Interview with Dr. John Mooney
What was your role in the International Conference on Information Systems in Dublin in December 2016?
"I was fortunate to co-chair the 37th annual International Conference on Information Systems (ICIS) that was held in Dublin in December 2016 along with Professor Brian Fitzgerald, Chair in Innovation in Business and Technology at the University of Limerick in Ireland. ICIS is the most prestigious gathering of information-system academics and research-oriented practitioners in the world. The theme of the 2016 conference was "digital innovation at the crossroads." There was much discussion about how digital innovation – mobile technology, analytics (big data), robotics and automation, and the continued adoption of cloud computing – is enabling new business strategies and changing the way companies organize their processes and internal structures. The keynote speaker was Atish Banerjea, the new global CIO for Facebook, who outlined persistent and emerging challenges with managing IT, data, and digital business as well as opportunities for information-systems academics to guide emerging innovations.
I first attended the ICIS conference in 1989 as a young tenure-track faculty member at University College Dublin, and have attended every year since then, except 2005 when I attended Pepperdine's new faculty retreat in Florence (a much more attractive option than Las Vegas where ICIS was held that year). Over the years, the conference has offered many valuable research and teaching insights, and opportunities to meet wonderfully smart people. One of those people who I met at the 1989 conference, Dr. Blake Ives, encouraged me to host ICIS in Dublin sometime. I was delighted to eventually make good on this promise, and to co-chair this premier international research conference with my good friend Brian Fitzgerald. With more than 1,750 attendees and 200 research papers presented, ICIS 2016 was the largest in its 37-year history, and was a terrific research and networking experience."
You teach students that business professional and executives have responsibilities surrounding technology-based business innovation. What are these responsibilities?
"We live in a time of pervasive media and persistent entertainment that is having a significant impact on culture, behaviors, and public opinion."
John Mooney, PhD
"In our Executive MBA course, Managing Information Systems for Business Innovation, we acknowledge that in the past, many business executives gave most or all of the responsibility for managing information technology and data to IT professionals. This made sense when IT was primarily used for back-office functions such as payroll, accounting, and inventory.
However today, IT, and more broadly "digital technologies" have become pervasive across all business and internal processes. Data (increasingly "big data") is an essential input for sophisticated analytics that are being used for evidenced-based decision making, while products and services are becoming increasingly digitized and "smart".
Collectively, these trends are deeply impacting business strategy and operations. Digital technologies have become a primary driver of business innovation, thus the term "digital innovation".
Consequently, I strongly believe that business executives who are responsible for driving their company's strategy and operations have to take primary responsibility and accountability for making decisions about how technology and data are used and integrated into their business. The reality is, in today's world you can't have IT professionals making decisions about technology and data in isolation of the rest of the business. It has to be an integrated model with high collaboration between both groups. It is business executives' responsibilities to ensure that technology adoption and use positively impacts the business's bottom line."
What area of research are you passionate about?
"My particular research passion is digital innovation. I like to conduct in-depth case studies of how specific companies are adopting and using digital technologies to bring about desired business outcomes. I've recently completed case studies of digital innovation at Toyota North America and Schneider Electric. I'm also collaborating with my colleague Dr. Nelson Granados to learn more about the digital distribution of movies and how the emergence of technology giants like Amazon and Netflix are changing strategic decisions about the timing and pricing of movie releases. In addition, Dr. Dave Smith and I are looking at the technology-enabled arena of collaborative consumption and the rise of the sharing economy that is being pioneered by companies such as Airbnb, Craigslist, Kickstarter, Lyft, Uber, and SoFi."
What was the impetus for starting the Institute for Media, Entertainment, and Culture?
“For the Los Angeles region, the entertainment and media sectors have huge economic significance as LA is recognized as a global hub of the entertainment industry. In addition to the long-established film, TV, music, and animation areas, Silicon Beach is home to many of the major players in gaming and digital entertainment. Malibu is home to many accomplished artists and executives. We live in a time of pervasive media and persistent entertainment that is having a significant impact on culture, behaviors, and public opinion. For all these reasons, a significant percentage of Pepperdine students aspire to have careers in entertainment and media, joining thousands of alumni who are already engaged in these sectors.
Pepperdine University recently launched the Institute for Entertainment, Media and Culture (iEMC) with a vision to "be the preeminent values-centered, faith-based institute for cultivating talent and developing leaders for the global creative economy." Capitalizing on Pepperdine's strategic location and vast network, iEMC collaborates with Pepperdine's existing schools to facilitate the education of the next wave of multi-disciplinary creative artists, business executives, lawyers, and creative entrepreneurs. I work closely with Craig Detweiler, creative director and academic co-directors Joi Carr, Theresa de los Santos, Nelson Granados, Michael Smith, Maureen Weston, and assistant director Kathryn Linehan to enhance the portfolio of interdisciplinary learning experiences, events, courses, and programs available to Pepperdine students and alumni. We are also working to foster involvement by accomplished industry leaders and alumni and to pursue applied research to help inform best practices in the entertainment and media sector.”
How are students involved in shaping the iEMC?
“Seven Pepperdine students (two from the Graziadio School, two from the Law School, and three from Seaver College) are participating in a unique program at Stanford University's Hasso Plattner Institute of Design – the University Innovation Fellows (UIF) program. The UIF program selects students from schools around the country and then trains and empowers them to become agents of change at their respective universities. By participating in the UIF program, these seven Pepperdine students will be integrated into the iEMC's efforts to innovate within and across the five Pepperdine schools. By getting hands-on training about how to think about and facilitate innovation, these students can help shape future interdisciplinary course offerings and serve as advocates for lasting institutional change at Pepperdine that best serves the interests and needs of our students."