• Course Introduction

        • Time: 35 hours
        • Free Certificate
        This course will focus on the allocation and use of technology resources across an entire firm as part of the larger organizational strategy. Because firms do not have an unlimited supply of capital, they must decide when and where to deploy new information technology. Firms must not only focus on when to deploy IT but also if they should deploy IT at all! This brings up the bigger question about technology: Can the use of IT bring a sustainable competitive advantage to an organization? Some say "no", and others say "of course!" You will explore these differing opinions in Unit 1.

        In Unit 2, you will delve into how IT might manage business processes and look at Enterprise Resource Planning (ERP) systems, Business Process Management (BPM) systems, and business process reengineering. You will then move on to how technology can inform decision-making in Unit 3 by studying business intelligence, data warehousing, and data mining. Unit 4 introduces you to e-commerce and examines such essential topics as intellectual property and online marketing. In Unit 5, you will explore trends in technology today. Units 1 through 5 lay the groundwork for understanding how IT can be used in business strategy, which you will put to practical use in Unit 6.

        • Course Syllabus

          First, read the course syllabus. Then, enroll in the course by clicking "Enroll me". Click Unit 1 to read its introduction and learning outcomes. You will then see the learning materials and instructions on how to use them.

        • Unit 1: Information Technology and Competitive Advantage

          Organizations have been using information technology for the past 50-plus years. Billions of dollars have been spent on computer hardware, software, network communications, and all the other requirements of having world-class technology. But to what end? Has the money spent on technology allowed businesses to become more profitable? Or more specifically: has the implementation of information technology led to a sustainable competitive advantage?

          This unit will start by answering the question: What is information technology? For that matter, what exactly is technology? For our purposes here, technology is considered any electronic or digital tool used by people to make a process easier or more efficient. You can also think of technology as the science of creating or using technical objects in order to reach industrial goals, which certainly applies to how businesses use technology to achieve productivity. We tend to think of technology mostly in terms of electronic innovation. Information technology is defined as those digital or electronic tools that are designed to make the process of managing or distribution of information easier.

          You will then study the history of IT and how it fits into business strategy today. Specifically, you will review concepts from other courses, such as the value chain and Porter's Five Forces of Competitive Advantage. You will look at how IT fits into these topics and other key concepts related to strategy.

          This unit will end with a focus on the relationship between IT and competitive advantage, which will set the foundation for the rest of the course. Is it possible for IT to bring competitive advantage? Many argue that YES, it can! As a student of information systems, it is highly important that you can articulate both Carr's article AND the rebuttals to it. The articles below present different cases for how IT can bring a competitive advantage. See if you can find a common thread in these articles.

          Completing this unit should take you approximately 10 hours.

        • Unit 2: ERP Systems, Business Processes, and IT

          Obtaining a competitive advantage with information technology requires more than just using the technology. As we saw in the last unit, it is about the innovative use of technology integrated into your business processes that bring about competitive advantage. In this unit, you will dig deeper into the concepts of business processes and explore the use of ERP Systems, Business Process Management, and Business Process Reengineering in an organization.

          Completing this unit should take you approximately 5 hours.

        • Unit 3: Using Information for Decision Making

          Data is everywhere, but how can an organization leverage it for competitive advantage? The field of business intelligence studies how organizations can get the correct information into the hands of the right decision makers. This unit begins by giving you an overview of how decisions are made and how information technology plays a role. You will then review how information technology is used to help organizations make effective decisions: business intelligence, data warehousing, and data mining.

          Completing this unit should take you approximately 5 hours.

        • Unit 4: Online Business

          Today's businesses must know how to compete online – it is as simple as that. In this unit, you will learn what steps a business must take to implement to do business online. This unit will also introduce the concept of intellectual property and the Pew Internet Project, both of which are important as part of your overall understanding of online business. Finally, the unit wraps up with topics related to marketing your business using online tools. Understanding this unit will be vital to implementing information systems strategically!

          Completing this unit should take you approximately 5 hours.

        • Unit 5: Emerging Technology Trends

          No course in the strategic use of information technology in business would be complete if it did not cover technology trends. These trends impact businesses through innovative and forward-looking use of technology. The future of virtually every modern business or organization depends on how they choose to utilize advancing technological tools in ways that maintain and extend competitive advantage. This unit focuses on understanding technological advances such as cloud computing and mobile processing.

          Completing this unit should take you approximately 3 hours.

        • Unit 6: Creating a Technology Strategy

          One of the overall goals of this course is that you would learn how to think strategically about the use of information technology. As you learned in an earlier unit, using social media technologies is crucial for organizations' technology (and marketing) strategies. In this unit, you will focus on developing a strategy for using social media in your organization.

          Completing this unit should take you approximately 7 hours.

        • Course Feedback Survey

          Please take a few minutes to give us feedback about this course. We appreciate your feedback, whether you completed the whole course or even just a few resources. Your feedback will help us make our courses better, and we use your feedback each time we make updates to our courses.

          If you come across any urgent problems, email contact@saylor.org.

        • Certificate Final Exam

          Take this exam if you want to earn a free Course Completion Certificate.

          To receive a free Course Completion Certificate, you will need to earn a grade of 70% or higher on this final exam. Your grade for the exam will be calculated as soon as you complete it. If you do not pass the exam on your first try, you can take it again as many times as you want, with a 7-day waiting period between each attempt.

          Once you pass this final exam, you will be awarded a free Course Completion Certificate.

        • Saylor Direct Credit

          Take this exam if you want to earn college credit for this course. This course is eligible for college credit through Saylor Academy's Saylor Direct Credit Program.

          The Saylor Direct Credit Final Exam requires a proctoring fee of $5. To pass this course and earn a Credly Badge and official transcript, you will need to earn a grade of 70% or higher on the Saylor Direct Credit Final Exam. Your grade for this exam will be calculated as soon as you complete it. If you do not pass the exam on your first try, you can take it again a maximum of 3 times, with a 14-day waiting period between each attempt.

          We are partnering with SmarterProctoring to help make the proctoring fee more affordable. We will be recording you, your screen, and the audio in your room during the exam. This is an automated proctoring service, but no decisions are automated; recordings are only viewed by our staff with the purpose of making sure it is you taking the exam and verifying any questions about exam integrity. We understand that there are challenges with learning at home - we won't invalidate your exam just because your child ran into the room!


          1. Desktop Computer
          2. Chrome (v74+)
          3. Webcam + Microphone
          4. 1mbps+ Internet Connection

          Once you pass this final exam, you will be awarded a Credly Badge and can request an official transcript.