Goizueta Faculty Interview: Benn Konsynski Discusses Technology, Libraries, and What It Takes to Be a Real “S.O.B.” (Student of Benn)

Professor Benn Konsynski is George S. Craft Konsynski_BenDistinguished UniversityProfessor of Information Systems & Operations Management at Goizueta Business School. He took some time to talk to Goizueta Business Librarian Saira Raza about his 2o years of experience at Goizueta as a professor, mentor, and avid supporter of the university library. 

GBL: When you began your academic career in Computer Science, did you imagine at that time you would end up teaching at a business school? What drew you in this direction?

BK: When I began in computer science, I was unsure about a joint activity between business and pure computer science. So I wouldn’t say no. But because an early part of my career was joint teaching, joint appointment, I expected to go into academia. Even though many of my colleagues went into companies like IBM, I expected an academic channel.

GBL: You’re known as the go-to guy for consumer technology advice at Goizueta. What are some of your favorite technology gadgets right now?

BK: Oh gosh. I’m an Apple bigot, so most everything Apple. But I experiment and work with a lot of technologies from Amazon, from Samsung, and from LG, and many other players. RFID technology, tags, locator/voice interface, visual representation, augmented reality, virtual reality. I am the technology equivalent of a bag lady.

GBL: You currently serve as the chair of Emory’s Library Policy Committee. Is there anything you were surprised to learn about Emory’s library system when you first became involved with the committee?

BK: No, in fact, for a long time actually, since I began here 20 years ago, I’ve been involved with the library. It was a very long period of separating the technology world from the library world which had focused on analog content. So I’ve witnessed the transition from traditional analog library to digital library — first, the creation of the DIRC (Digital Information Resources Council), which looked at digital assets (mostly databases) and the allocation of digital resources. And then with the advent of Rick Mendola, who came from Sandya, and accelerated and finished that process. It’s been a 20 year journey. Now Yolanda has come in and has really kept things in balance between the digital and analog knowledge assets. I witnessed this process here, and many library systems are going through this process now. I see it as managing knowledge assets that are both in digital and analog form.

GBL: It took me a while to figure out what it meant at first, but you affectionately refer to your students as S.O.B.s or “Students of Benn.” How would you describe your approach as a teacher and your relationship with your students? You seem to have a great relationship with alumni – how do you leverage this in your teaching?

BK: I like to be a mentor and guide and coach to them in their efforts if at all possible. I bring alumni to classes to share their experiences and to communicate and to inform the current students. I always maintained a good relationship with alumni and encourage them to share their knowledge in the classroom as well.

GBL: What research projects are you working on now?

BK: I’m very interested in IOT (Internet of Things), IOE (Internet of Everything), and machine-to-machine communication, but I’m also interested in cognitive computing how technologies are made to give thought, so we can allocate decision rights and authorities to complex system. I’ve always got four or five papers at different stages and intention levels. I’m also very interested in virtual worlds and immersive technologies.

GBL: You’ve got some interesting ideas of what the technology of the future will look like – twenty years from now, how do you think Goizueta students will be using technology as part of their education?

I think technology is part of their daily life. More and more education moves into their daily life rather than the interruption and disruptions of requiring the physical interface – an artifice of the edifice that focuses on place. So education moves more towards being part of your regular life rather than a disruption of your regular life and technology enables that.

GBL: What is your favorite business book and why?

Current favorite is Creativity, Inc. by Ed Catmull and Amy Wallace. Catmull is the president of Pixar and Disney Animation, and he speaks a lot to managing innovation and dealing with disruption in industries.

GBL: What are three words that come to mind when you think of the business library?

BK: Data rich…Does that count as one word or two?

GBL: We’ll count it as one.

BK: Chauffeured. Alignment with the main library.