As a senior academic Prof Islam has played a key role in establishing cutting-edge research centred on important research themes of the Business School. His research is at the forefront of examining how digital innovation has revolutionised and accelerated business growth, from SMEs to large companies, and how organisations can harness the power of technological transformation. As an expert, his latest academic research and practical insights, published recently on 'Construction Industry 4.0 and Sustainability', have promoted the Business School in the run-up to the COP26 in Glasgow in November 2021.
In order to have his research and thoughts be impactful on management practice, he has put forth his research strategic focus on the nexus of management and technology, innovation and entrepreneurship, technological transformation and business sustainability. His research interest lies in exploring new knowledge on how emerging and disruptive technologies are developed, governed, and commercialised.
The key objective of his research is to examine innovation systems - including the structural elements (institutions, actors, collaborations, and networks) that directly influence the development and diffusion of innovations - their strengths, weaknesses, and dynamics. The following themes lead this work:
- Technological Transformation and Sustainability: To some extent technologies could be seen as a means by which firms can strive to ensure economic and environmental sustainability and competitiveness in the decade ahead. This research theme examines the organisational capabilities and challenges faced by firms to deploy emerging technologies (AI, IoT, Nanotech, Blockchain, social media) and the role of actors and intermediaries in structuring the business environment. It also explores challenges in fabricating product component structures, developing process techniques, or navigating more complex systems environments.
- Disruptive and Industry 4.0 Technologies: The study seeks to understand the innovation process of disruptive and fourth industrial revolution (Industry 4.0) technologies and to find the collaboration linkages among stakeholders and/or actors. The innovation systems framework and business models guide this research and direct the study to look at the changing role of knowledge and technology transfer in adopting and diffusing such technologies.
- Digital Innovation: Under this theme, the research seeks to analyse digital innovation data both in healthcare and finance sectors and to provide a taxonomy of the business opportunities within this revolutionary phenomenon. The use of specialist computer software helps to analyse technology, map clusters of key technologies, and visualise collaborative linkages statistically and textually. The aim is to formulate the mechanism of new digital knowledge creation, collaborations, and its deployment to industry sectors.
In support of this work, funding has been obtained from both private sponsorship and research council grants. The total value of projects has a combined income of £915,000. He has published one authored book and two edited volumes. Prof Islam's research has also achieved high public impact, with considerable coverage from the press and media. He has been privately interviewed by the United Nations policy analysis and recommendations team (based in the Netherlands) on the public impact of nanotechnology in water treatment and in agricultural productions. This was published in their synthesis report, 'Sustainable Development in the Nexus of SDG 2-3-9'.