Mobile Collaboration Support for Virtual Teams: The Case of Virtual Information Systems Development Teams

Mobile Collaboration Support for Virtual Teams: The Case of Virtual Information Systems Development Teams

Keng Siau (Department of Business and Information Technology, Missouri University of Science and Technology, Rolla, MO, USA) and Min Ling (University of Nebraska-Lincoln, Lincoln, NE, USA)
Copyright: © 2017 |Pages: 22
DOI: 10.4018/JDM.2017070103
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Organizations increasingly depend on virtual teams in which geographically distributed individuals use sophisticated technology to interact and collaborate. With the advancement of mobile and wireless technology, mobile support for collaboration among virtual team members is becoming increasingly important and popular. In this research, we study the values of mobile support for virtual team members. Using the qualitative technique, Value-Focused Thinking approach, proposed by Keeney, we interviewed 30 subjects who were involved in information systems development teams and asked them the values of mobile support for virtual collaboration. This study uses Alter's Work Systems Theory as the conceptual foundation.
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1. Introduction

Two decades ago, virtual teams were almost nonexistent. Today, technology, globalization, and the need for fast response to marketplace demands have dramatically changed the way business is conducted. Organizations increasingly depend on virtual teams in which geographically distributed and often culturally diverse individuals use sophisticated technology to interact and collaborate. The economic imperative may well transform virtual teams from an innovative source of competitive advantage into an important and necessary part of any organization strategy.

Virtual team success depends on effective communication and knowledge sharing among members (Lockwood, 2015). Modern communications and information technology make the formation and working of virtual teams viable (Alsharo, Gregg & Ramirez, 2017). Research (Steinfield et al., 1999; Stough et al., 2000, Suchan & Hayzak, 2001; Siau & Long, 2007; Ngwenyama & Bjorn, 2010; Chen et al. 2012; Lynn & Kock, 2012; Bartelt & Dennis, 2014; Chen & Siau, 2016) has demonstrated the importance of communication media in supporting virtual team members. With the advancement of mobile and wireless technology, and the concept of virtual team growing rapidly among and within organizations, mobile devices (e.g., smart phones, laptops with wireless access) appear poised to become important collaborative tools for virtual teams. In contrast to wired devices such as desktop computers, mobile and wireless devices can provide any time and any place collaboration support for virtual team members.

Mobile applications for customers and employees are abundant (Gao et al., 2011; 2014). Examples of these applications include mobile financial applications, mobile inventory management, online banking, mobile healthcare, and wireless data centers (e.g., Siau, 2003; Siau & Shen, 2006). Nevertheless, we still have limited understanding on mobile applications to support collaboration among virtual team members. For example, what are the motivations for users to adopt mobile collaboration applications? This research, using systematic and scientific approach, studies the phenomenon of mobile collaboration with the aim of providing guidance to the industry and the future development of technology. This research, therefore, adopts the interpretive paradigm rather than the positivist paradigm.

In this research, we focus our study on the Virtual Systems Development Teams. We define Virtual Systems Development Teams as technology-supported geographically distributed teams that are responsible for information systems development. Teams are formed with specific missions in mind and may include individuals from outside the organization. Additionally, these virtual teams may be cross-functional whereby each team member possesses a different skill or strength needed for the successful completion of the task or project. The project may involve concurrent development of several parts of a system in several countries or continents. Virtual Systems Development Team is a new phenomenon in the IT industry and these teams will have major impact on the IT industry. For example, the use of virtual teams enables the project to benefit from talents and expertise that are not locally available. Also, using virtual systems development team, the company can take advantage of different time zones to work on the project continuously – team members in Asia such as Japan, China and India can work on the project after the American team members go off work. With virtual systems development teams, travel cost can be reduced as the team members need not be physically together and urgent information can be distributed instantaneously to all members.

This research employs the qualitative technique, Value-Focused Thinking, to elicit values of mobile applications for supporting collaboration among virtual team members. These values reveal the issues and concerns of virtual team members regarding mobile applications. These values also highlight the wishes of the virtual team members and their potential adoption criteria regarding mobile devices and applications.

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