Personally Build-and-Operated Information Systems – new frontier in information systems research

Workshop at European Conference on Information systems (ECIS) 2019 in Stockholm, Sweden

Call for submissions

In ubiquitous information society personally build-and-operated information systems are emerging phenomena with a potential to reconceptualise our understanding of information systems development [@Baskerville.11.i]. At this moment, roughly two-thirds of the world’s inhabitants not only have access to the fundamental components and requisite skills needed to build their own information systems, but also are actually building numerous own information systems and using them numerous times a day [@DesAutels.11.u]. For example, writer combines at least five software tools to support her workflow of reading, snippeting, writing, referencing, distributed on two different computers, one tablet and one telephone. Integrating them through at least two cloud services. Furthermore, with the advance of Internet of Things people are creating their own home automation systems combining smart plugs and sensors interacting through open source frameworks and accessing them through self-hosted websites on their mobile phones. This is happening for every aspect of life: health, fitness, hobbies, etc. As a result we see a dramatic growth in the populations of these systems. However, despite their omnipresence, personally build-and-operated information systems are not in the focus of information systems research. That is remarkable, for three reasons. First, because it can change the current paradigm in information systems development from “one system fits all”, as it is for decades, to “one system fits one” i.e. the information system should be adapted to the individual and not the other way around. Second, it challenges the primacy of managers and organisations as a reason for existence of information systems field. Third, each system is an innovation. Some incremental, some radical, but overall there are billions of innovations. Thus, it gives a bottom-up perspective to the emerging phenomena of digital innovation [Yoo.etal.12.o].

Implications are not only academic; they are practical. At this very moment, individuals purchase equipment on eBay or AliExpress to make their own smart home, borrow-and-adapt digital innovations on GitHub to fit their needs, follow advices from avatars on Stackoverflow how to digitise personal workflow, publicly expose their solutions on personal blogs. Large number of them publicly state they are not programmers or system developers but want to solve their problems. Their lack of technical knowledge makes them more vulnerable to security treats, data compromise and loss, privacy violation etc. But on the other hand, if they can build systems without prior knowledge it is important to identify how can we use those practices for developing “one system fits one” organisation. Also, how educational curricula should be changed to reflect these practices.

Lack of empirical knowledge undermines validation of these claims. It is only recently that senior scholars started making attempts to draw attention to this emerging phenomenon [like @Baskerville.11.i]. However, even there the scholars use hypothetical scenarios (invented by them) to articulate how these systems look like or how are they created. The reason for this lack of knowledge, I suggest, is twofold. First, even though there are billions of personally build-and-operated information systems our definitions, theories and thinking about information system are developed from a perspective of organisation, structured development and experts. Second, and more profoundly, each personally build-and-operated information system is an idiosyncratic, self-determined, subjective in scope and methodology puzzle with an ad-hoc, emergent nature that may not be easy to solve and that have not been adequately investigated.

In this workshop, we encourage scholars to present different ideas how to explore the domain of personally build-and-operated information systems (pboIS). We look for submissions that do not put focus on the organisation, thus aspects like BYOD, Workaround systems, information systems build by organisations for individuals are not the focus of this workshop. They can be used as an element of the system the individual is building.

The core aims of this workshop is to provide an avenue for

  • Presenting ideas how to explore the domain of personally build-and-operated information systems
  • Articulating the domain of personally build-and-operated information systems in a way that acknowledges the details of what are and how are they created
  • Starting the process of expanding the understanding of the information systems field, so that it can accommodate the nature of personally build-and-operated information systems

Possible avenues for submissions are:

  • Demonstrations of examples of pboIS (as a narrative or case study)
  • Methodologies (e.g. appropriateness of Autoethnography, Digital ethnography, Design science, Netnography)
  • Security (are these systems secure, can they be abused, how can they be protected)
  • Questioning assumptions (e.g. IS field without organisations, is “one system fits one” viable)
  • Innovation (how it impacts, enriches, questions themes like digital innovation or open innovation)
  • Theories as lenses (which theories we should use to explore this field – theory of communicative actions, Sociomateriality, Critical realism etc)
  • New theories (can pboIS provide authentic information systems theories)
  • “Business” model (can these systems be commercialised, how can they be commercialised)

Submission Requirements/Limits

Relevant dates

  • Submissions due by March 15
  • Replies by April 15


Speakers on the workshop will be Prof. Richard Baskerville and prof. Kalle Lyytinen

Workshop Duration, Schedule, and Format

Duration: Half day workshop

Format: Keynotes and Paper presentations


9:00 – 09:45 Opening & Keynote 1
9:45 – 11:15 Paper presentations, session 1

11.15 – 11.45 Coffee break

11:45 – 12:30 Keynote 2
12:30 – 14:00 Paper presentations, session 2

The times are dependent on conference organisers

The agenda is dependent on the number of submissions received

Plan for Publications

Workshop report will be submitted for publication in CAIS’s Panel reports department. Editor of CAIS’s Panel Reports Department is informed about this intention and willing to review the workshop report for possible publication within CAIS’s Panel reports department