Topic Name Description
Course Syllabus Page Course Syllabus
1.1: Understanding Information Technology Book Achieving Efficiency and Effectiveness through Systems

This chapter discusses the four components of information systems and the role information technology plays in business. Read it to gain a basic understanding of these two critical topics, then attempt the two case studies and answer the questions that accompany each case.

Book Moore's Law: Fast, Cheap Computing and What It Means for the Manager

Moore's Law, named for the co-founder of Intel Gordon Moore, defines expected advances in the need for data storage over time. In reality, it defines much more, beyond simply data storage. Read this chapter and attempt the exercises to gain a broader understanding of the importance and costs associated with Information Systems.

Book Performance Through Time
Read these sections. Think about the evolution of technology over time and how many technology delivery tools have changed in your lifetime, from computing devices to smartphones. Consider the author's claim that management does matter. As the competitive landscape and technology change rapidly, s you saw with Moore's Law, consider how a business can use strategy to take a proactive approach toward strategic growth over time.
Page Creating Winning IT Strategies

Every enterprise strategy has multiple competing pressures. As you watch, think about the day to day operations of an organization in terms of these pressures. First, there is the demand side of the business and gaining a competitive advantage. On the control side, there are the enterprise systems and processes driving information systems strategy. A third critical aspect is the supply aspect of the system by which we are managing our data and interactions with customers.

Book Introduction to Information Systems

The "Harry Potter" example that leads off this reading provides an excellent example of pre-planning, organized business processes, and the need for flexibility in information systems. Each Potter volume increased the pre-orders exponentially, and Amazon used its prior experiences to create policies and practices designed to improve customer experience. As you will see, business processes are a blueprint for success, supported by technology, information systems, and a range of other required services.

1.2: What Is Competitive Advantage? Book Introduction to Competitive Advantage

Read this section for an understanding of competitive advantage and the role technology can play in sustaining a competitive advantage. While a bit dated, the principles remain the same, as do the processes and understanding needed to execute them. Complete the exercises at the end of this section. Also, answer the following questions in your notes: What is strategic positioning? How might technology be used to achieve strategic positioning?

Page The Five Forces of Industry Competitive Advantage

Michael Porter's explanation of the pressures every organization faces to build and maintain a competitive advantage clearly shows the need for executives and strategists to assess a 360-degree view of their ability to build and maintain a competitive advantage. Each exerts pressure, which must be understood and included in any successful strategy.

Book Business-to-Business Marketing Models

Read this chapter to understand Porter's Model in operation. Think about a business you regularly visit, such as a grocery store or online store. Try to briefly describe the rivalries, threat of substitutes, buyer power, barriers to entry, and supplier power for the business you chose.

Page The Value Chain

This classic description of Michael Porter's Value Chain describes a consistent but straightforward method for analyzing the entire life cycle of a product or service from planning to delivery. That analysis enables management to improve production or services and gain a competitive advantage over other offerers. Read this section to understand the five main phases of the Value Chain and how the secondary components interact. Consider how technology, appropriately applied, can affect the value chain. Consider each question at the end of the reading to reinforce your understanding of this model.

Page The Marketing Model

The value chain proposes that if a business makes a product that meets customers' needs and wants and then sells it at the right time and at the right price, the customer will purchase it. Reflect on some instances in which the customer may still choose not to buy the product, even if the theory of the value chain is applied fully.

1.3: Using Information Systems to Create a Strategic Competitive Advantage Page Achieving Competitive Advantage with Information Systems

This article ties together the concepts of information systems and competitive advantage. Take note of the examples of how information systems support business processes. Can you think of additional ways that information technologies help businesses every day? Review the quiz questions at the end of the reading.

Book Introduction to Competitive Advantage in Information Systems

As you read, think about how using, protecting, and managing information and data could support an organization's competitive advantage. Conversely, failure to protect data, particularly personal information, could reduce or destroy any competitive advantage within a business. How does understanding customer information and data support current operations? How might it impact future operations?

1.4: Cases in Competitive Advantage: Zara and Netflix Book Zara: Fast Fashion from Savvy Systems

Both Zara and The Gap are retail online clothing giants in the fashion s industry. Zara, now worldwide, was founded in Spain. The Gap, also now worldwide, is a US Corporation. Both companies made a critical strategic decision on the future growth of their companies, with Zara taking the lead to move their significant marketing online. Gap later followed. Both still make retail sales but are positioned on the Internet. Zara currently has over 1M hits on its website each month. Read this chapter to understand how early the use of IT, particularly data collection and analysis, helps gain a competitive advantage. How did Zara use data to make early decisions about its business operations? How did Zara's use of data compare to Gap's?

