Communications of the Association for Information SystemsVolume 19Article 83-26-2007Developments in Practice XXV: StrategicExperimentation with ITJames D. McKeenQueen's School of Business, Queen's University, [email protected]Heather A. SmithQueen's School of Business, Queen's University, [email protected]Follow this and additional works at:This material is brought to you by the Journals at AIS Electronic Library (AISeL). It has been accepted for inclusion in Communications of theAssociation for Information Systems by an authorized administrator of AIS Electronic Library (AISeL). For more information, please contact[email protected].Recommended CitationMcKeen, James D. and Smith, Heather A. (2007) "Developments in Practice XXV: Strategic Experimentation with IT,"Communications of the Association for Information Systems: Vol. 19, Article 8.Available at:
Communications of the Association for Information Systems (Volume 19, 2007) 132-141 132 Developments in Practice XXV: Strategic Experimentation with IT by J. D. McKeen & H.A. Smith DEVELOPMENTS IN PRACTICE XXV: STRATEGIC EXPERIMENTATION WITH IT James D. McKeen Heather A. Smith Queen’s University [email protected]ABSTRACT A focus on top line growth necessarily brings IT into the mainstream of product/service innovation, which in turn means that IT must assume a customer focus, assimilate new skills, and build collaborations with the business development arm of the organization. It also leads IT into the realm of organizational innovation and the world of strategic experimentation with IT. This paper introduces the concept of strategic experimentation with IT by embedding it within the innovation life cycle typical of most organizations. It then outlines some of the unique issues and challenges IT managers face as they tackle innovation. The paper concludes by presenting a collection of strategies for motivating, supporting, and directing strategic experimentation with IT. Keywords: Innovation, experimentationI. INTRODUCTION The role of IT is changing. According to Smith and McKeen , it is bifurcating into separate roles – commodity service and competitive differentiation. Seemingly schizophrenic, these dual perspectives simply reflect the fact that organizations need to balance their bottom-line focus with their top-line focus; that is, take the costs out of the business while growing revenues through IT-enhanced products and services. Although IT is experienced at reducing internal costs, a top-line focus is new and different. It requires a customer-focused orientation. Developing systems for employees is not the same as for real customers who lack allegiance, skill, and/or patience. A top-line focus also requires experimentation with new products/services which are predominantly technology-enabled. Such experimentation (e.g., testing new offerings) is well established in most organizations, but it is new terrain for IT. It means new collaborations (e.g., marketing, business
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