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Consider the Organisation as if it Were Granular Sand

24 Feb

Being Amended

Earlier group posts concerning performance management have taken a two strand approach. Firstly, some key business methodologies have been evaluated and compared. Secondly, the relationship between information/commentary media have been concerned in terms of meaning, abstraction, scale and complexity. This has been done with the purpose of reconciling the clarity of clear, reference-able breakdowns of organisational challenges and opportunities with the seismic shifts that big data will provide business models, strategies and tactics. In particular, the importance of language and social media to future BIS orientated models of governance, knowledge acquisition and communication will be most deliberated on.



Concerning Executive Decision Making

It is worth emphasizing that executives in the modern age are usually swamped informatically. They are too limited by their finite time and focus and potentially distracted by seemingly infinite demands (both internally and externally).

Whether actively or passively two key soft levers are used to build individual or macro level resistance points. These are in regards to how value is perceived  (in this example through transaction costs and how policy intersects with semiotics in the form of language


Transaction costs can be divided into three broad categories:

  • Search and information costs are costs such as those incurred in determining that the required good is available on the market, which has the lowest price, etc.
  • Bargaining costs are the costs required to come to an acceptable agreement with the other party to the transaction, drawing up an appropriate contract and so on. In game theory this is analyzed for instance in the game of chicken. On asset markets and in market microstructure, the transaction cost is some function of the distance between the bid and ask.
  • Policing and enforcement costs are the costs of making sure the other party sticks to the terms of the contract, and taking appropriate action (often through the legal system) if this turns out not to be the case.

Commons, J.R (1931). “Institutional Economics”.
American Economic Review

Organisations have to make tradeoffs between the differing transaction cost categories when it comes to deciding upon, searching for, agreeing upon, implementing, using, maintaining and upgrading information systems.

Communication in Organisations The Heart of Information Systems

Communication in Organisations The Heart of Information Systems
Roland Holten and Christoph Rosenkranz; Sprouts (2008)

Language and Semiotics and Governance

Similar to wider or similarly specialist reform(s), there would exist certain norms (either explicit or otherwise) in the social culture, vision and outcomes. This is a complex interplay between individual, component and aggregate entities. This operates collaboratively, competitively and symbiotically, with pulses, resonance bleeding. As a method of institutional/collective expediency beyond professional clusters people develop and enforce (to varying levels) language codes, norms and understandings. These loose standards can be done to widen communication and also/simultaneously stifle/undermine it.

To understand this better and build on the previous posts [I] [II] on language and media it is best to give a breakdown of key language schema examples:




Globe - DNA - D1.1

Public Affairs issue category

public consciousness public attention public support Popular support public rejection public anger pressure cause


Globe - DNA - B1.1

General initiatives category

little help arrangements cross roads comparison situation dangerous game


Globe - DNA - F1.1

General events category

poll tax riots Equality Impact Assessments technetronic era world war


Globe - DNA - E1.1

People types category

couple sociable friendly community protected group poorest members friends vigilante activists


Globe - DNA - H1.1

General organisations category

Spartacus group Resolution Foundation ATOS Atos BT BBC Guardian


General individuals category

Globe - DNA - G1.2

Christopher Thomond Hooper family Stuart Holden Lord Freud Steve Webb IDS

Product Types

Globe - DNA - C1.1

Finance products category

receipts overheads negative equity non payment arrears


Globe - DNA - A1.1

Fear keywords category

No-one poor pity problem gripe astonishing effect



Reconciling Roland Holten and Christoph Rosenkranz’s model for understanding language ease/barriers and the aforementioned schema one can imagine an organisational structure similar to the activity beteen differing molecules in a space offering multiple/overlapping environments:

Colour Pallette - 1c- first

The model displays an organisation with a communicative executive core, as well as a (slightly?) disjointed outer layer comprised of medium and lower tier employees or external communication. With the ontological schema, it represents a membrane and distance that limits proximity to decisionmaking for individual commmunications/policies coming from outside.

Organization”, understood in this sense, is closely related to the concept of “control”.
Control in big systems is defined as stable communication between sub-systems, meaning a
stable organization. Therefore, control is precisely the stable state of the variety interactions
between the nominated sub-systems

Beer, S. (1965) “The world, the flesh and the metal,” Nature205, pp. 223-231

Colour Pallette - 1c- second

Colour Pallette - 1c- second - b

Naturally, the failure of and organisations facets in regards  processes, artifacts or people can widen (or reduce) “communications power distance” between senior and lower level decisionmaking.

In this example the disharmony stems from Type categories and Keyword categories.




When it comes to organisational habits the total distance as well as the outcomes of velocities as communications are improved or hindered in order to encourage strategic alignment. When it becomes too one sided, asymmetrical or overly confrontational between one or different camps reciprocal issues grow This is a sure sign that disharmony and alignment is being forgone increasingly for ulterior motives.

Colour Pallette - 1c- second - mix

Weick (1988) describes the term enactment as representing the notion that when people act they bring structures and events into existence and set them in action. Weick uses this term in the context of ‘sensemaking’ by managers or employees. He also describes how they can enact ‘limitations’ upon the system to avoid issues or experiences. It is also seen as a form of social construction. To date enactment is related to organizations and their environment and strategic management.

In the diagram above, to counter increasing communications gaps from strategic groups to outside communications flows added core competence regions were added to provide ground up solutions and create a mid point using interdisciplinary stakeholders/emphases (notice the three coloured cluster in the top right direction of the image).



Ball of Confusion

Screenshot from 2013-02-17 21:11:11

For organisations operating on a significant level of complexity or sophistication a wider range of dimensions and components require consideration:


A system that adjusts its way of behavior relative to changing internal or external conditions is termed self-organizing

Ashby, W. R. (1947) “Principles of the self-organizing dynamic system,” Journal of General Psychology (37) pp. 125-128.
Ashby, W. R. (1962) Principles of the self-organizing system, in H. von Foerster and G. W. J. Zopf (Eds.)
Principles of Self-Organization: Transactions of the University of Illinois Symposium, London, UK: Pergamon Press, pp. 255-278.


Below is a framework for encouraging eGovernment projects using a large and diverse range of stakeholders. It is particularly helpful in environments where operating in ‘silos’ with different approaches to artifacts, processes and  people exist. Its value is that the breakdown of complex problems into components can allow focus and harmonisation.

M. Wimmer A European perspective towards online one-stop government: the eGOV project (Electronic Commerce Research and Applications ) 2002

M. Wimmer A European perspective towards online one-stop government: the eGOV project (Electronic Commerce Research and Applications ) 2002 University of Linz (2002)

One of the disadvantages of this technique are the more complex abstraction requirements to handle complexity. As part of the tradeoff it may be more difficult to engineer consensus or even understanding for groups (even at an executive level.

Globe - Clolours1.1

To overcome this approaches need to be built in to ensure that individual perspectives and requirements are built into procedures and that this crystallizing is built into a cataloging that not only provides distinction between entities but also empathy.

