Nominated for AIS Council

17 Apr

Recently I have been asked to candidate myself as the Region 2 Representative in the Council of the Association of Information Systems (AIS). The association is the premier professional association for individuals and organizations who lead the research, teaching, practice, and study of information systems worldwide. Being an AIS member for many years I am currenly involved in the AIS as the Organizing Chair for ECIS2013, which is an AIS affiliated conference, and as moderator of the @AISconnect Twitter account. I would really appreciate your vote and below you can find my plans for when I am elected and a biography.


My plans for Region 2

If elected as the region 2 representative of the AIS, my overarching goal is to strengthen the region 2 IS community. Before outlining my plans, I acknowledge the outstanding work of the current region 2 representative, Dr Nancy Pouloudi. Nancy has succeeded in bringing ECIS and AIS closer together for the organization of ECIS. Her efforts have also led to the formation of new local AIS chapters in region 2. My plans below build on Nancy’s work.

I strongly believe that local AIS chapters are the hubs of a strong and healthy IS community in region 2. I would like to establish connections between local AIS chapters in region 2, particularly for regions currently underrepresented. Establishing such connections starts with developing an awareness of other local chapters’ existence, knowledge and experience. I will build initial awareness and connections which will lead to new research collaborations and knowledge exchange. I also propose a program of exchange in region 2. Academic staff and student exchange will motivate research collaboration and broaden knowledge among other important benefits. Many universities already have grants/scholarships to support such exchange. Lastly, the future of the IS academic community relies on graduate student success. If elected, I will initiate the formation of student chapters and connect them through activities such as case competitions and summer schools.

We already have a great IS academic community. I am asking for your support and vote to take it to the next level!


Dr. Remko Helms is an assistant professor in the Organization & Information group in the Department of Information and Computing Science at Utrecht University, The Netherlands. He holds an MSc (cum laude in Management Science and Industrial Engineering) and a PhD (Information Systems) from Eindhoven University of Technology in Eindhoven, The Netherlands. Currently he is the organizing chair for ECIS 2013.
Helms has worked in industry and academia for over fifteen years. In industry he consulted to a wide range of clients in different industries on business process improvement and product lifecycle management systems. Since entering academia he has taught and researched IS, focusing on social media, knowledge management and virtual customer environments. His interests in research methods have centered on the use of qualitative approaches with social network and content analysis techniques.
Helms has published extensively in major IS conferences, journals and books. He has served on program committees for key IS and knowledge management conferences. He has reviewed extensively for major IS conferences such as ECIS, PACIS, HICSS and ICIS and IS journals such as IJIM and JAIS. Enjoying research collaboration, Helms has been a visiting researcher to universities such as the University of Melbourne, Australia and the University of Victoria, Canada.
Helms greatly enjoys supporting the global IS academic community through cutting edge initiatives, with prior roles including department editor for AIS for social media (@AISconnect) and founding member of the International Association of Knowledge Management.


ICSE 2013 paper – The Role of Domain Knowledge and Cross-Functional Communication in Socio-Technical Coordination

29 Mar

Last year I spent 3 months at University of Victoria at Vancouver Island, visiting associate professor Daniele Damian. Besides a very pleasant stay it also has been a fruitful collaboration that resulted in a paper that has been accepted at the prestigious International Conference on Software Engineering:

Damian, D, Helms, R.W., Marczak, S., Kwan, I., Koelewijn, B. (2013). The Role of Domain Knowledge and Hierarchical Control Structures in Socio-technical Coordination. Proceedings of 35th Interational Conference on Software Engineering (ICSE 2013), May 22-24, San Francisco, USA.

A nice overview of the paper can be found on the blog of Irwin Kwan, one of the co-authors of the paper and currently working at Oregon State University, USA. The collaboration with Daniela Damian is ongoing and shortly after I left Victoria last year one of my students, Robin van de Akker, visited her group. In July 2013 we receive Daniela Damian for a visit at Utrecht University with guest lectures on our paper and on how to publish on ICSE.

If you like outdoors, you definitely should visit Vancouver Island. If you are a student of Utrecht University you can e-mail for opportunities to go there for a project.


X-ray of the @AISconnect community

18 Dec

For a year now I am a department editor for the Association of Information Systems (AIS) and responsible for their Twitter initiative. In brief the idea is to use Twitter to create a community of IS scholars around the @Aisconnect Twitter account by re-tweeting messages from IS scholars that follow the account and are of general interest for the IS community. Furthermore, we build a list of Information Systems scholars using the Twitter list functionality so that every interested IS scholar can check what there fellow IS scholars have to say.

