Topic Name Description
Course Introduction Page Course Syllabus
Page Course Terms of Use
1.1.1: Information Technology vs. Information Systems URL Global Text Project: Richard T. Watson's Information Systems: "Chapter 2: Achieving Efficiency and Effectiveness through Systems"

Read Chapter 2 to learn about the four components of information systems and what role information technology plays in business. Read the two case studies on pages 33 and 34 and answer the two questions that accompany each case to apply what you have read.

1.1.2: Strategic Growth of Information Systems URL Information Systems: A Manager's Guide to Harnessing Technology, v2.0: "Chapter 5: Moore's Law and More: Fast, Cheap Computing and What It Means for the Manager"

Read this chapter to get a full understanding of Moore's Law and its implications. Complete the exercises at the end of each section.

1.1.3: Information Systems Strategy URL Building Strategy and Performance, v1.0: "Chapter 1: Performance Through Time"

Read this chapter until you get to the heading "1.4 Diagnosing Performance," then stop. As you read through the first three sections, think about how many technology delivery tools have changed in your lifetime. Consider the author's claim, "Management does matter." As the competitive landscape and the technology change rapidly, consider how a business can use strategy to take a proactive approach toward strategic growth.

Page MOTC: Dave Aron's "Creating Winning IT Strategies"

As you listen to Aron talk, think about the day to day operations of an organization. We will talk about the demand side of the business in terms of competitive advantage. We will then discuss the control side by discussing the enterprise systems and processes that drive the information systems strategy.  Finally, we will discuss the supply of the system by talking about how to manage our data and interact with our customers.

1.1.4: Roles of IT in a Firm URL Global Text Project: Ulric J. Gelinas Jr., Steve G. Sutton, and Jane Fedorowicz's Business Processes and Information Technology: "Chapter 1: Introduction to Information Systems"

Read Chapter 1 on pages "1-1" through "1-42." In this reading, you will learn about three primary roles that information systems serve in business organizations: enterprise systems, e-business, and information technology. Chapter 1 likens information systems to puzzle pieces that keep changing. Do you think that is a worthwhile comparison? Take a minute to write why you agree or disagree. If you disagree, come up with another analogy.

1.2.1: Sustainable Competitive Advantage URL Information Systems: A Manager's Guide to Harnessing Technology, v1.0: "Chapter 2, Section 1: Introduction"
Read this section for an understanding of competitive advantage and the role technology can play in sustaining competitive advantage. 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?
1.2.2: Five Forces of Competitive Advantage URL Information Systems: A Manager's Guide to Harnessing Technology, v1.0: "Chapter 2, Section 4: Key Framework: The Five Forces of Industry Competitive Advantage"

Read this section to see examples of how technology can influence the five forces of competitive advantage. Consider the questions and exercises at the end of this reading to explore how this model is used for developing business strategy.

URL OpenStax: Business Fundamentals: "Chapter 3, Section 7: Business to Business Marketing Models"

This reading offers a very clear and simple explanation of the Five Forces Model. Think about a business you visit regularly, such as a grocery store or online store. Then try to briefly describe the rivalries, threat of substitutes, buyer power, barriers to entry, and supplier power for the business you have chosen.

1.2.3: Value Chain URL Information Systems: A Manager's Guide to Harnessing Technology, v1.0: "Chapter 2, Section 5: Key Framework: The Value Chain"

Read this section to gain insight into how technology can affect the value chain. Consider each question at the end of the reading to reinforce your understanding of this model.

URL OpenStax: Business Fundamentals: "Chapter 3, Section 5: The Marketing Model"

The value chain proposes that if a business makes a product that meets the customers needs and wants and then sells it at the right time and the right price, the customer will purchase the product. 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 Intromis Wikispace: Introduction to MIS: "Chapter 3: Achieving Competitive Advantage with Information Systems"

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

URL Information Systems: A Manager's Guide to Harnessing Technology, v2.0: "Chapter 11, Section 1: Introduction"

As you complete this reading, think about how using, protecting, and managing information and data could support an organization's competitive advantage. 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 URL Information Systems: A Manager's Guide to Harnessing Technology, v1.0: "Chapter 1: Zara: Fast Fashion from Savvy Systems"

Read this chapter to see an example of how IT is used to gain a competitive advantage. How did Zara use data to make decisions about their business operations? How did Zara's use of data compare to Gap's?

URL Information Systems: A Manager's Guide to Harnessing Technology, v1.0: "Chapter 3: Netflix: David Becomes Goliath"

Read this chapter to see an example of how IT is used to gain a competitive advantage. 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.)