One useful mechanism to deal with this is to embed a semantic framing of key policy and measurement communications. Sentiment analysis permits dashboards of keyword search for a variety of formats. However, most conventional approaches seem geared towards the tactics then strategies of organisations and how they relate to their/external communities.

An effective system for executive or senior level managerial decisions should be framed around the guiding strategic drivers that motivate direction and change.

Given the sophistication and limitations of human and computing logic as addressed in a previous post it is appropriate to draw from the logic that a single blog post and its responses is capable of generating hundreds of key terms, all which can be delinerated by the semantic schema explained above.

To extract and analyze ten pieces of concern and motivation of individual entities in regards to an organisational problem/opportunity could provide the starting point for articulating:

  • What are the overriding
    • visions
    • priorities,
  • What are the available
    • threats,
    • benefits;
    • limitors;
  • Who the key community stakeholders are
    • internally,
    • externally
  • What competences exist contextually
    • intenally
    • externally

Using human/and or algorithm techniques teams of specialists or lay researchers would be able to generate knowledge and/or communications competences as a scale previously unimaginable without the mixture of Internet community and machine learning sophistications (which is why big data is so important).

Returning to the keyword analysis of a social housing blog (creating a keyword list of around 500 unique terms) using a mixture of techniques involving:

  1. Artifacts Search: Wide keyword category search to identify user profiles,
  2. Process Search: Extract of specific terms (such as “bedroom”) within profiles,
  3. People Search: Extract of relationships/contexts within individual identified media.

Globe - Clolours1.2

Doing this intensely over a short period is not only able to generate homogenous tweets (over 800) from a large user population (over 300) (accounts [I] [II] [III]) but also contextual, filtered [I] [II] or broader information flows (albeit with requirements in these instances for reinterpreting/synthesizing).

Given the complexity and significant time, cost and communications expenses involved in a major information systems project it is appropriate to build in appropriate necessitating of data mining and representation to engineer communications harmonizing or demarcation within/without an organisation.

Having a tight data set using a wider population has its advantages for allowing data drift, as well as timeline style benchmarking of processes, systems and infrastructures to highlight where disharmony ebbs or recedes (either internally, between rival organisations or between industries or technologies). The adaptive potential for using an information community for complementary analysis and engagement.

Returning to the frameworks our group has already analyzed, below is an evaluation of the perspectives focus on a semantic level, graded up to five for relevancy:

Description Department for Trade and Industry Balanced Scorecard Framework Activity Basesd Costing Economic Value Added OBRiM Cresswell’s ROI Process Oriented BSC
Processing Systems 3 3 2 2
Alert Systems 2 2 3 3 1
Inventory Systems 2 2 2 2 2
Management Information Systems 4 3 3 4 3
Decision Support Systems 3 3 3 3
Accounting Management Systems 3 3 4 4
Financial Management Systems 3 3 4 4
Payment Systems 2 2
Expert Systems 2 4 3 3
Databases 3 3 4 4
Human Resource Information Systems 3 4 3 2
Marketing Information Systems 3 2 5
Technology 3 3 2 3
Computer Science 3 3 2 2
Electronics 2 2
P2P 2 2 4 2
Information Technology 4 4 3 3
Internet Technology 3 3 2 2
Internet of Things 2
Software 2
ICT Change 3
Knowledge 4 4 3 3 3 5 5 3
Information 4 4 2 3
Meaning 4 3 3 3
Statistics 3 3 4 4
Data Integrity 3 5 4
Virtualisation 1
Cloud 1 1 1 1
Cloud Technology 1 1 1 1
IT Reliability 3 4 4 3
IT Quality Performance 3 4 4 3
Knowledge Management 3 4 4 4 3
Statistical tools 3 5 3 3
Analysis 4 5 2 2
Sentiment Analysis 5 4 3
Standards 4 4 4 4
Front End 3 2 4 4
Re/engineering 3 3 2 2
Security 3 4 3 3
networks 4 3 4 2
Relationships 3 4 2 3 4 3 1
Clusters 2 4 3 5
Social Businesses 4 3 2 2
Collaborative Working 4 3 4 4 3 4 5 4
Communication 4 4 3 2
Knowledge Share 4 3 4 3
Openness 4 4 3 2
Open Source 3 3 2 3
Internet 2 3 2 1
Globalisation 2 3 2
Mergers 2 3
Asymmetries 4
Innovation 4 4 3 3
Competition 4 4 4 2 4
Competitive Advantage 3 4 4 4
Cost Leadership 4 3 3 2
Quality Leadership 4 3 3 3
Differentiation 3 2 3 4
Cultural Issues 4 4 3 2 5
Strategic Drivers 3 4 2 4
Business Change 4 4 3 2 4
Disruptive Technology 3
New Markets 3 4 4 3 3
New Territories 3 3 3
Fads and Trends 5 5 3 3
Changing Roles 3 3 3 3 1
Macro Economics 3 3 3 2
Micro Economics 4 4 3 2 5 3 2
Risk 3 4 4 2 2 2 5
People 3 2 3 2
Organisation 4 4 3 3 4
Multinational 4 4 4 3 4
SMEs 5 4 4 4 3 2 2
Individuals 3 3 4 4
Business 4 4 4 3
Entrepreneurship 5 3 3 3
Government 4 4 3 3
Society 3 4 3 1
Social Enterprises 4 3 4 3
Professional Types 3 3 4
Executives 4 4 4 2 4
CEO 5 5 4 3
CTOs 4 3 4 3 3 2 1
CIOs 4 4 3 3 5 4 2
Leadership 5 4 3 3 3 2 1
Governance 4 5 4 3
C Level Commitment 4
Orientation / Focus / Vision 4 4 4 3
Value Systems 3 3 4 2 2
Gut Instinct 4 4 3 3 3 4 3 4
Strategy 5 5 4 4 5
Strategic Alignment 5 5 4 4 4
Executive Strategy 4 4 4 3 4
Business Strategy 5 5 4 4 4 3 2 5
IT Strategy 3 3 3 2 4 3 2 4
Strategic Planning 4 5 4 4 3 3 2
Business Development 5 4 3 3 5 3 3 4
Accountability 4 4 4 4 2 4 3
Transparancy 4 5 3
Regulation 4 4 4 3 4 5 2
Consulting 4 5 3 3 3 4 4 3
Business Models 5 4 3 4
Free 5 5 4 4
Business Intelligence 4 4 3 4 2 3 2
Business Plans 5 5 4 4 5 2 3
Organisational Flexibility 4 4 4 4 1 2 1
Outsourcing 2 2 1 1 3 4 3
Mesurement 5 5 5 5 4 4 4
Objectives 4 4 4 3 2 3 3
Concerns 3 4 6 4
Goals 5 5 5 5 4 3 2
Mission Statements 4 3 4 4
Stakeholders 4 3 4 4
B2B 4 4 4 4
B2C 4 4 3 3
Distributers 4
Employees 4 5 2 5
Performance 5 5 5 5
Deployment 4 3 4 3 4
Planning 4 4 4 4 2 2 5 4
Process Management 3 4 3 2 5 4 2
Division Management 4 4 4 4 3 4 5
Length of Time 4 4 3 4
Supply Chain Management 4 4 4 2
Total Quality Management 3 3
Just in Time Processes 3 3 4 5 4 5 3 4
Six Sigma 3
Management 4 4 4 3
Front Line 2
Human Resources 4
Customer Centricity 4 4 3 2
Marketing 4 3 4 3
Sales 2 3 3 4
Distribution 3 3 3 3 4 2 5
Financing 4 4 4 4
Accounting 2 2 3 4
Legal 2 1 1 1
Information Technology 4 3 3 4 5
Bring Your Own Device 1
Investment 3 2 2 4
Venture Capital 4 2 3 2
Capital Projects 4 3 3 4 3 2 5 4
Costs 3 4 3 2
Costing 2 2 4 4
Expenditure 4 3 2 3
IT expenditure 3 4 3 3
Revenues 2 4 3 4
Services 4 3 4 3
Service Provision 3 3 4 4
Products 2 2 2 1
Observation 3 3 3 2
Methology 5 5 5 5
Administration 1 1 1 1 2 4 3
Efficiency 3 2 4 5 5 3 2 4
Operational Efficiency 5 4 3 4
Decision Making 3 4 3 2
Evaluation 2 3 4 4
Informal Evaluation 2 5 3 3
Metrics 4 4 4 4 4
Benchmarks 4 4 3 2
Quality 3 3 2 3 5 3 3
Service 4 4 4 4 3 4 2 5
Flexibility 2 5 3 5
Scorecard 5 5 4 4 3 5 3 5
Key Performance Indicators 5 5 5 5 5 5 4
Measurement 5 3 3 3 4 4 4
Financial Measurement 5 4 4 4
Multi Criteria Measurement 4 4 4 4
Ratio Measurement 4 4 4 4
Portfolio Measurement 3 4 4 4
Net Present Value 4 5
Internal Rate of Return 4 5 4 5 4
Economic Value Added 4 4 3 5 3 4 4
Return on Investment 4 4 2 4 2 5 3
Payback Analysis 1 2 3
Game Theory or Role Playing 4 4 5 2
Simulation 4 3 4
Quantification 2 2 4 3 4
Qualification 2 3 4 3 3 2 4
Intangibles 4 4 4 3 5
Tangibles 4 4 4 4 4
Outcomes 4 4 4 4
Communication 4 4 4 4
Messages 1
Social Media 1
Online Communities 1
Military 3
Mining Industry 3
Healthcare Industry 4
Pharmaceutical Industry 4
Travel Industry 4
Finance Industry 4
Banking Industry 4
Computing Electronics Industry 3 2 3 2
Consumer Electronics 4 2 3 2
Technology Industry 4 3 4 3
IT Industry 4 4 4 2
Internet Industry 3 3 3 3
Internet Search Engines 4 3 3 3
Internet Forums 3 4 3 2


