The Center for the Management of Information Technology: 2021 Updates and Plans for the Year

We are excited to share updates from the first few months of 2021 and what we have in store for the rest of this year.

CMIT ∞ Scholars

Sarah Lebovitz, Assistant Professor of Commerce, has joined the Center as a CMIT Scholar. Professor Lebovitz came to the McIntire School in fall 2020 from the New York University’s Stern School of Business, and her areas of expertise include new technology adoption and technological change, digital innovation, and organizational transformation. Her recent work examines how machine learning-based AI tools for medical diagnosis are evaluated by managers and how physicians’ work practices change as a result of AI implementation. She also explores how organizations can leverage “acceleration” in their innovation processes (enabled by emerging technologies like 3D printing and open-source platforms), which was recently featured in Harvard Business Review.

CMIT ∞ Knowledge

At the start of the year, CMIT Director Ryan Nelson released the updated e-book IT Project Management: Lessons Learned from Project Retrospectives 1999-2020, with new case studies and analyses that offer guidance on how best to leverage best practices and avoid classic mistakes in IT projects. This “meta-retrospective” of 264 IT projects provides the context and opportunity to understand project management approaches at a macro level, and to generate best practices to avoid classic mistakes. This comprehensive guide for project managers may be used to gauge progress at points throughout a project’s life, map momentum, apply best practices to spot and prevent classic mistakes, conduct root-cause analysis, and devise actionable recommendations that will help their organization achieve project success.

Assistant Professor and CMIT Scholar Chris Maurer is a collaborator and co-author of the annual Society for Information Management (SIM) IT Trends Study, which seeks to provide practitioners and academics with valuable trends analyses as well as a snapshot on the state of IS management. The 40th anniversary report was released in late January 2021, the result of surveying more than 1,000 SIM members representing 624 unique organizations about issues of concern and documenting usage patterns of information technologies. The study also examined organizational readiness and handling of the COVID-19 pandemic. Respondents reported effects on facilities, infrastructure, networks, and resources required for a shift to remote work and virtual operations. Despite these challenges, 51.1% indicated the speed of their response was “extremely fast,” and 36.2% responded “somewhat fast.” It is also clear that these changes were not easy for organizations, with only 10.1% indicating that it was “extremely easy.” The study also confirmed the evolving importance of the CIO role. Forty-seven percent of CIOs surveyed report to CEOs, “representing a shift in importance in recent years,” says Mark Taylor, CEO of SIM. “The value CIOs bring to organizations—to long-range strategy and vision, and to broader integrations—is invaluable.”

The Information Systems Journal featured an article in March co-authored by CMIT Associate Director Ryan Wright titled “A Comparison of Features in a Crowdsourced Phishing Warning System.” This study continues Professor Wright’s research on phishing susceptibility and human-automation interactions aimed at combatting phishing—in this case, using a mock crowdsourced anti-phishing warning system that 438 study participants were provided to aid in the evaluation of a series of email messages. The results of the study showed that crowd-sourcing features work together to discourage warning acceptance and reduce anxiety. Most significantly, the findings confirmed that when individuals are provided with more accurate information, they are more accurate in their identification of phishing emails, more likely to adhere to warning recommendations, and less anxious when using the system.

Harvard Business Review published an article by Professor Wright and Professor Jason Thatcher of Temple University titled “Phishing Tests Are Necessary. But They Don’t Need to Be Evil” on April 1, 2021. This article provides a summary of three lessons learned during their ongoing research into “Building the Human Firewall” to balance the organization’s need for cybersecurity with the desire to avoid harming the relationship with employees or creating distrust. Key takeaways are to test teams, not individuals; avoid embarrassing employees; and gamify the activity and provide rewards.

CMIT ∞ Events

On Feb. 10, CMIT hosted a virtual conversation with David Sanger, Chief Washington Correspondent for The New York Times and author of The Perfect Weapon: War, Sabotage and Fear in the Cyber Age. Moderated by McIntire Professor and CMIT Associate Director Ryan Wright, the discussion focused on the emergence of cyber conflict as the primary way large and small states are competing and undercutting each other in recent years, changing the nature of global power. In October 2020, HBO released a documentary based on the best-selling book, directed by Emmy-winning filmmaker John Maggio, with Mr. Sanger as an Executive Producer, and featuring interviews with top military, intelligence, and political officials on the front lines of cyberterrorism. Professor Wright and Mr. Sanger took a deeper dive into the events covered in the book and film, the cyber landscape of the U.S., and how the pace of conflict—particularly with Russia and China—has accelerated. Click here for a recording of the event.

The 2021 Knowledge ∞ Continuum was structured as a yearlong virtual executive education engagement, as opposed to the traditional one-day event offered at the McIntire School in Charlottesville. This year’s cohort was limited to 50 participants (“patrons”) to facilitate a highly interactive format and provide ample networking opportunities. Four quarterly events include a conversation with a featured expert or author moderated by McIntire IT faculty, followed by breakout group discussions to debrief and network. The first quarterly program, held March 5, featured Marty Cagan, Founding Partner of Silicon Valley Product Group (SVPG) and author of EMPOWERED: Ordinary People, Extraordinary Products. Check out our event recap with key takeaways from the digital product management session on our website here.

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M.S. in the Management of IT

For nearly 20 years, working professionals have looked to the University of Virginia’s M.S. in the Management of IT (M.S. in MIT) to help them take the next career step. Expand your business and tech perspective while you maintain your work-life balance. Click here if you’d like to meet with an adviser!

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