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Tuesday, October 18, 2011 - Bridging the gap through engaged partnership

All business challenges can be overcome when the right minds are working on them, believes SBA Dean Mohan Tanniru, who is bringing academic talent to solve real world problems around the globe.


Tanniru has introduced the Business Academic Exchange – International, an institute that provides a global forum for industry professionals and collegiate researchers. Working together, they define a business challenge and generate testable solutions, educating students in the process.


Tanniru hosted the inaugural forum at the Association for Information Systems’ (AIS) 17th annual Americas Conference on Information Systems (AMCIS) held in Detroit last August, a conference that he co-chaired. (See related story)


Solving problems using shared knowledge


While planning the conference, Tanniru reached out to businesses asking what IT challenges have stumped their companies and what is keeping them up in the night. He compiled a list of a dozen problems and distributed them electronically across the world to the academic community. These challenges served as a foundation for the forum.


“I saw the questions and all of them were intriguing, challenging and important for further development of IS research,” says Dr. Peter Trkman, assistant professor at University of Ljubljana, Faculty of Economics, in Slovenia. “Several of them were close to my current research interests, thus I prepared a proposal based on one of them. The question stimulated my thinking, which led to preparing a whole paper.” 


He presented this research, “Social Media/Knowledge Flow Management, Getting Business Value from Wikis,” at the conference.


Building more opportunity


Tanniru wants the connection between businesses questions and researchers' solutions to continue, so he persuaded Elliott Group International, an industrial tape supplier based in Auburn Hills, Mich., and OU Provost Virinder Moudgil to help fund its kickoff, bringing it to life for OU’s SBA as an institute called BAE International.

“The idea for this is outstanding,” says Judy Wright, partner at Detroit’s Plante & Moran, who participated in the initial forum. “There is a disconnect between the research going on in academic arenas and what’s going on in industry, so for Dean Tanniru to pull it together for the conference was outstanding. We needed someone to connect the dots.”


BAEI membership is open to a wide range of participants including profit and non-profit organizations, academic institutions, non-profit research think tanks, government entities, and international organizations. The intent is to be inclusive with the only requirement being a commitment to addressing complex business problems.


“The possibilities when academia and business come together are enormous,” Tanniru says. “We’re excited about creating a bridge to connect the two and seeing what we can build together.”




By Rene Wisely