The art of technology

Studying artistic production to improve how IT projects are implemented

Large-scale information technology (IT) projects can often fail or run significantly over budget. Simon Fraser University’s Ellen Balka wants to discover how to prevent this. The communications professor explores how visual artists juggle technique, materials use and an understanding of audience expectations as part of their creative process. Her insights about the practical aspects of artistic production could improve the way IT projects are designed and implemented.

Looking specifically at how artists harmonize the many different components of their work, Balka and her research team discovered that artists see the quality of the materials used, the context in which they are used, and viewers’ perceptions as all directly affecting the success of the finished piece. Applying the same criteria to past IT projects, Balka found that cost overruns could have been significantly reduced had these elements been taken into consideration during the projects’ initial planning.

Balka believes her research can be incorporated into the early stages of new IT implementations to help avoid or minimize costly failures later in the project.