ICIS 2012 Update

One of my research papers was recently nominated as a candidate for the Best Paper award at the 2012 International Conference on Information Systems (ICIS), the flagship conference and most prestigious gathering of information systems researchers in the world. Titled “Juggling Paradoxical Strategies: The Emergent Role of IT Capabilities”, the paper has been co-authored with Benn Konsynski, the George S. Craft Distinguished University Professor of Information Systems & Operations Management at Emory University. In this study, we assert that in the 21st century, different IT capabilities act in differing ways to individually and jointly enable or impede firms to simultaneously pursue paradoxical strategies as an emergent means of attaining competitive advantage.

Paper presentation at ICIS 2012

Paper presentation at ICIS 2012

Such an ability to follow two conflicting strategies at the same time is termed organizational ambidexterity. Firms which concurrently engage in the paradoxical strategies of exploration (or radical innovation) and exploitation (or incremental innovation) are able to address the needs of new and existing customers and thereby attain higher competitive performance. Our research finds that Transform IT capability, which leads to redefining and recreating business practices, strongly supports this instance of ambidexterity. On the other hand, IT Informate Capability, which results in greater information access across the organization, and IT Automate Capability, which facilitates automation of existing business processes, both hamper ambidexterity by ossifying business processes and reducing flexibility. Transform IT capability reduces these harmful effects. Our findings also suggest that a balance of IT Automate, Informate and Transform capabilities enables organizational ambidexterity, hitherto a challenging competitive possibility.

Data for the study was gathered from 352 manufacturing firms of all sizes in high growth sectors in India – a setting that provides an exemplar for the world’s enterprises undergoing rapid changes in the 21st century. These findings not only showcase the emergent role of IT in facing the complexities inherent in juggling paradoxical strategies, but also throw light upon previously unexplained variance in IT payoffs in the emerging economy and small and medium enterprise contexts.

A link to the paper in the conference proceedings is here.

Why you should link to my blog and I should link to yours

A forthcoming paper in Management Science investigates the theoretical reasons behind blog links. Linking one’s blog to another blog by way of static or dynamic links is common in the blogosphere.

In a small random sample of blogs, we found that 61% of blogs contained at least one link to another site in the last 10 posts, with approximately 72% of links going to other blogs, 13% to newspaper sites, and the rest to other sites.

However, on face value the practice of linking to another (potentially rival) blog might lead to some complications, and thus seems counter-intuitive.

First, a reader who follows the outgoing link may not return to the original site in the short run. Second, a link implies that the linked blog has interesting content, which can improve the reader’s perception of a competing site.

Using a game theoretic model, the authors of this paper show that bloggers link to another blog, not just in mere expectation of reciprocity (i.e. link to me because I linked to you), which happens to be the most common reasoning given by blog gurus.

Instead, bloggers link due to their desire to signal the quality of their own blog. By linking to another blog, bloggers not just showcase their own ability to find breaking news, but also signal the ability of the linked blog to break news. On the whole, this kind of behavior leads to an increase in the overall experience of readers.

Bloggers link because doing so improves the reader’s inference about the blog’s quality and ultimately increases the readership to their site

An important implication of these findings are that the sum of links of a blog can be a proxy for blog success / quality.

… we find that both the number of incoming and outgoing links may serve as a
metric of blog quality.

So what are you waiting for? Let the links begin! Smile


Image by xkcd


Mayzlin, D. and Yoganarasimhan, H. “Link to Success: How Blogs Build an Audience by Promoting Rivals”, Management Science.

mnsc.1110.1510; published online before print July 30, 2012, doi:10.1287/mnsc.1110.1510

Technology Acquisitions Continue to Grow in Size

A report by PricewaterhouseCoopers regarding acquisitions by technology firms in Q2 of 2012 reaffirms a trend seen last year – technology firms are making lesser acquisitions, of greater size. Thus Technology Acquisitions are continuing to grow in size (by value), but reduce in numbers.


The number of technology deals in the second quarter decreased 35 percent, while total spending increased 19 percent compared to the same period last year, the report said.

via a Bloomberg note on the Q2 report, which is found here.


Another Bloomberg article on the 2011 report can be found here.

