Digital Enablement Research Network (DERN)

The Digital Enablement Research Network (DERN) is an incubator of impact-based research focusing on the transformation of organisations, the economy and society through innovative digital technologies. DERN joins an elite group of academics with industry partners in the Asia-Pacific region and globally to develop innovative solutions for practice-inspired research projects.

The UNSW Sandbox Method: An Approach to High-Impact Research

The Sandbox Method is a methodology originally developed by DERN to incubate collaborative and problem-driven impact-based research. The Sandbox Method is a translational, multidisciplinary research methodology for co-creating business and social impact that aims to bridge the academic-practice gap and provide a platform for high-impact research.

The three pillars underpinning UNSW’s Sandbox Method are:

  • Structured Exploration: Researchers working closely with practitioners identify issues of common interest as research and innovation opportunity
  • Pragmatic Analysis: Researchers perform informed and viable analysis of the posed questions to design appropriate solutions
  • Situational Insights: Actionable insights and proofs-of-concept are developed based on close collaboration among researchers and participating organization, experiments and iterative feedback cycle

Our Digital Sandboxes

Berjaya Retail Innovation (BRI) Consumer Analytics Sandbox

This sandbox leverages on consumer analytics to create effective campaign strategies to promote customer engagement

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Ecosysnet Blockchain-enabled Reward System Sandbox

This sandbox explores the application of blockchain in consumer loyalty context

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Humanitix Social Listening Sandbox

This sandbox develops social listening capabilities to empower businesses to engage in collaborative conversations and create a better customer experience

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Tiger and Wildlife Conservation Analytics Sandbox

This sandbox designs a wildlife conservation analytics platform to strengthen efforts to curb poaching of wildlife

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Cyber-Threats Intelligence (CTI) Sandbox

This sandbox analyses cyber-threats landscape and design cyber-defence mechanisms for today’s cyber workforce

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Finwego Alternative Lending Sandbox

This Sandbox works on identifying additional alternative data points that can further improve prediction on borrower’s future behavior with respect to repayment of the loan

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Smart Cities Sandbox

The Smart Cities Sandbox aligns with the aims of the Australian Federal Government's Smart Cities Plan (2016) in response to emerging needs and global trends to ensure the continuous growth of the knowledge economy

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Digital Platforms for Refugees Sandbox

The Digital Platforms for Refugees Sandbox aims to facilitate the creation of digital ecosystems that will integrate and deliver information to refugees and to those organisations involved in supporting, employing, educating, and caring for refugees

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AxiCorp Marketing Analytics Sandbox

This sandbox aims to help AxiTrader in two primary goals. First, it looks to maximize the conversion rate of prospects into customers with live trading accounts. Second, it helps AxiTrader retain customers with regular trading transactions.

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News Corp Threat Intelligence and Cybersecurity Sandbox

With advancements in IT leading to greater organisational dependence on technology, there is an ever-growing need to employ cybersecurity to protect these digital assets.

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Food Innovation and Capability Development Sandbox: A Singapore Study

Driven by the ever-changing needs and tastes of consumers and emerging technologies such as artificial intelligence and blockchain, the food industry remains fiercely competitive.

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Hardware Retail Digital Strategy Sandbox

Digital technologies are rapidly reshaping both the customer-facing and internal processes across many industries. Among these, the retail sector has arguably seen some of the most profound changes to date. Many of the first examples of digital disruption of successful incumbents originated in this sector.

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Network Members

Network Leader

Dr. Shan Pan | AGSM Scholar & Professor, School of Information Systems

Shan L Pan is AGSM scholar and Head of School of Information Systems, Technology and Management at the UNSW Business School, The University of New South Wales. He is currently a research affiliate with the Alexander von Humboldt Institute for Internet and Society, Germany. He is an advisor to Alibaba Research Institute, China.

He is the founder and coordinator of Digital Enablement Research Network (DERN), a research incubator that champions high impact research. His research interest is digital enablement within the contexts of business and social innovation. He has conducted in-depth studies on state-owned enterprises, commercial organisations, rural villages, and non-profit organisations in China, Germany, Finland, India and parts of Southeast Asia. He has published in journals such as MIS Quarterly, Information Systems Research, Journal of the AIS, Journal of the Academy of Marketing Science, Journal of the Association for Information Science and Technology, IEEE Transactions on Engineering Management, Communications of ACM, Information Systems Journal, European Journal of Information Systems, and among others.

Core Members

Dr. Songting Dong | Senior Lecturer, School of Marketing

Dr. Dong’s major research interest lies in studying consumers’ preferences and their decision making journey, particularly in the digital age. He attempts to advance the knowledge in this area by improving preference elicitation methods and utilizing advanced quantitative modeling approaches. Songting earned his Bachelor’s and Doctor’s degrees (both with distinction) from Tsinghua University. Part of his PhD training was conducted in Smeal College of Business, Pennsylvania State University. His research works have appeared in Journal of Marketing Research, International Journal of Research in Marketing, and Journal of Product Innovation Management.

