Explorations in Values Awareness Elicitation of Consumer Preferences for Information Systems Development

University dissertation from Stockholm : Department of Computer and Systems Sciences, Stockholm University

Abstract: The need for complex software to coordinate the activities of modern enterprises has become a necessity for their success. As business sectors are rapidly reshaped, organizations become global, and consumers have a seemingly endless degree of choice, these competitive conditions require software engineers to incorporate consumer values—personal judgments based on comparative, preferential experiences—into the design of such supporting software.Traditional modes of thinking, whose primary focus was often on economic value, are being left behind, as consumers are requiring more qualitative experiences than ever before. And while the impact of quantitative values on IT is readily seen and acknowledged within software engineering, such qualitative values, and in particular consumer values, have been researched to a lesser degree. To foster greater alignment between business and its supporting IT infrastructure, requirements engineers operating under such conditions need new means to both capture real preferences of consumers and then relate such preferences to requirements for next-generation software. To address this problem, this thesis establishes a conceptual link between the preferences of consumers and system requirements by systematically accommodating the variations between them. It accomplishes this by following a design science research paradigm to support the development of the works' primary artifact—the Consumer Preference-aware Meta-Model (CPMM).CPMM is designed to improve alignment between business and IT by both capturing the real preferences of consumers and then relating such preferences to the requirements engineering process. It relies on research contributions within three areas in information systems—Business Strategy, Enterprise Architecture, and Requirements Engineering—whose relationships to consumer values have been under-researched and under-applied. These support the design and development of CPMM and its relevance to the problem area. The benefits it provides towards solving the problem are then exemplified in three demonstrations: via logical mappings between CPMM and a common approach to business strategy (strategy maps/balanced scorecards); the application of CPMM to generate requirements for a Patient Health Record (PHR) system; and an empirical study of the development of a consumer preference-based system for online education for foreign and domestic students at Swedish universities.