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Data Analytics as a Conduit for Progressing Information Syst

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Karthikeyan Umapathy

on 29 May 2017

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Transcript of Data Analytics as a Conduit for Progressing Information Syst

IS Research Focus
Information systems (IS) is well-positioned to suggest theories, research methods and guidance on more effective design, delivery and use of IS in Nonprofit Organizations (NPOs).
Nonprofit Organizations (NPOs)
NPOs are key public service providers and an important constituent of the economic, social, and political entities in our society.
IS Researchers Should Study NPOs
NPOs vs. Profit vs. Other Organizations
NPOs align their activities with their missions (to create social values).
Whereas businesses focus on maximizing profits and increasing personal and stakeholder wealth.
IS Research Themes
Zhang et al. 2010 developed a conceptual framework to motivate other IS researchers to study NPOs.
IS literature predominantly focuses on for-profit organizations.

Per U.S. Census Bureau U.S. has about 7.5 M business organizations.
https://www.census.gov/content/dam/Census/library/publications/2015/econ/g12-susb.pdf

Of which about 1.5 M are nonprofit organizations (i.e., 501(c) tax exempt) (20%).
http://www.urban.org/research/publication/nonprofit-sector-brief-2015-public-charities-giving-and-volunteering
Sadly, IS research has mostly ignored NPOs, despite many calls for research in this context over the last 20+ years (e.g., Burt & Taylor 2000; Zhang et al. 2010; etc.).
In 2013, the nonprofit sector contributed more than $900B to the US economy (5.4 % of GDP).
In 2014, 1 in 4 US adults volunteered with an organization contributing an estimated 8.7B work hours.
http://www.urban.org/research/publication/nonprofit-sector-brief-2015-public-charities-giving-and-volunteering
NPOs primarily rely on external funding sources

(i.e., donations, grants, and government aids) and a voluntary workforce.
NPOs are also different from the public sector and governmental agencies in that they are not funded and controlled by local, state, or federal governments.
NPOs' contexts are quite different from those of for-profit businesses.
NPOs often operate on outdated infrastructures and information technologies.
IT adoption and usage are usually constrained by resource shortages, a lack of IT expertise, and decision makers’ IT knowledge.
Very high turnover of employees and volunteers
Lack of employee training and established processes to accomplish objectives
A Position Paper
Data Analytics as a Conduit for Progressing Information Systems Research in Nonprofit Organizations
Karthikeyan Umapathy
University of North Florida, Jacksonville, FL
Amy J. Connolly
University of South Carolina Upstate
Southern Association for Information Systems (SAIS) St. Simons Island, Georgia, March 24-25, 2017.
In order to advance our knowledge of IT strategies and usages in NPO context, we need to conduct
theoretical and empirical research
.
Most importantly, our contributions can potentially improve social conditions and the quality of life, greatly enhancing its impact.
Nonprofits Can Leverage Information Systems to Achieve their Mission
NPOs can benefit from IS usage with internal and external operations.
Increase the efficiency and effectiveness of service delivery
Provide staff with greater access to information in a timely manner
Gather data for program performance evaluation (often mandated by funding agencies)
Share best practices with other organizations
Create awareness of issues in the community
Share information about operations to establish legitimacy and transparency
Fundraise through Web and social networking technologies
Build and sustain volunteer and donor base
Internal Operations
External Operations
However,
Limited literature prevents us from drawing from a synthesized knowledge base about the nonprofit sector,
which in turn affects our ability to conduct impactful, progressive IS research about NPOs.
We identify the key research themes from IS and nonprofit literature.
In this position paper,
We argue that data analytics could be a vital driver to make meaningful contributions needed to progress IS research for nonprofit sector.
Identify Key Existing Research Themes
Recommend Data Analytics as a Theme to Progress IS Research
Conceptual Framework for Conducting IS Research in the Nonprofits Sector
Conceptual framework consists of three tiers - social, IS effectiveness, and Organization environments.
While this framework provides a theoretical base for researchers to begin their research, without empirical research findings for sub-concepts, it has little practical significance.
IS Research Themes
Strategic Use of Web Technologies
Lee and Bhattacherjee (2011) argue that the lack of organizational and technological capacities is quickly creating a digital divide between NPOs and organizations from other sectors.

