Understanding the Digital Economy: Data, Tools, and Research (MIT Press)

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While the digital divide remains real, current trends of increased access by minorities are encouraging. There are parts of the economy we can measure fairly well but there are also dark areas that we do not understand.

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He admitted that some of the keys to the New Economy lie hidden in those dark areas, including ways to evaluate new business models and organizational structures. He talked about two parts of that dark area: All of these entities—markets, firms, networks, and network organizations—can be thought of as information processors. Researchers including Hayek, Roy Radner, and others 30 have modeled them as such and suggested that they will be significantly affected by the dramatic changes in information processing described earlier in the symposium.

MIT Conference on the Digital Economy, London 2015: Roberto Rigobon

Brynjolfsson started with a discussion of predictions about e-business, including the prediction that the Internet, by lowering search costs and facilitating comparisons among products, would lead to fierce price competition, dwindling product differentiation, and vanishing brand loyalty. He demonstrated one of them that can check several dozen Internet bookstores and seek out the best price for a given book and rank them by price in just a few seconds.

There is also information about shipping time, shipping charges, and other criteria, but they largely de-emphasize the company itself so that the main feature the shopper sees is the price. Brynjolfsson and his colleagues decided to take advantage of the data gathered by these search companies to try to understand how consumers were actually using the Internet to shop. They knew that every book is the same— down to the last comma—no matter who is selling it, so they hoped to detect the motivations for purchasing from a particular seller.

They were able quickly to gather over a million price offers from company logs for a period of 69 days. They wanted to see whether a consumer would simply buy from the cheapest source or whether other factors would matter. Report to the President on Resolving the Digital Divide: Information, Access, and Opportunity.

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Prices and Consumer Issues for Three Products: Data, Tools, and Research. They were surprised to find that there were four important variables, not just one. Total price was quite significant, as was shipping time and advertising. However, the most important factor was whether the person had previously visited that site before.

The site owners can also tell when you have returned to their site—by far the most important factor in making a purchase. This reveals that even though a book is as close to a commodity as one might expect to get on the Internet, price was not everything. In fact, fewer than half the buyers chose the lowest-priced entries on the tables. Moreover, this is among the set of consumers who chose to go to a price intermediary in the first place, so one would assume they are more price sensitive than the average consumer.

Instead, service, branding, customer loyalty, and the quality of the experience all made a big difference. In a second exercise, Dr. Brynjolfsson conjectured that these results would be more likely to hold as they start testing more heterogeneous products and products with more levels of unobserved service quality.

For instance, they looked at the subset of consumers who wanted their screen sorted on the basis of delivery times instead of price. Indeed, delivery time was more important and price was less important, but other features were also more important, such as various measures of branding and other ways of guessing at the unobserved quality of the vendor, such as shipping time, which is harder to guarantee than price.

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Third, they were able to begin to quantify the value of customer loyalty. They could see that a customer who has shopped there is more likely to come back again, even when they have access to shopping intermediaries. As a result, this market has been altered substantially by access to shopping intermediaries and over the next year or less many more sophisticated intermediaries will populate not just business-to-consumer markets but even more of the business-to-business markets.

There is much more to a product than its price, even for a commodity item. Researchers have to be careful when making measurements, because they might not capture everything, whether for purchase of a personal computer or service. In fact, consumers apparently perceive much more differentiation between products than economists might impute to them, such as customer service, product selection, convenience, and timeliness.

These considerations should be acknowledged even if they cannot always be measured. Brynjolfsson said that managers say they are putting a lot of their information technology effort into addressing things that economists and statisticians. In fact, consumers apparently perceive much more differentiation between products than economists might impute to them, such as customer service, product selection, convenience and timeliness.

For example, Amazon got six times as many click-throughs as one would predict if one took only price into account. The good news is that clickstream data brings a tremendous amount of new information that can be analyzed to predict consumer behavior. He compared this technique with experimental methodology of 5 to 10 years ago. This would not only be very difficult to do, but it would not be nearly as accurate as real consumers looking at a million and a half real price offers.

Brynjolfsson turned to the topics of production and organization, stressing the point that e-business is not just about technology. A traditional brokerage has a physical retail front office where customers interact directly with brokers. An Internet brokerage has a Web site where customers interact with Web servers and e-mailbased communication. Customer reviews There are no customer reviews yet. Share your thoughts with other customers.

Understanding the Digital Economy: Data. Tools, and Research

Write a product review. Most helpful customer reviews on Amazon. I'm a voracious reader of books and articles about recent developments in information technology IT. This book is the first I've found to present the latest research in economics, business, and public policy related to IT, and to do so in a way that is accurate, comprehensive, readable, and engaging. The editors deserve kudos for their choice of articles and for enforcing the analytical rigor so often lacking in consulting reports and popular articles in this field.

I heartily recommend this book! This book is an essential antidote to all the fluff out there written by pundits and consultants. The books consists of 14 chapters written by experts in the field reporting original research on how the digital economy really works and how it is transforming business.

Anyone interested in seriously understanding the "new" economy needs to read this book. Some of the chapters in this book have priceless material, e. We need more research like this. Feedback If you need help or have a question for Customer Service, contact us.


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Would you like to report poor quality or formatting in this book? This book contains work presented at a conference held by executive branch agencies in May at the Department of Commerce. The goals of the conference were to assess current research on the digital economy, to engage the private sector in developing the research that informs investment and policy decisions, and to promote better understanding of the growth and socioeconomic implications of information technology and electronic commerce. Aspects of the digital economy addressed include macroeconomic assessment, organizational change, small business, access, market structure and competition, and employment and the workforce.

He is the author of several books including Wired for Innovation: President Clinton recently directed the National Economic Council, in consultation with executive branch agencies, to analyze the economic Understanding the Digital Economy: Data, Tools, and Research.


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