Newcastle Digital Economy Hub (SiDE) & Newcastle University Business School

24th/25th May / Newcastle University

Organisers: Professor Feng Li, Dr Savvas Papagiannidis, Dr Eric See-to

About 30 academics and students interested in Ebusiness and the digital economy attended this workshop. A summary of each talk and short video clips are available below. To receive information about similar events please join our email list.

You may watch the videos below in High Definition on YouTube: http://www.youtube.com/user/ebusncl#g/c/10629FDA071DE92B

Welcome note - Prof. Paul Watson

Prof. Feng Li: "Digital Economy Hub - Inclusion in the digital economy"

Dr Emmanouil Tranos: "The causal effect of the Internet infrastructure on the economic development of the European city-regions"

This paper examines the relationship between the Internet infrastructure and the economic development of the European city-regions. The main hypothesis is that the Internet is an infrastructure and this attribute enables it to play a significant role in serving the digital economy in a way similar to transport infrastructure. However, because of the Internet’s private nature, the differentiated demand for such services at local level and the specific constraints because of its technology and network topology, the Internet infrastructure, as it is reflected on the Internet backbone networks, is not equally distributed across the European cities. Based on previous research which highlights the uneven allocation of this complex network infrastructure and explains the factors behind this allocation, this paper tries to move the analysis a step forward by investigating if this unevenly distributed infrastructure creates any impacts on the economic development of the city-regions. Apart from panel data analysis which confirms the positive impact of the Internet infrastructure on the regional economic development, this paper also addresses the causality issue by using Granger causality test for panel data. The latter explores the heterogeneous causal effects of the Internet infrastructure and results in verifying the well established argument that ICT infrastructure is a necessary, but not a sufficient condition for economic development. The above analysis leads us to highlight the need for other critical factors in order for the Internet infrastructure to act in favour of the economic development process in the frame of the digital economy.

Dr Kostas Giannoutakis: "Cluster effectiveness and buyer – Seller dynamics in a digital business ecosystem: A digital economy theoretical approach featuring trust and preferences"

We describe a methodology on how to construct a realistic simulated Digital Business Ecosystem (DBE), based on observations of a real DBE. A DBE is an e-Business environment; a network of companies that come together on the cyberspace, like companies agglomerate in business parks in the real world. A DBE enables business ventures and SMEs to operate online and form partnerships with other firms that share the same ecosystem. It is an ICT–enabled infrastructure that supports the cooperation and the sharing of knowledge among its members, a virtual space where digital firms and organisations interact, gather in clusters, cooperate and co-evolve using e-Business technology. It also promotes social inclusion by helping people with disabilities to set up their own online business and operate it from home. To simulate a DBE one creates a database of virtual companies and products that have the same statistical properties as the real ones in the observed DBE. Issues of trust between companies are modelled as well. Next, we present a study in business cluster effectiveness of the firms in the DBE. By introducing some measure of “quality” of supply chains and matching values of pairs of successive links in these supply chains, we test two different algorithms to find the best chain starting from each product in the DBE. We define the best chain as the one with the highest quality. The effect of trust in the creation of chains is also examined. Finally, we study the state of equilibrium of the DBE in terms of allocating resources between the companies. The aim is to find the steady-state of that complex system by globally minimising an objective function, which incorporates various factors, like the matching of products and the level of trust between agents/companies. What each agent/company may offer is limited, and therefore one may view the problem as one of sharing resources and maintaining relations. We examine the system at various states of supply-demand interactions, starting from abundance of goods and services and shifting gradually to scarcity, and observe the behaviour of the agents in all these stages. We believe this study will provide useful methodology and scientific rigor to policy makers and business analysts who wish to study DBEs in the future. It will also provide aid and benefits to people suffering from social exclusion by enabling them to get active in e-Business, or, by bringing together organisations that support disadvantaged social groups.

John Effah: "Thinking local in a global network environment: Promoting a funeral web portal in an emerging digital economy"

Within the SME e-business literature, the Internet and the World Wide Web technologies are often presented as a promoter of globalisation and internationalisation of firms. For this reason, the interaction between these technologies and their local socio-cultural context can be downplayed. Aside from the global business potential these technologies offer as well acknowledged in the literature, it is equally important that what they provide for the local environment receives research attention. A number of studies have contributed to our understanding of the generic international and globalisation potentials of e-business technologies. However, the potential of this innovation is not limited to these as they are equally capable of promoting local business opportunities for new and existing enterprises. Following the call from information systems to take both context and technology serious in research, this study focuses on the interaction between dot.com technology and the socio-cultural context to understand the potential entrepreneurial opportunities inherent in such association. That said we follow the experience of the emergence and development of a small dot.com firm in an emerging digital economy of Ghana and its attempt to introduce a funeral web portal for the people of Ghana and her expatriates across the globe. The study follows the interpretive case study approach and employs social shaping of technology as its theoretical foundation. The findings demonstrate the entrepreneurial opportunities offered from the interaction between the local socio-cultural context and the e-business technology such as the digitalisation of funeral information, events and announcements into commercial products. The study therefore provides an alternate facet of local business potentials of the Internet and related technologies.

Stephen Lindsay: "The Role of Digital Assistive Technology in the Provision of Healthcare for the Elderly and Disabled"

Assistive Technologies (AT) are ones which allow someone with a disability to recoup some of the abilities that they had previously lost through their illness, whilst originally these were limited to items such as glasses, walking sticks and wheelchairs there is an increasing trend of providing people with disabilities with digital technologies. Examples of these range from everyday items we are all familiar with such as phones, TV remotes and electronic diaries through to the rarer more targeted items such as fall detectors, community care alarms and even electronic tracking devices. Whilst these technologies have a great deal of potential they struggle to realise it due to a multitude of issues including a lack of awareness of the (Potential of) devices, poor training for the user and poor design of the devices. In this talk I will look briefly at how current digital technologies are re-appropriated for use by the disabled community and Occupational Therapists before looking at some of the new developments in the realm of digital AT and looking at how these might tie into the overall idea of "Pervasive Computing" and the challenges that this might represent as to business.

Dr Eric See-to "Mobile gaming and E-cash Services"

This research investigates factors influencing the willingness to pay for and consume mobile-online gaming services given varying levels of availability and usage of electronic cash technology. The three factors we studied - intention to use electronic cash; inclination to mobile-online games; and mobile-online phone-based game usage - ultimately determine whether the online gaming company makes money. The sums are significant, as the game industry has now surpassed cinema in revenues, and increasingly relies on Internet enabled games, even if most of the computing capacity still resides in the user's home. Mobile phone games and ringtones are over $3 billion-per-year industries. Both increasingly occupy users' free time, supplanting traditional entertainment like TV and cinema. Both industries thrive or fail at the whim of these personal, subjective, unobservable constructs that lay at the core of our model.

Florian Stahl: "Way way back: Measuring web site change over time"

As Internet technologies advance and design trends evolve, so does web site design. With the increasing significance that web sites have for all organisations defining and measuring change over time can have important practical implications for marketing purposes. The aim of this paper was to analyse the development of websites over time, measuring which elements change and how much. The element list was compiled based on the human computer interaction literature. A system was then built to collect and analyse web sites using the design elements list. When it came to the data collection, we used the Way Back Machine available as part of the Internet Archive. Our longitudinal analysis spanned a decade of web site development. The presentation will discuss the methodology adopted and the early findings of our research.

Closing note: Prof. Feng Li