They developed a theoretical framework to explain that strategic use of the Web by NPOs influenced by factors such as characteristics of leaders, an organization’s size, and its geographic location.
Lee and Blouin (2014) from their survey findings found that NPOs disclose financial and performance information on their websites when:
(1) they have favorable attitudes towards disclosure,
(2) web disclosure is considered to be compatible with their organizational beliefs and practices, and
(3) they have financial resources to adopt and implement websites.
Despite websites and other relevant Web technologies being an essential technology for nearly any organization, most NPOs had not adopted them at all or had done so ineffectively.
IS Research Themes
IT Leadership
Richardson et al. 2011 developed a conceptual framework for NPOs to identify leadership activities which lead to effective collaborative IS development.
Embracing new members,
Empowering all members by creating infrastructure for communication and collaboration,
Involving each member in the collaborative process,
Mobilizing everyone’s efforts for the common good, and
Resolving conflicts using rational discourse.
To our knowledge, we have not seen any other IS literature focused on IT leadership in the NPO context. Empirically investigating appropriate ways to recruit and retain computing personnel in the nonprofit sector remains wide-open.
IS Research Themes
Data Management
West and Green 2008 shows that NPOs typically manage client, volunteer, and donor information, program assessments, volunteer activities, and donor related communications.
IT Adoption
O’Hanlon and Chang (2007) surveyed 119 NPOs in the Western Australian state which showed that Internet technology use was influenced by pressure from donors, the organization’s budget and technical capacity, the ratio of paid employees to volunteers, organizational practices, and the level of internal support.
Zorn et al. 2011 survey findings from 2,543 NPOs in New Zealand showed that institutional isomorphic pressures (constraining process imposed by the state and the profession) and organizational characteristics predicted NPOs’ adoption and use of ICT.
Ward and Never (2012) surveyed 72 NPO managers about differences between GIS and website adoption and their findings shows that factors that influence for GIS and website adoption are different.
Umapathy and Huang (2015) surveyed 53 NPOs and found that most NPOs spent less than 5% of their operating budgets on IT-related expenses and largely relied on external support for IT tasks, NPOs use stable and proven IT, not have a strategic plan for technology, to leave IT decisions to executive directors as well as reveal which tasks are performed in house and outsourced by NPOs.
This research showed that a wide variety of factors can potentially influence IT adoption, but they have not provided a reliable explanation for the digital divide seen in the NPO sector nor which factors predict or improve IT adoption rates in NPOs.
Non-IS Research Themes
IT Adoption
IS Use in NPOs
Connolly 2014 dissertation study shows how NPOs can effectively use social media sites (SNS) to recruit and retain volunteers. This three-part study revealed that NPOs organizational policies conflicts with control over SNS usage, NPOs need better strategies with using SNS to motivate their volunteer base, and provided benchmark to assess NPOs SNS usage.
Oakley 2014 dissertation study focused on business value of IS in NPOs which revealed that knowledge-based view is more appropriate than resource-based view for developing IS for NPOs.
While these studies give us a window into IS use in NPOs, more in-depth studies are needed to increase impact of IS research and our understanding of how information systems are used in the NPO context.
Information Security Policies
Imboden et al. 2013 survey revealed despite importance of securing data, only 50% of the medium- to large-sized NPOs surveyed reported having an information security policy, while 75% reported at least one known security incident.
Burt and Taylor (2000) study surveyed 430 NPOs in UK and found that most nonprofits were slow and cautious in adopting IT, but NPOs that employeed IT staff had higher levels of IT uptake.
Hackler and Saxton (2007) surveyed over 1,500 NPOs on their strategic use of IT and found that most nonprofits did not align their technology decisions with their mission nor have a long term plan, but they were using IT for fundraising.
Virtual Accountability
These research findings are consistent with IT adoption themed literature by IS Researchers.
Dumont (2013) developed a nonprofit virtual accountability index to benchmark NPOs' websites' ability to provide information that stakeholders can use to hold nonprofits accountable. Her study findings are
consistent with findings from IS literature on strategic use of Web
.
Non-IS Research Themes
Social Media Usage
Lovejoy and Saxton (2012) examined diffusion of Twitter in the 100 largest NPOs in the U.S. Their findings showed that NPOs predominantly used Twitter as an extension to their website to share and communicate relevant information as opposed to community-building and mobilization.
