JingJing Zhang

Assistant Professor, Kelley School of Business

“Information technology enables businesses to operate in ways we couldn’t even imagine twenty years ago,” JingJing Zhang, assistant professor of information systems in the Kelley School of Business, says.

After obtaining her graduate degree in business administration from the Carlson School of Management at the University of Minnesota, Zhang joined the Kelley’s operations and decisions technologies department.

Her research focuses on algorithmic techniques to understand inconsistencies in recommender systems. Each time consumers shop online they leave traces on sites that allow a business to better understand its customer base, and provide recommendations for future purchases. Recommender systems are those tools that companies use to find references for customers. Inconsistency of recommendations not only leads to decrease in customer usage of the system, but decrease purchasing of a company’s product.

“Most researchers focus on the accuracy of a system, and most recommendation systems today provide almost accurate commendations,” Zhang says. “However, many aspects of recommender systems have been over looked.”

Zhang endeavors to breach the social science aspect of recommender systems and better understand how the systems affect consumers’ buying decisions. One particular behavioral feature she examines is a consumer's tendency to purchase based on companies’ recommendations.

From a technical perspective, Zhang hopes her investigation will sway other researchers to start looking at new aspects of recommendation systems beyond the accuracy component.

As a professor, she aspires to liberate her students’ fears of technology and help them realize their technical aptitude.

“At the end of the day, I want my students to ‘get their hands dirty’ playing with different tools and technology, and actually implement a system” Zhang says.

Zhang hopes that females will take advantage of the career prospects IT offers. She believes women have an advantage because females have different mindsets that can bring about refreshing ideas in the male-dominated field.

“From my own experience, I believe many females consider technology as challenging,” Zhang says. “But if you actually get involved in the field, you’ll find it’s not that difficult at all.”

Zhang questions whether past societal beliefs play a part in the low female participation in the computing workforce. However, by the increase of women in her classes, Zhang sees this as a good signal for the future of women in IT.