In November 2012 we have more than 150 followers and almost as many scholars on the IS list. This a good moment to make an X-ray of the IS scholar community using social network analysis techniques (software used is NetMiner). The X-ray shows who is connected with whom in the AISconnect community because he is following that other person. In collecting the data we scanned the 1st and 2nd degree followers of @AISconnect and determined which of the AISconnect followers are following each other. By applying the Furchterman-Reingold algorithm (so-called Spring algorithm) we created a sociogram that is shown in the figure below.


The labels next to the nodes represent the names of the Twitter accounts of the AISconnect followers and the lines show who is following whom. When a node has a lot of incoming arrows it means that he is followed by a lot of other AISconnect follewers and the most followed people (based on in-degree centrality) are: David Green (PhD in Management Information Systems at Chicago and 239 followers), Jonny Holmström (Informatics professor at Umeå and 462 followers) and Remko Helms (Assistant Professor in Information Systems at Utrecht and 304 followers ). When we look at who are the connectors in the network, i.e. often on shortest path between others, then the most central people are: David Green, Jonny Holmström, David Wastell (Professor of Information Systems in Nottingham and ).  David Green and Jonny Holmström can also be easily found in the centre of the figure above and are therefore said to be most influential in the @AISconnect community at the moment (just based on their position and not on tweeting activity!). The IS scholars that follow @AISconnect and have the most followers are:  John Gallaugher (3195 followers), Andrew Pope (1433 followers), and Hans Zimmerman (1390 followers). All these three are not far from the core of the network.

To check if the AIS connect community is split in sub-groups I also checked clustering using the Blondel community algorithm and the result is shown in the sociogram below. One of the groups that is easy to recognize for me is the Utrecht University cluster existing of professors, phd students, students and former colleagues. If other people recognize other clusters please leave your comment below! Although several sub groups exist there are also many lines crossing the boundaries of the sub-groups meaning that each group has sufficient links to other parts of the AIS connect community.


In the future I plan to make more X-rays of the @AISconnect community to see how it is developing. Please make your fellow IS colleages aware of this initiative and start following because only if enough people join we can benefit from network effects. But the my next post will look at the conversation at the #ICIS2012 conference that is currently taking place in Orlando.

Social Media and KM lecture in Virtual World

23 Oct

Every year I give students an experience in Virtual Worlds by giving one of my lectures in the Virtual World Second Life (see pictures). Is Second Life not dead you might think? Sure the huge hype is already over years ago but the team of Linden Labs is still developing the world and also the Viewers that you need to operate in Second Life are getting better. The applications of Virtual Worlds are plentiful and are also known under the name of Serious Games. In my KM course we use it to do a lecture on the SL island of the Stockholm School of Economics.  Besides my lecture there is also a guest lecture by Robin Teigland from Stockholm School of Economics who is researching Virtual Worlds, Entrepreneurship and Networks.

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In my lecture I talk about Social Media in general, like what it is and what the impact is on people and business. But special attention is paid to the impact of Social Media on Knowledge Management. And it is striking that we still know so less of this impact. Central in the lecture is the framework that Thomas Bebensee, Marco Spruit and myself published. It is based on Binney’s KM Spectrum and shows which Social Media applications support which types of KM strategies within organizations.  The framework is shown in the figure below but please also consult our article for more information. However, this is just scratching the surface and there is much more that we need to know about the relation between Social Media and KM.


– Slides of the lectures can be found on SlideShare on the profile page of Robin and myself.
– von Krogh, G. (2012). How does social software change knowledge management? Toward a strategic research agenda. The Journal of Strategic Information Systems, 21(2), 154–164.
– Bebensee, T., Helms, R., Spruit, M. (2011). Exploring Web 2.0 Applications as a Mean of Bolstering up Knowledge Management. Electronic Journal of Knowledge Management, 9(1), pp. 1-9.
Binney, D. (2001). The knowledge management spectrum –understanding the KM landscape. Journal of Knowledge Management,5(1), 33-42.

Guest lecture @feweb: Social Networks, Individuals and Small Worlds

12 Sep

Tuesday September 11 I was at the Free University in Amsterdam for a guest lecture in the Knowledge Management course by Maura Soekijad and Roos Erkelens. The topic of the lecture was Social Networks, Individuals and Small Worlds. Besides basics on social network analysis (SNA) the lecture also addressed the use of SNA in knowledge management, referred to as Knowledge Network Analysis.

The slides of the presentation can be found at SlideShare:

If you are interested in a knowledge network analysis scan for your organization, please check this video:

Visitor from New Zealand: Knowledge Brokers

31 Aug

Last June I has a visitor from Wellington, New Zealand: Jocelyn Cranefield. She is teaching and researching in Knowledge Management and Strategic Management like myself and was visiting me for two weeks just after the ECIS 2012 conference in Barcelona.