Svensson et al. 2014 study used Lovejoy and Saxton 2012 framework to analyze tweets by NPOs involved in sports and their study findings aligned with Lovejoy and Saxton 2012 study.
Water et al. 2009 studied 275 NPOs' Facebook profiles and found that most were not active and were not using Facebook strategically to develop relationships with their stakeholders.
Wells 2014 study investigated Facebook usage by NPOs, government department, and funding agencies in a U.S. county and found that none were actively using Facebook.
Clark et al. 2016 studied Facebook engagement among 159 NPOs which revealed that when Facebook engagement increases by 4.9% then an NPO can expect a 10% increase in private contributions.
These findings are
consistent with IS use in NPOs theme
that NPOs are not using social media and other information systems tools appropriately to push their mission, causes, and stakeholders closer to their goals.
Discussion of Research Themes
Common themes among IS and nonprofit domain research are
IT adoption, strategic use of Web technologies for disclosure, and SNS usage
by NPOs.
Both IS and non-IS researchers argue that
IT is not well adopted nor adequately used
by NPOs.
Researchers indicated several factors for IT adoption and use, but
none found factors to predictably improve adoption rate
.
In general, IS studies
did not focus on nonprofits as a context
, but rather as a willing convenience sample.
Much extant research of IS within NPOs focused on use; existing findings
tautologically linked IS use with NPOs
.
None of the studies so far have addressed IS design and delivery.
We found a limited number of academic studies of IS in the NPO context.
We have not even defined
what “effective IS use” in the NPO context means
. Without meaningful progress, this research area will continue to languish.
We argue Data Analytics can be a driver for IS research to help build an IS knowledge base on NPOs.
NPOs collecting and analyzing data about their clients, volunteers, donors, services, and program outcomes are important for making decisions to increase their ability to gain funding.
IS researchers could assist nonprofits to
identify more efficient ways to gather data outside and within the organization,
better understand why and how data should be managed,
identify theories and perspectives to analyze data, and
make effective programmatic and policy decisions based on analytical interpretations.
Comparative Analysis of the Organizational Divide in NPOs
Anecdotally, it is accepted that there is a digital divide between nonprofit and for-profit organizations, but also among large and medium/small NPOs.
Comparative analysis studies are needed to systematically determine similarities and differences across nonprofit sectors as well as against for-profit and government sectors.
For-profit organizations focus on outcomes like Return-On-Investment and predominantly analyze collected data to make effective decisions but NPO outcomes are mission-driven and often do not make data-driven decisions.
We need studies that build theories on how the digital divide occurs and test hypotheses to overcome the divide.
Cultivate Data Scientists, IT Staff, and Training Modules Catered Towards NPOs
Nonprofits are constrained by considerably limited resources.
NPOs depend on volunteers for IT tasks and do not offer professional development to their staff.
It is difficult for NPOs to attract and retain staff skilled in IT and data analytics, which in turn makes it difficult to diffuse data-driven decision philosophies and technological solutions in general.
We believe IS researchers can perform impactful work on computing personnel that addresses both nonprofits and the IS community, but unless researchers focus their attention on NPOs, tremendous opportunities will be lost.
Business Analytics for NPOs
Efficient and effective delivery of services by nonprofits can have long-standing impacts on communities and improve everyone’s quality of life.
Similar to for-profit organizations, business analytics can play a vital role in NPOs’ ability to provide better services to recipients.
Quantitative and qualitative studies are required to build a knowledge base (theory and best practices) that could help NPOs use business analytics toolsets to overcome challenges of human, financial, and technology resource constraints.
A large-scale survey is needed to benchmark the status of data-driven decision making in the nonprofit sector.
Gather data on data sets,
Type performance metrics,
Analytical skillsets needed to do tasks, and
Variety of toolsets
We need studies to survey NPOs usage of data analytics and their methodologies of collecting and analyzing data, and to contrast them with for-profit and government sectors.
In-depth case studies and participatory action research are needed to promote data-driven decision-making among nonprofits.
Development and Delivery of Data Analytics Toolsets
Design, development, and delivery of effective and efficient information systems for the NPO context remains a wide open phenomenon
