. "Research Motivated by Social Applications of Information Technology." Making IT Better: Expanding Information Technology Research to Meet Society's Needs. Washington, DC: The National Academies Press, 2000.
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MAKING IT BETTER: EXPANDING INFORMATION TECHNOLOGY RESEARCH TO MEET SOCIETY'S NEEDS
How can these tasks be better distributed among people and systems of different types?
Business processes—How are repetitive, ongoing activities that meet a business goal best organized around technology, and how is technology best organized around such processes? Can common elements or strategies be used?
Security—How can researchers rethink IT to reduce the vulnerability of the infrastructure, applications, and people to various risks and system failures?
Operations and administration—How can IT be designed for enhanced operation and administration, particularly in a world in which many applications need to interoperate with other applications and across organizational and political boundaries?
Development methodologies—How can software applications be developed more effectively, with the goal of improving outcomes in terms of meeting application needs for functionality, interoperability with other applications, and the flexibility to change in the future?
All of these issues are common to a number of different applications, and all are receiving attention today by researchers in disciplines such as computer science and engineering, information management and science, the social sciences (particularly economics, psychology, and sociology), and business. However, this attention often has too narrow a disciplinary focus. Research in these areas would benefit from a multidisciplinary approach because it pays more attention to application contexts and could define new issues and requirements to inform the research.
In addition to research in generic areas of concern such as those listed above, IT research can address more specific application contexts as well. The purpose, again, is to inform the research on IT by considering realistic needs and contexts, with the goal of molding the technology to be more powerful, effective, and secure.13 There are important reasons for doing this. First, any particular area of technological research is more critical to some applications than to others. Some applications stress a particular facet of technology. By identifying and studying the applications that are most challenging, the IT research outcomes can have a broader and greater impact. Second, researchers pursuing generic technological concerns tend to ignore interactions with other concerns or miss opportunities to address different areas of concern with more holistic solutions. The only practical way to appreciate a full range of issues and how they interact with and buttress one another is to look at the whole problem in specific applica-