We got into contact at the PACIS 2011 conference in Brisbane, Australia (I love Australia 😉 ). I was there as the track chair for the Social Media track and she submitted a paper to the track that we nominated for the best paper award:  Cranefield, J., Yoong, P. & Huff, S. (2011). Beyond lurking: the invisible follower-feeder in an online community ecosystem. Proceedings of PACIS 2011 (paper 50).

The contribution of this paper is that it puts the lurker in a different perspective. Normally a lurker is considered a someone who only takes knowledge from a community but does not contribute any knowledge to the community. But when not only the online community but also the offline community is included in the picture this results in a totally new idea about the lurker. The research shows that someone who is lurking in the online community might be a very central person in an offline community and hence brings knowledge from the online to the offline community, which can be very useful. This role is called the: Follower-Feeder, and very nicely described the principle. This totally new insight and the fact that the paper was well written resulted in the best paper nomination.

Oh, to complete the story about the conference, she got the best paper award and that means that I did not get it 😦 (my paper: Why don’t they ask an expert?, was nominated in the Knowledge Management track). Currently we are working on a paper on knowledge brokering and boundary spanning and I will blog about that in the near future.

Performance measurement for SocialCRM

28 Aug

Today one of my students, Fabio Kornek, graduated on the development of a performance measurement framework for SocialCRM. For his work he received an 8 and the abstract of his thesis is provided below. A copy of the thesis is available through Igitur.

The use of social media by businesses to reach, engage and serve customers, called Social CRM (sCRM), has soared in recent years. The initial enthusiastiasm that preceded many of the quickly launched sCRM initiatives, however, often soon subsides in the face of management challenges emerging due to the lack of best practices and standard approaches. These process immaturities pertain as well to sCRM performance measurement activities, which unfavourably coincides with an increasing need to reliably measure the effectiveness and benefits of sCRM activities.
Social media managers are currently methodologically ill-equipped to meet the demands of increased accountability. On the one hand are traditional performance measurement approaches ill-suited to social media environments. On the other hand exists an acute lack of appropriate measurement approaches and frameworks that provide structure and guidance on what exactly and how to measure in order to adequately assess performance of social media and sCRM activities. Although a limited number of vanguard firms have developed insular frameworks to address this issue, there are currently no satisfactory generic solutions on the market.

This research describes a measurement framework based on balanced scorecard (BSC) that seeks to incorporate the critical aspects and requirements for effective sCRM performance measurement. It was developed by thoroughly researching the specific design and practical requirements of sCRM measurement. The framework was validated by adopting case study methodology to examine the measurement processes of seven case organizations with superior social media practices. Interviews with key informants served as the primary method for the gathering of qualitative data. Additionally, publicly available data was collected and reviewed by the means of a web search. Based on this research process the presented sCRM   scorecard outlines four key areas of sCRM performance. For each of these crucial performance areas, practitioners are provided with scorecard examples and groups of suitable metrics for evaluation.

The Internet Map

15 Aug

The other day I read an article in my news paper that reported about The Internet Map by Ruslan Enikeev. Using spiders he collected data about websites on the The Internet as well as the traffic on these website.  In total he indexed 350.000 websites from 196 countries and created a network map of them:

In this map the nodes (i.e. dots) represent websites and the size of the nodes represents the amount of web site traffic and therefore it is not strange that Google and Facebook are among the biggest nodes in the network. Relations are not shown in the picture but the Spring algorithm that is used to relatively position the nodes against each other uses relations between the websites that are based on the 2 million links that are collected between the sites. The algorithm reveals a clustering of the website and is strongest for countries as you can see by the color of the dots. Besides the clustering per country you can also reveal a clustering by topic.

It is interesting to browse the map for your country or topic of interest and find out what the most influential sites are (i.e. big nodes and central position in their local neighborhood). A small disadvantage is that the name of small nodes only become visible if you zoom in completely, a mouse over would have been nice to discover the name of these nodes.

Good to know: The Internet Map contains 350.000 website while Netcratft estimates that the total web consists of 630 million websites.

Networks as the new paradigm

31 May

Recently I came across this nice video on the Power of Networks, suggesting there is a paradigm in our thinking and that networks are the key to model and understand complexity in real life. While studying networks myself already for some time I already knew that of course 😉 But it is still nice to see how they build the argument for that using many different real-life examples. It also shows very well that the traditional taxonomy (tree structure) is often not well equipped to model reality. Just imagine your folder structure, at some point you want to put a file in two different folders (e.g. a publication in your publications folder or the project folder where all the research material is). Still many people think in tree like structures as you can see in the video while our brain is not a taxonomy at all. Anyway, enjoy watching the video.