The weightings from the combined methodology could be built to provide rank and contextual parameters based around the motivations of the stakeholders providing material (and therefore weighting depending on submissions and feedback.

Adapted Balanced Scorecard Framework

22 Feb


For our framework, we decided to base our idea on the well established and highly successful Balanced Scorecard framework. After conducting research for our individual blogs we found that the Balanced Scorecard was very prevalent among academics and professionals involved in the performance measurement field. However, we have made an alteration to the framework in order to focus it more towards the IS investment performance. Our framework consists of five different parts which we feel are vital to any company trying to establish the contribution of their IS investments to business performance. These five parts are: Financial, Users, Quality, Internal Business Processes and Transformation.

Framework: Adapted Balanced Scorecard


(1) Financial

As aplusk22 has mentioned, the financial element is a crucial part of effectively measuring the business performance of an IS investment. Ultimately, the goal of any company is to make a profit. This can be achieved through IS investment but the only way to determine this is through the process of measurement. Financial ratios are a simple, yet effective way of measuring the business performance of an investment in Information Systems. Perhaps the most relevant ratio is the Return On Investment (ROI). Simply put, the ROI establishes the revenue earned against the initial cost of the investment. A high ROI shows that investment gains compare favourably to the investment costs. If the detailed information is available, a comparison against competitors provides a useful way for management to assess relative performance with regard to IS investment.  It’s important to consider the following: information systems are intended to provide relevant information for decision-making which ultimately contributes to better decisions and as a result increases the return on investment [1]. Evaluation of the information systems is a multi-dimensional and multi-criteria task. ROI is a financial measure and does not provide information about efficiency or effectiveness of the information systems themselves [1]. We must also remember that the Financial element will play a part in each of the other four elements of our framework.

(2) Users

Customer service and satisfaction are becoming increasingly more important to businesses today. The concerns of users and their satisfaction are now incorporated into many companies’ mission plans. Therefore the user’s perspective of how a company is performing has become a main priority for management in many firms. It is for this reason we feel is it important to include the area of the customer in our framework for measuring IS business performance. To implement this framework, companies must articulate goals according to their mission and vision for their company, and then translate these goals into specific measures. An identification of measures that answer how a customer perceives a company is of vital importance to any company, and they seek to develop an ongoing relationship with the user from evaluating the results of these measures. These measures can include – customer retention rate, customer satisfaction rate, delivery performance to customer, quality performance to customer and customer percentage of market.  The main concerns of users generally fall into the four main categories of time, quality, performance and service and cost. Many IS investments provide intangible benefits, which resist traditional measurement techniques, and so the full potential of them is not always realised. IS customer measures measure the quality and cost effectiveness of IS products and services. As cdat2 mentioned in her blogs, when attempting to assess the impact of these information systems on business performance the following questions should be considered:
1) How well are business unit and IT staff integrated into IT systems development and acquisition projects?
2) Are customers satisfied with the IT products and services being
3) Are IT resources being used to support major process improvement efforts requiring information management strategies?

(3) Quality

Although the measurement of quality is a feature in many business performance frameworks, we believe it is of such importance that it should be an entire section of its own. We believe that the quality of the information systems impacts greatly on a company’s performance and so it is an important part of our framework. In IS quality can be grouped into different metrics such as system quality, software quality, Information quality, and service quality. Of these, system quality and software quality are closely related as both relate to the technical aspects of a software system. [2]

Information Quality: This relates to the desirable characteristics of the system outputs including: relevance, understandability, accuracy, conciseness, completeness, understandability, currency, timeliness, and usability. A way to measure this would be using the “User Information Satisfaction (UIS)” this method has been used for a variety of information systems quality measures. The User Information Satisfaction (UIS) is a seventeen-item questionnaire, which employs the use of scales to assess the user’s level of satisfaction with an information system it includes thirteen specific items, broken into three factors of Information Systems Personnel, Information Product Quality and Knowledge and Involvement.
System Quality/Software quality: The desirable characteristics of an information system, such as: ease of use, system flexibility, system reliability, and ease of learning, as well as system features of intuitiveness, sophistication, flexibility, and response times, ways of measuring the effectiveness are:
•          Completeness: Which part of the needed features are actually implemented
•          Asking users: What is the feeling of typical users about the software?
•          Metrics: Some metrics can give you a good idea about the quality of the code
•          Process: The use (or not) of certain processes is a good hint about the quality of a development process. Bug tracking, automated tests, versioning tools… [3]

