Creating value with information is the objective of people supported by information technology, with the role of technology expanding apace. This is the essential point made by this Special Section, which bears that very title. Its Guest Editors, Robert O. Briggs and Jay F. Nunamaker Jr., have assembled a set of papers researching various aspects of this nodal issue in a variety of settings, with some of the works focusing on the human side of the equation and others on the technological support. The Guest Editors will introduce the papers to you. The methodological richness of the works and their collective contribution once again underscore the fact that the field of information systems (IS) is a full-fledged contributor in the family of scholarly disciplines.
The first paper of the general section, by Gediminas Adomavicius, Alok Gupta, and Pallab Sanyal, addresses reverse online auctions. More specifically, these authors study multiattribute procurement auctions where the goods and services can be acquired from multiple suppliers. In going beyond the price discovery, these auctions allow the firm to acquire products with the desired attribute bundle. During an auction’s iterations, suppliers receive feedback that increasingly reveals buyer’s preferences. This feedback is a concession from the buyer’s point of view, necessary to populate the auction with suppliers. The authors use a laboratory experiment to study the effects of different feedback regimes on the outcomes of these complex auctions. This contribution to our knowledge about online auction markets is both generative of future scholarship and of practical importance in its recommendations for mechanism design.
We expect advanced IS, when properly combined with other resources, to support the owner firm’s search for competitive advantage. The authors of the next paper, Nicholas Roberts and Varun Grover, empirically study how positive competitive effects can be achieved in the area of customer-oriented agility, a dynamic capability to sense and respond to the opportunities generated by individual customers. Co-creating with customers in the processes of open innovation is just one, and important, example of deploying such a capability. The authors develop and validate a model of customer-oriented agility that combines the factors leading to the sensing ability (such as integrated customer touch points on the Web, and the ability to analyze the data and consumer articulations) with the prerequisites of the responding ability (predicated on the coordination of organizational action).
Two further papers in the issue study software maintenance, a sorely understudied subject in our field, even though maintenance actually absorbs most of the corporate software resources. Dana Edberg, Polina Ivanova, and William Kuechler use the precepts of grounded theory to explore how IS professionals come up with the maintenance methodology they use. The authors find that bricolage is employed: components of various maintenance methodologies are identified for the purpose, and mashed together. Thus, the components of both life cycle–oriented and rapid prototyping methodologies are combined. Based on this finding, the authors present a model describing the factors leading to the choice of these components. These findings, it is to be hoped, will stimulate further work to enhance the actual maintenance practice and leaven the development of the theory of software maintenance. It is time we, as a field, contributed more to the practice of software maintenance.
A different aspect of maintenance is software patching by vendors in response to the identified vulnerabilities to security breaches. Considering the potential consequences of the use of unpatched software, the patch-release behavior of the vendors is of great moment to the secure operation of organizational systems and, indeed, to the national infrastructure. The authors, Orcun Temizkan, Ram L. Kumar, SungJune Park, and Chandrasekar Subramaniam, decompose security into its key aspects to develop and test a model of software vendor behavior in patching. They find that the vendor reaction in the face of different vulnerabilities and in various software market structures displays vital differences. The desirability of these differences is questionable in various circumstances. Policy implications follow.