CIS Seminar: Carsten Sorensen, “Digital Innovation Challenges: Struggling with Paradoxes of Change and Control”

Monday, January 23, 2012 from 4:30-5:30 in Hamilton Library 3F. The technical process of digitizing analogue data into digital bit-streams and the associated socio-technical processes of digitalisation has yet to fully reveal their disruptive potentials – yet researchers and practitioners alike must comprehend these phenomena. Dr. Carsten Sørensen is a leading authority on mobile information technology innovation and has the past decade studied; enterprise mobility, mobile platforms, organisational information services, and digital infrastructure innovation.

Abstract: The technical process of digitizing analogue data into digital bit-streams and the associated socio-technical processes of digitalisation has yet to fully reveal their disruptive potentials – yet researchers and practitioners alike must comprehend these phenomena. Digitalization removes tight couplings between an informational object and associated technologies for storage, processing, and distribution. Vinyl records physically capture sound waves; the turntable enables the processing of the captured sound; and a global network of organisations manages the distribution of records. MP3 files, on the other hand; can be stored on a range of media; processed by turntables, iPods, mobile phones, and laptops; and are distributed in P2P networks, through the iTunes store, and by traditional retail distribution. While the first wave of digitalization merely trotted along previous paths and the music industry, for example, benefitting greatly financially from distributing digital music on CDs, subsequent radical innovations such as Napster, iPods, Last.fm, and Spotify, has shaken the power relationships between new and old organisations.

Digital innovation brings a number of research themes to the foreground and the aim of this talk is to discuss a couple of these themes as a way of stimulating the debate on how research can provide useful insights. Firstly, digitalization is at the core related to the development of, engagement with, and control over digital infrastructures. These can assume a variety of forms from semi-open platforms to open global infrastructures. The interrelationships between stakeholders must be understood in terms of paradoxical relationships of collaboration, mutual interdependencies and conflict – tussles. Digital infrastructures are essentially relational entities where development signals a paradoxical relationship between both stability and change, and between control and generativity. Change is facilitated by stability, which in turn hinders change. Digital infrastructures critically rely on control mechanisms and increasing control can both stimulate and dampen generativity. The talk will discuss issues of digital infrastructure change and -control through examples, and the presentation draws upon current research on mobile platform innovation conducted at LSE’s unit for the study of digital infrastructure innovation (digitalinfrastructures.org)

Dr Carsten Sørensen (www.carstensorensen.com) is a leading authority on mobile information technology innovation and has the past decade studied; enterprise mobility, mobile platforms, organisational information services, and digital infrastructure innovation. Carsten lectures Information Systems and Innovation in Department of Management at The London School of Economics and Political Science, United Kingdom. He holds a BSc. in mathematics, an MSc in computer science and a Ph.D. in information systems from Aalborg University, Denmark. Carsten has since 1986 studied how ICT shapes and is shaped by emerging working practices and organizational forms. In 2001 he founded the mobility@lse (mobility.lse.ac.uk) research unit, which aims at drawing together academics with an interest in the profound changes to society, organisations and individuals from mobile, pervasive and ubiquitous information technology. He has since 2008 studied digital infrastructure innovation in large research projects. Carsten has international project experience from 1990 and extensive EU research project experience from 1992. He is a Senior Editor for The Information Systems Journal, and Associate Editor of Journal of the AIS and The e-Service Journal. Carsten is on the editorial board for Information and Organization and a member of the Advisory Board for Scandinavian Journal of Information Systems. He is an Academic Advisor for The Institute for Innovation & Information Productivity and a member of Future Foundation Global Network of Experts. Carsten also served as a member of the Advisory Board for the iSociety project at The Work Foundation. Carsten is actively engaged with executive education and has consulted for a range of organisations, for example; Microsoft, Google, Orange, PA Consulting Group, IMF, Steria, CSC, The Mobile Virtual Centre of Excellence, 3 UK, Skype, AXA, Carphone Warehouse, CA, and The Danish Ministry of Science – to name a few.