Service Quality: The quality of the support that system users receive from the IS department and IT support personnel, such as: responsiveness, accuracy, reliability, technical competence. This can be measured using the SERVQUAL method, this consists of two section, both containing 22 questions. The first section measures service expectations of companies within a certain industry. The second section measures the customers’ perception about a particular company in that industry. [4]

(4) Internal Business Processes

As le1008 mentioned in her blog, an organisation’s internal business processes are a very important part when measuring the performance of IS investments in a company. These processes are critical for satisfying both the customers and shareholders of a company. IS investments can contribute greatly to the improvement of business processes within a company and this in turn leads to a company achieving its objectives. It is therefore important to include this aspect in our framework. The business processes of a company is an area where measurement takes place on things managers know and manage on a daily basis. Business processes include measures such as cost, throughput and quality. These are for business processes such as production and order fulfilment. Activities in which the company excels and also in what it must excel in the future should be identified. Metrics for measuring business processes have to be carefully designed by management in order to measure performance. These could include a reduction in unit costs, reduced waste, improvements in morale within the company and increased productivity.

(5) Transformation

As cdat2 previously mentioned an IT performance management system should consist of a diverse set of measures, which in turn need to be assessed in varying manners. To critically view the transformation the firm has undergone it is vital to clearly map out the firms state before implementation, the goals set out and the actual results attained. Comparing the three sets of figures will clearly display to executives the effectiveness of the IT investment. Positive figures will act as motivators for the firm to reach their maximum capabilities and less optimistic ones will enable firms to alter methods and drive the company to reach their potential abilities.

The most effective way to measure the firms’ transformation and progression is through simple performance measures such as input measures (number of IT workers, number of computers), output measures (number of projects completed, helpline call duration), outcome measures (customer satisfaction, cycle time reduction) and also a combination of single measures. Combinations of single measures combine output, outcome, and/or input measures into measures designed to demonstrate improvements in efficiency or effectiveness. Efficiency IT metrics measure the performance of the IT system itself including throughput, speed, and availability. Effectiveness IT metrics measure the impact IT has on business processes and activities including customer satisfaction, conversion rates, and sell-through increases. Wide ranges of measures provide a balance for different decision maker needs. The key point is that the right measure is used at the right time and for the right reason. [5]
Input and output measures are absolutely vital for measuring how well a process to deliver IT products and services is performing.

Conclusion –

Having factored in the usefulness of the Balanced Scorecard, we felt our adaptation of the framework is more suited and geared toward assessing the impact of IS investments on the overall business performance of an organisation. It is our belief that the framework should consist of five parts and each part is of equal importance in terms of contributing to the impact of IS investments on business performance. We believe that keeping the framework simple and easy to understand is of paramount importance.





[4] An Examination of Information Systems Service Quality Measurement: Texas A&M University( 2005)

[5] Daniels, H. C. (1993) Information Technology: The Management Challenge, Addison- Wesley Longman Publishing Co., Inc.

Logic, Computation and (f*(k?) Meming: On2logi+k,ing

10 Feb

Our human impulses are both sources for an solvers of random behaviour , chaotic order and clean representation. For organisations trying to measure what is happening online is still often unclear, as an individual mix of human and computational logic failures. What is curious about the relationship between organic and circuit based thoughts and actions is that the desire to overcome our own deficiencies and extend our reach leaves us vulnerable to the weaknesses of computing logic.  On a societal level this leaves many questions. For organisational governance it poses the question: should we be trusting our own judgement or should we ‘outsource it to machines’?

The #bigpaper example given in the previous post would to many have seemed a woefully creative and/or academic exercise. Merely to organise rewteeted material, who applauds a workflow which includes?:

  • Scrolling ones own collection of Tweets;
  • Copying a body of tweets into a word document;
  • Printing off that word document;
    • Going to a public environment;
    • Emailing it to the present peer given failure to bring wallet;
    • Printing the document and waiting for it to be printed;
  • Cutting the document into ‘Tweet sized chunks’ to include only image and message (trying to avoid cutting too close);
  • Reading each tweet again, pushing thematically each tweet into an appropriately themed pile;
  • Finding a table and pushing Tweets evenly across 2D plane to try and balance contexts and relationships;
  • Photographing Tweets both as a population, localised and at an angle;
  • Packing away Tweets into representative piles;
  • Examining photos (not nearly enough definition, repeat process with higher resolution);
  • Unpack Tweet piles and rearrange;
  • This time with improved iterative reordering of Tweets;
  • Include token signposting to provide order and visual signposting;
  • Photograph again;
  • Repack again.

Well done having the strength to get past that unexciting workflow!

Why did this need doing, let alone summarizing? Well firstly, when considering BIS, its important to have empathy concerning processes and the people that were/are confined with onerous, repetitive tasks (much in the same way with which a pilgrimage’s value comes from the journey as opposed to the destination). Secondly, it provides direct perspective concerning functions, challenging habits, providing insights and parallels for BIS environments. Thirdly, it provides the hunger for change and direction concerning what priorities and stages a solution should have.

The screencast in the other blog highlighted through photographic analogy informatics weaknesses concerning technology and processes and (seemingly) natural individual and organisational limiting factors (which may still exist as Big Data’s promises start to mature (but which hopefully appropriate BIS approaches would be able to mitigate)).

However, the frustration highlighted above downplays the fact that there were gains from using physical approaches (consideration time, treating information as a durable good and not a disposable resource). To reconcile these seemingly opposable approaches it is best to search for solutions which help to automate functions and logic steps (in a fully digital context, robots tooled with scissors are not quite within commercial reach…).

One of the challenges to implement functionality for ordering my material in a sophisticated way is that machines and computers are only pragmatically capable of operating within the functions trained by them. When arranging Tweets on a surface I had many complex and competing deliberations, which I either made with little effort (because the solution was clear) or considerable thought (because of ambiguities, complexity or too many choices). It is possible for computers to mimic these choices, let alone provide ones resembling (or improving upon!) human decision making was highlighted cleanly by Melanie Mitchell in the book Complexity: A Guided Tour:

Easy Things Are Hard
The other day I said to my eight-year-old son, “Jake, please put your socks on.” He responded by putting them on his head. “See, I put my socks on!” He thought this was hilarious. I, on the other hand, realized that his antics illustrated a deep truth about the difference between humans and computers.

The “socks on head” joke was funny (at least to an eight-year-old) because it violates something we all know is true: even though most statements in human language are, in principle, ambiguous, when you say something to another person, they almost always know what you mean.