Dr. Yenni Tim | Lecturer, School of Information Systems

​Yenni Tim is an early career researcher and a lecturer in the School of Information Systems and Technology Management, UNSW Business School. She holds a PhD in Information Systems with research interests on emerging digital enablement phenomena and the unintended consequences of technologies. Some of her work have been published in Information Systems Journal and Information and Management.

Dr. Sandeep Mysore Seshadrinath | Lecturer, School of Information Systems

​​Sandeep is a Lecturer in Information Systems, Technology and Management at UNSW Business School. He holds a PhD in Business & Management from Loughborough University, UK. In his dissertation he studied impact sourcing - a social innovation in outsourcing, in which he explored processes and strategies of social entrepreneurship, community engagement and sociocultural transitions. Broadly, his research interests lie in the social study of information systems, with a special focus on digitally-enabled social transformations. He has published his work in reputed journals such as Information Systems Journal, Information & Management and The Journal of Strategic Information Systems.

Dr. Sam Kirshner | AGSM Scholar, Lecturer, School of Information Systems

​​Sam Kirshner is a lecturer in the area of Operations Management and Business Analytics. He studied electrical engineering at the undergraduate level and then obtained his MSc. and PhD in Management Science at Queen's University in Kingston, Ontario. His primary research interests lie in the areas of revenue management, technology management, and consumer exchange markets. His research addresses pricing and production decisions across a firm's family of products in the face of demand uncertainty using models based on optimization techniques and game theory.

Dr. Toomas Tamm | Lecturer, School of Information Systems

​​Toomas Tamm is a Lecturer in Information Systems, Technology and Management at the UNSW Business School. His research and teaching focus on enabling organisations achieve their business goals through the use of IT. Current research interests include strategic IT decision-making processes, enterprise architecture, digital strategy and platforms and IT-enabled organisation design. His research has been published in Communications of the Association for Information Systems and MIS Quarterly Executive, presented at leading conferences, and his Ph.D. formed the basis for an ARC Discovery Project on enterprise architecture service provision. Prior to entering academia, he worked in the retail and services sector.

Dr. Jason Nguyen | Lecturer, School of Information Systems

​​Jason Nguyen is a Lecturer (Assistant Professor) in Operations Management and Business Analytics. His primary research interest is to contribute to the movement toward a sustainable global economy by providing valuable practical insights through rigorous interdisciplinary academic research. In his research, he employs game theory, optimization, behavioural lab experiments and econometric analysis to study the effectiveness of environmental policies and incentive mechanisms in addressing industrial sustainability issues. His research has been published at leading journals in Operations Management and Environmental Economics, including Management Science, Manufacturing & Service Operations Management and Environmental and Resources Economics.

Dr. Veronica Jiang | Lecturer, School of Marketing

​Veronica's research focuses on consumer behaviour and judgment making. Specifically, she is interested in how consumers arrive at their decisions and the motivations behind these decision processes. For example, one of her research streams investigates how large variety of options influences consumers’ information processing and choices. And another research stream of hers examines the interaction between beauty and decision makings. Also, she is a member of Digital Enablement Research Network (DERN), one of the emerging research strengths of UNSW Business School. Together with colleagues from multiple disciplines, DERN studies how digital technology can revolutionize social and economic interactions.

Dr. Walter Fernandez | Professor, School of Information Systems

Walter Fernandez, is a Professor of Information Systems at the School of Information Systems, Technology and Management at the UNSW Business School, The University of New South Wales. After a 20 years career in corporate Australia, Walter joined the Australian National University in 2003, where he was Co-Director of the National Centre for Information Systems Research until moving to UNSW, in 2013. Walter’s research focuses on the strategic management and implementation of transformation programs enabled by new information systems and technologies. These programs aim at delivering significant value through the strategic change of practices. Professor Fernandez has published more than 60 peer-reviewed papers in top international conferences and journals and awarded more than A$5 million in research grants, including two Discovery Grants from the Australian Research Council. As an active member of the global information systems community, Walter serves on editorial boards of first-tier academic journals, as Program Chair, Doctoral Consortium Chair, and Track Chair for top-level IS conferences. He has also served as visiting scholar in Denmark, Finland, France, Germany, Italy, Sweden and Taiwan, as an external advisor for federal and local governmental organisations, and as an Assessor for the Australian Research Council, among other honorary positions.

Highlight Achievements

  • Eight network members have a total of 28 different A*/FT50 publications since 2011, including MIS Quarterly, Information Systems Research, Journal of the AIS, Information Systems Journal, Journal of the Association for Information Science and Technology, Information Systems Journal, Journal of Strategic Information Systems, Management Science, Production and Operations Management, European Journal of Operational Research, Manufacturing & Service Operations Management, and among others.
  • Pan is the Senior Editor of Information Systems Journal. He is also an Associate Editor of the Journal of Strategic Information Systems and Information and Management.
  • DERN has received industry funding for impact-based research totalling more than $500,000 in 2017-2018.
  • Tim has won the Best Practice-based Paper Award at the International Conference on Information Systems (ICIS 2017).