New book: Social Knowledge Management in Action

10 Apr

After collaborating for a long time with Jocelyn Cranefield (Victoria University of Wellington) and Jurrian van Reijsen (my former PhD at Utrecht University). Our edited book titled: Social Knowledge Management in Action is finally published by Springer: It is part of the Knowledge Management and Organizational Learning series, which is edited by the International Association for Knowledge Management (IAKM).

Knowledge Management became very popular in the 1990s but companies slowly lost their interest in Knowledge Management due to failed projects and a shift in attention towards new trends. But the rise of social media in the last 10 years, opened new avenues for knowledge management initiatives since these platforms have knowledge sharing in their DNA. Furthermore, knowledge sharing taking place on these platforms leave digital traces that can be analysed to further improve knowledge sharing practices. The book presents 8 chapters in which the application of social media for knowledge management are explored. It is meant to inspire both practitioners and researchers by showing current applications and suggesting new directions for research.

Of course there are more examples of social media and knowledge management then we could cover in the book. If you have inspiring examples we are happy to hear about them so that we can integrate them in our teaching on this subject. Just place a comment on this web page or send us an e-mail and perhaps this will be start for a second volume!

Open PhD position

20 Feb

Recently we (Rogier van de Wetering, Johan Versendaal, Marjolein Caniëls and myself) got a grant from our Faculty of Management, Science & Technology of Open Universiteit to hire a new PhD. It concerns a PhD in the field of Information Systems and the title of the project is: “Co-evolutionary IS/IT alignment and Dynamic Capabilities in hospitals”. The location for this position is the beautiful city of Utrecht.

If you are interested in this position please e-mail me for further details. Or check out the vacancy text at:


Social Media Analytics symposium

22 Nov

Saturday November 21, 2015, study association TouW of Open University organized their yearly symposium for Information and Computing Science students. Forty two students attended the symposium on Social Media Analytics and it was my pleasure to do the introduction. Social Media Analytics is the application of data analytics, or data science if you wish, in the field of social media. Users of social media generate so much data (see infographic ‘What happens in an Internet minute‘) that it becomes an interesting source for researchers to research several sociological and behavioral phenomena on a scale that was not know before. But also companies have a growing interest in what social media can learn them about their company image and brand reputation for example. In my introduction I discussed several commercial and non-commercial examples (e.g. Australian Floods). The next presenter, Longhow Lam from SAS, went into more detail how analytic techniques (e.g. text mining and neural networks) can be applied to fun as well as serious business cases. Finally, my OU colleague Hugo Jonker ended the symposium with a presentation on the popularity scores of researches: h-index and number of citations. He discussed different ways of how researchers have tried to ‘game’ this score in the past.An interesting insight in the use of performance indicators in science and integrity of researchers. The symposium ended with some drinks and a buffet, which were a good opportunity to catch up with students that we normally only meet online given our focus on distance education.

My slides of the symposium can be downloaded here.

Slides of the SAS presentation can be downloaded here.

Terugblik: Datasafari – exploreren om te innoveren

17 Feb

Vrijdag 13 februari 2015 was de grote dag van mijn oratie aan de Open Universiteit te Heerlen met als titel: Datasafari – exploreren om te innoveren. Tijdens mijn rede heb ik een overzicht gegeven van het belang van datOratie_Helms1a als grondstof voor innovatie bij bedrijven en instellingen. Daarbij heb ik vooral vanuit een Informatiekundig perspectief gekeken waarbij het accent meer op de gebruiker en de organisatie lag dan op de technologie. Technologie is een belangrijke aanjager maar de stand van de technologie is inmiddels zover gevorderd dat bedrijven zich vooral moeten afvragen hoe ze deze optimaal kunnen benutten. Naar deze problematiek zal ik verder onderzoek doen binnen het expertisecentrum Business Intelligence en Smart Services in samenwerking met de Smart Services Hub. Daarbij wil ik werken aan een Datasafari-ecosysteem waarin bedrijven, kennisinstellingen en technologieleveranciers samenwerken. De basis is een bigdata-infrastructuur waarin (open) data wordt samengebracht en waarbinnen analytic tools beschikbaaprofessorenHelmsVersendaalBrinkkemperr zijn voor de analyse van de data. Daarnaast vormen de partners binnen het ecosysteem een community waarin kennisdeling, opleiding en ontwikkeling van best practices centraal staan. Binnen het ecosysteem zullen de partners samenwerken aan exploratie van data met als doel te komen tot concrete innovatie. Tevens zal er onderzoek worden gedaan naar het ecosysteem zoals bijvoorbeeld de succesfactoren voor het opzetten van een ecosysteem, de privacy van data die binnen het ecosysteem wordt gedeeld en het proces van de datasafari.


Ik kijk terug op een fantastische middag en wil iedereen bedanken voor zijn aanwezigheid, felicitaties en complimenten. De rede is uiteraard terug te lezen in de digitale uitgave, die hier is te downloaden.

