At UBC Sauder, faculty members are more than just ‘professors.’ They conduct impactful research that is changing how society views the world while also inspiring students to pursue their academic passions and become the thoughtful, values-driven leaders the business world needs.
This year, UBC Sauder welcomed six new tenure-track faculty to the school. In the first of this series, we introduce you to Arslan Aziz, Assistant Professor, Accounting and Information Systems Division, UBC Sauder School of Business.
What brought you to UBC Sauder?
While on the academic job market, I wanted to join a group of strong researchers working in my field of Information Systems at a top-tier research university located in a great city. UBC Sauder ticks all these boxes and more!
What are your areas of research and how did you get into this field?
I study the economic impacts of technology on businesses and society. My research has focused on topics like the trade-off between information tracking and online advertising effectiveness as well as how online information sources affect how consumers learn about product quality.
I have an engineering, business and economics background, and I blend these perspectives in my research.
What fuels your research – what prompted you to research this area?
As technology continues to transform key elements of our society, there is an urgent need to think carefully about how to maximize its positive effects and mitigate the risks. Businesses that develop technology have incentives that may be at odds with the greater social good, while policymakers may not be best equipped to understand technology and frame guidelines that protect consumers without stifling innovation. Academic researchers have an important role to play in impartially investigating the impact of technological innovations as well as their potential unintended consequences.
What inspires you to teach?
I enjoy helping students not just understand technology issues but gain a perspective about them. Graduates of UBC will help shape our future and it is inspiring to be able to influence as well as learn from them.
What’s the most interesting thing you’ve discovered through your research?
Advertisers have long assumed that the more information they have about consumers, the better their ability to target them with relevant ads. Using game theory, I found that this is not necessarily true and that sometimes, too much consumer information can lead to consumers being targeted with irrelevant ads, which is not helpful for either consumers or advertisers. Identifying situations where both firms and consumers win or lose together is exciting because these can be translated into clear recommendations for managers and policymakers.
What do you believe is the future of your industry?
Technology will eat up the economy and it is imperative to understand its unintended consequences before it’s too late. Artificial intelligence, the sharing economy, blockchain, self-driving vehicles, etc., will all reshape our economic system in ways we do not yet fully understand.
What are you most looking forward to in Vancouver?
So much to look forward to in Vancouver! I'm most excited about exploring the food scene, hiking the many trails in and around the city and going on motorcycle road trips.