UMass Amherst Professor Launches New Strategic Information Technology Center

AMHERST, Mass. - Business executives will soon be able to turbo-charge their skills at running information technology computer systems thanks to a new research center at the Isenberg School of Management at the University of Massachusetts.

Leslie D. Ball, director of the Strategic Information Technology (SITEC), says the center will help chief information officers (CIOs and their staffs improve skills in collecting, managing, and effectively using the information they obtain from all sources, including computer databases and the Internet. Students and faculty will participate in the programs and visiting executives will also meet with other CIOs to share information and experiences, Ball says. SITEC is a non-profit research and education center that is co-sponsored by businesses and the University."

We tend to equate data, information, and knowledge," Ball says, "But they aren’t the same thing." Collecting raw data is relatively easy, but sifting through it for key pieces of information that can be used to make strategic business decisions is a much more difficult task, according to Ball. And because the technology is rapidly changing, executives need to continually upgrade their skills, something the center is also designed to do, he says.

Beginning in January, a series of SITEC workshops are planned, Ball says. The first, scheduled for Jan. 27, features Kathy Curley, director of the Lotus Research Institute, and Michael Zack, a professor at Northeastern University. They will discuss "Building the Knowledge Management Capability in Corporate America." Issues to be addressed at other workshops include how to solve the Year 2000 problem for large companies, and how to deal with the EuroDollar, a new currency being introduced to the global financial system.

Ball joined the UMass department of accounting and information systems in September. A former business executive and consultant, Ball was partner and national practice director, business integration services, at the Waltham-based Computer Science Corporation from 1996-98. He was founder and CEO at the Kendall Group Inc., of Scituate, from 1993-96, and was a principal at CSC Index, of Cambridge, from 1988-93. He taught at Babson College in Wellesley from 1977-88, was a visiting professor at IBM Europe in 1985, and was an assistant professor at Arizona State University from 1975-77. Ball earned his doctorate in management from UMass, a master’s degree from Boston College, and a bachelor’s degree from Northeastern University.