Book Netflix: David Becomes Goliath

Netflix is considered a classic example of innovative strategic planning. From the outset, it was designed primarily as an internet-based company, unlike its principal rival, Blockbuster. The early history of Netflix is a study in looking forward to gaining and keeping a competitive advantage. Remember Porter's Competitive Forces Model as you read this chapter. The pressures of all five forces are present as Netflix tries successfully to enter and eventually command a competitive advantage in the rental film industry. As you read the case of Netflix, consider the following question: What are the long-term threats to Netflix? (Hint: Consider changes in technology and copyright/patent/media law). How would Netflix overcome or avoid those threats and continue to have a competitive advantage?

URL Discussion Activity

Read the Netflix case again. Answer the following questions related to the company and its business strategy using the Five Forces framework: 

  1. Do buyers/customers have power in the market or do suppliers (like Netflix)?
  2. Discuss how the nature of competition changed in the industry.
  3. What do you believe are the most significant long-term threats to Netflix, and does Netflix's business strategy effectively address these threats?

Post your answers in the discussion forum. Make sure to read other students' posts.

2.1: What Is a Business Process? Book Business Process Modeling and Process Management

A business process is a series of tasks that are repeated in order to produce a measurable output. Pay attention to how the business process has been defined in business literature over the years. Take a moment to write a definition of a business process in your own words.

Book Business Processes

How would you explain that business processes are crucial for the functioning of a business? What happens if those processes are not transparent or misunderstood? How is technology integrated with the processes? Think about tasks you regularly perform, like paying your bills online or checking your email. Can you define the steps involved in the actions? Do you use technology to facilitate those actions? Are you able to map out simple processes that support your day-to-day activities? Based on your process map, do you feel confident that another person could complete the task? If not, why? 

2.2: Enterprise Resource Planning Systems Page Introduction to Enterprise Resource Systems (ERP)

ERP crosses traditional boundaries, such as sales, marketing, manufacturing, and vendor suppliers. Designed to be an internal coordination system that facilitates both decision-making and responding to customer needs, ERP has become an essential part of business-infrastructure technology. Watch this video to learn how ERP systems are used in businesses. What is an ERP system? What is its business function? What parts of the business are usually included in an ERP implementation? Is ERP essential? If so, why? If not, Why not?

Page More on ERP Systems

Every management decision has some alternative. In the case of ERP, there are compelling arguments both in support and opposing ERP implementation. The application of ERP is not without risks in that improper or incomplete implementation can cause a drop in productivity, response to customer needs, and loss in competitive advantage. Implementing an ERP system can also create a cast in stone mentality, "This is the only way to do this, nothing else is acceptable", causing a loss of flexibility in customer relations. Conversely, ERP has tremendous advantages in ensuring consistent, increasing value in products and services. What are the rewards of implementing an ERP system for an organization? What are the risks of implementing an ERP system?

Page Advantages and Disadvantages of Enterprise Resource Planning (ERP)

Look back on your notes. Did you uncover any advantages or risks that the course did not mention earlier? Did you find benefits or risks that you had not considered? Given the advantages and disadvantages of implementing an ERP system, imagine that you need to write a cautionary letter to your company CEO in response to an email she just sent you:

"Good morning. I want to implement a new ERP and you are the lead for the transition. I want it online quickly but don't spend a lot of money on it. Also, make sure everyone has access to it – I don't want the IT department to be the only employees around here who can make sure this system works."

2.3: Business Process Management Book Business Process Management in Healthcare

While this article focuses on healthcare, it also reflects the need for BPM in nearly every discipline. Business processes drive efficient and effective operations, activities, and procedures. From this perspective, read this article to better understand the application of business process management (BPM) in an area quite possibly outside your normal scope of work. How do business processes and enterprise resource planning systems work together to support information technology in a business organization?

Page Business Process Improvement

This video explains the basics of BPM and gives you an idea of how a business might use software to support business processes.

Page Business Process Reengineering

Several issues surround business process reengineering that must be understood for its effective use in the business environment. First, it is critical to know what BPR is and what it isn't. Second, you need to know when and where it can be effectively used to improve your business operations. Third, you need to appreciate the power of the business process as the cornerstone of success.  

