EMBA Management of IT Course, 2005-2006
This is the home page for the EMBA course Management of IT. Questions or comments to
This course was run as a shorter workshop in 2004
- December 19: Updated with all information for the rest of the course
- September 12: Note: Assignments are individual.....
- September 1: Updated for this year, module 1 and running assignment.
- August 29, 2005: Inital page based on last-year's workshop.
- The right to make changes at any time is most explicitly reserved!!!
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
- Managing IT for competitive advantage: Understanding how IT can give the organization a competitive advantage, and how to sustain that advantage.
- Understanding the role of IT in organizations: This part of the course will analyze organizations in terms of the chains, shops, networks framework, trying to understand how value is created in each of these strategic configurations, and how IT supports this value
- Managing the IT resource: Understanding the organizational challenges of IT management, the interface between IS and the business, governance models and organizational processes, systems development and delivery, outsourcing.
- Understanding technology evolution:Focus on how technologies evolve, how to position your self as a provider or user of technologies, phases of competition, sustaining and disruptive technologies, network externalities and intellectual property.
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.
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)
- Malone, T. W., & Rockart, J. F. (1991). Computers, Networks and the Corporation. Scientific American (September), 128-136.
- Hoffman, D. L., T. P. Novak, et al. (2004). "Has the Internet become indispensable?" Communications of the ACM 47(7): 37-42.
- Hitt, L., & Brynjolfsson, E. (1996). Productivity, Business Profitability, and Consumer Surplus: Three Different Measures of Information Technology Value. MIS Quarterly, 20(2), 121-142.
- The InformationWEEK 500, InformationWEEK, September 1995. (This is for the assignment, and we will discuss this in detail. A tip for the analysis: Try to analyze one particular industry, for instance Aerospace (for which the article is enclosed), Banking or Telecommunications, and then look at the bigger chart (or spreadsheet) to compare across industries.
- Carr, N. G. (2003). "IT Doesn't Matter." Harvard Business Review (May): 41-49. (including the correspondence from various people afterwards
- Hopper, M. D. (1990). Rattling SABRE--New Ways to Compete on Information. Harvard Business Review (May-June), 118-125.
- Davis, Paul (1994) Airline Ties Profitability Yield to Management SIAM News, Vol. 27, No. 5
- Hormer, Peter (2000): The SABRE Story: The making of OR magic at AMR, OR/MS Today. (This small article gives some views on the importance of OR in American Airlines - note the close link to top management)
- Case: The missing Gigabyte
Assignment 1 (to be delivered into Blackboard no later than 8pm September 21):
- What are Malone & Rockart's key arguments? To what extent were they right? Wrong?
- What are Hitt & Brynjolfsson's three measures of information technology profitability -- and their conclusions about them?
- How do you justify spending money on general technology, such as desktop computers and Internet bandwidth? How should you structure the spending?
- In the case The missing Gigabyte, what should Ken do?
- Who is Doug Engelbart
- How does an airline achieve profitable growth? How does it compete for customers?
- 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?
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:
- Porter, M. E., & Millar, V. E. (1985). How information gives you competitive advantage. Harvard Business Review(July-August), 149-160.
- Venkatraman, N. (1994). IT-enabled Business Transformation: From Automation to Business Scope Redefinition. Sloan Management Review (Winter), 73-86.
- Case: Matching Dell, HBS no. 9-799-158
- Fjeldstad, Ø. and E. Andersen (2003). "Casting off the chains: Value shops and value networks." European Business Forum(14): 47-53.
- Hansen, M., N. Nohria, et al. (1999). “What is your strategy for managing knowledge?” Harvard Business Review (March-April): 106-116.
- According to Porter & Millar, what can IT do for the competitive power of a value chain?
- 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?
- 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?
- 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?
- Which companies spend the most on IT - chains, shops or networks?
- What purposes does information technology serve in a Value Shop organization?
- What obstacles do you think you will face when implementing knowledge system in a stockbroking company? A hospital? A law firm?
- Who was Kristen Nygaard?
Read the articles by Porter, Venkatraman, and Fjeldstad and Andersen. Read the Dell case, and answer these questions (max 400 words total):
- Is Dell a value shop, chain or network?
- How is information technology used by Dell?
- 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:
- "The Collapse of CONFIRM: What went wrong?", p. 534 in Laudon & Laudon: Management Information Systems, Fourth edition, Prentice-Hall, 1996
(You might want to go back and revisit Max Hopper's article on "Rattling SABRE", note the role of CONFIRM in it)
- Oz, E. (1994). When Professional Standards are Lax: The CONFIRM Failure and its Lessons.Communications of the ACM, 37(10), 29-36.
- Weill, P. and R. Woodham (2002). Don ’t Just Lead, Govern: Implementing Effective IT Governance. Cambridge, Massachusetts, MIT Center for Information Systems Research. Available (number 326) from CISR's paper web page
- Weill, P. and S. Aral (2004). IT Savvy Pays Off. Cambridge, Massachusetts, MIT Center for Information Systems Research. Available (number 353) from CISR's paper web page
- Hagel, J. and J. S. Brown (2001). "Your Next IT Strategy." Harvard Business Review (October): 105-113.
- McFarlan, F. W., & Nolan, R. L. (1995). How to Manage an IT Outsourcing Alliance. Sloan Management Review (Winter), 9-23. (classic on IT outsourcing, still surprisingly relevant. Things don't change that much....)
- Andersen, E. (2002). "Stamp Out Technology Virginity!" ACM Ubiquity 3(30).
- Case: Hostile IS outsourcing: The story of ManuFact
- Why do companies outsource information technology? What are the advantages and risks of outsourcing? How will outsourcing evolve?
- How do you know what to outsource and what to do yourself?
- The Manufact case: Who is at fault for the situation in Manufact?
- The Manufact case: What should John do about the letter from Jim?
- What are the impacts of outsourcing and offshoring on the information technology business in Norway? The USA? India? Ireland?
- What is XML? Why is it important?
- Who is Stephen Wozniak?
(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.
- Why did the CONFIRM project fail (consider technical, organizational and strategic reasons)?
- In your own experience, why do IT projects fail?
- Andersen, E. (2002). "Attendre le Suitcase..." ACM Ubiquity 3(7).
- Andersen, E. (2003). "Genesis of an anthill: Wireless technology and self-organizing systems." Ubiquity 3(49).
- Sherman,Stratford P. (1984). Microsoft's drive to dominate software. Fortune, January 23, 82-90.
- Bower, J. L., & Christensen, C. C. (1995). Disruptive Technologies: Catching the Waves. Harvard Business Review(January-February), 43-53. (For more details on the disk drive industry, Chapter 1 of The Innovator's Dilemma can be found here).
- Christensen, C. M., M. Raynor, et al. (2001). "Skate to Where the Money Will Be." Harvard Business Review(November): 73-81.
- Two articles on DRM and IP, which is perhaps the most hotly debated issue on the Internet at the moment, and where the rules of competition are being formed right now:
- Lastly, two articles for the seriously ambitious students out there - two seminal articles about the long-term future of computers and humans:
Norwegian School of Management home page
Espen Andersen's home page
Last updated: December 19, 2005.