Interesse in samenwerking? Neem gerust contact op via e-mail of telefoon.

A little bit too much big data

29 Jan

In preparing my inaugural speech I needed some numbers to illustrate the size of big data. During my search I encountered a paper by McAfee & Brynjolfsson from 2012. In this paper they mention that the company Wal-Mart processes a whopping 2.5 Petabytes of data on customers transactions every hour. That sounded as a great illustration of big data because the number is huge. But then if you think about it is a huge amount of data if you consider that Wal-Mart has 11,000 stores and that they serve 245 million customers each week(1). Per hour that means that they would serve roughly 2.9 million customers considering they are open 12 hours a day and 7 days a week. But how can 2.9 million customers per hour generate 2.5 petabytes of data? 2.5 petabytes is roughly 2.6 million gigabytes (i.e. 2.5 x 1024 x 1024). So each customer would generate roughly 1 gigabyte of data from its customer transactions. If customer transactions is the list of items that you bought plus some payment and customer loyalty details then this number just cannot be true.

So I went searching for the source and at first it seemed it was an article from The Economist in 2010 reporting the same number (2). But there is no source or explained how they got to that number. Then I found an article in ComputerWorld from 2008 that reports that the databases of Wal-Mart contain 2.5 petabytes of data (3). It is interesting that this number is exactly the same as the number from the economist but instead of the contents of the whole database it transformed into data generated per hour. Continuing my search I also found a blog post that mentioned this same number and use a report from SAS as its source (4)(5). Unfortunately the SAS report has no reference as to where the number comes from. But the ComputerWorld article shows that it comes from TeraData who provided a solution to Wal-Mart for storing its data. Hence I consider this the most reliable source and do not consider it very likely that Wal-Mart handles 2.5 petabyts of data every hour from its customer transactions. Just to be sure I also asked @walmartlabs and will let you know about the outcome.

In the meantime I can still use a good example to illustrate the size of big data. So please let me know if you have one and do not forget to mention the source 😉

Update 30/1/15: On the Wal-Mart website I found a quote from 2014 by Wal-Mart’s CEO saying that they store around 30 petabytes of shopping information (6). As Wal-Mart is the source themselves I consider this one the most reliable. Note that in 2008 they ‘only’ stored 2.5 petabytes and were among the few Teradata customers, amongst for instance e-Bay and Bank of America, that crossed the 1 petabyte mark (3).


McAfee, A., & Brynjolfsson, E. (2012). Big Data: the management revolution. Harvard Business Review, 90(10), 61–68.







Data Safari: Exploreren om te innoveren

5 Jan

Nu was ik al even benoemd als hoogleraar Informatiekunde aan de Open Universiteit, maar nu volgt dan ook de gebruikelijke rede die hoort bij het openlijk aanvaarden van het ambt van hoogleraar. Het uitspreken van de rede zal plaats vinden op vrijdag 13 februari 2015 aan de Open Universiteit te Heerlen. De titel van mijn rede is:

Data Safari: Exploreren om te innoveren

In de kenniseconomie draait het om het toepassen van kennis, waardoor innovatie en economische groei mogelijk zijn. De grondstof voor deze kennis is in toenemende mate big data die bedrijven zelf verzamelen over onder andere processen en klanten. Omzetting naar kennis vindt plaats door analyse van de data met het oog op onbekende verbanden en patronen, en vertaling via synthese naar innovaties in organisatie, proces, product en/of dienst. Voor de analyse van big data is inmiddels een arsenaal aan technieken en tools beschikbaar. Toepassing hiervan is echter slechts een voorwaarde maar geen garantie voor succes. Nodig zijn aanvullende methoden, technieken en tools die managers ondersteunen in de synthese van resultaten naar concrete innovaties, en zijn ingebed in een strategisch proces waarin managers en dataspecialisten samen data exploreren met als doel te innoveren.

U bent van harte uitgenodigd tot het bijwonen van deze plechtigheid, die tezamen met de oratie van mijn oud-collega Johan Versendaal zal plaatsvinden. De plechtigheid start om 15:00 uur precies (ontvangst vanaf 14:30 uur) en aanmelden kan tot 6 februari 2015 op

De complete uitnodiging (inclusief een routebeschrijving) is ook beschikbaar en is hier te downloaden.

Het gebruikelijke oratieboekje, met daarin de tekst van de rede, is hier beschikbaar.

Als hoogleraar Informatiekunde ben ik verantwoordelijk voor de door de NVAO ge-accrediteerde (deeltijd) bacheloropleiding Informatiekunde aan de Open Universiteit. Daarnaast zal ik binnen het nieuwe kenniscentrum Business Intelligence en Smart Services, een samenwerking van de kennisinstellingen Hogeschool Zuyd, Universiteit Maastricht en Open Universiteit, onderzoek uitvoeren in lijn met het onderwerp zoals naar voren gebracht in mijn rede.

