1,500 scholars gather to discuss future of digitalisation in Copenhagen
What will digitalisation look like in the future? That is a hot topic for discussion at the International Conference on Information Systems (ICIS), the yearly international conference of the Association for Information Systems, which returns this week to Denmark after 32 years.
Tina Blegind Jensen, professor with special responsibilities (MSO) at the Department of Digitalization at CBS and one of the three conference co-chairs, thinks this year’s theme, “Digitalization for the next generation” is highly relevant for students, scholars, and Danish society alike.
“It’s a topic everyone should be interested in. During the conference, we will be exploring the important role that the information systems community plays in addressing the future grand challenges of businesses and society. All the topics we’re talking about at CBS, from management and organisation to social media and so much more, include digitalisation. In that way, it’s quite interdisciplinary,” she says, although from CBS it’s mainly the Department of Digitalization that attends.
Fittingly, the conference has secured Margrethe Vestager, politician from the Danish Social Liberal Party (Radikale Venstre) and current European Commissioner for Competition, as a keynote speaker. She is known for taking on big tech in Europe and leading the European Commission’s work on digitalisation. Having a keynote speaker from the political arena is new for ICIS and serves a specific purpose:
“We think as scholars we should be active in setting the political agenda for what we think digitalisation should do in the future. That’s why we approached Margrethe Vestager. We want to discuss how we, as a community, can influence policy with forward-thinking information systems research,” Tina Blegind Jensen says.
While the conference mainly is an internal meeting among scholars, she believes the panel discussions and interactions can spark wider societal engagement.
“I believe we could play an important role. Some already do but I think we could do even more. We know a lot about the possibilities of digital technology. If you know what technology can do, you become more critical of it.”
Speedy paper-writing event visits CBS
One conference event that CBS will host is the paper-a-thon, inspired by hackathons, where tech engineers collaborate intensely on a solution over a day or two. But in this case academics will gather, not to hack, but to write academic papers in a less conventional – and much faster – way.
“We often think writing papers is such a long and cumbersome process, but we can actually gather in two days and people who have never met can start a collaboration,” says Tina Blegind Jensen, who participated in a paper-a-thon herself a few years ago that eventually led to a high-ranked journal publication.
At the event, academics can test out a theory or data and team up in groups to develop a paper that they then pitch to a panel of journal editors, all in two days. The best three are presented on the final day of the conference – a great opportunity, according to Tina Blegind Jensen.
I think it’s an amazing opportunity to work on a paper, brainstorm, get creative and have a contribution at a conference of this quality.Tina Blegind Jensen, professor with special responsibilities (MSO) at the Department of Digitalization at CBS
“The conference has an acceptance rate of 26% of submitted papers. So, it’s highly competitive. But the paper-a-thon participants can get their extended abstracts included in the proceedings, which for some junior scholars counts as an important publication. I think it’s an amazing opportunity to work on a paper, brainstorm, get creative and have a contribution at a conference of this quality,” she says.
While the participants in the conference are PhD students and above, the paper-a-thon event, which will be held on CBS campus from 10 to 11 December, is open to all students to attend and listen for inspiration.
Back to Denmark after 32 years
Tina Blegind Jensen has been involved in the preparations since 2019. Last time it was held in Copenhagen, in 1990, Niels Bjørn Andersen, now Professor Emeritus at CBS, was responsible for bringing the conference here. Ever since, the event has continued to move around the world. Now after two years with corona restrictions, 1,500 scholars will gather in Denmark again.
Tina Blegind Jensen also highlights the fact that this time conference co-chairs from CBS and the IT University of Copenhagen (ITU) are hosting the conference together.
“Two universities in town doing something together in this field – that’s good spirit. Collaboration across universities is very healthy, and we’ve learned a lot about each other,” she says.
The ICIS Conference main events take place from 9 to 14 December at Bella Center.