EMBA Management of IT Course, 2005-2006

This is the home page for the EMBA course Management of IT. Questions or comments to "self" followed by the at sign, followed by espen.com
This course was run as a shorter workshop in 2004


Course objectives

The intent of this course is to give the student an understanding of the role of information technology in organizations, the impact of the rapid technology evolution for business environments, and the challenge of managing the technology (and the organizational units charged with its introduction and support). The discussions will be within four main areas:


Evaluation will be based 50% on participation in class, 50% on assignments that are to be handed in at each module. One of the assignments will be running throughout the course.

Running assignment

In order to learn about collaborative technology and working online, the students will take an active and reflective role in using and extending the Wikipedia. The instructions for how to do this are given at the Wikipedia assignment page (en.wikipedia.org/wiki/User:Espen/emba).

Individual module plan

Module 1: Managing IT for competitive advantage: The evolution and role of IT in business.
Information technology is now available everywhere and used by all corporations, and some argue that it can now safely be ignored by top managers, since uses are standardized and the technology in itself cannot offer sustainable competitive advantage to companies. In this module, we will focus on the relationship between use of information technology and gaining a competitive advantage, by analysing data and discussing case studies of companies that have used IT in a smart way. Put simply: What difference does really IT make?

Read and be prepared to discuss: (readings in Blackboard, including a few optional ones that extend the American Airlines story)

Study questions:

  1. What are Malone & Rockart's key arguments? To what extent were they right? Wrong?
  2. What are Hitt & Brynjolfsson's three measures of information technology profitability -- and their conclusions about them?
  3. How do you justify spending money on general technology, such as desktop computers and Internet bandwidth? How should you structure the spending?
  4. In the case The missing Gigabyte, what should Ken do?
  5. Who is Doug Engelbart
  6. How does an airline achieve profitable growth? How does it compete for customers?
  7. American Airlines is frequently held up as the most famous case of a company gaining a competitive advantage because of its use of information technology. How can use of information technology help an airline?
Assignment 1 (to be delivered into Blackboard no later than 8pm September 21):
One of the hardest problems of managing IT is deciding on how much to spend on IT and understanding what the economic effect of the investment is. Imagine you are a CEO worrying about whether you are spending too much or not enough on information technology. How would the InformationWEEK 500 study help you? For help with the analysis, here's an Excel worksheet with the numbers. Download the file to your own computer, then analyze it there using Excel or another spreadsheet. (NB! Two page maximum!!)

Module 2: IT in Value Chains, Shops and Networks
Understanding the concept of value configurations - chains, shops and networks - and the role of IT in each of them. To understand and manage IT in business organizations, we must understand how organizations create value, and how IT can help create that value. The chain, shop, network framework address three fundamental ways of creating value - we will use that to explore the use of information technology in each type of company, as well as implications for business and IT management.

Read and be prepared to discuss:

Study questions:
  1. According to Porter & Millar, what can IT do for the competitive power of a value chain?
  2. Porter and Millar's article is from 1985, and information technology has evolved somewhat in the meantime. Which parts of the are it still applicable, what doesn't work anymore?
  3. What technology is typically used at each of Venkatraman's five stages? How has companies' ability to progress up these stages changed with the technology?
  4. What are the salient competitive dimensions in chains, shops and networks? How can IT improve operations for a value chain? A value shop? A value network?
  5. Which companies spend the most on IT - chains, shops or networks?
  6. What purposes does information technology serve in a Value Shop organization?
  7. What obstacles do you think you will face when implementing knowledge system in a stockbroking company? A hospital? A law firm?
  8. Who was Kristen Nygaard?
Assignment 2:
Read the articles by Porter, Venkatraman, and Fjeldstad and Andersen. Read the Dell case, and answer these questions (max 400 words total):
  1. Is Dell a value shop, chain or network?
  2. How is information technology used by Dell?
  3. Dell's business model is extremely well adapted to its market - but what are the market characteristics, and how could changes in customer demand make Dell's business model less attractive?

Module 3: Managing the IT resource.
A CIO is typically a senior manager with a dual responsibility: Thinking strategically about the use of information and information technology for the organization, and managing the provision of IT services to the company (whether it is done by an internal IS department, by an outsourcer, or a combination thereof.) This module will concentrate on the task of IT service management: Understanding the organizational challenges of IT management, the interface between IS and the business, governance models and organizational processes, systems development and delivery, managing outsourcing relationships. A second topic will be technology evolution - we have already touched on this in the previous modules, so the reading here is a bit ambitious for the level of discussion we are likely to have. But you need to be exposed to this material - if nothing else, it is supremely useful to anyone thinking about a career in a high tech industry.

Read and be prepared to discuss:

Study questions:
  1. Why do companies outsource information technology? What are the advantages and risks of outsourcing? How will outsourcing evolve?
  2. How do you know what to outsource and what to do yourself?
  3. The Manufact case: Who is at fault for the situation in Manufact?
  4. The Manufact case: What should John do about the letter from Jim?
  5. What are the impacts of outsourcing and offshoring on the information technology business in Norway? The USA? India? Ireland?
  6. What is XML? Why is it important?
  7. Who is Stephen Wozniak?
Assignment 3:
(To be handed in through Blackboard's Safeassignment dropbox before 20:00 January 24, 2005.) The CONFIRM project was one of the large IT debacles during the 90s, and became a black mark on American Airlines' reputation as an IT powerhouse. The case is complicated and illustrates the myriad ways a large IT system investment can go wrong. Read the case, including any other articles you can find on it, and answer these questions (max 400 words total): Material on the future of the Internet, computing, and how technology evolves. This material is meant to be read lightly - for fun and learning, you will know much of this already if you are following the technology markets.

Norwegian School of Management home page

Espen Andersen's home page
Last updated: December 19, 2005.

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