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Employee Experiences

Information Systems Professors Play Key Roles in International Conference

Inside the classroom, BYU Marriott School of Business information systems (IS) professors often encourage their students to find creative solutions to their problems. This year, several IS professors on the Americas Conference on Information Systems (AMCIS) conference committee utilized their own problem-solving skills outside of the classroom to help the conference transition to online options.

The theme for AMCIS 2020 was "A Vision for the Future."
The theme for AMCIS 2020 was "A Vision for the Future."
Photo courtesy of Bonnie Anderson.

AMCIS, sponsored by the Association for Information Systems (AIS), is one of the largest international conferences for information systems and technology in the world. Each year, hundreds of scholars attend this conference and participate in panels, present academic papers, hear from keynote speakers, and engage with other participants in workshops. This year’s conference was originally slated to take place in Salt Lake City. However, the conference eventually transitioned online, taking place from 10–14 August 2020.

BYU Marriott associate dean Bonnie Anderson served as co-chair of this year’s conference. “As chairs, we determine the logo and the theme, put together the executive team and get the website set up a few years before the conference,” she says. “Chairs are critical to fundraising and work with the AIS staff to develop budgets and get contracts signed. The work starts about four years before the conference and ends one year after the conference.”

Other committee members found Anderson’s dedication to the task impressive. “Bonnie did an amazing job,” says Greg Anderson, BYU Marriott professor of information systems, who was the social event chair. “She was so organized and didn't even blink when the conference went virtual. She just put her head down and got to work to make it a successful conference.”

In addition to Greg and Bonnie, seven other BYU professors served on the conference committee. Recently retired BYU Marriott IS professor Rayman Meservy was an honorary co-chair, and James Gaskin was an early career faculty consortium co-chair. Degan Kettles was a workshop co-chair, and Tom Meservy and Mark Keith were both Emerging Research Forum (ERF) co-chairs. Stephen Liddle was a sponsorship chair, and Jeff Jenkins was the webmaster.

These BYU Marriott professors played key roles in helping the conference makes its virtual transition. “One big challenge was finding the best timing for presentations and events, because our attendees were located all over the world,” says Bonnie Anderson. “We needed a schedule for paper presentations, taking into account physical location.”

Keith and Meservy helped create this schedule. “Tom and I fielded many questions from authors preparing their submissions,” Keith says. “Tom volunteered to help determine the optimal schedule of all presentations to fit the time zones of authors from around the world.”

Participants tuned in from several different countries for the 2020 conference. In comparison to the 757 people who attended last year’s conference, 1,769 people registered for this year’s virtual conference. “We worked closely with AIS leadership and the chairs of the other two summer conferences, the European Conference on Information Systems (ECIS) and the Pacific-Asia Conference on Information Systems (PACIS), in deciding to migrate to a remote model for all three gatherings,” says Bonnie Anderson. “The fundraising from AMCIS 2020 covered the cost for all three conferences to go virtual. We ended up having a ‘Virtual Conference Series’ that allowed individuals to participate in all three conferences with one discounted registration fee.”

Keith believes the conference enables scholars to strengthen their abilities. “Every component of the conference helps advance the quality of research in our field, but perhaps most importantly, the conference also helps scholars both young and old gain valuable experience and develop their skills,” he says.

Even though upcoming conferences will resume in-person, this year’s situation ultimately sparked ideas for virtual participation options in future conferences. “In-person conferences add value in human connection ways that are hard to replicate through online interaction, so I’d like to resume face-to-face conferences moving forward,” says Bonnie Anderson. “However, I’m advocating for more virtual participation in future conferences, including remote participants and prerecorded videos.”

Bonnie Anderson plans to keep the theme of this year’s conference—“A Vision for the Future”—in mind as she looks forward to the rescheduled Salt Lake City conference. “AMCIS 2020 was definitely not what I thought it would be when we started planning four years ago,” she says. “However, the conference turned out better than I expected, and I’m excited for everyone to join us in person when we have a second chance to host the conference in Salt Lake City in 2024.”


Writer: Sarah Calvert