Category: Digital Technology Sector
From Dellarocas, C., Katona, Z., & Rand, W. (2013). Media, aggregators and the link economy: Strategic hyperlink formation in content networks. Management Science, 59 (10), 2360-2379.
In today’s link economy, whether a blogger paraphrases news articles or a fully automated aggregator harvests content from across the web, the pathways between content producers and audiences have become increasingly complex. So how should content producers respond to competition from aggregators and from each other?
How should content producers respond to competition from aggregators and from each other?
A new study from Boston University School of Management’s Chrysanthos Dellarocas, professor of information systems and director of Boston University’s Digital Learning Initiative, together with Zsolt Katona (University of California at Berkeley) and William Rand (University of Maryland), is the first to model the complex, interrelated implications of strategic hyperlinking and investment in content production. Their analysis, demonstrating scenarios in which such links can boost everyone’s profits, thus yields important implications for professional content producers who have until now been reluctant to link to competitors.
When Linking Increases Profits
Addressing questions relevant to both firms and regulators, Dellarocas et al. identify gaps in existing network economics research around the impact of freely established links and the strategies that motivate their formation. For example, what are the effects of linking to competitors, and when should inbound links be refused?
Dellarocas and his co-authors show that although linking can result in low-quality sites free-riding on high-quality content, “in settings where there are evenly matched competitors, the option of placing links across sites may lead to equilibria where some or all sites are better off relative to a no-link setting.”
Links between peer content sites can increase profits by reducing competition, overproduction, and duplication. The intuition is that, instead of each site expending resources to produce what is essentially duplicate content, everyone can benefit if one site specializes in producing really good content and other sites link to it. Sites that invest in high-quality content benefit from additional referred traffic, while those publishing the links become trusted hubs that attract visitors without having to pay the cost of content production. Different sites might specialize in producing content on different topics, one on politics and another on sports, for example. Thus, all sites produce the type of content they are best at and link to the rest. In this scenario, consumers benefit all-round.
The authors point out that the above scenario can sustain the market entry of inefficient players, allowing them to free-ride on the success of other content sites by linking to them, potentially denting the revenues of target sites. Still, no content site would benefit from unilaterally blocking such links, because then free-riding sites would simply link to their competitors.
The Impact of Aggregators
Acknowledging that aggregators ‘steal’ traffic from content sites, the authors also point out that, “by making it easier for consumers to access good content, aggregators increase the attractiveness of the entire content ecosystem and, thus, also attract traffic away from alternative media.”
While aggregators may direct more traffic to high-quality sites, they also take away a slice of profits from content sites. This happens because some aggregator visitors check article headlines and snippets at the aggregator but never click through to the original articles. Furthermore, aggregators tend to increase competition between content sites. This may boost quality but reduce content producer profits.
See more about “Media, Aggregators and the Link Economy: Strategic Hyperlink Formation in Content Networks,” at Management Science.
From “A Hidden Markov Model for Collaborative Filtering,” MIS Quarterly, 36(4), 1329-1356.
Commercial websites are constantly suggesting new products and content to us—a mechanized, cyber-age form of the old urging, “if you liked that, you’ll love this!” In tech terms, the systems that generate these suggestions are called personalized recommender systems. But how can these computer systems account for the age-old human tendency to change our desires as time goes on?
A new study by Boston University’s Nachiketa Sahoo and co-authors Param Vir Singh and Tridas Mukhopadhyay is one of the first to address this problem.
Sahoo is an assistant professor in information systems at Boston University School of Management; Singh and Mukhopadhyay are faculty members at the David A. Tepper School of Business at Carnegie Mellon University. Their paper, “A Hidden Markov Model for Collaborative Filtering,” appearing in MIS Quarterly‘s special issue on business intelligence research, suggests using a stochastic algorithm called a hidden Markov model (HMM) to process data about user activity and preferences, rather than the common algorithms used now by most personalized recommender systems. The authors show that the HMM, a more dynamic model, allows online personalized recommender systems to account for changing user preferences.