If you are not interested in networks it is still a nice video because the story unfolds while the presenter is drawing the story at the same time.

Thanks to @LeonieHoutman for sharing the link on Twitter.

Social Media adoption by Dutch product software vendors

22 May

Social media can be used to listen to and engage with customers and many companies are already using social media to the benefit of their business. Customers are also an important source for feedback and input for Dutch product software vendors. But are Dutch product software vendors present on Social Media and to what extent are they using it? Are there differences between organizations that use Social Media? And how well do we do when compared to United States, which often seem to be step ahead in the adoption of new Technologies.  At the end of 2011, Stef Peeters, a master student of our Business Informatics program, and myself studied the adoption of Social Media by Dutch product software companies. The main findings are presented in this blog post.

Presence on Social Media

We studied twenty Dutch product software companies including small (6), medium (9) and large (5) companies. The following table shows the platforms on which Dutch product software companies are present the most. As you can see it all concerns very well known social media platforms in The Netherlands.

Table 1. Presence on social media platforms

The table shows for example that 5 out of 5 large companies use LinkedIn which represents 100% of the large companies and 1 of the small companies is using Vimeo representing 17% of the small companies. Hyves needs an explanation because it shows 0+5 for example for large companies. This means that we did not find accounts that were hosted by the company itself but nevertheless for all 5 companies Hyves accounts were found that were run by individuals feeling associated with the company.

Did we also look at other social media platforms but on which hardly any company was present? Sure we did and these social media platforms included blogs WordPress and Blogger, microblog Googlebuzz, social networks Yelp, Google+, MySpace and Netlog, and mediasharing sites Slideshare and Flickr. But because the low presence they were not further investigated.

Usage of Social Media

Being present on a social media platform does not necessarily mean that content is posted there and that there is interaction with customers.  Therefore, we studied at any activity during the 3 months preceding our research and the results are presented in the following table.

Table 2. Active use of social media platforms

First of all the N/A should be explained. For LinkedIn it is difficult to tell if there is activity as it is not really a medium for interaction. For Hyves we did not look at activity as the Hyves accounts were not managed by the companies themselves.  Secondly, it can be seen that the actual usage of social media is lower than the presence (in table 1). Except for Twitter, one can say that roughly 50% of the companies being present is also actually using it.

Differences between product software companies

Comparing the three size-based groups, we see that the larger companies are far more present at the four most used social media platforms than the smaller companies. An average of 90% of the large companies is present at these platforms, 72% of the medium companies is present and 54% of the small companies is present. This can have budgetary reasons but it can also be that larger companies see more benefits of using social media. For example, they have a bigger amount of customers and social media can be a good opportunity to reach them. But these and other potential reasons need to be studied in further research.

What was also noticed is that a lot of companies have separate accounts or pages. There could be for instance different accounts for different business units, different products or accounts dedicated to particular events (e.g. sponsored sports event or own event). It was found predominately the larger companies have separate accounts or pages.

Adoption level compared to US

As we have seen in the results of this study, LinkedIn, Twitter, YouTube and Facebook are seen as the most important social media applications to use (table 1). But, the percentage of active users of YouTube (35%) and Facebook (25%) is lower (table 2). Thus it looks like the relevance of these applications is known but how to use it or for which purpose is not.  Comparing the usage rates of other industries (see Table 1 and Table 2) with the usage rates found during our study, we see some similarities and differences.

For the comparison we use the study of Culnan et al. (2010) in which the 500 largest companies of the U.S. are surveyed. 85% Of the IT companies in this study use Twitter, just like 80% of the companies in our study. Companies from other industries only have an usage rate of 50%. 80% Of the IT companies 80% use Facebook, while only 50% of the companies in our study use Facebook. However, if we only compare the large companies in our study (because the other study presents figures about the largest U.S companies) we see a usage rate of 80% as well. Unfortunately, the study does not provide data on social networks. However, it does provide data on blogs and it is remarkable that 55% of the companies use blogs and we found hardly any blogs in our sample. If we found them they were with larger companies though.

So the adoption rate of Dutch product software companies seems roughly to be comparable to that of IT companies in the US top500. Although it is fair to say that the US study was conducted already a year earlier.

More information or participation?

Please contact the principal researcher:


Culnan, M. J., McHugh, P. J., & Zubillaga, J. I. (2010). How Large U.S. Companies Can Use Twitter and Other Social Media to Gain Business Value. MIS Quarterly Executive, 9(4), 243–259.