2.1: What Is a Business Process? URL Global Text Project: Richard T. Watson's Information Systems, "Chapter 4: Business Process Modeling and Process Management"

As you read Chapter 4, focus on the definition of a business process. A business process is a series of tasks that are repeated in order to produce a measurable output. Pay particular attention to how the concept of the business process has been defined in the business literature over the years (page 70). Take a moment to write a definition of business process in your own words.

URL Global Text Project: Ulric J. Gelinas Jr., Steve G. Sutton, and Jane Fedorowicz's Business Processes and Information Technology: "Chapter 2: Documenting Business Processes and Information Systems"

Read the first six pages of Chapter 2 on pages "2-1" through "2-6."  How are business processes crucial for the functioning of a business and how technology is integrated with the processes. Think about some things you do on a regular basis, like pay your bills online or check your email.  Are you able to map out simple processes that support your day-to-day activities? Do you feel confident that another person could complete the task based on your process map? 

2.2: Enterprise Resource Planning Systems Page Profgarrett: Nathan Garrett's "Introduction to ERP Systems"

Watch this video learn how ERP systems are used in businesses. Take some time to write down the answers to the following questions in your notes: What is an ERP system? What is its business function?

Page David Bourgeois' "Introduction to ERP Systems"

As you watch, consider the following questions: What are the rewards of implementing an ERP system for an organization? What are the risks of implementing an ERP system?

Page EOI: Cristina Fernandez Arciniega's "Advantages and Disadvantages of Enterprise Resource Planning (ERP)"

This short article compliments the videos you just watched. Look back on your notes from the videos and your answers to the questions posed in these notes. Did you uncover any advantages or risks that are not mentioned in the video or in this article? Did the these resources list advantages or risks that you had not considered? Given the advantages and disadvantages of implementing an ERP system, write a cautionary letter to your company CEO in response to this 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." Consider sharing your letter on Saylor's Discourse discussion forum.

2.3: Business Process Management URL Dove Medical Press: Sandra C. Buttigieg, Prasanta K. Dey, and Dorothy Gauci's "Business Process Management in Health Care: Current Challenges and Future Prospects"

Read this article to get a better understanding of business process management (BPM). Consider the following question as you read: How do business processes and enterprise resource planning systems work together to support the use of information technology in a business organization?

Page NZRIMSGroup: Adam Bevins' "Business Process Improvement: Creating Value from Asset Information Management"

This video explains BPM well and gives you an idea of how software can be used to support business processes. Note: Do not construe the inclusion of this resource as an endorsement of the particular software solution provided or the company.

Page David Bourgeois' "Intro to Business Process Management"

Consider the following questions as you watch this video and write down your thoughts in your notes: What is business process reengineering? When is business process reengineering an appropriate strategy?

Note that the sound in this video cuts out from 3:50 to 4:23. Nothing critical is explained during this portion, so you may skip ahead until the sound resumes.

3.1: The Decision-Making Process URL Global Text Project: Richard T. Watson's Information Systems: "Chapter 8: Utilizing Data for Efficiency and Effectiveness"

Read Chapter 8 for a discussion of how business organizations make decisions and the role information technology plays in decision making. Consider the following questions as you read: 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 URL Information Systems: A Manager's Guide to Harnessing Technology, v2.0: "Chapter 11: The Data Asset: Databases, Business Intelligence, and Competitive Advantage"

You read the introductory section of Chapter 11 in Unit 1. Please read sections 11.2 through 11.4 now to more fully understand how information systems can enable better decision making. Complete the exercises at the end of each section and record your answers to each question in your notes.

URL Business Information Systems: Design an App for That, v1.0: "Chapter 10: Business Intelligence: Analysis of App Sales Data"

This chapter gives the practitioner's view of how business intelligence can be used. In your notes, identify at least one key business process/activity that is well-suited for a business intelligence application. Complete the exercises at the end of each section and record your answers to each question in your notes.

3.3: Data Warehousing URL Information Systems: A Manager's Guide to Harnessing Technology, v2.0: "Chapter 11, Section 5: Data Warehouses and Data Marts"

Read this short article, focusing on the diagram about how data warehouses are constructed. Take some time to jot down answers to the following questions: What is a data warehouse? How does it differ from a database? What are the key steps in constructing a data warehouse?