Melanie Mitchell compared this human ease for distinction and interpretation with supposedly ‘state of the art spam filters’ which struggle to interpret V!a&®@ as spammer trying to vend. This computational challenge was expressed in terms of a computer being able to observe a pattern and then make the correct inference if the answer was not initially clear. To understand how much better computers can understand and solve analogies Mitchell worked for the AI researcher, Douglas Hofstadter on the “Copycat” program. This involved providing an example letter pattern jump and giving the computer exercises to make inferences. For example logic challenges could include:

“Consider the following problem: if abc changes to abd, what is the analogous change to ijk? Most people describe the change as something
like “Replace the rightmost letter by its alphabetic successor,” and answer ijl. But clearly there are many other possible answers, among them:

• ijd (“Replace the rightmost letter by a d”—similar to Jake putting his socks “on”)

• ijk (“Replace all c’s by d’s; there are no c’s in ijk”), and

• abd (“Replace any string by abd”).

An appropriate mathematical solution was found, involving a slipnet (network of concepts), a workspace (for the letters to reside), codelets (agents which explore possibilities) and temperature (a measure of organisation and control degree of randomness which codelets operated). Like performance management in the real world, the Copycat program had to identify the options, make an informed understanding as to how the decisions would be different and make a commttment.

Mitchell referred to a point earlier in the book, considering the activities of ants (insects which are dumb in isolation but which hold significant levels of intelligence once they reach a certain volume). Whilst ants would normally go for the most obvious food source (the place the other ants were going to or the direction returning ants with food were returning from) there would be a normal deviation involving ants taking new courses. This provides a unconscious balance between the short term expediency for food with longer term opportunities for sustainable food sources.

Screenshot from 2013-02-11 00:39:38

Identifying and implementing logical and mechanical solutions for organising social media paths do take time. However, they can pay dividends if the sheer cost of not automating functions exceeds the cost of either:

  • Outsourcing that functionality,
  • Buying an off the shelf solution,
  • Tinkering/customizing with available solutions,
  • Designing and implementing specific solutions.

To give a practical example, an analysis was taken of a recent Guardian article on the UK’s new spare bedroom tax for those on welfare and its corresponding 100 posts. Using a demo for a keywords text extractor  it was possible to create a breakdown of key terms for the article and each post. Entered into an excel spreadsheet, the exercise became more onerous than the Twitter arrangements. Although technically sifting through appropriate and inappropriate keyword solutions, the comments in isolation created variances that the tool was not going to deal with. The keyword list exceeded the Twitter population in terms of volume and diversity (this is partly because of the lack of a word limit), especially when considering duplicates. Here is one example covering taxes and benefits:

tax 11
tax.It 1
taxes 4
poll tax 2
Poll Tax 1
council tax 6
annual council tax 1
bedroom tax 14
new bedroom tax 1
extra bewdroom tax 1
percent beedroom tax 1
housing tax 1
Negligence Tax 1
window tax 2
tax avoidance schemes 1
tax planning rules 1
income/ benefits 1
pay/benefits 1
benefits 2
benefit 1
tax credits 2
council tax benefit 1
Employment Support Allowance 1
government pay 1
government assistance 1
Work Programme 2
programmes 1
Incapacity Benefit 0
basic benefit 1
Discretionary housing payments 1
Discretionary Housing Payment 1
housing benefit 6
Housing Benefit 2
HB 4
brand new HB 1
PIP conversion 1
decision 1
benefits measure 1
home allowances 1

Aggregating seperate analyses introduced problems in regards to multiple permutations from accidental or deliberate erring from standard explanation, emphasis, plural/singularity or spelling. Given that the process used or the tools analysis does not reconcile this we end up with upper case and lower case keywords being separate and descriptors and terms being welded together. In addition, parent child relationships between terms or titles do not appear strong (perhaps through conservatism of the software that could be tweaked). Terms such as coalition or Liberals are not carried or captured with cultural sensitivity (the UK’s government in this instance).

Copying and then breaking down the keywords into manageable or personalized themes or categories was onerous (although this is partly a lack of tools for reprocessing). Reordering the material takes time on a human level (although ironically resembling the process of disk defragmenting, see image of extracted keywords with markers to post author below after part of the keywords were moved to another excel sheet for clarity).

Screenshot from 2013-02-11 01:34:33

To capture the whole chain of appropriate keywords using this technique although imperfect (it is like considering the world as if it is a grain of sand and then commencing an audit of the universe). It is amazing however examining what keyword extraction is able to offer for just one discussion thread in terms of verbal emphases, especially when related to information, point, emphasis and debate (particularly when sources such as the Guardian offer quantifiable recommend numbers).

The keywords extracted cover the individual topic pretty comprehensively. Once interpreted effectively, especially with terms synthesized and broke down to base meaning and interaction it is capable of providing strong specialised meaning. At a rule base level once that sophistication point is reached scalable and sophisticated analysis, communications and campaigning is possible. As alluding to in my previous post, it is possible to map for solutions problems and issues. In many ways sentiment analysis is already offering this (although is still prone to errors similar to explained above). Getting to a more meanings based level that takes in human and computing errors would provide a clearer understanding regarding the topic (although it would be more consistent using personal judgement for many of the keyword themes in this example, given the cleaning required to counter the volume of computing keywords).

Perhaps it is apt to highlight the work of Joseph Weizenbaum, a member of GE’s team in 1955 to build the first the first computer system dedicated to banking operations and whose technical contributions includes the list processing system SLIP and the natural language understanding program ELIZA, which was an important development in artificial intelligence.

“…Named for the heroine of My Fair Lady, ELIZA was perhaps the first instance of what today is known as a chatterbot program. Specifically, the ELIZA program simulated a conversation between a patient and a psychotherapist by using a person’s responses to shape the computer’s replies. Weizenbaum was shocked to discover that many users were taking his program seriously and were opening their hearts to it. The experience prompted him to think philosophically about the implications of artificial intelligence, and, later, to become a critic of it.

In 1976, he authored Computer Power and Human Reason: From Judgment to Calculation, in which he displayed ambivalence toward computer technology and warned against giving machines the responsibility for making genuinely human choices. Specifically, Weizenbaum argued that it was not just wrong but dangerous and, in some cases, immoral to assume that computers would be able to do anything given enough processing power and clever programming.

“No other organism, and certainly no computer, can be made to confront genuine human problems in human terms,” he wrote.”

In order to circumnavigate historic failures of intelligent comprehension in computing logic the commercial providers online stuck to using “Recommended by…” algorithms comprising of aggregate or contextual navigation and consumption patterns. Perhaps, rather than reinforcing our human approaches online, perhaps we have become more like the ants?

Although the keyword analysis provided a more simple and one off demonstration, one should not discount the value of more complex and custom built analyses. However, the concerns regarding the processes and stages of a human analysis disappear once the reality of having to automate such functions kick in. There are tradeoffs concerning subtlety. For BIS approaches to performance management it is dangerous to assume that buying a machine solves the problems of the human functionality for some cost. Without knowing what is under the hood or at a bare minimum what are the qwerks then there is a risk that complexity will create unknown risks to organisational governance.