A New Model to Address Changing User Preferences
The authors point out that dynamic, not static, user tastes and desires are integral to the consumer experience, particularly with the repeat consumption of so-called “experience goods,” such as movies, music, and news. “This causes problems for a recommender system that has been trained to identify customers’ preferences from their past ratings of products,” the authors write.
Sahoo et al. propose a customized HMM algorithm to estimate user preferences and make recommendations. They evaluate their approaches using three real-world datasets: one containing employees’ blog reading activity in a Fortune 500 IT services firm, one documenting users’ movie watching behavior in the Netflix Prize dataset, and one tracking users’ music listening behavior on last.fm. Comparing the performance of their algorithm with that of several other popular algorithms in recommender systems, the authors show that the HMM-based algorithm performs as well or better than the other algorithms, particularly as user preferences change.
Their approach is based on the intuition that older data, rather than being discounted—as they are in some current personalized recommender systems—could instead be used to learn about that user’s preference and then applied to another user. “Data from a user’s past may not be useful for making recommendation for the user now,” they argue, since “her preference has changed, but it might be useful for making a recommendation for someone who currently has that preference.”
Read more about ”A Hidden Markov Model for Collaborative Filtering.”
Banner photo is a visualization of related movies found by a computer algorithm created for Netflix Prize. Each movie is represented by a dot, and colored lines signify a similarity between pairs. Photo courtesy of flickr user chef_ele.
On January 10, Jacqueline J. and Arthur S. Bahr Professor of Management Michael Salinger‘s piece “Why the FTC Was Right Not to Sue Google” was featured in the Forbes Leadership Forum on Forbes.com. Salinger, a professor in the Markets, Public Policy & Law department, is a former Director of the Bureau of Economics at the United States Federal Trade Commission.
January 3 should go down as one of the most important and proudest moments in the history of United States antitrust enforcement. After a 19-month inquiry, the Federal Trade Commission announced that it had voted unanimously to close its investigation into the design of Google’s search results. The FTC’s decision is a victory for Google, a defeat for those who tried to persuade the FTC to use the antitrust laws to hinder rather than promote competition, and a victory for Google users. It is not easy for a law enforcement agency to devote substantial resources to an investigation and then not bring a case, but sound antitrust enforcement dictates that it must do so when, as happened here, the investigation failed to uncover evidence of a violation.
To understand what was at stake in the case, go to Google and enter a query for “New York weather.” The top result will say “Weather for New York, NY,” with a minimal four-day forecast that may be sufficient for some users. Just below that will be links to sites that provide more detailed weather information. To the extent that users find the information provided directly by Google to be sufficient, weather sites might get less traffic. But Google users are better off, and that is the key point. As FTC Chairman Jon Leibowitz explained about the FTC’s decision, the antitrust laws are supposed to protect competition, not individual competitors. And, far from being an antitrust violation, improving search results to get users the information they need is precisely the sort of competition the antitrust laws are supposed to encourage.
Read Salinger’s full piece on Forbes.com.
Banner image courtesy of flickr user Robert Scoble.
“‘Guru’ of Guru Speak Decodes 5 Game-Changing Trends for t2”
In a profile featured in Times of India, David J. McGrath, Jr. Professor in Management N. Venkatraman presented his new framework to analyze the impact of IT on business performance. His model, referred to as The Venkatraman Framework, encompasses the so-called the “five webs” and offers a vision for the future of IT and Globalization 3.0.
Professor Venkatraman also discussed these topics during his talk in February at Guru Speak 2013, an annual advanced knowledge workshop organized by the IIM Calcutta Alumni Association and The Telegraph, who dubbed him “the ‘guru’ of Guru Speak.”
Excerpts from Times of India:
Professor Venkat N. Venkatraman’s interests lie at the point where strategic management and information technology intersect. The Boston University professor, who was recently recognized as the 22nd most cited scholar in management over the past 25 years, has created a new framework to analyse the impact of IT on business performance, referred to as the Venkatraman Framework.