Technology companies spent $125 billion in deals in 2011, up 17 percent from the $107 billion spent in 2010. There were 308 deals in 2011, a drop of 21 percent from the prior year.

What makes a tweet go viral?

There is a lot of recent research studies that investigate what factors influence the popularity of memes on social networks. Much of this research analyzes twitter posts and has identified many reasons why certain tweets go viral. These include factors related to the tweet itself (e.g. how controversial the tweet is) and factors related to the tweeters (e.g. number of followers, influence, and frequency of posting). New work says that ‘going viral’ is a random process.

Visualizations of meme diffusion networks for different topics.

This new study uses an agent-based model to study this phenomenon. This model simulates message sharing on a social network and incorporates two key characteristics of such a context: users have limited attention spans and can only view a portion of all tweets.

The predictions of our model are consistent with empirical data from Twitter, a popular microblogging platform. Surprisingly, we can explain the massive heterogeneity in the popularity and persistence of memes as deriving from a combination of the competition for our limited attention and the structure of the social network, without the need to assume different intrinsic values among ideas.

Or in other words, the pattern of twitter memes can be replicated in the absence of tweet or tweeter based factors.  This raises interesting questions regarding the direction of causality – do tweets go viral because of certain factors, or is the popularity of posts on social networks a random process and we find mere correlations in our bid to find explanations. While some say that this correlation versus causation conundrum can be solved only empirically, others say that a controlled, experimental approach is the way to go.

Suppose, Menczer says, that in his study he randomly assigned different colours to each tweet. If red tweets ended up being the most popular, one could argue that colour was a predictive factor for success when in reality the popularity of red-coloured tweets was coincidental.

Read more at  Going viral on Twitter is a random act – tech – 13 April 2012 – New Scientist and Competition among memes in a world with limited attention : Scientific Reports : Nature Publishing Group.


Weng, L., Flammini, A., Vespignani, A. & Menczer, F., Competition among memes in a world with limited attention, Scientific Reports 2, Article number: 335 doi:10.1038/srep00335

Stock market prediction using Twitter

A recent paper presented at the ACM International Conference on Web Search & Data Mining uses a simulation to show that a trading strategy based on Twitter conversations can outperform the Dow Jones and basic trading strategies. Using twitter and stock market data over a four-month period, the study also finds that the number of distinct twitter conversations about a stock is a strong predictor of stock trading volume. A higher number of distinct conversations is also positively related to higher stock prices while lower number of conversations can predict a lower stock price.


The main trading room of the Tokyo Stock Excha...

Image via Wikipedia




While past research has looked the sentiment, positive or negative, of tweets to predict stock price, little research has focused on the volume of tweets and the ways that tweets are linked to other tweets, topics or users. Further, past work has mostly studied the overall stock market indexes, and not individual stocks.


A key limitation of the study is that the market lost value during the examined time period. Thus the Twitter based strategy outperformed other strategies by losing the least amount.


For the study, the researchers simulated a series of investments between March 1, 2010 and June 30, 2010 and analyzed performance using several investment strategies.


Read more here and here. See the paper here.




Games and being in the ‘Flow’

Some games become ‘boring’ and ‘uninteresting’ after a few hours of game play, others (like Diablo), are imminently replay-able and enjoyable. This is because good games enable players to get into the ‘Flow’. The concept of flow becomes even more important as gamification trends catch on. This article presents an introduction to flow and provides recommendations for game developers (and others who wish to incorporate gaming concepts into their products and services). It provides a scientific explanation of why text-based games and adventure games are increasingly relics of the past (a simpler view by xkcd is below).


Image by xkcd

Continue reading

Correlation versus Causation (as per xkcd)

While Businessweek had an interesting infographic on the difference between correlation and causation, xkcd provides a different take on the logical fallacy of cum hoc ergo propter hoc (correlation proves causation).

Correlation versus Causation (cum hoc ergo propter hoc)

Image by xkcd

In other words, correlation enables prediction whereas causation enables explanation. Correlation denotes the strength of a relationship between two variables, while causation requires correlation of cause and effect, temporal precedence and rejection of alternative hypotheses.

via Correlation versus Causation (cum hoc ergo propter hoc) « A little bit of this, a little bit of that.


Edit: Don’t forget the mouse-over text.