Economics (WISE) with the program co-chairs Anindya Ghose, Geoffrey Parker, Arun Sundararajan, and Marshall Van Alstyne was held in Paris. The session I was asked to chair had four great presentations:

Ta-Wei Wang, Karthik Kannan and Jackie Rees. Investors Perceptions on Information Security Incidents

Atanu Lahiri, Rajiv Dewan and Marshall Freimer. On the Pricing of Wireless Services: Application Pricing versus Traffic Pricing

Ashish Agarwal, Pei-yu Chen and Tridas Mukhopadhyay. Beyond Simple Plug and Play: Theory of Alliances in the Software Industry

Mei Lin, Xuqing Ke and Andrew Whinston. Ad-Supported Duopoly Competition: Advertise Selectively?

Abstracts and papers can be downloaded here.

WeB 2008 In Paris

Both Andy Whinston (University of Texas), Vikas Krishna (IBM Almaden Research Center) and myself had the honor to held key notes at the very interesting pre-ICIS workshop WeB 2008 - this year in Paris.

Here is the summary of my talk.

The Value of Smart Business Networks: Experiments and Experiences


Organizations are moving, or must move, from today’s relatively stable and slow-moving business networks to that open digital platform where business is conducted across a rapidly-formed network with anyone, anywhere, anytime despite different business processes and computer systems. The disadvantages and associated costs of the more traditional approaches are caused by the inability to provide relative complex, bundled, and fast delivered products and services. The potential of the new business network approach is to create these types of products and services with the help of combining business network insights with telecommunication capabilities.

The “business” is no longer a self-contained organization working together with closely coupled partners. It is a participant in a number of networks where it may lead or act together with others. The “network” takes additional layers of meaning – from the ICT infrastructures to the interactions between businesses and individuals. Rather than viewing the business as a sequential chain of events (a value chain), actors in a smart business network seek linkages that are novel and different creating remarkable, “better than usual” results.

In this presentation we discuss the latest research results undertaken by different actors in the Smart Business Network Initiative (SBNi). The results of experiments and experiences show that there are several critical capabilities that determine the value of smart business networks. We discuss three components. Firstly, the number of nodes that an actor can “see” from a specific position in the network is important. With a larger network horizon a company can take a more advantageous network position depending on the distribution of the network horizons across all actors and up to a certain saturation point. Secondly, the way that a business network has the ability to “rapidly pick, plug, and play” to configure rapidly to meet a specific objective, for example, to react to a customer order or an unexpected situation (for example dealing with emergencies). Quick connect and disconnect capabilities combined with product, service, and process modularization is crucial. Thirdly, the way flexible decision making is supported with a service-oriented architecture. With the help of business network dashboards managers are able to improve their strategic and operational decision making.

Online Reverse Auctions

Ulad Radkevitch defended on October 10, 2008 his PhD thesis entitled "Online Reverse Auctions for Procurement of Services".

Here follows the text of my "laudatio":

"It is a privilege for me to be the first one to congratulate you with your PhD degree. Ulad congratulations! And co-promotor Otto Koppius is joining me in congratulating you with this result. We are proud that you made an excellent contribution both to theory and practice resulting in not only a dissertation but also publications such as in Decision Support Systems.

You started your time at Erasmus Univeristy with an internship with professor Ron Lee. During that internship we met and we had a discussion about the pro’s and con’s of executing a PhD project. The result was that you applied in 2003 to the PhD project 'The Impact of Reverse Auctions in Business Networks'.

From the beginning you were happy with this topic and very focused – you had already yourself some experience about the role and impact of online reverse auctions. However, the beginning was not easy. Developing a coherent research proposal with a coherent conceptual framework was a struggle but the comments of the external reviewers were positive, helpful and rewarding. The result is an empirically coherent dissertation.

The first part of your thesis (chapter 2, 3 and 4) deals with in-depth analysis of transaction data of online marketplaces like eLance and RentaCoder. In your dissertation you write on page 84 'To extract data from the website of the online marketplace we used Kapow RoboSuite. A web extraction agent; Microsoft Excel and SPSS were employed at the stage of data processing and analysis'.

I know that this one liner does not fully reflect your enormous efforts to develop a very sophisticated agent system that extracted data from web sites. I remembered that during that period I walked into your office and that your computer was running day and night to get thousands of transactions from these markets. In total 14,086 events are analyzed in these three chapters (and that is just a selection of the data set you build). But you did not only build, test and run the software but also set up good relationships with the people of these markets for example with the founder of RentACoder.

The second part of your thesis the case study of a construction project in Amsterdam was also a challenge. Jan Siderius – founder of Negometrix suggested this case to analyse the impact of online reverse auctions in detail. It is one of the first studies that follow such a project in great detail and you did show that you are able to execute both quantitative and qualitative studies at a very high quality level. With the help of Wouter Vermeer you were able to cope with Dutch language barriers and the typical (sometimes) unwritten rules of the construction industry.

Doing research is important but also presenting research to the outside world is a critical aspect of PhD research. I think one of the highlights of your PhD project was the presentation at ICIS in Milwaukee in 2006. In preparing the presentation I remembered we had some very intense discussions ( I really had to act here as the tough supervisor) but your performance at ICIS was just great. Afterwards we enjoyed a beer tasting evening in one of the typical Milwaukee bars.

Otto Koppius and I have excellent memories about our discussions (ranging from topics such as the essence of Snir and Hitt’s work and how to do better; the design of a new bachelor course on IT outsourcing; or the impact of online reverse auctions on the performance of industries worldwide). But also about your cohesive role you played in our department as a socially conscious person; new faculty members were introduced by Ulad in the Rotterdam scene and other cities in Europe.

Overall, you have shown via hard work, discipline, and intellectual curiosity that you are now an independent thinker. That is a key asset in today’s world that is complex and volatile. I am sure you will use this asset in a wise way. All the best."

One can download Ulad's dissertation at the ERIM website.