Innovation

To many participants at the recent Digital Smart Services Leadership Summit hosted by Qualcomm in San Diego, the phrase "smart services" is digital by definition. This new and slightly broader catch phrase covers the field also know as M2M, which means machine-to-machine communications to some or machine-to-man communications to others. But "smart services" refers to more than just the technology that links systems and devices together. Amid all the talk of broadband data rates and RFID (radio frequency identification), marketing Professor Mary Jo Bitner, the academic director of the Center for Services Leadership at the W. P. Carey School of Business, reminded the engineers of what might be called an analog or pre-Internet era definition of smart services: focusing on the customer.

Anyone who's ever watched a jazz ensemble jam knows it's a fluid process. Players have to listen to each other, yield the stage sometimes, take the spotlight every now and then and always stay in sync with the group. The same could be said for the shift to application development that revolves around web services. With service-oriented applications, functionality comes together in "content mash-ups" that unite multiple web services to give users a comprehensive application. Considering that application developers used to look at their task as a start-to-finish process, service-based software development presents managerial challenges, say Haluk Demirkan and Michael Goul, professors of information systems at the W. P. Carey School of Business. They believe the new development model demands new IT positions, and they call one such role "the conductor."

Self-service technologies, which automate routine interactions between companies and customers, are a source of convenience and efficiency to both parties — until something goes wrong and the customer cannot make the system work. Many companies should be focusing more closely on the overall customer experience, says Michael Goul, a professor of information systems and a researcher at the Center for Advancing Business Through Information Technology. Curiously, here's a case where businesses could learn something from government!

The next big upgrade to your corporate systems department may be something you will use but never see — "cloud computing," the next step in the evolution of SaaS technology. As with SaaS, cloud-computing customers tap into computing resources off-site and hosted by another company. The difference is scale. Cloud computing represents a "much larger-scale implementation," says Haluk Demirkan, professor of information systems at the W. P. Carey School of Business. "Now we're talking about thousands of computers" linked together via the Internet or some other network, he explains.

Collaborative technology is continuing to evolve — fostering innovation, connecting experts and creating relationships, between companies and their customers. At the "Achieving Innovation through Collaboration" symposium, hosted by the Center for Advancing Business through Information Technology at the W. P. Carey School of Business, Knowledge@W. P. Carey talked to presenters about the most exciting developments on the horizon for collaboration.