Other blog posts in the Order From Chaos miniseries include:

  1. Order From Chaos: Performance Management and Social Media Analytics in the Age of Big Data;
  2. Abstraction, Perspective and Complexity: Social Media’s Canon of Proportions;
  3. Logic, Computation and (f*(k?) Meming: On2logi+k,ing;
  4. Transposition, Catalysts and Synthesis: Playing with iMacwells eDemon.

More than just eCoal, eSteam and ePower: The Modernizing Dynamics of Change Series

  1. Introduction;
  2. Economic requirements: Catalyst for Invention, Innovation and Progress
  3. Not Just Invention: Change Through The Desire to Innovate, Reimagine and Expand;
  4. New Tools, New Patterns, New Thoughts: the Great Dialogue;
  5. Nobody Will Notice The Slow Death of Dissmeination, They Will Be Too Busy Listening;
  6. The frictions of competition and cooperation to strategic thinking;
  7. The Hot and Cold Wars: Relationships and conflicts between big and small, propriety and open source.


If you have any suggestions, relevant links or questions to add flavour to this series then please join the dialogue below or contact me via Twitter:

Abstraction, Perspective and Complexity: Social Media’s Canon of Proportions

10 Feb

One of the great failures of the Web 2.0 era is that its architects have built cathedrals centered around the self, the hooking of other entities that encourage aggregate as opposed to selective or contextual information and the informatic prioritisation of time over meaning. This often results in:

  • misalignment of priorities, as a result of individual or wider overvaluing of totems such as ‘followers’ quantities;
  • too much energy being dissipated by users running on a hamsters wheel, sifting through in time messages and updates;
  • cursory acknowledgement of information or signposts but not enough time to understand or revisit.

In many instance this can be unproductive, particularly as even obeying norms of usage is working within the inefficiencies of the ecosystems. Whilst it would be interesting to speculate on the economic and cultural reasoning as to why this outcome would emerge and ways of rectifying it in spite of economic drivers (such as the network effect) tethering many online actors and entities to inefficient processes and communities, it is perhaps better instead to highlight on failures of the current orthodoxy. This is done not only to highlight productivity and organisational failures of modern messaging tools, highlight clear and practical advice for current users but also provide positive direction for iterate improvements and destructive alternatives.

Screenshot from 2013-02-11 01:46:26

To provide an analogy covering challenges regarding information and communications a body of tweets collected from the Social+Informed Twitter account (used for earlier blog posts featured on sopinion8ed). It was created to highlight the need for organic approaches to categorization to manage complexity, as well as navigate tradeoffs that large data flows create. In particular it deals with the challenges regarding complex systems’ structures and approach to looking at bodies of information as if they are interlocking organs.

In this instance, the population evolved to exist into four main categories:

  • Strategic level Tweets (red);
  • Managerial level Tweets (green);
  • Processing level Tweets (blue);
  • Informatics components level Tweets (yellow).

Naturally this solution was not elegant for Tweets containing a message covering more than one of these main categories. In such instances a parent category was chosen but a coloured token for the second choice category was given to signify association. Additionally, given that one of the guiding themes of the Social+Informed account was for social social business generated important information on open source technologies and social entrepreneurship extra tokens were additionally created (white and brown). Similarly, to highlight GIS and visualisations coins were used and for cloud computing buttons.

Within mini clusters of similar themed tweets an effort was made to coordinate twinned Tweets in the closest directions. As intentioned and improved with each ordering iteration the mini clusters became more homogenous and neighbouring clusters more complementary to each other. For example, category borders would be similar in themes and corporate/organisational activities were at the borders whilst more general themes tended to be closer to the core. Perhaps naturally, information systems themes Tweets resided closer to the very centre, given the general nature of the themes and the mix of technology, process and peoples that such messages would cover.

The consequence of this synthesis is not only to create an archive of old material in a now more accessible format than what date the Tweets were created or what a common ‘find’ search query can offer. It helped offer:

  • A clarification of overriding themes that have already been explored and how they interrelate or are dissimilar;
  • An overview of themes and experts for this sample;
  • A framework for mapping out and quantifying/qualifying based around context and parameters future initiatives;

Whilst of value, such explorations emphasize the inefficient nature of Twitter as basic tool needing more sophisticated interpretations than the following/follower dynamic. As a simple method of mitigating this (for internal efficiency or external efficiency (ie, less ‘white noise’ for followers)) it is advisable to be operating multiple accounts dealing with specialist themes (which can be managed by either multiples browsers with multiple Twitter accounts running or an excel sheet to ‘bank’ into differing category themes Tweet urls of interesting messages until those user accounts are activated again. Here are some examples:

metr1c1de, covering benchmarking

secureitie, covering security

datam1n1ng, covering data and statistics

managechangeit, covering management, change and IT

[Screencast to come. For now, please use right click images below for satiation to see definition, using ctrl+ to zoom in and understand detail]

01 - DSCN6994

‘Database’ of Tweets

03 - DSCN6998

Tweets laid out into starting categories

04 - DSCN6988

First attempt at positioning Tweets into spread thematic plane. The camera quality results in too poor an image level for legibility

07 - DSCN7002

Second attempt at positioning Tweets into spread thematic plane. The lighting, camera quality and higher abstraction level as a result of further spaced out Tweets renders the messages unreadable.

08 - L1130338

Third attempt at positioning Tweets into spread thematic plane. Notice how the tradeoff for an aggregate view makes legibility of Tweets too difficult

09 - C-B - L1130343

Third attempt: Close up on management related Tweets. On closer inspection notice sunlight’s effect on readability of Tweets

09- C-R - L1130344

Third attempt: Close up on strategic related Tweets

09 - C-B -  L1130361-2mb

Third attempt: Close up on analytic related Tweets

10 - A-G - L1130349-flower

Third attempt: ‘Specialists’ viewpoint


Other blog posts in the Order From Chaos miniseries include:

  1. Order From Chaos: Performance Management and Social Media Analytics in the Age of Big Data;
  2. Abstraction, Perspective and Complexity: Social Media’s Canon of Proportions;
  3. Logic, Computation and (f*(k?) Meming: On2logi+k,ing;
  4. Transposition, Catalysts and Synthesis: Playing with iMacwells eDemon.

More than just eCoal, eSteam and ePower: The Modernizing Dynamics of Change Series

  1. Introduction;
  2. Economic requirements: Catalyst for Invention, Innovation and Progress
  3. Not Just Invention: Change Through The Desire to Innovate, Reimagine and Expand;
  4. New Tools, New Patterns, New Thoughts: the Great Dialogue;
  5. Nobody Will Notice The Slow Death of Dissmeination, They Will Be Too Busy Listening;
  6. The frictions of competition and cooperation to strategic thinking;
  7. The Hot and Cold Wars: Relationships and conflicts between big and small, propriety and open source.


If you have any suggestions, relevant links or questions to add flavour to this series then please join the dialogue below or contact me via Twitter:

Order From Chaos: Performance Management and Social Media Analytics in the Age of Big Data

10 Feb

Despite modern organisations having already altered their models and strategies (often on fundamental levels) they still need to increasingly ensure that they are able to maximize new, more powerful and increasingly sophisticated informatics and communications technologies and processes. However, the issues surrounding BIS are still contributing to a state of flux, which is likely to increase before it normalizes, placing significant strains on those attempting to measure performance.

