Topic outline

  • Course Introduction

    BUS206 introduced you to the subject of Management Information Systems (MIS). The focus of that initial course was on the nuts and bolts of information systems: how they work, how you create them, how to secure them, and so on. This course is developed to help you understand how information technology can be used as part of an organization's overall strategy.

    In this course you 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? There are those who say, "No”; and others who say, "Of course!”  You will explore the differing opinions out there on this topic in Unit 1.

    In Unit 2 you will delve into how IT might manage business processes and take a 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 the world of e-commerce and examines such important topics as intellectual property and online marketing. In Unit 5 you will explore major trends in technology today like cloud computing, Web 2.0, and mobile technologies. 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 where you will focus on how to actually write a strategy.

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  • 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.

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

    To obtain a competitive advantage with information technology requires more than just simply using the technology. As we have seen in the previous section, 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.

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  • 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 right 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 different ways that information technology is used to help organizations make effective decisions: business intelligence, data warehousing, and data mining.

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  • Unit 4: Electronic Business

    Today's businesses must know how to compete online - it is as simple as that. In this unit you will learn what electronic commerce, or e-commerce, is and what steps a business must take in order to implement it. You will also be introduced to the concept of intellectual property and to 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 key to implementing information systems strategically!

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  • Unit 5: 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 are impacting how businesses use technology, and how companies choose to utilize technological tools will have a profound impact on the future of the organization. In this unit, we will focus on understanding such technologies as Cloud Computing, Web 2.0, and mobile processing.

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  • Unit 6: Creating a Technology Strategy

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

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  • Optional Course Evaluation Survey

    Please take a few moments to provide some feedback about this course at the link below. Consider completing the survey whether you have completed the course, you are nearly at that point, or you have just come to study one unit or a few units of this course.

    Link: Optional Course Evaluation Survey (HTML)

    Your feedback will focus our efforts to continually improve our course design, content, technology, and general ease-of-use. Additionally, your input will be considered alongside our consulting professors' evaluation of the course during its next round of peer review. As always, please report urgent course experience concerns to contact@saylor.org and/or our Discourse forums.

  • Final Exam

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