“[The Venkatraman Framework] is about different aspects of how IT shapes and evolves business models. In the 1980s, I focused on how IT impacts internal processes. That was during the period where most companies saw IT as driving business efficiency. Then, in the 1990s, I focused on how IT allows firms to connect externally with suppliers and customers and change business scope. Then, IT became more strategic and CEOs began to take interest in how IT could become a strategic driver.
“As the Internet became more central and important in the early 21st century, I started focusing on the role of the web. Right now, my framework is focused on what I call five webs: mobile web, social web, media web, real-time web and machine web. These are not separate webs but are interconnected. They impact companies all over the world-although their effects may be different. I believe these webs taken together lay the foundation for the emerging digitally connected business infrastructure that could alter the basis of competition in the coming decade.”
Excerpts from The Telegraph (Calcutta):
Will BB10 be happy with fourth place? Will Bring Your Own Device become popular in India? Management strategy expert Venkat N. Venkatraman, professor in management at Boston University’s School of Management, has the answers [offered below]….
Samsung vs Apple
Both are focused on design and user experience. The key difference is software. Apple iOS is not yet big in India (despite the popularity of iTunes and iPods)….Google is well positioned in India and Samsung is positioned with TVs (and appliances). So, the combination of Google plus Samsung is unbeatable in India….
Just as IBM felt secure with their mainframe architecture, RIM (Blackberry) felt secure in the belief that they defined the enterprise mobile worker market with their mobile phones. The advent of two new entrants from outside the traditional industry boundaries –– Apple and Google –– has seriously challenged Blackberry and upset the industry equilibrium…The mobile game is now a two-horse race with Apple and Google. The jockeying for the third place is between Microsoft (Nokia) and BB….
Social media network
…I expect that more businesses in India will embrace social media more formally and aggressively as part of the marketing campaigns. Companies such as Facebook and Twitter should seek to find examples of application of social media in India that have broader applicability….
Read more coverage of The Venkatraman Framework and the professor’s talk at Guru Speak from the Business Standard (India)
BizEd magazine article ranks AACSB-member institutions’ use of online networks to communicate with students
In a recent article featured in the November/December 2012 edition of BizEd magazine, Boston University School of Management ranked 19th among US AACSB-accredited business schools for effective use of social media channels. The School placed above institutions including Ross School of Business, Kellogg School of Management, MIT Sloan School of Management, and Tepper School of Business.
The article, written by Sterling Morris, a student social media manager at the Jon M. Huntsman School of Business, Utah State University, examined how social media is changing the way business schools communicate with their students.
Each business school’s social media performance was benchmarked by criteria including number of Facebook fans and fan engagement levels, Twitter followers, YouTube channel views, and promotion of the School’s social media accounts on its websites.
BizEd focuses exclusively on trends and innovation in the business education industry and is published by AACSB International, the premier accrediting body for business school programs worldwide.
Interested in connecting with the School of Management on social media? Visit our social media directory.
Banner image via BizEd.
SMG Professors Dellarocas and Heineke named as members
On October 12, 2012, Boston University President Robert A. Brown and Provost Jean Morrison announced the establishment of the Council on Educational Technology and Learning Innovation (CETLI), a University-wide group charged with discussing “the potential role of educational technology both in our on-campus, residential programs and as a means for reaching new learning communities.”
The University is already considered a leader in online education among major private research universities. Last year, 4,400 online students registered in the graduate and professional programs offered through Metropolitan College, the College of Fine Arts, Sargent College, and the School of Social Work, which employed innovative web-based formats coupled with community-building tools, according to President Brown. The School of Management is also on the forefront of the high-tech learning revolution with an array of educational classroom technologies, including the recently-launched Digital Learning Studio.
The Council is co- chaired by Professor Elizabeth Loizeaux, Associate Provost for Undergraduate Affairs, and Professor Azer Bestavros, Director of the Rafik B. Hariri Institute for Computing and Computational Science & Engineering, and its members include the School of Management’s Professor and Chair of Information Systems Chris Dellarocas and Professor and Chair of Operations and Technology Management Janelle Heineke. Heineke also serves as the Director of the Center for Excellence in Teaching.