3.1: The Decision-Making Process Book Using Data for Efficiency and Effectiveness

Read this chapter for a discussion of how business organizations make decisions and the role information technology plays in decision making. What is the process that uses technology to make automated decisions? Consider system input, decision-making algorithms, and output. How does an organization track the decisions made by the system?

3.2: Business Intelligence Book Databases, Business Intelligence, and Competitive Advantage

Read these sections on how information systems can enable better decision-making. Complete the exercises at the end of each section.

Book Business Intelligence

This chapter gives the practitioner's view of how business intelligence can be used. Can you think of at least one key business process/activity that is well-suited for a business intelligence application?

3.3: Data Warehousing Page Data Warehouses and Data Marts

Read this article and focus on the diagram about how data warehouses are constructed. What is a data warehouse? How does it differ from a database? What are the key steps in constructing a data warehouse? Why would a business want to utilize a data warehouse?

Book Google – Search, Online Advertising, and Beyond

Read this chapter and focus on how data warehousing allowed Google to become the giant search engine it is today. Think about the scope and scale of the server farm necessary for Google to support the collection and analysis of all the data it collects. What are the advantages of concentrating so much data in Google data farms? Disadvantages?

3.4: Data Mining Page Data Mining: A Simple Guide for Beginners

What is data mining? How is it different from a data warehouse? What is the difference between data mining and information collection? What are the advantages and possible disadvantages of data mining?

Page The Business Intelligence Toolkit

Many ways exist for producing many of the reports discussed, some are very efficient, and others are more cumbersome. As you read through this section, think about how data becomes information. How do you decide what information is needed for decision-making or analysis?

4.1: Overview of e-Commerce Book Introduction to Electronic Commerce

Online business has many names; e-Commerce, e-business, online shopping and others involving the use of the internet or a modern telephone or smart phone to place transactions for desired products and services. As you read, think about the power a successful online firm has over his store-based counterpart. What is online business? What is the role of the Internet and other communications media in providing an organization's e-business presence? What are some similarities and some differences between e-business and brick and mortar commerce? How can they complement each other? Are the days of brick-and-mortar stores coming to an end?

Page The Importance of e-Commerce

Watch this overview of why today's business organizations need to consider e-commerce (increasingly known as e-business or online business) as part of their business strategy. This video states that without an online presence, "you might as well be selling out of the back of a covered wagon". Do you agree with this statement? Do you think having an online presence reduces business risks? Why or why not?

Page e-Commerce

Is there a difference between e-commerce and e-business? If so, what is the difference in terms of customers, products and services, business processes, resources, supply chain, finance, and sustainability? If not, how are the two terms the same?

Book Electronic Commerce Technology

Read this chapter to learn about the technologies that support e-business and e-commerce. Although this chapter was written in 2008, think about instances in your own experiences where more recent technologies have made e-commerce/e-business faster, less expensive, more reliable, and more secure. Create a small chart of some important items you purchase frequently. Label the columns "Item", "Purchase Frequency", "How first purchased" (such as at a store, over the phone, online, etc.), "Most recent purchase date", and "Purchase method". Notice the changes. Have you evolved into an e-commerce/e-business user?

Book Attracting and Retaining Visitors

Do a quick search to see the number of web hosting companies offering their services on the internet. Make a simple chart of who they are, what they offer, their pricing, and how much they assist in creating and maintaining your website. What are the costs? How would you evolve a strategy that makes sense for you as you consider an online business strategy or a combination of in-store and online purchase capabilities?

Book A Basic Explanation of Intellectual Property

Intellectual property protections, if properly exercised, are the key to preventing inventions, innovations, or other types of intellectual property from being stolen by others. Here you will learn a good definition of intellectual property, the types of protections afforded under the various Federal Laws, and how you can protect yourself and your business from significant loss. Include in your notes a brief description of the three types of protections, where you can go to seek relief, and the kinds of actions you can take to preserve your intellectual property.

4.2: e-Commerce as a Competitive Advantage Book Using Information Technology Competitively

As we have with other topics during the course, we return to the concepts of competitive advantage and the impact on the value chain using e-Commerce/e-Business to increase the potential for increased returning customers and increased satisfaction, both of which lead to success. This section discusses how business organizations leverage Information Technology throughout the value chain. E-Business and e-Commerce, by their nature, involve technology. As we have done previously, Take some time to think specifically about which elements of the value chain are affected by e-commerce or e-business capabilities. A business organization may use e-commerce for marketing and sales, or it may use e-commerce to order raw materials from other businesses or provide customer service support. That same business will use e-business to make it easier for customers to order and receive merchandise or services. Write down two or three uses for e-commerce for each element of the value chain affects by e-commerce or e-business.

