• Course Introduction

        • Time: 83 hours
        • Free Certificate
        BUS206 introduced you to the subject of Management Information Systems (MIS). The focus of that 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, we 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 these differing opinions 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 and actually write a strategy.

        First, read the course syllabus. Then, enroll in the course by clicking "Enroll me in this course". 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

        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.

        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 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.

        Completing this unit should take you approximately 5 hours.

      • Unit 4: e-Commerce

        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!

        Completing this unit should take you approximately 5 hours.

      • 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.

        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 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.

        Completing this unit should take you approximately 7 hours.

      • Study Guide

        This study guide will help you get ready for the final exam. It discusses the key topics in each unit, walks through the learning outcomes, and lists important vocabulary. It is not meant to replace the course materials!

      • 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 or post in our discussion forum.

      • 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.