The fast development of information technology (IT) and the rise of the Internet have resulted in new ways that people deal with information and interact and communicate with each other. Today a plethora of information systems (IS) exist that aim at supporting individuals, organizations, or other entities in deriving advantages from these new possibilities. However, it is often not clear to what extent such IS achieve their purpose. This lack of clarity is not surprising; assessing the impact of IS is difficult because of problems such as the difficulty of assessing benefits using tangible numbers. IS success research, which has been underway for more than three decades, has suggested various models and constructs to measure and explain IS success. IS success, as the ultimate dependent variable, is typically measured in terms of its effect – often labeled “impact” or “net benefit” – on a particular entity. Net benefit is often regarded as the most important success measure because it captures both the positive and the negative effects of IS on users and other entities. However, because of its multi-dimensionality, IS success can be evaluated from several perspectives and at various levels, making it difficult for researchers and practitioners to agree on the best way to measure the impact of IS.
It has been suggested to evaluate the impact of IS on the individual and the organizational level. However, some researchers have criticized that these two levels are only two points on a continuum of possible beneficiaries. Because of this criticism, the understanding of the net benefit construct was significantly broadened in order to leave room for further expansion to investigate other dimensions of impact or benefit. Although research has suggested the investigation of other dimensions, such as workgroups or society, the studies that have adopted such dimensions are rare. Therefore, the full variety of potential dimensions of IS impact, their differentiation, and potential approaches to their measurement remain unclear. While the literature has provided an in-depth analysis of the independent variables of IS success, to our knowledge no overview of contemporary dimensions of IS impact and their operationalizations has yet been presented.
IS Impact Framework (ISIF) Scheme
Accordingly, in a recent research project, our goal was to synthesize literature on IS success and to propose a framework of potential IS impact dimensions, along with measures we identified in the literature that are suitable for operationalizing them. As a result, we provide an IS Success Impact Framework (ISIF) that provides further insights on the nature of IS success and guides future studies on IS success by providing direction on how to measure the net benefits of IS. Our work contributes to IS research in that it (a) synthesizes and (b) extends the knowledge on IS success evaluation.
The research results have recently been accepted for publication:
Herbst, A., Urbach, N. and vom Brocke, J. (2014) Shedding Light on the Impact Dimension of Information Systems Success: A Synthesis of the Literature, Proceedings of the 47th Hawaii International Conference on Systems Sciences (HICSS-47), January 6-9, Hilton Waikoloa, Big Island. (Link)