Award-winning student group and research

DISC is recognized for going above and beyond

The Association for Information Systems (AIS) named the Department of Information Systems Club (DISC) the 2017 Outstanding Student Chapter. The national organization awards student chapters from colleges across the country for their programs and achievements. The student chapters submit annual reports to AIS to maintain good standing and communicate the work they’ve accomplished throughout the year.

The Outstanding Student Chapter award is given to a chapter that has shown excellence in at least three areas of chapter activities, such as professional development, membership, careers in IS, community service, fundraising, and communications.

“The Outstanding Chapter Award is a prestigious honor for DISC,” says Shashank Rajani, this year’s DISC president and last year’s vice president of community service.

Rajani says the award recognizes chapters that excel in program organization, community service, student retention, and meeting their goals. He says the club’s goal last year was to help the student members prepare for the workplace.

“We want to provide as many opportunities for our members to become well-rounded individuals during their time at ASU,” he says.

DISC planned several community service projects, brought in hiring companies to meet with and recruit members, and offered members practice through job shadowing and mock interview opportunities.

“I am very proud of last year's DISC executive board because, as officers, we are still full-time students,” Rajani says. “It means a lot to be recognized for going above and beyond our responsibilities as students.”

Professors receive runner-up for research paper

A research paper co-authored by information systems professors is the runner-up for The Institute for Operations Research and the Management Sciences, or INFORMS, eBusiness Best Paper Award.

The paper, “Consumer Search, Producer Entry, and Product Variety: Theory and Evidence From a Digital Product Market,” by Zhan (Michael) Shi, Raghu Santanam, and Zhongju (John) Zhang studies the dynamics of digital product markets. The researchers looked at a dataset collected from one of the leading mobile app markets, Apple’s App Store. The entry and sales of those apps are the focus of the researchers’ analysis.

“Think of the app Instagram,” says Shi. “The app lets you take a picture and share it with friends. So maybe we can think of it as a combination of two functions: picture taking and social sharing. Take another app, like Uber,” he continues. “We can also think of it as a combination of the taxi-hailing function, payment function, and GPS function. So, our point is that for each app, you can do the exercise and figure out the underlying functional components.”

The IS researchers then zoomed out to the market level. “We can imagine there are many different functional components available, and each product (in our case an app) is a combination of some of the functional components,” says Shi. “A product’s combination sort of determines its ‘location’ in this space. It is not the physical location, but some abstract location in the space of functional components, or sometimes called characteristics space.”

Economists and business scholars have been interested in studying products’ “location” choice in the characteristics space, Shi says. “For example, should a new product be close to the incumbents or far away from them? How is the choice related to the focal product’s own quality and other attributes? This is the research question of our paper.”

Shi says academics are interested in the answers to these questions because they help explain the market structure, competition, product evolution, and innovation. Scholars have always been interested in similar questions, he says, but it had been difficult to carry out a large-scale study because in traditional industries, you do not have many new entrants coming to the market within a relatively short period of time (say a year) so you cannot get enough observations.

“Also, while the mental exercise of decomposing one product into its combinatorial components is easy, doing it systematically and in a data-driven way for hundreds of thousands of products is extremely different. The ‘big data’ from the mobile app market and innovative data mining techniques have made it possible.”

Each year, INFORMS grants several prizes and awards for achievement in the industry at their annual meeting held in October. The awards celebrate achievement in a variety of categories, such as teaching, writing, practice, distinguished service to the institute and the profession, and contributions to the welfare of society. E-Business is a section at INFORMS, in which 46 papers were accepted and six were nominated.

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