• Nigel Patrick Melville, Ph.D. MS ECE

    Driving smart change

    In the fourth industrial age, how can digital assets enable rapid adoption of new business models? Why do so many strategic business initiatives relying on digital systems fail to achieve their objectives? What's unique about digital transformation - are special capabilities needed, such as API product management? What are the implications as organizations seek to become more environmentally sustainable? And how can digital systems support resilience in the face of unexpected and rapid change?
    I'm one of the most highly cited researchers in the information systems discipline focusing on digital transformation and business value, partnering with organizations to apply what I've learned to help them achieve strategic objectives.
    I'm based in Ann Arbor, Michigan, where I’m a professor at the Stephen M. Ross School of Business, University of Michigan and Program Director for Design Science. Previous career paths include sales engineer, new product engineer, technical editor, research and development, and software entrepreneur.
  • Impacts

    Going beyond to make a difference

    Led a discussion in Fall 2019 at the Society for Information Management Advanced Practices Council (group of leading Chief Information Officers) focusing on early-stage research examining API management in large organizations.
    Led a panel discussion at the 2019 Tauber Global Operations Conference focusing on "Industry 4.0 in the Upcoming Decade."
    Chaired a panel discussion of tech founders and entrepreneurs analyzing the incumbent and startup fintech space, past, present, and future.
    Engaged U-M IT Services leadership in a discussion of APIs and business value.
    Led a group of CIOs in a collaborative session focused on emerging organizational practices in the fourth industrial age enabled by microservices and API-driven machine interaction.
    Led a day-long session for global bankers focusing on the technologies and competitive implications of fintech in the context of incumbent banks.
    At the request of U-M President Mark Schlissel, served on the VP of IT and CIO search advisory committee.
    Partnered with a leading French real estate conglomerate to understand digital transformation opportunities.
    At the request of former U-M President Mary Sue Coleman, led the President's Advisory Group in a strategic discussion of digital transformation at the University of Michigan.
    Partnered with a leading Indian consultancy to analyze digital transformation and innovation.
    Partnered with UNICON (The International University Consortium for Executive Education) to examine the strategic nature of social media within organizations.
    Blog examining how digital transformation can enable new forms of environmental sustainability (Information Systems for Environmental Sustainability) has over 55,000 views.
    Research papers have been cited more than 5,000 times, and H-index is 17, which according to this analysis is three times the mean for a sample of business scholars.
    Article entitled "IT and Organizational Performance" appearing in MIS Quarterly in 2004 authored with Vijay Gurbaxani and Ken Kraemer has been listed on Scopus "Top 20 most cited Business, Management, and Accounting articles" from 2004 to 2008; is 19th in citations among all published MIS Quarterly papers (journal was founded in 1977), and 11th since 2000. Within the IS field, it is in the top .16 percentile in terms of citations (see Iivari (2015))

    Article "Information Systems Innovation for Environmental Sustainability" was cited for spanning boundaries of IS and sustainability literatures by the Editor of leading IS journal EJIS: "Seminal papers bridging two research traditions can be found in the literature such as on IS development and new product development (Nambisan, 2003) or IS and sustainable development (Melville, 2010)..."
    Recent public talks and seminars include:

    Computing and APIs,” MBA Tech Club, Ross School of Business, University of Michigan, October 2019.

    The Platform Within: Organizing to Expose Resources Via Digital Interfaces for Competitive Advantage,” IESE Business School, University of Navarra, June 2019.

    "Cloud Computing Basics: Connecting Via APIs," BBA Tech Club, Ross School of Business, University of Michigan, February 2019.

    Fourth Industrial Age Organizing: Enabling Role of APIs,” Queen’s University, January 2019.

    Big Data Ecosystems and Applications,” Big Data Day, Ross School of Business, University of Michigan, January 2019.

    Green IS/IT Research: Making an Impact in the Fourth Industrial Age,” Keynote Speech SIG Green 2018, International Conference on Information Systems,” December 2018.

    Navigating Career Paths in the Emerging Fourth Industrial Age,” MBA Tech Club, Ross School of Business, University of Michigan, November 2018.

    ROI of AI: Value and Operational Implications of Artificial Intelligence,” INFORMS Artificial Intelligence Cluster, 2018.

