Why is it that 84% of Digital Transformations are failing? Why do only half of all digital initiatives reach the values promised during their creation? Why do only 18% of companies rate their use of digital technology as “very effective”?  Why do businesses fail to scale digital innovations beyond early pilot work? 

At SDSU’s Digital Innovation Laboratory (DiLab), faculty, staff, and students work together to address these questions and many more like them. With help from about 30 SDSU undergraduate and graduate students, DiLab explores how digital technology can improve learning, support entrepreneurs, and transform businesses. Students are given the opportunity to engage in research regarding relevant fields, with a focus on knowledge generation and dissemination. Michael Pesavento, a graduate student at SDSU and DiLab contributor, called the experience “Rewarding. DiLabs provides students practical experience at every level of research and scholarship.”

“We’re working on research projects related to information systems, technology design, and digital applications, with a focus on human-centered digital transformation. The technologies we study range from social software to extended reality,” said Kaveh Abhari, an SDSU management information systems professor and DiLab director. 

Abhari established the lab in March 2019 to provide the students and faculty with a collaborative environment where they can exchange ideas and knowledge to support high-impact, interdisciplinary research projects that support and promote digital innovation. 

Studying How Humans Interact with Technology

Researchers at the DiLab are most interested in how humans interact with technology in differing environments and contexts. Abhari elaborates, “We study how new technologies are designed, implemented, and adopted to create values in different contexts from personal to professional, from educational to entrepreneurial.” 

The group currently has a number of research projects in the works, including:

  • Modeling human factors in digital transformation initiatives 
  • Developing a framework for the next generation of virtual reality educational software programs 
  • Assisting the U.S. Navy to develop programs to improve data literacy and the use of self-service analytics
  • Creating a guide on how sharing economy platforms, such as Airbnb, can respond to service failures
  • Examining the mixed-reality (XR) applications in architectural design
  • Designing smart mentor bot for platforms supporting digital entrepreneurs
  • Investigating how enterprise social network sites support innovation during the COVID-19 pandemic 
  • Theorizing digital mindfulness to manage smartphone addiction and improve smartphone user productivity

Using Technology for the Right Reasons

“Human-centered, accessible, and inclusive technology design allows broader digital transformation that improves how we teach, learn, do business, and serve the community,” said Abhari. “Digital transformation starts with individuals—neither technology nor strategy. Digital media can play a significant role in paving the way for digital transformation by promoting digital literacy and digital mindfulness—how we use digital technology to make the right decision at the right time for the right cause.”