New book: Social Knowledge Management in Action

6 Oct

Currently I am preparing a new (edited) book on Social Knowledge Management in Action together with Dr Jocelyn Cranefield (Victoria University of Wellington) and Dr Jurriaan van Reijsen (formerly Utrecht University). This book aims to provide an overview of new and innovative applications of social media for knowledge management and to report on the facilitators of success, as well as the challenges, risks and issues that need to be tackled in applying social media in organizational contexts.

Knowledge management (KM) is a well-known concept and concerns managing the knowledge life cycle consisting of creating, storing, sharing and applying knowledge in an organizational context. Several types of knowledge systems, for example knowledge repositories, expert systems and yellow pages, have been introduced over the years, to support knowledge management initiatives at organizations, with various success rates. Many of these knowledge systems aimed to codify knowledge in the organization, yet relatively few aimed to support the socialization approach to knowledge management.

Social media have the potential to help redress this imbalance by supporting both the codification and socialization approach towards knowledge management. A key characteristic of social media is that content is generated, shared and combined by the users through social means. Effective use of social media therefore has the potential to support the creation of new knowledge while building a shared awareness of the knowledge and expertise within the organization, in turn facilitating the development of transactive memory and social capital. At the same time, the content and interaction history is digitally captured by social media applications, offering organizations the opportunity to apply knowledge mining techniques. Furthermore, social media may help strengthen the absorptive capacity of the organization through collaboration that crosses departmental, divisional and/or  organizational boundaries.

Many organizations have recognized the potential of social media, using it for knowledge management applications. For example, wikis are being used to collect organizational knowledge and social networking tools are being used to support the exchange of ideas and innovation. This book should provide an overview of work in the area of Social Media for Knowledge Management to inspire both practitioners and academics.

The full call for proposals can be found here. The most important deadlines for contributing to the book are shown below:

October 15, 2014: Submission of abstracts (500 words)
October 22, 2014: Invitation to submit full paper
January 5, 2015: Submission of full chapter
February 15, 2015: Review notification
March 15, 2015: Submission of revised paper
April 11, 2015: Final notification of acceptance

For any question do not hesitate to contact me.

Workshops @ECIS2015

23 Jul

After a successful ECIS2014 in Tel-Aviv, Isreal, we are already looking forward to ECIS2015 in Muenster. Together with Katerina Pramatari, I will serve as the workshop chair for ECIS2015. We are looking forward to interesting and challenging workshop proposals. Especially proposals that are different from the standard ‘presentations’ format are welcomed. Workshops are typically held before the start of the main conference. A full call for proposals (including instructions for submission) can be found on the ECIS2015 website.

The most important dates for workshops proposals are:

  • Any time until September 19th, workshop proposers may send an “intention to submit” message to the workshop chairs.
  • Until September 26th, the Workshop Chairs will administrate the intentions handed in up to this point and, if necessary, suggest mergers.
  • Until October 10th, the full proposals have to be handed in.
  • November 7th, notification of acceptance of proposals and start of detailed discussions of workshop requirements and possibilities.
  • November 21st, final decisions (considering space at the venue). Workshop leaders can start sending out their CFP.

Workshops at ECIS2014 in Tel-Aviv: link

Workshop at ECIS2013 in Utrecht: link

Knowledge Perspectives on Dynamic Capability

12 Jan

Recently the manuscript of my PhD student Jurriaan van Reijsen has been approved. The title of the manuscript is: Knowledge Perspectives on Dynamic Capability. Dynamic capability is about the capability of organizations to adapt to their environment and to stay competitive. The ability to learn, and hence knowledge processes, play a pivotal role in this capability. In his thesis Jurriaan presents the three different knowledge perspectives that he used to study Dynamic Capability, namely:

1) the adoption of knowledge management policies
2) the availability of social capital
3) the structure of knowledge networks in organization

Jurriaan and I published several papers on these topics and are part of his thesis that he will publicly defend on March 19 from 16.15-17.00 hrs. A summary of his thesis (in Dutch and English) is available on Jurriaan’s blog.

Before the public defense on March 19, 2014, there will be a symposium to celebrate Jurriaan’s dissertation and guest speakers on this event include Dr. Robin Teigland (Stockholm School of Economic, Sweden), Prof. Marleen Huysman (Free University, Amsterdam) and Arjan van Unnik (former Global Head KM at Royal Dutch Shell). For more information and registration:

I enjoyed exploring Knowledge Management, Knowledge Network Analysis and Dynamic Capability with Jurriaan. Currently, there are already plans for follow up publications so it does not stop here.

Appointed as full-professor in IS

2 Sep

As of September 1, 2013, I have been appointed as full-professor in Information Systems (IS) at Open University in Heerlen. It is a part-time position and I really look forward in managing the Information Systems educational program at Open University and setting up research in the area of Information Systems (Dutch: Informatiekunde). There are many challenges coming up for the Open University and the first major one is the merger of the Computer Science, Management Science and Science department into one faculty headed by dean Prof.dr. Gerard Mertens. On my blog I will update you on new educational and research developments in my job at Open University.