Large IT Projects as Interventions in Digital Ecosystems

Sandeep Purao (IST, Penn State University) and I have a paper accepted for presentation at the International ACM Conference on Management of Emergent Digital EcoSystems (MEDES’10) (BangkokThailand).

Abstract: Large IT projects, such as the US Government’s Internal Revenue Service Business Modernization Effort, can take a decade or more and consume billions of dollars. Traditional approaches to the study of such projects emphasize concerns such as requirements monitoring, progress tracking and risk mitigation. We propose an alternative approach guided by a digital ecosystems view instead of a hierarchical, decision-oriented view. We argue that this perspective is more suited to understand how such projects evolve and cause changes in the underlying digital ecosystem characterized by not only the IT infrastructure but also the transactional relationships among stakeholders. We illustrate our arguments by drawing on an archaeological case study of the IRS effort, and discuss implications of the digital ecosystem perspective for the study of large IT projects.

Reference: Purao, S., and Desouza, K.C. “Large IT Projects as Interventions in Digital Ecosystems,” In Proceedings of the International ACM Conference on Management of Emergent Digital EcoSystems (MEDES'10), Bangkok, Thailand (October 26-29. 2010).

Consulting and Advisory Services

I have updated the Consulting page on my website. Consulting engagements I offer range in scope from single-day senior executive briefings to small-term strategic project assignments. Here are some of the most common offerings:

Executive Strategic Planning Retreats: Working closely with the client, Kevin scopes out a keynote presentation followed by a workshop. The day begins with the keynote and a thought provoking discussion. The workshop can be used to facilitate corporate strategic planning and design, forecasting and planning for future trends that impact the business, or brainstorming and consensus building. Past retreats have focused on strategic innovation, designing collaborative alliances for organizational resiliency, and building crisis detection and response programs.

Strategic Advising and Consulting: These short-term engagements allow Kevin to work intimately with the client on focused areas of strategic opportunities and challenges. Advising and consulting projects range from strategizing knowledge management and innovation endeavors to technology management projects and competitive intelligence assignments. Past engagements have included advising a major engineering firm on designing a knowledge management program, reviewing business plans and specifications for products of a major technology organization, and serving as a senior adviser for market and customer intelligence projects.

Ideation and Commercialization: This unique offering by Kevin is centered on helping entities leverage their ideas. Kevin works with entities ranging from individual executives in leading organizations, to technology start-up firms, to independent thinkers (e.g., scientists, bloggers, and product designers). The focus is to help entities manage their ideas optimally for goal attainment. Past engagements include working with senior executives to publish their ideas in mainstream journals or books and helping technology start-ups formulate key strategic alliances.

Keynote Address at the 2010 Computational Social Science Society Conference: From Hunches to Evidence Driven Policy Design

I will be giving a keynote address at the 2010 Computational Social Science Society Conference (CSSS). CSSS 2010 is hosted by the Center for Social Dynamics and Complexity and the Consortium for Biosocial Complex Systems at. For more information on the conference, please click here [LINK].

From Hunches to Evidence Driven Policy Design: Leveraging Information through Simulation

Constructing public policy, whether at the national or local level, is a complex undertaking. Complexity arises from the number of stakeholders involved, varying agendas and incentives, resource constraints, a multitude of interacting variables, multiple time horizons, and even political climates. Due to these complexities, we too often categorize political and social problems as ‘wicked’ and unanalyzable. The default option is to take a haphazard approach to policy design, most often the outcome of the ego-based debates and negotiations of the decision-makers. In this keynote address, I will argue for a move from hunches (or intuition) to evidence driven policy construction. Today, due to the advancement of computational power and modeling techniques, we can simulate complex scenarios. Simulation gives us an ability to move policy construction from an activity primarily driven by historic case analysis and intuitions, to more of an applied science, where we can actually predict and control phenomenon. Through simulation we can, with reasonable certainty, ascertain the cost, benefit, risk, impact, and value proposition of a given policy. Using examples from simulation projects, such as a project that examined strategic options for dismantling terrorist networks, I will demonstrate how we can move policy design from being an ‘art’ to more of a ‘science.’

Building Sustainable Collaborative and Open Innovation Programs – University of Ljubljana

I will be giving an invited lecture at the Raziskovalni center Ekonomske fakultete (Faculty of Economics) of the University of Ljubljana on February 15, 2010. My talk will focus on how organizations can design collaborative innovation programs.

