Big Data Analytics and the US Social Security Administration, Information Polity

15701255Rashmi Krishnamurthy and I have a paper accepted for publication in Information Polity. The paper, Big Data Analytics: The Case of the Social Security Administrationis one of the many case studies conducted during my research for my report on Big Data, published by the IBM Center for the Business of Government.

Public agencies are investing significant resources in big data analytics to mine valuable information, predict future outcomes, and make data-driven decisions. In order to foster a strong understanding of the opportunities and challenges associated with the adoption of big data analytics in the public sphere, we analyze various efforts undertaken by the United States Social Security Administration (SSA). The SSA, which is commonly referred to as the “face of the government,” collects, manages, and curates large volumes of data to provide Social Security services to US citizens and beneficiaries living abroad. The agency has made great strides in the burgeoning big data space to improve administration and delivery of services. This has included: (1) improving its arcane legacy system, (2) developing employee and end-user capability, (3) implementing data management strategies and organizational architecture, (4) managing security and privacy issues, and (5) advocating for increased investment in big data analytics. Despite these efforts, the SSA is still in the early stages of developing capability in the domain of big data analytics. By outlining challenges and opportunities facing the SSA, we discuss policy implications and explore issues to consider when public agencies begin to develop the capacity to analyze big data. 

The paper is scheduled to appear later this year, in Vol. 19, Issue 3.

Mobile App Development in Highly Regulated Industries Report Released

TSIMReporthe Advanced Practices Council of the Society for Information Management has just published my report, Mobile App Development in Highly Regulated Industries: Risks, Rewards and Recipes. I co-authored the report with my former graduate student, Paul Simons, who serves as the CEO of iHear Network.

Executive Summary

Mobile computing has the potential to be as disruptive to the status quo as the Internet in the 1990s or the Model T in the early 20th century. A driving force behind mobile computing is the adoption of mobile apps, which increase revenues through new and refined business models, greater brand awareness and customer loyalty, and tools that increase employee productivity. However, not all organizations that launch mobile apps end up with successful products. The rewards may be lucrative, but there are risks of entering the marketplace with new products. In highly regulated industries, the risks are compounded by additional constraints for developing mobile software related to protecting and communicating information. Firms in such industries must implement comprehensive security solutions that go beyond standard industry regulatory systems. Since regulations always lag behind technological advancement, organizations must anticipate how their actions might trigger future legislative responses and the impacts on users’ expectations of privacy and trust. Another risk that stems from rapid growth of mobile software is the reduced barrier to entry for emerging companies, especially from startups that circumnavigate existing regulations on the use of mobile technology.

Due to the rapidly changing nature of mobile apps, design thinking has emerged as a methodology to help guide an organization through the process of developing mobile apps. Traditional linear modes of development are not sufficient or flexible enough to keep up with innovation in mobile hardware, software, and mobile operating systems. Design thinking has grown beyond just a methodology for developing software products and experiences to a means of developing business strategy. This non-linear mode of strategy development is better suited for mobile strategy because it provides greater insight into the needs and desires of end users, fosters innovative and creative solutions, and provides greater flexibility to adapt to the changing circumstances caused by disruptive forces of the mobile revolution. This enables the Chief Information Officer (CIO) to provide greater leadership in exploiting internal and external opportunities. This report provides a number of recommendations to CIOs in mobile app development.

Stanford Social Innovation Research – Big Data

Summer_2014_Cover_small_170_223I co-authored an article on the role of big data for social innovation in the current issue of Stanford Social Innovation Research.

Nonprofits and other social change organizations are lagging their counterparts in the scientific and business communities in collecting and analyzing the vast amounts of data that are being generated by digital technology. Four steps need to be taken to improve the use of big data for social innovation.

This article builds on my provisos work that looked at big data opportunities and challenges in the public sector funded by the IBM Center for the Business of Government.

Big Data goes to Germany and Slovenia

fis tumI will be giving two talks this week on my Big Data report. The first presentation will take place at the Fakultät für InformatikTechnische Universität München on March 12 (See here for more details). I will then fly to Slovenia to give a talk at the Faculty of Information Studies in Slovenia on March 14.

Open Innovation in the Public Sector – Challenge.Gov – Public Administration Review


Ines Mergel and I have a paper accepted in Public Administration Review

Implementing Open Innovation in the Public Sector:
The Case of Challenge.Gov

As part of the Open Government Initiative (OGI), the Obama administration has called for new forms of collaboration with stakeholders to increase innovativeness of public service delivery. Federal managers can utilize to crowdsource solutions from previously untapped problem solvers and leverage collective intelligence to tackle complex social and technical public management problems. We highlight the work conducted by the Office of Citizen Services and Innovative Technologies at the General Services Administration (GSA), the administrator of the platform. Specifically, we feature the work of Tammi Marcoullier, Program Manager,, and Karen Trebon Deputy Program Manager for, and their role as change agents mediating collaborative practices between policy makers and public agencies in navigating the political and legal challenges within their local agencies. We provide insights into the implementation process of crowdsourcing solutions for public management problems as well as lessons learned designing open innovation processes in the public sector.

Two Papers in the JASIST Virtual Issue on Knowledge Management

jasistIt has been a while since I wrote a paper on knowledge management systems, so it was a pleasant surprise hearing that the Journal of the American Society for Information Science and Technology has chosen two of my papers for their virtual issue on knowledge management. The two papers are:

To read the editorial of the special issue, please click here. The special issue was edited by  Claire McInerney and Ziad Matni, Rutgers, the State University of New Jersey.

Designing, Planning, and Managing Resilient Cities


To what disruptions must cities be resilient? How can cities, as complex systems, be resilient? Building a capacity for resilience might be a daunting task when one considers the multitude of components, processes, and interactions that take place within and beyond a city’s physical, logical (e.g. legal), and virtual (cyberspace) boundaries. Planning for resilience to the impacts of stressors within cities requires an evaluation of the vulnerable components of cities, an understanding of the key processes, procedures, and interactions that organize these components and develop the capacity to address various structuring of components and their interactions with the ultimate goal of achieving resilience.

I have co-authored a paper with Trevor Flanery (Urban Affairs and Planning, College of Architecture and Urban StudiesVirginia Tech) that provides a deeper look at resilience in cities, proposes a conceptual resilience framework, and includes a discussion and analysis of the framework. We propose a framework that serves as a holistic approach to designing, planning, and managing for resilience by including an evaluation of cultural and process dynamics within cities as well as their physical elements.

The paper will appear in Cities.