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Dr. Rahul De

Professor IIMBx Innovation and IT Management

The other day I installed and fired up an app on my phone, to buy airline tickets. I had heard the app was quite good. I entered my travel details easily enough and selected the available flights. The display was nicely done and I could see the flights conveniently. Then I proceeded to the payment screen, entered my credit card details and waited.

My credit card requires a one-time-password (OTP) as a security measure. The OTP is a number that is SMS-ed to me by my credit card bank. I received my OTP and had to retrieve it from the SMS screen, so I had to leave the app for the airline booking. I was worrying about doing this when a helpful screen popped up and asked if it could retrieve the OTP automatically. I had to do nothing for this, but wait.

I waited. Nothing happened.

My bank system thought I had not received the first SMS-ed OTP, so it sent me another one. Again the helpful screen did nothing. I decided to enter the OTP myself. But then I had to leave the app screen and go to my SMS screen to read the number. I received a warning not to leave the app screen and when I did, the app froze.

I waited for a few more minutes and exited the app. I had wasted several minutes. Then I wasted more time calling up the online travel agency to check if they had cleared the booking.

A task that should have taken less than five minutes cost me over half an hour.

This is one of the challenges of managing innovations with IT. Designers of IT systems have to think of the different ways in which users can possibly use the system and have clear provisions for them.

The particular app I was using was not designed to take care of contingencies that the user could face. The app designer should have thought of ensuring that the user could leave the screen to read the OTP and then return to it to enter the number (in case their own helpful function could not do the job).

The app I was using was created by one of India’s largest online travel agencies (OTA). This firm is a leader in this market, has the largest market share, and also is one of the pioneers. However, it faces stiff competition. I usually buy my airline tickets, which is many times a year, from at least three other OTA portals.

I have no particular loyalty to any agency; whoever gives me the best deals and the best experience becomes my vendor. And, in this regard, I am with millions of other e-commerce users, who do not have any loyalty to a particular site or agency, they will pick the one that best suits their needs.

This brings up two important issues.

One, the agency I was trying to buy the ticket from has to use IT innovatively to keep customers like me in their fold. They have to invest in new apps, new systems, new experiences for the user. If they don’t, their competition will do so and take away their market share.

Two, innovations and IT systems have to be carefully managed. Despite the seemingly magical facilities they provide, systems have to be carefully designed to take account of the myriad ways in which users can interact with them, like I did.

Besides design, the systems have to be managed to ensure that all the other players who are brought in to complete the interaction – banks, credit card companies, security agencies – are also functioning well.

Those who have to do the managing have to keep in mind a host of issues that affect the systems and the people who use them. Certainly, almost everybody who has to manage some function in a modern organisation has to deal with the issues of IT innovations and management.

The Innovation and IT Management MOOC from IIMBx delves into these issues. Some of the questions we answer are:

  • Why do firms and organisations have to innovate with IT?
  • Is it certain that IT innovations will have the consequences we expect?
  • Of the dozens of innovations appearing almost every month, which ones should a manager pay attention to? Which ones are important? And how do we know this?
  • What are the underlying technologies that are driving these innovations? How do we understand them? (Do we need to understand them?)
  • How can crowd-sourced innovations be managed? Can they be managed?
  • Are there ethical and social aspects of IT that managers need to be conscious of? Why?

And much more.

Join us to answer these questions and learn how to use IT to design great products and systems. Enroll today.