Page e-Commerce in China: A Guide for Australian Business

From the Australian perspective, this video discusses how their-commerce practices and processes for dealing with China might bear fruit, should they recognize the need to adapt to different, And frequently changing Chinese business practices. Gaining and maintaining a competitive advantage requires constant oversight and revision, whether with China or any other major trading partner. Technology is uniquely suited to meeting that challenge. While reviewing this video, put yourself in the shoes of the Australian business community, and jot down a few ideas on how to maintain your competitive advantage through progressive revision of policies and practices. Identify some additional strategies suggested in the video? How could each approach provide a competitive advantage in Australia, the US, or another country wanting to do e-commerce with China?

5.1: Cloud Computing Book Understanding Software: A Primer for Managers

Deciding to utilize the cloud as part of the technology package supporting strategic goals and processes requires an understanding of how software, communications, and other technology devices will integrate to support the enterprise, especially data storage requirements and business intelligence and analysis. Each aspect of a strategic plan has its technology requirements to create a holistic approach. This chapter will help you understand the types of software for strategic decision-making.

Page Computer Networks and Cloud Computing

Read this overview of cloud computing.

5.2: Cloud Computing as a Competitive Advantage Book Cloud Computing and the Software Cloud

Read this section, which discusses how cloud computing fits into a business organization's software strategy.

5.3: Trends in Cloud Computing Page The State of Cloud Today

Cloud networks have many uses: internally in business organizations (private clouds), externally with customers (public clouds), and to link systems that support business applications (enterprise). There are differences, primarily in the individual or company's level of control over the data stored on the cloud servers. This video from Wikibon Whiteboard helps you visualize how businesses make decisions to employ different forms of the cloud for other purposes, hopefully meeting their individual or corporate needs.

Page Top 5 "Giants" of Cloud Computing

While the cost of storing data for later manipulation and analysis has decreased in recent years, the amounts of data needed often make local storage prohibitive or slow. In recent years, the technology and communications industries have become common to run or lease space in the cloud to run applications, store data, or host one or more servers. This article describes five of the largest providers in the industry and briefly highlights the services each company offers. Most, if not all, of these 'giants' touch on millions of lives and similar numbers of companies each day. How many of these providers do you know, and what services do they provide? Think about your own business or even yourself as you use cloud services. What other cloud computing providers do you use regularly? How do you go about selecting which provider suits your needs best?

6.1: Theories of Information Systems Strategies Book Introduction to Strategy and Technology

The introduction to this chapter provides an overview of the many aspects of business that managers must consider when setting an information systems strategy. The strategies discussed are operational effectiveness, fast follower, first mover, and strategic positioning. Each strategy, plus any others you may be able to identify, has its strengths and weaknesses.

Page Developing a Mobile Strategy to Reach Clients

In this case, a company focused heavily on different ways to reach their customer. Ultimately, the company spent little time planning how to engage or retain customers after they have accessed the mobile site. What are the pros and cons of this mobile strategy?

Page 3 Steps to Creating an Effective Mobile App Strategy

This case discusses the use of a mobile application and a mobile-friendly web presence. This strategy goes beyond reaching customers and starts considering how to engage with them. What are the pros and cons of mobilizing your content marketing?

Page Developing a Mobile Strategy that Works

This case focuses on the types of devices being used, where they are being used, and how they are being used. What are the pros and cons of having a very detailed mobile strategy?

6.2: The Strategic Planning Process Book Strategic Planning

Read this chapter, which serves as a guide on writing a strategic plan by guiding you through the situation analysis and developing an organizational strategy formulation. The authors note that "the strategies and actions implemented at the functional (department) level must be consistent with and help an organization achieve its objectives at both the business and corporate levels and vice versa". In practical terms, think about implementing a new IT strategy at a medium-sized firm of 20–199 employees. Who would need to be involved in the planning and implementing the strategy?

6.3: Developing an IT Strategy Page Creating Your Own Technology Plan

Watch this detailed, step-by-step plan to create your own technology plan. The speaker covers hardware, software, competitive strategies, and cloud computing. 

Book Activity: Develop Your Own Social Media Strategy

Download and complete this ungraded activity.

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