• 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.