    Sustainable Enterprise in the Fourth Industrial Age: Implications for Low-Carbon Operations” HEC Montréal - GReSI (Groupe de recherche en systèmes d’information), May 2017.

  • Current Research Programs

    Living in the future to understand the present

    Fourth Industrial Age Organizing
    Focuses on business transformations (work practices, business processes, culture, mind shifts, leadership, etc.) required to leverage emerging digital technologies such as enhanced machine decision making, interaction, and generativity enabled by new underlying infrastructures such as standard digital interfaces (e.g., application programming interfaces).
    Information Systems & Environmentally Sustainable Operations
    Focuses on how digital systems and technologies enable environmentally sustainable and resource productive operations.
    (Full list of scholarly articles and cv).
  • Information Systems - Scholarly Community

    Valuable and unique insights for the digitally-infused fourth industrial age

    The information systems discipline is focused on understanding and enhancing socio-technical information systems, including their design, development, implementation, and impacts and implications. In the fourth industrial revolution, boundaries between physical, digital, and biological systems are blurring. Research insights pertaining to socio-technical information systems are crucial to organizational survival and prosperity in the 21st century. Here are a few examples:

    • Brian Pentland’s research on organizational routines and information systems illustrates the folly of designing technologies when what is desired is new ways of working (Pentland and Feldman 2008).
    • Wanda Orlikowski’s examination of a large-scale information system implementation suggests a theory of situated, improvisational change that emerges over time, in contrast to rapid and radical change. (Orlikowski 1996)
    • Mark Keil has illustrated the unique factors that promote escalation of digital initiatives (throwing good money after bad) (Keil 1995).



    Keil, M. 1995. "Pulling the Plug: Software Project Management and the Problem of Project Escalation," MIS Quarterly (19:4), pp. 421-447.

    Orlikowski, W.J. 1996. "Improvising Organizational Transformation Over Time: A Situated Change Perspective," Information Systems Research (7:1), pp. 63-92.

    Pentland, B.T., and Feldman, M.S. 2008. "Designing Routines: On the Folly of Designing Artifacts While Hoping for Patterns of Action," Information and Organization (18:4), pp. 235-250.


  • Digital Transformation in the News

    The good, the bad, the ugly

    Sridhar Gadhi discusses the role of digital systems in addressing the Covid-19 pandemic in “How digital infrastructure can help us through the COVID-19 crisis” for the World Economic Forum.
    Reframing the "industrial revolutions" narrative of economic history shifts semantics from a "Fourth Industrial Revolution" to an era of "industrialized intelligence," according to a recent Quartz article by Andrew Fursman and Georgia Frances King. The authors pose important questions: "Perhaps we are not in a Fourth Industrial Revolution that will simply progress the roles of humans in production. Perhaps we are in the final stages of a grand process to create and automate all the tasks necessary to sustain a stable society." We're a long way from this, but it does make one wonder...
    As the API economy emerges in the fourth industrial age, many questions emerge. One perspective is that IT departments ought to look more like SaaS platforms, as recently described by MuleSoft founder Ross Mason: "Every organisation is very used to executing projects on this treadmill, the business needs something, they put a project in the pipeline, it gets triaged, it might take a year. I met with one of the big banks today and it takes two and a half years before one of their projects gets approved. That isn't working, that's breaking down, that's the IT delivery gap problem."


    Accenture CEO at WEF: "Digital disruption is at the heart of all the conversations I have with CEOs today. And this is not surprising, as it presents the most significant threats and opportunities any of us have faced in business." Nanterme goes on to say: "success requires CEOs to develop the right leadership capabilities, workforce skills and corporate cultures to support digital transformation." These are precisely the dimensions I teach in my courses at Ross and in executive education, examine in my research, and leverage in business projects.
    McKinsey acquires Lunar, signaling increased focus on both digital transformation and online user experience and bolstering McKinsey Digital.
    Charity sector ramping up digital transformation efforts.
    IMD & Cisco's take on digital business transformation, asking "why" and "how".
    Digital transformation is about the front office and the back office, according to the WSJ.
    GE's approach to digital transformation is centered on the Internet of Things.
    American Express hiring MBAs to accelerate digital transformation.
  • How to find me

    Happy to connect