Excerpts from BU Today:
What if millions of people around the world with internet access could join BU students and take University classes—online, for free, without getting the academic credit BU students pay to receive?
Such “massive open online courses,” known by the inelegant acronym MOOCs, conceivably could benefit enrolled on-campus students, says Elizabeth Loizeaux, associate provost for undergraduate affairs, “by allowing them to get credit for BU courses that are offered as MOOCs, with implications on overall tuition costs and schedule flexibility.”
The innovation is just one of many that Loizeaux, a College of Arts & Sciences English professor, will spend this academic year studying with colleagues on President Robert A. Brown’s recently appointed Council on Educational Technology and Innovative Learning.
Other innovations the council will explore include linking students studying abroad in different countries online; developing online courses solely for students in other countries; creating classes in which students create some of the material to be studied and discussed; and modifying existing large lecture courses to spend more time in small discussion groups, linked by laptops.
“This is a time of real transformation in higher education, when we are rethinking the models and strategies for education on a global scale,” says Loizeaux. “The ability of technology to expand the variety of ways of learning and teaching, and when and where they happen, can make education more flexible and potentially reduce time to degree completion and improve retention and graduation rates for students.”
Read the full story on BU Today.
Banner photo via BU Today
Ren’s “How to Compete in China’s E-Commerce Market” Appears in Sloan Management Review, Fall 2012
In the most recent edition of Sloan Management Review (SMR), Xin Wang and Z. Justin Ren explore the world’s largest e-commerce market—and the failure of America’s most successful companies to crack it successfully.
Ren is an associate professor of operations and technology management and Dean’s Research Fellow at Boston University School of Management, as well as a research affiliate at MIT Sloan School of Management. Wang is an assistant professor of marketing at Brandeis University International Business School.
On the history of corporations reproducing their domestic successes abroad, Ren comments, “Big e-commerce companies often focus on scalability upon entering foreign countries and tend to undervalue or neglect local specifics that often clash with their business models at home. It is a fine balance they have to strike.”
Ren and Wang address this challenge in their SMR article “How to Compete in China’s E-Commerce Market.” “With more than half a billion Internet users,” the authors write, “China boasts the greatest number of Internet users in the world. Its online shopping market hit 766.6 billion yuan in 2011,” while by 2012, its e-commerce market is expected to be worth 2 trillion yuan, the approximate equivalent today of $320 billion.
“Big e-commerce companies often focus on scalability upon entering foreign countries and tend to undervalue or neglect local specifics that often clash with their business models at home. It is a fine balance they have to strike.” – Z. Justin Ren
So why, they ask, have companies such as Yahoo!, Groupon, and eBay failed to create the same successes in China as they have at home, or in other international markets? “After years of effort and millions of dollars spent, armed with the most sophisticated technology and premium brand names,” the authors write, “these Internet giants have all failed to claim a leadership role in China’s e-commerce.”
Wang and Ren address this market mystery by combining industry analysis, case studies, and insight from leaders in China’s e-commerce industry, with an examination of high-profile entry players in the Chinese e-commerce arena. “We identified four key ways,” they write, “in which U.S. e-commerce companies proverbially hit the Great Wall when they tried to enter the Chinese market.”
These fatal blunders include:
- a failure to modify the business model for Chinese customers,
- insistence on a standard global technology platform,
- a habit of overlooking the competition, and
- an inability to address challenges from Chinese authorities.
Tapping lessons from their research, the authors then offer practical advice to counter these errors and build success in the Chinese e-commerce market.
Banner image courtesy of flickr user DavidDennisPhotos.com.
BU experts on Jamie Dimon, Supreme Court ruling on health care reform, & Blackberry
Boston University Public Relations’ Professor Voices blog features a sampling of quotes by experts from BU’s School of Management on recent issues impacting the business world:
The Supreme Court and Health Care Reform (Huffington Post): Opinion piece by Stephen Davidson: “Even close Supreme Court watchers are reluctant to predict what the justices will decide about the constitutionality of the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act (PPACA).”