Organizations cannot innovate in isolation. Ideas, knowledge, expertise, and processes needed for innovation are often distributed in the marketplace across a wide-assortment of actors from business partners, to customers, government agencies, and even competitors. Organizations have to find ways to collaborate and develop open, rather than closed, innovation programs. Collaboration calls for the ability to share required artifacts from ideas to knowledge and expertise, and even processes, with external entities. Being open requires an organization to unlock, and make available, its innovation process to external entities. Developing Collaborative and Open Innovation (COI) programs can be a daunting challenge. Issues such as ensuring trust, governance structures, rewards and incentives, and mechanisms for rent sharing from innovations can seem insurmountable. In this presentation, I will share actionable knowledge on how we can build sustainable COI programs. I will draw on research and consulting on designing organizational innovation programs in over 50 global organizations. I will share a framework for organizations that want to collaborate on innovation. This framework will outline methods for collaborative idea generation and mobilization, idea advocacy and screening, idea experimentation, idea commercialization, and idea diffusion and implementation. Examples will be used to illustrate how leading organizations collaborate with external entities for innovation and build open innovation programs that external entities can plug-into.

Speaking at the Washington Technology Industry Association: Securing Organizational Knowledge – Human Intelligence Operations

wtialogo_intI will be giving a talk for the Washington Technology Industry Association based on my recent book, Managing Knowledge Security (Kogan Page, 2007). The talk will take place on December 7, 2009 at Seattle University. For details, please click here [Link]

Based on his recent book, Managing Knowledge Security: Strategies for Protecting Your Company's Intellectual Assets (Kogan Page, 2007), Desouza will describe how human intelligence operations are conducted to ascertain competitive intelligence. Warning his audience of business practitioners that most organizations fail to understand that their core resources intellectual assets are constantly under attack, and that protecting these resources is as important as any other part of the strategic agenda. Desouza, gives advice on how to recognize dangers of human and technological breaches, hazards of outsourcing and business alliances, implementation of breach prevention measures, and the necessity of working with disaster scenarios. He illustrates his advice with cases from his personal experience working in the fields of competitive intelligence, knowledge management, crisis management, and security operations.

Speaking at Talent Management – 2009

PLSI will be speaking at the 2009, Talent Management: A Systematic Approach to Acquiring, Developing, and Retaining Talent and Organizational Knowledge Conference in Scottsdale, Arizona (November 4-6, 2009). My talk will discuss key strategies global organizations employ to build effective knowledge transfer and retention strategies.

Knowledge Transfer: A System for Capturing and Transferring Institutional Memory
As an organization prepares for the departure of valuable staff, a key challenge is how to capture, store, and transfer knowledge. Managing knowledge and ensuring its transfer will increase productivity.

This session will provide useful tools and processes for selecting the best strategy to fit your organization’s culture. Participants will explore the use of technology as well as best practice approaches and tools to preserve and transmit institutional memory. Topics include:

  • The role of technology in collecting, storing, and retrieving vital knowledge
  • Methods for knowledge transfer
  • The role of document management processes
  • A process map for knowledge management and transfer
  • Best practices and alternatives

To register for the event, please click here.

Greetings from South Africa – Visiting Professor at the University of the Witwatersrand

slice_r1_c1I am currently based in Johannesburg, South Africa and loving it. I am a visiting professor at the University of the Witwatersrand’s School of Economic & Business Sciences. In addition to conducting several research projects and beginning work on two books, I will be teaching two courses on strategic management of information systems during the next few weeks. This is my second occasion serving as a visiting professor at the University of the Witwatersrand. Before arriving into Johannesburg, I spent time visiting two other cities in South Africa - Durban and Port Elizabeth.

Keynote Speaker: First International Conference on Information Society and Information Technology, Slovenia (12-13 October 2009)

header_3I have been invited to deliver a keynote lecture at the First International Conference on Information Society and Information Technology in Novo Mesto (Dolenjske Toplice), Slovenia. The conference is being organized by the Faculty of Information Studies.

The Value-Creation Imperative for the Information System Academy: Lessons from Three Radical (Risky) Projects

The Information System (IS) Academy continues to falter in its attempt to create value-added artifacts for its stakeholders. IS researchers are seldom invited to participate in significant projects at private organizations and government establishments. Stakeholders, from management practitioners to government policy makers, are frustrated by the current state of IS research. In this talk, I draw on three of my recent research projects the change management book as part of the global text project, leveraging ideas for organizational innovation, and an examination of information management challenges in complex, networked, settings (e.g. government intelligence communities and terrorist organizations) to propose a new model for IS research. The new model puts value-creation as the central measure of IS research impact. Given this, the model illustrates how to engage stakeholders to co-create value that not only benefits the theoretical knowledge bases, but also contributes directly and deliberately to the state of practice. Furthermore, the model outlines how to commercialize research so as to benefit society at-large through the widespread diffusion and implementation of research results.

Pictures from Ljubljanski Grad, Slovenia

Pictures from Ljubljana, Slovenia