Dr. Pratim Datta

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Name: Dr. Pratim Datta

Title: Associate Professor of Management and Information Systems, College of Business

What is your expertise? What are your research interests?

Global Technology Strategy and Cybersecurity

How long have you worked at Kent State?

13 years.

When do you first remember hearing about COVID-19 or the "coronavirus?" Did you have any sense at all that it would have as large an impact as it has on our day-to-day life? 

During mid-February, I and my Executive MBA class were preparing to leave for Italy for a "Digital Transformation" project with Human Technopole, a very large research laboratory in Milan. As we were presenting details of the trip during my Analytics course, there was initial confirmation of 4 cases in Lombardy, Italy. I brushed the issue off as a minor issue. As cases grew globally, we ran SARS-CoV2-2 data as a part of the Analytics course and the exponential growth was sobering. Even then, we had no idea how dramatically devastating the virus would be to human and economic health, disrupting swaths of what we once presumed as being "normal life."

Is there any experience you have had in your life up until now that compares with what we all are currently navigating? If so, what was it?

Nothing truly compares. The 9/11 terrorist attack would be the closest but that was a short-lived uncertainty. We could trace the perpetrators and ramp up security. With COVID-19, the uncertainty is simply unfathomable. Every day, scientists are discovering new aspects of virus definition and propagation. Suddenly, the R-factor (reproduction/transmission rate) was the most important metric and we wanted the R-factor to be less than 1. Today, in some countries the R-factor was falling in some countries and rising in others. Mixed public health messages amplified by civil injustice protests make this a period like no other.

How has your day-to-day life changed? What does your new "routine" look like now?

My day-to-day life has not changed much - other than transmigrating myself to a virtual existence. I do miss physically discussing these issues with my students and their brilliant thinking and questions. I am gardening more and spending my solitude writing silly verses on Greek mythology and history. I am learning more about the birds in the backyard and their intricate social lives!

COVID-19 and our collective response is one of the most interdisciplinary phenomena many of us have seen/experienced. How would you describe how your discipline/research interests/expertise contributes a valuable perspective to our better understanding and responding to COVID-19? 

I research global technology, digital technology, and cybersecurity. COVID-19 has suddenly amplified the need for digital transformation. But our digital leap of faith has attracted unsavory cyberattacks and cyberthreats. Currently, I am researching how to build resilience and business continuity by reducing cybersecurity threats.

If you had to embark upon a scholarly project (e.g., research, a new course) right now related to COVID-19 and our collective response, what would that look like?

I think I would welcome a cross-disciplinary discussion on researching and teaching how to plan and build a Digital Transformation framework (optimizing existing processes and technologies) across industries -- particularly higher education, public administration, and public health.

What other discipline (even without any expertise or knowledge in that area) could you see helpfully complementing yours in pursuit of your new COVID-19 project?

Public health, Computer science, Communications, Technology, and Psychology

Do you have any last insights/thoughts regarding COVID-19 and what we are all experiencing?

I would like end by thanking every health care worker, scientist and person unconditionally helping humanity during this crisis. I would also like to end with two uplifting quotes that define human existence and hope: "E quindi uscimmo a riveder le stelle" (And then we went to see the stars ) (Dante, Inferno XXXIV, 139). "We are not now that strength which in old days Moved earth and heaven; that which we are, we are; One equal temper of heroic hearts, Made weak by time and fate, but strong in will, To strive, to seek, to find, and not to yield." Tennyson's 'Ulysses'