The Emerging of Sense in Complex Systems Development: The Case of Cognitive Computing

When: Wednesday, October 6, 2021 3:00 PM - 4:00 PM

Where: Virtual


Speaker:  Kevin Crowston

Cognitive computing platforms such as IBM Watson or Azure Machine Learning Studio are attracting increasing interest from organizations that want to harness recent developments in artificial intelligence in connection with their own data. Frequently, those organizations rely on platform-specific development and consulting services offered by the platform provider. Those sourcing relationships involve a novel technology, a platform-based ecosystem, and a hyped vision of the future. It remains open how this arrangement makes the cognitive- computing projects like or unlike other information systems development sourcing projects. Employing sensemaking as a theoretical lens to analyze collaboration between IBM and 17 client companies, this study identifies data, technology, project, and context as four core target areas of sensemaking in cognitive computing projects. It describes typical sequences of sensemaking within and across the areas delivering a more dynamic understanding of how meanings influence each other in those projects. Finally, it shows that mindfulness is selective in terms of focus and differs between collaboration partners. The insights suggest that cognitive computing projects need to embrace sensemaking as a core aspect of progress, holistically employ mindfulness, and openly engage with risks and chances related to the technology.  

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