Lehigh University
Lehigh University


Research that adds real value

One of the leading researchers in the field of effective use of information systems to support value chains can be found in Lehigh’s College of Business and Economics.

Susan A. Sherer, Kenan Professor of Information Management, has long recognized that information systems and technology are a fundamental component in the operation of business. The risks associated with the implementation and use of IT systems can negatively affect a company’s ability to compete in today’s environment. Companies must make appropriate resource allocation decisions when evaluating rapidly changing new technologies that can alter their competitive strategies.

Watch a video interview of Susan Sherer discussing the importance of staying current in research. *

The basic concept of value chains is that companies must work together with suppliers, distributors, retailers, and other partners to provide value to customers. The information technology revolution provides the infrastructure and applications to enable real-time coordination.

But effectively implementing these technologies isn’t without risk because business organizations must manage significant change in their business models.

Sherer, a Fulbright Scholar and co-director of the university’s Center for Value Chain Management, has been conducting research on quantifying and measuring the impact of information systems for the past 17 years. With the growth of the Internet to support coordination among companies, she has extended her work to study how these systems support collaboration among networks of businesses.

Companies today compete as part of a network," Sherer says. "All partners in that network impact the value provided by the network. If one supplier is late, the entire value chain is impacted. If the information systems do not support real-time collaboration among these partners, value chain performance will suffer."

"Business depends upon computer information systems to perform critical functions. Problems with information systems have led to significant business losses, but by understanding the risks, businesses can make more informed decisions," she adds.

Value chain research looks at business processes from a global customer perspective, and Sherer’s specific area of concentration deals with how information systems affect coordination in the value chain.

Sherer’s work promotes and conducts research on information-enabled, value-adding networks - networks that seek to create customer and stakeholder value and achieve sustained profitability and/or cost containment objectives. This is achieved through the integration of emerging theory and best practices in information systems, systems engineering, and value chain management.

It is important to understand that technology alone does not create business change, Sherer says. To receive full value from investments in coordination technologies, there must be complementary changes within the organization and in the organization’s relationships with its partners.

"We all strive to take managerially relevant questions and address them in new and conceptually strong ways," says Richard M. Durand, Herbert E. Ehlers Dean of the College of Business and Economics. "If it is done right, research will add value to other scholars, the relevant business community, and the students. This is not an easy task. Susan Sherer’s research is an exemplar of how this is accomplished."

In addition to her work with value chain management, Sherer has conducted extensive research on development of methodology for assessing risk in information systems development and implementation as well as processes to justify IT investments. Her research deals with such issues as software failure risk, information systems risk, inter-organizational information systems, and change management.

--Kim Plyler

Lehigh Alumni Bulletin
Spring 2004

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Posted on Thursday, August 12, 2004

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