Research on Social, Mobile and Grid Computing

Emerging social, mobile and grid computing: Ubiquitous computing has changed business as individuals are using new generations of tools to connect. Now every voice has the potential to be heard. Social media tools (e.g. blogs, wikis, forums, electronic social networks, micro-blogs, tagging, reviews) are the current mechanisms amplifying individual voices and have exploded in popularity in recent years. Individuals can influence many others almost immediately.

While inherently personal, these tools are profoundly affecting the economic environment as firms struggle to adapt to the associated risks and opportunities. From the risk perspective, negative impressions (e.g. product defects, bad reviews) are no longer confined to a limited circle of a consumer’s direct contacts; instead, social media outlets distribute content rapidly and broadly, irrespective of truth. Firms are deeply concerned with the speed with which investments in brands and products can be undermined. Yet, social media also provides opportunities for firms to engage consumers (e.g. soliciting suggestions, vetting ideas), to identify problems, and to mediate consumer-to-consumer communication. Further, not only does the overwhelming volume of information exacerbate both risk and opportunity, cognitive processes are fundamentally shifting as newer social media relies less on reflective (e.g. a traditional restaurant review) influences and more on reactive (e.g. an immediate microblog from a mobile phone while sitting in the restaurant) inputs.

I focus on exactly this new domain--- combining computational tools with normative guidance for managing the business impact of social media. I combine multiple methods (qualitative, computer-based experiments, large-scale data analysis, optimization) across disciplines (marketing, computer science, information systems, operations research) to understand causal mechanisms.

Some current and recent projects are:

    Social media and customer dialog:
    (with John Gallaugher) Social media has created both new opportunities for customer interaction, but also new risks as firms struggle to manage the new media. We use a detailed case examination of Starbucks to provide a framework for managing new social media. A report on this research appeared in MIS Quarterly Executive, 2010, volume 9, number 4, pages 197-212. Download
    Quality of knowledge generation:
    (with Jerry Kane) Social computing tools have lead to online communities loosely organized to create unprecedented information artifacts like Wikipedia. However, what leads to quality production? We examine this question using an empirical analysis of the complete history of 2+ million revisions to 15+ thousand article on Wikipedia. [Contact me for a working paper.]
    Knowledge retention:
    (with Jerry Kane) Having created quality information artifacts, how to online communities retain high levels of quality? We examine this question using the detailed revision history of 2,065 featured articles in Wikipedia. A report on this research is forthcoming at MIS Quarterly. Download
    Understanding interest in user generated content:
    (with Jerry Kane and Nick Lurie) While users can generate online content, why does some content create more interest than others? This question is particularly important for advertising supported sites. We create a panel of 2,026,992 revisions of 14,088 Wikipedia articles by 40,479 unique contributors and analyze the number of viewers the articles attract. [Contact me for a working paper.]
    Sequential grid computing:
    (with Ishwar Murthy, Saby Mitra and Sri Narasimhan). Grid computing is traditionally applied in the context of parallelizable tasks; however, not all tasks can be made parallel. We use stochastic optimization models to demonstrate grid benefits even from sequential jobs. A report on this research was published in the INFORMS Journal on Computing, vol. 23, no. 2, pp. 174-188, 2011. Download
    Mobile computing and social media:
    (with Nick Lurie) While user generated content from traditional computing tools has been largely reflective, mobile devices change the nature of content by encouraging reactionary responses. We empirically examine this shift using user generated restaurant reviews. [Contact me for a working paper.]
    Map decision making:
    (with Nick Lurie, Stephen He and Zoe Chen) We use an experiment to contrast decision making using map-based versus text-based tools. Nick Lurie and I received one of the inaugural Google/WWP Marketing Research Awards based on this research. [Contact me for a working paper.]
    Causality of quality and interest:
    (with Jerry Kane) Does information quality come from a community of interested users? Or does a community of interested users create quality information? We try to figure this out through empirical analysis of panel data.
    Generalized assignment problem:
    (with Ishwar Murthy and Saby Mitra) The generalized assignment problem is a core problem in optimization. We introduce a novel reformulation which extends the size of assignment problems which can be solved. This work appeared was presented at INFORMS.[Contact me for a working paper.]


Short on Analytics Talent? Seven Tips to Help Your Company Thrive

Short on Analytics Talent? Seven Tips to Help Your Company Thrive
Companies are having a tough time finding the data scientists they need — they just aren’t being trained fast enough to meet market demand. While it may be challenging to keep ambitious analytics projects in development without employees with the necessary skill sets, that doesn’t mean those projects need to halt altogether. Sam Ransbotham offers seven tips for making progress when you don’t have enough analytics talent on board.

Analytical Value From Data That Cries Wolf

Analytical Value From Data That Cries Wolf
It’s a common assumption: errors and biases in a data set mean the data is useless. Not so fast, says Data & Analytics expert Sam Ransbotham — even data with less-than-great accuracy has its uses, if you understand how to parse it. His blog post explains how to make sense of uncertainty, and how tradeoffs between accuracy and breadth in a data set can better inform your decision-making process.



Internet of Things Webinar for MIT Sloan Management Review


Presenting research on corporate innovation contests at the SIM APC meeting



Analytics executive education for Ulster


MIT Sloan Management Review published my commentary on their WellPoint healthcare analytics case


Talked about information disclosure at MIT CISR


Spoke at Marketing Science Institute event on Data and Analytics


NSF CAREER Award for analytics and security data


Panelist for "Big Data: Fact or Fiction" at the Boston College East Coast Tech Council


Young Researcher Award (with Eric Overby and Mike Jernigan) at the Workshop on Health IT Economics for research on IT and medical malpractice


Presented at the Center for European Economic Research (ZEW) workshop on user behavior and content generation on Wikipedia


Best Conference Reviewer INFORMS Conference on Information Systems and Technology


Received 2013 Carrol School of Management Undergraduate Teaching Award


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