Carnegie Mellon University
September 27, 2022

Faculty Spotlight: Xiaoying Tu

By Stacy Kish

Xiaoying Tu, assistant teaching professor in Information Systems, focuses his research on how the evolution in technology has disrupted the ecosystem and revenue chain in the film and music industries and the implications on business strategies and policy making. 

Tell me about your scholarly work?

I focused my research on disruptive technology in the entertainment industry. The movie studios use a traditional business model that is based on an executive’s gut instinct to determine which content to greenlight and invest in. This approach uses a strategy called ‘windowing’ to control how to distribute the entertainment through different channels (theater, DVD, TV) that have diminishing returns. The past two decades have seen a rise in disruptive technology, like digitized content, high-speed internet, social media and big data. Companies, like Netflix, have access to big data so they can promote content to consumers based on their interests. This changes how we sell entertainment today.

How is your scholarly work adding to the greater field?

Today, I teach a class that focuses on an introduction to databases, data mining and machine learning. These courses draw from my experiences in my own research. Real-world data is very messy. We have to lay it out, study its structure, clean it and then put it into some storage or data management system to work with it later. During the classes, I can reflect on my personal experience and share this with my students.

How did you become interested in this topic?

I came to CMU in 2012 as a master’s student with the plan to gain skills and return to my original field of business IT, but I was influenced by a really good teacher. During my second semester at CMU, I took a course called interactive marketing, which examined disruptive technology in the entertainment industry. This content triggered something in me that got me interested in a Ph.D. program. I was interested, because I am enthusiastic about music and love going to movies. The course examined counterintuitive conclusions that are backed up by data. This showed me the power of doing really good research in a field that is relevant to a lot of us.

What are you most excited to accomplish as a faculty member at CMU?

My shift from research to teaching began as my education progressed from my master’s to my Ph.D. This opportunity revitalized my interest in teaching. My parents are university faculty who are passionate about teaching. I didn’t realize it when I was young, but my family influence has carried forward, and it came out when I had a chance to express my interest in teaching. I love interacting with students and thinking about how to explain things better to them.

What are your goals for the next generation of scholars?

I want to impart technology knowledge but also to develop my students’ interest in technology. I want to help my students to dig into the content and develop confidence as they pursue their future career goals.

The Faculty Spotlight series features new and junior faculty at the Dietrich College of Humanities and Social Sciences at Carnegie Mellon University. Stay tuned for our next installment to learn more about the dynamic and engaging research and scholarly work being conducted in the college.