Friday 21 June 2019
There is no doubt that technology developments such as increased computing power, ever-smaller devices and wider connectivity are bringing dramatic changes to the way we live and work. By interconnecting people and infrastructure and giving rise to new economic models in most data-intensive sectors, new technologies are enabling the emergence of new services and the sharing economy.
However, there are challenges associated with the role of technologies in stimulating socio-economic development and supporting prosperity. These include business, ethical, social, privacy and security challenges, to name but a few. Paradoxically, a large part of the business and research communities still perceive many of these as issues requiring purely technology-based solutions.
The Data, Organisations and Society research cluster aims to advance research and promote the debate on the challenges and opportunities related to the adoption of technologies in business and society. To that aim, the cluster organised the First International Symposium on Data, Information and Knowledge Management Research. We were particularly excited that the symposium attracted participants from a wide range of disciplines, including knowledge management, cybersecurity, marketing, strategy and sustainable tourism. A selection of world leaders in these domains joined CBiS staff, Associates and our PhDs for the June event.
Speakers included Prof John Edwards (Aston, UK), Prof Anthony Wensley (Toronto Mississauga, Canada), Prof Denise Bedford (Georgetown, USA), Prof Ettore Bolisani (Padua, Italy), Prof Jose Maria Viedma (Catalonia, Spain), Dr Aurora Martinez-Materinez (Cartegena, Spain), Prof Juan Cegarra (Cartagena, Spain) and Prof Xavier Font (Surrey, UK). For CBiS, the event was led by Dr Alexeis Garcia-Perez, Professor Sally Dibb and Professor Maureen Meadows, with Alexeis the symposium’s chair. There was a lively debate on the applications, approaches and key challenges associated with research in the data, information and knowledge management domains. Together those present identified an exciting agenda for future research, which they felt must have an interdisciplinary flavour in order to address the challenges presented by big data that were identified throughout the day.
Perspectives highlighted during the sessions included the challenges of generating wealth in the context of the fourth industrial revolution; the opportunities for knowledge flows to and from a community level; and the role of knowledge management in automated decisions. Also highlighted was the need for studies and publications that embrace the methodological challenges of doing research based on ‘big data’. We look forward to collaborating to address these questions together. The highlights of the discussions that took place confirm the relevance of our research and contribute to the rigour and direction of our research agenda.
The success of this symposium helps position CBiS as a focus for research that addresses the challenges arising from an era of ‘big data’ and the digital economy – challenges that emerge not just from a technical perspective, but from the perspective of societal stakeholders and organisations of all kinds. Our research will continue to address the need for citizens to play a more active role in the process of sharing their data, so they have a clearer appreciation of the privacy implications, and are better able to benefit from the results. We are also concerned with the ability of the public sector, government bodies and community organisations to balance the advantages and disadvantages of data collection, its analysis and the resulting decision-making. As the growth and potential of big data continue to explode, so does the need for a better understanding of the opportunities this new phenomenon provides. Deeper insight into big data’s impact in areas such as marketing, strategy and innovation across a range of sectors is needed, as well as the business, ethical, social, privacy and security challenges it poses.