News & Press: InSider

Executive Director's Message: IS "Olympians"

Wednesday, August 1, 2012  

With the world’s focus on 2012 Summer Olympics, now is a perfect time to talk about preparation, sacrifice, dedication, determination, and goal-setting.  Regardless of the sport, I dare say there is not an Olympian in London during these three weeks who hasn’t planned and worked for, what is for most, this once-in-a-lifetime opportunity to stand on the medal podium.   We applaud all the athletes for just qualifying to be at the Olympics.  Certainly they are the best of the best. 

AIS recognizes talent and dedication through our peer-reviewed publications and various award programs. At ICIS each year we have the opportunity to recognize those who have exhibited their commitment to the discipline with the presentation of the LEO and Fellow Awards. Those who are fortunate enough to be selected by a group of their peers to receive this recognition are among the best in the field. So, while the 2011 recipients of these awards were announced earlier this year, we have decided to take a deeper look into the thinking of these outstanding scholars.

In this issue of InSider, and the next few, we ask some probing questions to get inside the minds of our past award recipients. We think doctoral students, new members, and even more ‘seasoned’ members will find these insights and reflections thought provoking.

Here’s to these outstanding IS ‘Olympians’ who have raised the bar of accomplishment by their sacrifice, dedication, and determination.  May they be an inspiration to us all.   


Pete Tinsley, CAE
Executive Director

What do you believe is the most compelling change within the discipline in the last five years, and how do you see that impacting the future?

Ritu Agarwal   |   Juhani Iivari   |   Dorothy Leidner   |   Jae Kyu Lee   |    Bernard Tan   |   Rick Watson   |   Ron Weber

Ritu Agarwal: It is widely accepted and now somewhat of a cliché that information technology and systems are transforming individuals’ lives, organizational work, and social and economic systems. This represents a striking and compelling escalation in the significance and impact of IT. The corresponding change in the discipline, not surprisingly, is two-fold. One, the variety of research topics that are now available to our community is increasing rapidly, creating both an opportunity and a challenge. We are blessed and cursed with innovation! Second, and related to the variety I alluded to, is that I see IS research as increasingly becoming more multidisciplinary. Going forward, some may view this as threat to the identity of the discipline, but I view it more as an occasion for building stronger research teams that bring complementary strengths to the research enterprise. I also anticipate scholars from other disciplines that study issues at the intersection of information technology and other fields seeking to publish in our journals. Finally, with the qualification that this is what I would like to see more of in the future, the IS discipline is beginning to address research issues that shed light on policy questions and dilemmas. In summary, I think the discipline is a strong position right now.

Juhani Iivari: I believe that the expansion of application domains of information technology from traditional applications such as automation, computer mediated communication, and information systems used in the workplace to various applications used outside the workplace context. These applications may have a huge impact on our social life. I do not see that IS should omit this expansion.

Dorothy Leidner: It’s hard to say, but probably the increasing diversity of research methods and topics. This is great for the field but also presents a big challenge. So many European and Asian universities are starting to reward faculty for "top” publications with "top” being defined vary narrowly. This increases the submissions to and diversity in our field’s top journals, but also makes it even more challenging to get a paper into these journals.

Jae Kyu Lee: The most compelling change in the IS community is the emergence of the SOLOMO (Social Network, Location Based, and Mobile) platform. Creating new business models in this platform is an exciting opportunity. However, more serious impact occurs in the socio-political systems than in business. Voting through the mobile phone is changing the landscape of elections. Second, big data and data mining in portasl, CRMs, and social networks create value from data. On the contrary, big data makes the system more vulnerable to hackers, thus making security a serious concern. Third, green business and smart grids provide good research opportunities to business schools and the IS community. So far, the IS community is slow in grasping specific research issues in Green IT although sustainability amid the global energy shortage and environment regulations is one of the primary concerns of businesses today. Optimal control of energy portfolios both in macro and micro perspectives are important. Semantic Web which integrates knowledge for green technology assessment from diverse sources will be a great challenge of knowledge management. Finally, the upgrade and integration of ERP as a melting pot with emerging platforms and applications are everlasting challenges for the maintenance of corporate information systems.

Bernard Tan: There has been an increased awareness of the discipline in emerging parts of the world (e.g., Asia-Pacific, Africa, and South America). New IS programs (or related programs) are likely to emerge in tertiary institutions in these parts of the world, creating many new employment opportunities. Members of the discipline can look beyond traditional places of employment (e.g., North America, Europe, and parts of Asia-Pacific) in seeking these new employment opportunities. 

Rick Watson: I think that the most important issue to emerge in the last few years is the recognition that IS can play a major role in creating a sustainable society. This is part of the transition in organizational dominant logic from a focus on customer service to environmental sustainability, which we are just beginning to see in some of the more future oriented enterprises. This has several important implications for IS. First, there will need to be a greater focus on solving societal problems because reducing environmental degradation requires practical outcomes rather than theoretical advancements. Second, the dominant logic transition will see greater emphasis on methods such as simulation, optimization, flow analytics, big data, and life-cycle design. In advanced economies, IS has been the productivity engine that has driven growth and changed lifestyles for over half a century. For the next half-century, we need to be the solution machine that creates a highly energy efficient and sustainable society.

Ron Weber: In terms of research, even after having worked with information technology for over 40 years, I continue to be surprised by the ways in which it diffuses and infuses in our lives, often as a disruptive technology. The last five years is no exception. As a result, the range of information technology-related phenomena that exists in our worlds continues to expand, and thus for the foreseeable future as researchers we will have new and interesting phenomena to study. Our challenge has always been and will continue to be developing relatively stable, high-quality theories that we can use to understand and predict new information technology-related phenomena as these phenomena continue to unfold.In terms of education, information technologies are beginning to severely disrupt the ways we have traditionally provided learning opportunities for our students. Many products and activities in the educational value chain have become or are becoming commoditized. The traditional educational value chain is disintegrating, and new entrants (e.g., for-profit online universities) have opened up new markets for tertiary education and are beginning to encroach on existing segments of the markets that have traditionally been serviced by incumbent universities. Over the next five years, I believe we will see increasingly rates of disruption in the educational marketplace, and information systems education will not be exempt from this disruption. Indeed, I suspect our discipline is among those that are most susceptible to disruption from the very technologies we study.

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