Your Blackberry isn’t dead (yet): (Boston Magazine “Boston Daily Blog”): “It would be foolish to predict the demise of any company. Apple and IBM have been famously declared dead by many pundits who now are wondering about their predictions.” N. Venkatraman
See more commentary from faculty on the Public Relations blog:
- BU experts on Consumer Reports ratings of MA docs, JPMorgan, Windows Live, & Facebook (May 31)
- BU experts on Bain, worker safety, Google, and Facebook (May 24)
- BU experts on Romney & health care, Facebook IPO, and Barnes & Noble (May 3)
- BU experts on airlines, Facebook, and Wal-Mart (April 26)
- BU experts on Goldman Sachs, Facebook, Sony Corp., and window displays (April 19)
Explore our website to learn more about faculty news & honors.
SMG’s Kabrina Chang studies what is and isn’t legal in hiring
By Rich Barlow via BU Today
Some of her School of Management students told Kabrina Chang of being asked during a job interview to log on to their Facebook page, their prospective employers hoping to mine useful information in deciding whether to hire them. “I was horrified,” says Chang, a lawyer and assistant professor of business and employment law.
No one knows for sure how many companies do this, and Maryland is the only state that’s banned it, says Chang (CAS’92). Meanwhile, firms like Social Intelligence and Reppify compile reports about, or simple scores of, job seekers, based on the applicants’ information on social networks like Facebook and activities at online sites like Craigslist and eBay, she says, for sale to corporate clients. It’s similar to credit-reporting agencies providing financial background on applicants.
Chang thinks that gathering online information, within reasonable limits, is fine; after all, an employer who hires someone who’s littered the internet with pictures of himself posing with firearms could be liable if the new employee then goes on a rampage. And she cites one study in which 18 percent of responding employers said they’ve hired people with impressive online profiles. But, she argues, the companies that asked her students for their Facebook pages on the spot crossed what should be a legal line. Chang, who has done previous research on social media, presented a paper on the topic at SMG’s second annual faculty research day recently and discussed it with BU Today.
Click here to see Professor Chang’s Q&A.
Story via BU ITEC:
Congratulations to Daniel Gnecco (BSBA’12) whose company, KontrolTV, won first place in this year’s 12th annual $50K New Venture Competition. KontrolTV’s mission is to design an application that would make it possible to use a mobile phone like a television remote control, allowing the user to find and launch TV listings. The application would also allow you to see what your friends are watching on TV in real time. Gnecco started his company with his father, Juan Pablo Gnecco, and Alan Queen, an engineer from Gnecco’s hometown of Atlanta.
In addition to winning BU’s Competition, Gnecco has landed $500,000 in seed money from Dallas Mavericks owner Mark Cuban. KontrolTV was also selected as the winner of the TeleEMG People’s Choice Award, representing the company the audience believed is most likely to succeed.
Landing the second place position was BU alum Michael Adelizzi (ENG’02). His company, Stabiliz Orthopaedics, based in Philadelphia, focuses on developing innovative orthopaedic medical devices for the treatment of traumatic bone fractures. The company’s lead product is a hybrid metallic-resorbable plate and screw system that allows surgeons to customize the healing process, eliminate the need for future surgeries, and reduce overall health care costs. Michael started the company in 2008 with colleagues Douglas Cerynik, MD and Bradley Grossman.
Third place was won by City Fuel Company, headed by Diego Torres-Palma (MBA’13) and MIT graduate Matthew Pearlson. City Fuel is a small-scale renewable fuel technology company that plans to put Massachusetts at the leading edge of renewable energy and transportation technology. Its technology can convert new and used vegetable oils into fuels and chemicals.
Judges for the competition include: Louis Volpe (MBA’78), Kodiak Venture Partners; Charles Lax (BSBA’82), Grandbanks Capital; Eugene Hill (MBA’80), SV Life Sciences; and David Verrill, Hub Angels Investment Group.
The $50K New Venture Competition is generously supported by ITEC’s valued business partners: Cummings Properties, GrandBanks Capital, Kodiak Venture Partners, Morse, Barnes-Brown & Pendleton, Paul Horn & Associates, SV Life Sciences, TeleEMG, and WilmerHale.