Design science researchers could identify ways to develop solutions for NPOs that do not require extensive software development and training time.
IS educators could work closely with nonprofits as a part of service learning activities to develop custom solutions for NPOs.
Cloud infrastructure and software as a service delivery mechanisms have not gained much ground in the nonprofit sector.
More research is needed to identify roadblocks and appropriate ways to deliver software tools in the NPO context.
IS research community is well positioned to lead development of a reliable knowledge base for the nonprofit sector.
can help in securing grant funding such as NSF
Researching nonprofits is an interesting phenomenon in and of itself
can help in producing impactful research with practical and societal contributions
We hope that data analytics helps to drive more interest for IS researchers to study the nonprofits context.
Researching nonprofits will help to diversify research contributions within the IS community, which may shed new light on IT phenomena.
Thank You!
NPOs are a critical resource as they provide services to important areas such as healthcare, shelter, education, and the environment.
IS Research Themes
Zhang et al. 2010 developed a conceptual framework to motivate other IS researchers to study NPOs by providing a theoretical base.
Conceptual Framework for Conducting IS Research in the Nonprofits Sector
Framework consists of three tiers - social, IS effectiveness, and Organization environments.
Without empirical research findings for sub-concepts, framework has little practical significance.
IS Use in NPOs
Connolly 2014 dissertation studies revealed that NPO organizational policies conflict with control over SNS usage and NPOs need better strategies to use SNS to recruit and retain volunteers, and provided benchmark to assess NPOs SNS usage.
Oakley 2014 dissertation study focused on business value of IS in NPOs which revealed that knowledge-based view is more appropriate than resource-based view for developing IS for NPOs.
More in-depth studies are needed to increase impact of IS research and our understanding of how information systems are used in the NPO context.
IS Research Themes
Strategic Use of Web Technologies
Lee and Bhattacherjee (2011) developed a theoretical framework to explain strategic use of the Web by NPOs.
Lee and Blouin (2014) from their survey findings found that NPOs disclose financial and performance information on their websites when:
(1) they have favorable attitudes towards disclosure,
(2) it is compatible with their organizational beliefs and practices, and
(3) they have financial resources to adopt and implement websites.
Most NPOs has not adopted Web technologies effectively.
Information Security Policies
Imboden et al. 2013 survey revealed only 50% of the medium- to large-sized NPOs reported having an information security policy, while 75% reported at least one known security incident.
Factors such as characteristics of leaders, an organization’s size, and its geographic location.
IT Leadership
Richardson et al. 2011 developed a conceptual framework for NPOs to identify leadership activities which lead to effective collaborative IS development.
To our knowledge, we have not seen any other IS literature focused on IT leadership in the NPO context.
Empirically investigating appropriate ways to recruit and retain computing personnel in the nonprofit sector remains wide-open.
IS Research Themes
Data Management
West and Green (2008) study showed that NPOs typically manage client, volunteer, and donor information, program assessments, volunteer activities, and donor related communications.
IT Adoption
O’Hanlon and Chang (2007) surveyed 119 NPOs in Australia which showed that Internet technology use was influenced by pressure from donors, organization’s budget and technical capacity, the ratio of paid employees to volunteers, organizational practices, and the level of internal support.
Zorn et al. 2011 survey findings from 2,543 NPOs in New Zealand showed that institutional isomorphic pressures (constraining process imposed by the state and the profession) and organizational characteristics predicted NPOs’ adoption and use of ICT.
Ward and Never (2012) surveyed 72 NPO managers about differences between GIS and website adoption and their findings shows that factors that influence GIS and website adoption are different.
Umapathy and Huang (2015) surveyed 53 NPOs and found that most NPOs spent less than 5% of their operating budgets on IT-related expenses and largely relied on external support for IT tasks, NPOs use stable and proven IT, do not have a strategic plan for technology, and leave IT decisions to executive directors as well as revealed which tasks are performed in-house or outsourced by NPOs.
These research studies show that a wide variety of factors can potentially influence IT adoption, but they have not provided a reliable explanation for the digital divide seen in the NPO sector nor which factors predict or improve IT adoption rates in NPOs.
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