One significant talking point, Big Data (a contemporary attempt to coalesce these exponential forces, both in terms of futurist opportunities but also today with more tangible applications) is creating further and perhaps increasing pressures for organisational and managerial reinvention. BIS will be a key arbiter regarding technology adoption, process alteration and entities relationships. Consequentially, this interdisciplinary field will be judged on the successes and failures of major new initiatives and expenditures in this field.

Concerning performance management, new abstraction and categorization approaches will have to be taken to represent value. Given the Internet’s growing economic importance new approaches are required online, especially in regards to the tangibles and intangibles of social media. Examining this particular theme, the next few posts will set about highlighting some key logical, computational and interactive challenges. This will be done in order to identify drivers for change, emphasize current (and potentially ongoing) limitations, as well as offer more forward thinking and experimental approaches to modelling and mapping online competences, meaning and value.

Whilst big data is still generating new unknowns and ambiguities there will be problems regarding what is value, what defines productivity, who is successful and who is failing to contribute to profitability. BIS becomes increasingly important in this regard. For business governance, this has created some interesting outcomes and hanging issues. On an economic level much of this boils down to these six questions:

  • What should be encouraged?
  • What should be discouraged?
  • How should one treat success and failure?
  • How does value get represented?
  • Is it possible to internalize ‘externalities’?
  • Is it possible or even advisable to reduce communications ‘white noise’?
  • Are side effects of reform and changes understood and factored into decision making?


Other blog posts in the Order From Chaos miniseries include:

  1. Abstraction, Perspective and Complexity: Social Media’s Canon of Proportions;
  2. Logic, Computation and (f*(k?) Meming: On2logi+k,ing.
  3. Transposition, Catalysts and Synthesis: Playing with iMacwells eDemon.

More than just eCoal, eSteam and ePower: The Modernizing Dynamics of Change Series

  1. Introduction;
  2. Economic requirements: Catalyst for Invention, Innovation and Progress
  3. Not Just Invention: Change Through The Desire to Innovate, Reimagine and Expand;
  4. New Tools, New Patterns, New Thoughts: the Great Dialogue;
  5. Nobody Will Notice The Slow Death of Dissmeination, They Will Be Too Busy Listening;
  6. The frictions of competition and cooperation to strategic thinking;
  7. The Hot and Cold Wars: Relationships and conflicts between big and small, propriety and open source.


If you have any suggestions, relevant links or questions to add flavour to this series then please join the dialogue below or contact me via Twitter:

Balanced Scorecard within IS context

10 Feb

Do IS/IT investments contribute to business performance?  Brynjolfsson, E and Hitt, L.M. reviewed  the evidence on how investments in IT are linked to higher productivity and organizational transformation, with studies they conducted at firm level. They argued that value can be brought through organizational investments such as business processes and work practices and these investments enable productivity increase by reducing costs and also by enabling firms to their increase output quality in the form of new products or in intangible aspects of existing products like convenience, timeliness, quality, and variety. They argued that there are contributions from IS/IT investments but these they are not well captured by traditional macroeconomic measurement approaches. So they concluded that IS/IT investment contributes to business performance from their research but the measurement approach an organisation chooses matters.

Other authors  Martinsons, M. et al. also mentioned that how we measure productivity and profit matters. The fact that many investments in IT provide intangible benefits i.e. the ones that resist traditional measurement techniques.  The full potential of their improvements are not being realized.

The authors suggested that Kaplan and Norton’s Balanced Scorecard (BSC) approach can be modified to address the issue. The BSC has been developed as a way to both communicate business strategy, as well as direct attention to drivers of financial success. The authors propose that the BSC can be revised so that it becomes a useful way to measure IT project success.

They modified the original BSC to fit within an IS context. The revised scorecard framework illustrated below provides a graphic view of their modifications.


Adapted from Martinsons, Davison & Tse Fig 2 P.77

The four new perspectives identified include: user orientation, business value, internal process, and future readiness

  • The user orientation perspective is an end-users’ view and seeks to develop an on-going relationship with end-users (customers).
  • The business value perspective is management’s view. This perspective is concerned about the contribution of IS to the entire organization. It also has a focus on cost control and establishing a continuing relationship with management.
  • The internal processes perspective is an operations-based view. Its objective centre’s on efficiency and effective management of issues.
  • The future readiness view is similar to the learning and growth perspective. It emphasizes innovation and learning. Objectives focus on upgrading hardware and software, updating IT application, and build IS skills through employee training

They recommended the following steps in building a balanced IS scorecard

The 7 steps involved with building a balanced IS scorecard includes:

  •   Introducing the BSC method to management
  • Collecting and analysing data on strategy, objective, and metrics
  • Defining objectives based on the four perspectives
  • Developing a preliminary BSC based on defined objectives and goals of the organisation
  • Soliciting comments and feedback
  • Achieving a consensus that it will be used in the organisation
  • Communicating the final BSC to all parties

According to them a well built balance scorecard will include an appropriate mix of outcome measures and performance drivers. They explained that cause and effect relationships should be well defined among the four perspectives. They also studied the implementation of the BSC approach in three Hong Kong companies and they identified three problems:

  1. No specific long-term objectives
  2. No identification of cause and effect
  3. No communication of the BSC rationale and contents

Finally, they concluded that successful implementation requires communication of explicit cause and effect relationships because this communication was non-evident in the case studies. They also requested for more research to be done on  BSC implementation  in an IS  context.

In my previous blogs i listed 8 steps by Plunkett, P.T. He also mentioned three things management should also consider for performance measurement to be useful to their organisation, they need to address the issues of organisational maturity, accountability and resources.

Balanced scorecard is still used by organisations today or even if they are not used, many organisations follow the principles of the balanced scorecard for developing their performance measures.

Various blogs on IS business performance have also mentioned  other frameworks available that can be used for determining  the contributions of IS investments to business performance.


Martinsons, M (1999) The balanced scorecard: a foundation for the strategy management of  information systems.

Brynjolfsson, E and Hitt L.M(2000) Beyond Computation: Information Technology, Organizational Transformation and  Business Performance.


Taking Shape: Building the complete framework

8 Feb

Previously I have discussed three distinct frameworks as a means of supporting management teams to assess the impact of IS investments on business performance. Frameworks discussed were the ‘OBRiM’ framework [1], ‘Cresswell’s ROI analysis guide’ [2], and a ‘process-oriented framework’ [3]. In this blog entry I will summarise the strengths and weaknesses of these frameworks as part of an effort to develop a new construct to aide evaluation of IS investments.

The OBRiM framework was primarily preoccupied with minimising risk in information technology decisions. As a result flexibility is intentionally built into this framework – allowing management to identify real options available (i.e. abandonment, trialling, deferral etc.) to minimise risk with the IS investment. Once all the risks are mapped out (using real options), management can then alter the nature of their investment in order to obtain the greatest business performance outcome. Nevertheless this framework does have a big weakness – that being all types of risks cannot be anticipated.

