It’s one thing to organize and analyze the vast streams of computer data that many businesses and organizations collect by the terabyte. But what does it all mean? And how can organizations use this information to improve their performance and boost their bottom line?
That’s where an expert like Chen-Huei Chou comes in. An Associate professor in the new Department of Supply Chain and Information Management in the School of Business, Chou has been teaching at the College of Charleston since 2008.
Chou’s academic background in computer science, information systems and business are reflected in his research. He has studied everything from abuse of the Internet in the workplace to the usefulness of state emergency management websites. He’s also adept at teaching information management concepts to students, as demonstrated by the Distinguished Teaching Award he received from the School of Business in 2013.
Fresh off a busy summer of travel, research and speaking engagements, Chou recently answered a few questions for The College Today.
Q: What is your academic background?
A: Before joining the College of Charleston, I received higher education in both Taiwan and the United States. I have an academic background in two completely different fields: one in engineering and one in business. I received a B.S. in Information and Computer Engineering from Chung Yuan Christian University, Taiwan, and a M.S. in Computer Science and Information Engineering from National Cheng Kung University, Taiwan. After working for Acer, Inc. as a senior computer engineer for two years, I came to the U.S. and received an M.B.A. from the University of Illinois at Chicago and a Ph.D. in Management Information Systems from the University of Wisconsin-Milwaukee.
Q: What are your research interests?
A: My areas of interests include Web design issues in disaster management, ontology development, data mining, text mining, knowledge management, Internet abuse detection and software testing. I’ve published, including forthcoming, 17 peer-reviewed journal articles in the past six years. Several of the manuscripts have been published in top-ranked journals. For example, I have a forthcoming paper entitled “Ontology-based Design and Evaluation of Natural Disaster Management Websites: Tools and Applications” to appear in MIS Quarterly, which is the No. 1-ranked journal in Management Information Systems.
Q: What are your expectations and hopes for the new Department of Supply Chain and Information Management, and why is it an important field of study for business students?
A: More than ever before, effective supply chain management involves the collection, distribution and analysis of complex information. This evolutionary trend is occurring in many other functions of the firm as well. As such, the knowledge and skill requirements for success in business have evolved to include information management and analysis for problem solving, and the ability to use technology to execute business activities. These changes have made it very important for business students from all functional backgrounds to study information systems. Our hope and expectation is that the new Department of Supply Chain and Information Management will be the go-to area for obtaining rigorous information management training that will complement the existing programs in the School of Business and will add value to all our business students.
Q: You had a busy summer working on research projects, delivering a keynote speech and attending international conferences. Tell us about these activities?
A: In July, I was invited to offer a keynote speech at the International Conference on Information and Knowledge Management in Bangkok, Thailand. In this speech, I shared my knowledge and experience in conducting a text mining approach for detecting Internet abuse in the workplace. As the use of the Internet in organizations continues to grow, so does Internet abuse in the workplace. Internet abuse activities by employees — such as online chatting, gaming, investing, shopping, illegal downloading, pornography and cybersex — and online crimes are inflicting severe costs on organizations in terms of productivity losses, resource wasting, security risks and legal liabilities.
This summer I also attended two international conferences to report on recent research. At the International Conference on Information Management, I presented the findings of a study co-worked with a professor in Taiwan. This study, entitled “Examination of Team Performance Predictors: A Data Mining Approach,” aims to use data mining to identify team personality traits related to team performance. We found that conscientiousness and neuroticism traits were highly ranked by three filter methods. Our findings potentially contribute to the development of human resource management academically and practically.
At the International Conference on Computational Intelligence and Applications held in Chengdu, China, I presented the topic “Functional Validation and Test Automation for Android Apps.” Android open source mobile operating systems have been used by major smartphone manufacturing companies. Its market share exceeded 80 percent in the third quarter of 2013. During the presentation, I presented proposed test cases for performing system testing, compatibility testing and automated stress testing of Android apps.
Q: Some of your work in management information systems is focused on disaster preparedness and emergency response websites. How can this research lead to improvements in these systems and benefit public safety?
A: Local and state natural disaster management (NDM) websites play an important role in assisting people through various disaster stages such as general preparation, preparation for a coming/predicted disaster, disaster in progress and response, recovery, and learning and mitigation. However, such websites are complex and there is little research on standards and guidelines for developing and evaluating them. In a project co-worked with two professors at the University of Wisconsin-Milwaukee, we developed an ontology-based evaluation tool to assess the utility of NDM websites. Two main groups of stakeholders — experts who are in charge of NDM websites and potential users of such websites — contributed to the process.
The practical usefulness of our work has been demonstrated in its use to assess the online readiness of all 50 U.S. states. Our analysis of NDM websites revealed a lack of preparation by most states. This is stunning given the fact that websites have become a common channel of communication to reach the public asynchronously. Our work identified the areas of weakness for each state in the five stages of NDM. This work can be used to enhance the websites of the states and assist in prioritizing the areas that need improvement.