Enterprise information systems are among the key enablers of the leadership agility on competitive market places and therefore the design of advanced information systems (IS) is a continuous challenge for modern organizations. IS can include knowledge management systems (KMS), customer relationship management solutions, business-to-business applications, e-commerce, e-government or e-learning systems. Advanced IS featuring intelligence have recently implemented as complex applications with modular architecture relying on Web services, Semantic Web technology integrating user modeling, machine learning approaches, and/or agent-based technology. Personalization and more recently contextualization have emerged as key issues for achieving intelligent features in advanced IS. This chapter presents a set of personalization techniques for IS. The second section provides background information related to personalization of IS, and it proposes a set of personalization mechanisms. In the third section, these personalization mechanisms are exemplified in the context of KMS. The fourth section outlines future work related to personalization of IS. Finally, the fifth section summarizes the main ideas presented in this article.
What is Small?
When studying the use of ICTs in small business, the range of definitions used to describe small business ranges from micro businesses to small and medium sized enterprises. This range can make it extremely difficult for researchers to match up different small business studies. A 2003 study by members of the information resources management association special research cluster on small business and information technology (Burgess, 2003) found that:
Definitions of small business ranged from less than 20 (Australasia), 50 (Europe), and 100 (North America) employees (with some definitions including annual turnover and asset levels)
Definitions of micro business ranged from less than 5 to less than 10 employees
Definitions of medium business ranged up to 200, 250 and 500 employees
A common acronym used to represent small and medium sized businesses is SME. There is some argument as to whether the term is of any use at all given the vast differences between small and medium sized businesses. Still, there continue to be studies that examine the use of ICTs in SMEs.
For my purposes, small businesses are those businesses with 20 employees or less. However, most small businesses are micro businesses (Fillis, Johansson, & Wagner, 2004a), made up of less than five employees.
Size is Important!
Why is it so important to consider the size of the business? A number of studies suggest that there is a relationship between the size of a business and its level of adoption of ICTs (McDonagh & Prothero, 2000). There is also a relationship between the size of a business and the different characteristics it will have that can lead to the successful use of ICTs (Igbaria, Zinatelli, Cragg, & Cavaye, 1997; Pollard & Hayne, 1998). As such, research findings based upon traditional information systems in larger businesses are not necessarily directly applicable to small businesses. This will be touched upon again later in the article.
Drivers And Barriers To The Use Of Ict In Small Business
The literature around the area of small business and information technology is rife with what is now a fairly accepted list of barriers to the successful implementation of ICTs in small businesses. These barriers typically include (Igbaria et al., 1997; Management Services, 1997; McDonagh et al., 2000; Pollard et al., 1998):
The cost of ICTs—this is perhaps not so much of an issue these days (well, in developed countries anyway)
Lack of time to devote to the implementation and maintenance of ICTs
A lack of ICTs knowledge combined with difficulty in finding useful, impartial advice
Lack of use of external consultants and vendors
Short-range management perspectives
A lack of understanding of the benefits that ICTs can provide, and how to measure those benefits
A lack of formal planning or control procedures
Key Terms in this Chapter
Adaptive Hypermedia: Adaptive hypermedia is the dynamic generation of hypermedia spaces tailored to the characteristics and preferences of the different users.
Knowledge Management System (KMS): KMS are IS dedicated to manage organizational knowledge.
Information System (IS): IS is defined as “a system consisting of the network of all communication channels used within an organization” (Wordnet).
Ontology: Ontology is a specification mechanism used for knowledge representation based on a shared conceptualization.
Personalization: The personalization of IS is the process that enables interface customization, adaptations of functionality, structure, content, and modality in order to increase its relevance for its individual users.
User Model: A user model is an explicit representation of the system of a particular user’s characteristics that may be relevant for personalized interaction.