URL Information Systems: A Manager's Guide to Harnessing Technology, v1.0: "Chapter 8: Google: Search, Online Advertising, and Beyond

Read this chapter until you get to the heading "8.9 Search Engines, Ad Networks, and Fraud," then stop. Focus on how data warehousing allowed Google to become the giant search engine it is today.  Think about the scope and scale the server farm that is necessary for Google to support the collection and analysis of all the data that it collects.

3.4: Data Mining Page Data Warehousing and Business Intelligence Organization: DWBIConcepts Team's "Data Mining: A Simple Guide for Beginners"

As you read this article, write down your  notes on the following questions: What is data mining? How is it different from a data warehouse? What is the difference between data mining and information collection?

URL Information Systems: A Manager's Guide to Harnessing Technology, v2.0: "Chapter 11, Section 6: The Business Intelligence Toolkit"

This section explores how data warehouses and data mining work together. What types of reports and tools help transform data into information and data sets into underlying trends? 

4.1.1: Introduction URL Global Text Project: Richard T. Watson, et al.'s Electronic Commerce: The Strategic Perspective, 2nd ed.: "Chapter 1: Electronic Commerce: An Introduction"

Read Chapter 1, for an introduction into e-commerce and how businesses can use the Internet. As you read, take notes on the following questions: What is e-commerce? What is the role of the Internet in providing an organization's e-commerce presence? What are some similarities and some differences between e-commerce and brick and mortar commerce?

Page Nishaan M's "Importance of e-Commerce"

This short video gives an overview of why business organizations need to consider e-commerce as part of their business strategy. The previous resource discussed some of the business risks that are reduced when implementing an e-commerce strategy. See page 9-11 of Watson, et al.'s Electronic Commerce: An Introduction for a reminder. 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 Christopher Jones' "e-Commerce"
What is the difference between e-commerce and e-business? In the e-business model, what should one consider for each element: customers, products and services, business processes, resources, supply chain, finance, and sustainability?
4.1.2: e-Commerce Technologies URL Global Text Project: Richard T. Watson, et al.'s Electronic Commerce: The Strategic Perspective, 2nd ed.: "Chapter 2: Electronic Commerce Technology"

Read Chapter 2, on pages 21-38, to gain an understanding of the types of technologies that support e-commerce. Keep in mind that this textbook was written in 2008, so as you read, think about changes since then that have made e-commerce faster, less expensive, more reliable, and more secure.

URL Global Text Project: Richard T. Watson, et al.'s Electronic Commerce: The Strategic Perspective, 2nd ed.: "Chapter 3: Attracting and Retaining Visitors"
There are thousands of businesses offering website development, hundreds of website hosting companies, or you can build and maintain your own presence. Should you develop your own site or use a pre-developed package? How do you maintain your site if you do use a package? Read all of the links under the "E-Commerce Software Solutions" section to learn what to consider in making these decisions to develop your strategy!
4.1.3: Intellectual Property Page Will Frank's "IP-rimer: A Basic Explanation of Intellectual Property"

Be sure you are able to identify the three main forms of intellectual property protections by the time you finish this reading. As businesses use the Internet more and more, it becomes extremely important to understand basic intellectual property protections.

4.2: e-Commerce as a Competitive Advantage URL OpenStax: Business Fundamentals: "Chapter 10, Section 6: Using Information Technology Competitively"

This section discusses how business organizations leverage information Technology throughout the value chain. Take some time to think specifically about which elements of the value chain e-commerce affects. 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 to provide service support to customers. Write down two or three uses for e-commerce for each element of the value chain.

Page E-Commerce in China: a guide for Australian Business by austrade

All competitive advantages require revision and refinement as the business grows and markets change. However, a technology-based competitive advantage, such as eCommerce, may require constant adjustments in order to remain an integral part of a business growth strategy.  This video discussing specific strategies that Australian companies can adapt to grow their business in China. The strategies suggested include leveraging social media and establishing partnerships with Chinese business.  What are some additional strategies suggested in the video? How could each of these strategies provide a competitive advantage?

5.1: Cloud Computing URL Information Systems: A Manager's Guide to Harnessing Technology, v1.0: "Chapter 9: Understanding Software: A Primer for Managers"

In order to understand the cloud and the implications of cloud computing for business organizations, it is important to first understand software and its role in IT strategy. This chapter will help you recognize the importance of software for strategic decision making.

URL Lumen Learning: Introduction to Business: "Computer Networks and Cloud Computing"

Read this section and complete the exercises at the bottom of the page. When you have finished click the link for "Next Section" at the top right and read the next page: "10.7: The Software Cloud: Why Buy When You Can Rent?" Complete the exercises at the end of that section as well. In these sections, you will see how cloud computing fits into a business organization's software strategy.