Therefore in relation to a new construct it is important to build-in an element of risk management – however a framework preoccupied with minimising risk, such as OBRiM, would not be ideal given the likelihood of an unanticipated risk. On top of that there is also an argument that complete risk management does not necessarily correlate with maximising value. In the case of OBRiM the emphasis is placed upon the negatives an IS investment may throw up rather than the positives. A new construct should aim to achieve more of a balance.

Perhaps the most complete framework discussed was Cresswell’s Guide to ROI Analysis. The author, Anthony Cresswell, outlines a framework which emphasises the need to ask four types of key questions of an IS investment.  The key questions are labelled under the headings of financial, effectiveness, efficiency and impact. A risk analysis is also built into this framework but – rather than real options – this analysis is based upon available real data. On the whole this framework is more balanced than the OBRiM framework however it is far more rigid in structure and data obsessed. A new construct could do with the balanced approach of Cresswell’s guide to ROI Analysis – however there should be a built in element which permits management to ‘go on gut’ (make a decision based on feeling rather than fact).

The final framework discussed was a process-oriented construct. The authors of this framework maintain that the effect of an IS investment can be best assessed by capturing interactions in a business process where a proposed IS project will be implemented. This assessment is made based upon computational representations of physical and information flows. Overall this framework is more focused on a singular element than the other two – that element being process. This process-based approach could prove useful as an addition to a new construct – however it may be unwise to base a whole framework upon process only. The authors themselves admit that a process oriented approach may be more useful as a complement to a more extensive framework. Alongside this, a large amount of expertise is required to build a process oriented model – making it more suited perhaps to larger organisations.

In summation there are elements from all three frameworks that could be valuable in a new construct which helps management teams determine the contribution of their IS investments to business performance. While the ideal of a perfect archetypal framework may never be achieved, combining elements of these three models in a new construct may at least prove to be a worthy reference point in the academic pursuit of such a goal.


[1] Benaroch, M., Jeffery, M., Kauffman, R., & Shah, S. (2007), “Option-based Risk management: A field study of sequential IT investment decisions”, Journal of Management Information Systems, 24, 2, Autumn 2007.

[2] Cresswell, A. (2004), “Return on Investment in Information Technology: A Guide for Managers”, Center for Technology in Government, Albany, New York.

[3] Dutta, A., & Roy, R. (2004) “A Process-Oriented Framework for Justifying Information Technology Projects in e-Business Environments”, International Journal of Electronic Commerce, Vol. 9, No. 1, pp. 49-68.

Don’t Waste Your ICT Investments

8 Feb

Are you ready for cloud computing? Before opening your wallet, take a good hard look at what your ICT infrastructure is really like.


Shellie Karabell, INSEAD Knowledge Editor In Chief, speaks to Professor Theodoros Evgeniou and Nils Fonstad, Associate Director of INSEAD elab, on topics such as IT investment, measurement metrics,  big data and the changing role of the CIO.


Business Performance Measurement: IT Metrics

8 Feb

Two important factors need to be taken into consideration when investing in IT. Firstly, the term or length of the investment and when the return is expected, secondly the inclusion of all tangible and intangible benefits. Making the analysis too complex can result in a time demanding and cost consuming process that could lead to a conclusion that is difficult to interpret, however leaving out too many factors would lead to misleading results. [1]

Appropriate metrics are of crucial importance to firms when measuring the value of their IT investment. Cisco is an example of a firm who used metrics to improve processes:

“Cisco Systems implemented a cross-departmental council to create metrics for improving business process operations. The council developed metrics to evaluate the efficiency of Cisco’s online order processing and discovered that due to errors, more than 70 percent of online orders required manual input and were unable to be automatically routed to manufacturing. By changing the process and adding new information systems, within six months the company doubled the percentage of orders that went directly to manufacturing.” [2]

Efficiency and effectiveness metrics are two primary types of IT metrics. Efficiency IT metrics measure the performance of the IT system itself including throughput, speed, and availability. Effectiveness IT metrics measure the impact IT has on business processes and activities including customer satisfaction, conversion rates, and sell-through increases. Peter Drucker offers a helpful distinction between efficiency and effectiveness. Drucker states that managers “Do things right” and/or “Do the right things.” Doing things right addresses efficiency—getting the most from each resource. Doing the right things addresses effectiveness—setting the right goals and objectives and ensuring they are accomplished. [3]

Effectiveness focuses on how well an organization is achieving its goals and objectives, while efficiency focuses on the extent to which an organization is using its resources in an optimal way. The two efficiency and effectiveness are definitely interrelated. However, success in one area does not necessarily imply success in the other. The boxes below [1] clearly show the differences and importance of both areas.

1. Efficiency Metrics 

Efficiency IT Metrics

 2. Effectiveness Metrics

Effectiveness IT Metrics

If a firm can successfully manage both efficient and effective metrics, and exploit opportunities that result from results of these measures, they will greatly increase the chance of their IT investment triumphing.


[1] Daniels, H. C. (1993) Information Technology: The Management Challenge, Addison- Wesley Longman Publishing Co., Inc.


[3] Drucker, P. (2006) The Effective Executive: The Definitive Guide to Getting the Right Things Done. New York: Collins.

Business Performance: Performance Management By Any Other Name Still Works The Same

8 Feb

When it comes to measuring business performance, we are presented with a vast amount of frameworks or systems abbreviated with three-lettered acronyms. Some of these include: Corporate Performance Management (CPM), Business Performance Management (BPM), Enterprise Performance Management (EPM), Total Quality Management (TQM), and the Balanced Scorecard (BSC) [1]. Essentially, each system or framework strives to deliver the same result; that is to manage and measure business performance. Following on from my previous post about Performance Management Systems, I will now try to incorporate a practical example to better understand the system.

This example is put forward by Mark Graham Brown in an article for Business Finance Mag. He uses the airline industry and in particular the role of the pilot for his example. Flying an aircraft is a nearly-perfect performance management system [2]. He then explains why, stating the idea that there is always a detailed flight plan so the pilots have a clear picture of the route, destination and are alerted to any weather or airport delays [2]. To become a pilot there are a number of high level tests and they receive excellent training. They are provided with sufficient fuel, a well maintained aircraft, and other resources like coffee and food [2]. Cockpits are designed with excellent metrics, additionally the gauges enable pilots to review and analyse performance in real-time so as to adjust their flight plan and strategy for arriving at the destination on time [2].

Accountability is an important aspect in the business world and mistakes can have tragic consequences. This is particularly true for a pilot; there are pretty severe and personal consequences to making a mistake. Bad performance could result in death and good performance means you get to fly another day [2]. Brown makes the point that, if organisations ran this way, they would see a lot better corporate performance [2].  Bringing this back to the measurement of business performance of IS investments, this idea of accountability and having clear goals and strategies in place are all applicable and by embracing this action organisations can benefit greatly.




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