5.2: Cloud Computing as a Competitive Advantage URL Information Systems: A Manager's Guide to Harnessing Technology, v1.0: "Chapter 10, Section 6: Cloud Computing: Hype or Hope?" and "Section 7: The Software Cloud: Why Buy When You Can Rent?"

Read this section and complete the exercises at the bottom of the page. When you have finished click the link for "Next Section" at the top right and read the next page: "10.7: The Software Cloud: Why Buy When You Can Rent?" Complete the exercises at the end of that section as well. In these sections, you will see how cloud computing fits into a business organization's software strategy.

5.3: Trends in Cloud Computing Page SiliconANGLE: Wikibon Whiteboard's "The State of Cloud Today"

Cloud networks are used internally in business organizations (private clouds), externally with customers (public clouds), and to link systems that support business applications (enterprise). This video helps you visualize how businesses employ different forms of the cloud for different purposes.

Page Cloud Computer: Duc Nguyen's "Top 5 'Giants' of Cloud Computing"

Owning space in the cloud to run applications, store data, or host a server is easier than ever with the growth of cloud computing in recent years.  This article describes the five big players in the industry and briefly highlights the services each company offers. What other cloud computing providers do you use on a regular basis? 

6.1: Theories of Information Systems Strategies URL Information Systems: A Manager's Guide to Harnessing Technology, v2.0: "Chapter 2, Section 1: Introduction"

The introduction to this chapter provides an overview of the many aspects of business that managers must consider when setting an information systems strategy. Among the strategies discussed are operational effectiveness, fast follower, first mover, and strategic positioning. Each strategy, plus any others you may be able to identify, have their strengths and their weaknesses. In your notes, list each of the strategies and name a strength and a weakness of each.

6.1.1 Mobile Strategy URL Legal Services National Technology Assistance Project: Elizabeth Leman's "Developing a Mobile Strategy to Reach Our Clients Summary"

Each of the next three resources discusses one approach to developing a strategy for mobile. Read this article and watch the embedded video. In this first case, the company focused heavily on different ways to reach their customer, but 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? 

6.1.2 Mobile Application Strategy Page Heidi Cohen's "3 Steps to Creating an Effective Mobile App Strategy"

This is the second of three approaches to mobile strategy in this subunit. This article discusses the use of a mobile application in addition to a mobile friendly web-presence.  This strategy goes beyond reaching customers and starts to consider how to engage with them. What are the pros and cons of mobilizing your content marketing?

6.1.3 Mobile Content Strategy Page Shweiki Media: Ahava Leibtag's "Developing a Mobile Strategy that Works"

This third strategy approach 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? Write down some notes about how each strategy from this subunit succeeded and how they faltered.

6.2 The Strategic Planning Process URL Principles of Marketing, v2.0: "Chapter 2: Strategic Planning"

Read this chapter. Pay particular attention to what you read in section "2.2: Components of the Strategic Planning Process" and watch the embedded videos. This section serves as a guide on how to write an strategic plan by guiding you through the situation analysis and developing an organizational strategy formulation. Then, beneath section "2.4 Where Strategic Planning Occurs within Firms," the authors make the following point: "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 (20-199 employees). Who would need to be involved in the planning and implementation of the strategy? Share your thoughts on Saylor's Discourse discussion forum.

6.3: Developing an IT Strategy Page Creating Your Own Technology Plan by RCU Tech Support

Watching this video is optional but provides a detailed, step-by-step plan on how to create your own technology plan. The speaker covers hardware, software, competitive strategies, and cloud computing. 

Unit 6 Activity: Writing Your Own IT Strategy URL "Activity: Develop Your Own Social Media Strategy"

Download and complete this ungraded activity.

Study Guides and Review Exercises Page Unit 1 Study Guide and Review: Information Technology and Competitive Advantage
Page Unit 2 Study Guide and Review: ERP Systems, Business Processes, and IT
Page Unit 3 Study Guide and Review: Using Information for Decision Making
Page Unit 4 Study Guide and Review: e-Commerce
Page Unit 5 Study Guide and Review: Technology Trends
Page Unit 6 Study Guide and Review: Creating a Technology Strategy
Optional Course Evaluation Survey URL Optional Course Evaluation Survey

Please take a few moments to provide some feedback about this course. 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.

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 [email protected] and/or our discussion forums.