GRA2329 Competing in the Digital Economy
[What's new] [Administrivia] [Seminar plan] [GRA2329 Quickplace] [Literature]
[Espen Andersen's home page][Prior courses (BI pages): 1997/1998/1999/2000]
- March 6th: Clarified administrative details term paper.
- Feb 13th: Added material for rest of classes.
- Feb 2: added materal for feb 6 and 13th.
- January 18: Additions in literature and description of project.
- November 18, 2000: Rearrangements, change in main literature (added Afuah & Tucci), rearrangement of times.
- November 9, 2000: Temporary page set up. If you are a participant in this course, please send mail to Espen Andersen, so your email address can be registered on the participant list.
The objective of this course is to give the students a thorough understanding of the information technology, economic, and organizational issues of doing business in a digital environment, such as the Internet. Students interested in pursuing careers developing and managing electronic commerce systems or participating in startup companies will receive an excellent foundation in the basic technologies of global electronic networks and their managerial implications.
This seminar will make extensive use of "normal" information and communications technology, in the sense that all assignments, messages, discussions and hand-ins will be done electronically. Students are expected to actively participate in discussions (electronic or in the classroom) to demonstrate knowledge and understanding of the topics, and will have to a large degree of influence content of classes and the topic for their term paper.
necesse est..... This is a high-intensity course at an advanced level, so attendance is mandatory and intense participation the norm rather than the exception. Formal evaluation is as follows:
- term paper (fagoppgave) (handed in on paper to the secretariat in BI Sandvika before 1400 (2pm) Friday March 9th), counts 60% toward the final grade. The term paper is defined by the students themselves (coordinated with professor), and should be done in groups of up to 3 students, at least one of whom should be a foreigner. Students are encouraged to make the paper as practically oriented as possible, for instance by creating a business plan for an Internet-based company, or an electronic commerce strategy for an existing company. The term paper is graded on the following criteria (the percentages will be adjusted as appropriate if the student chooses to write a business plan for a company rather than a company rather than an analysis.):
- relevance and interest of topic: 10%
- layout, logic and structure of Web pages (if applicable): 10%
- definition and statement of problem: 20%
- sources, including links (quality, relevance, interest): 20%
- analysis: 20%
- conclusion/recommendations (quality, implementability): 20%
- individual intermediary submissions (2 - 3, electronically delivered) counts 20% toward the final grade
- participation in classroom and electronic discussions, dictatorically judged by professor (but with student input), counts 20% toward the final grade
Detailed seminar plan
The dictatorial right to change and amend this at any time and on any whim is most explicitly reserved.....
Date/lecturer Topic Preparation 1
Tuesday January 2nd
Introduction to the course, a discussion of Internet trends. course content and preparation. Read and be prepared to discuss:
Do: Visit MIT Media Lab's web page and see some of the interesting things they do with wearable computing.
- The Hobbes' Internet History timeline
- Shapiro & Varian: Introductory chapter (Chapter 1) [PDF handouts here]
- From the recommended list: Utterback (introduction and chapter 1), Cairncross: chapter 1 and 4 and the "Trendspotter's guide", Garf & Spaf: Preface and pages 3-8. Appendix A (lessons from vineyard.net) and chapter 2.
Consider: What does being digital mean? What characterizes a digital world?
Tuesday January 9th
Internet and strategy: Some views and frameworks Read and be prepared to discuss:
- Afuah and Tucci, Ch. 6 – Value Configurations and the Internet Start-Up, pp. 87-105
- Case: Catatech Industries: The challenge of electronic commerce
- Buday, Champy og Nohria's The Rise of the Electronic Community (for full article, see InformationWeek , June 10, 1996)
Thursday January 18th Auditorium 1
Internet and market power Read and be prepared to discuss:
Deliver: Write down an idea for an Internet business or other initiative, what you can do to make this come about, and what kind of help you would need. (Assuming the technology works: Post this for others to see in the Quickplace collaboration system.
- Afuah and Tucci, chapter 3
- Afuah & Tucci case no 8 (gmbuypower.com)
- Shapiro & Varian chapter 1, 2, 5 and 6
- HBS case on Encyclopædia Britannica (can be picked up outside Eli Steller's office, no. 42-11)
Thursday January 25 Auditorium 1
The Internet startup: stages and decisions Read and be prepared to discuss:
- Afuah & Tucci, chapter 7
- Afuah & Tucci case 1 (Broadcast.com) and case 2 (Webvan)
- check out Ernst & Young's guide to writing a business plan (PDF document, 760K)
- how does Webvan and broadcast.com make money?
- what is their growth potential and the scaleability of their business model?
- what is the sustainability of their competitive advantage?
- what is their appeal to investors?
- what would you focus on if you were writing their business plan?
Thursday February 1st
Moved - more info later Read and be prepared to discuss:
Tuesday February 6th
Guest speaker: Mikkel Nielsen, Accenture: "The strategic development of an e-commerce project" Read and be prepared to discuss:
Deliver: Show up well prepared and able to ask intelligent questions.
- this discussion will be based on material handed out in class. It is a good idea to review literature you may have on consulting and strategy process development.
- Chapter 9 (The General Manager and the Internet) in Afuah & Tucci
Tuesday February 13th
B2B and Electronic markets Read and be prepared to discuss:
- Morgan Stanley Dean Witter's report on B2B business (read the first 2 parts, look over the rest).
- Case no. 4 (Verticalnet) in Afuah & Tucci
Project leaders: Send email to Espen with 1 paragraph describing the company (i.e. the company you are writing a business plan for) value offering (what you would present to customers or investors or write on your web page under "about the company").
- what are the differences between B2C and B2B?
- what is the value of Verticalnet?
- how should Mark Walsh grow and develop the business?
Tuesday February 20th
Management and globalization Read and be prepared to discuss:
- Cairncross, F. (2000). “Inside the Machine: A Survey of E-Management.” The Economist (November 8). (available outside Eli Steller's office)
- Chapter 3 and 4 from Friedman, T. L. (1999). The Lexus and the Olive Tree. New York, Farrar, Strauss Giroux. (available outside Eli Steller's office).
- Chapter 8 from Afuah and Tucci
- what happens to companies in small countries with increased global competition?
- what are the main effects of Internet on management of organizations?
- how does Cairncross and Friedman's observations fit with your own experience?
- what business opportunities do you see in a globalized setting?
Monday February 26th
Our technological future Read and be prepared to discuss:
- The following chapters from Ray Kurzveil's The Age of Spiritual Computers:
- Table of contents
- Chapter 6: Building new brains....
- Chapter 9: 2009
- Timeline 1 and timeline 2
- Espen Andersen: Doing Business in a Mobile World, Draft Report Re.sults project mB, The Concours Group (will be handed out in class Feb 20th).
- What is Kurzveil's main argument about the evolution of computers and communication?
- Do you agree? Why or why not?
- Would you like to have a computer that is smarter than you? How would you manage it?
Tuesday March 6th
Final class: Presentation of student work Be prepared to present your work
These books are required reading:Afuah, A. and C. L. Tucci (2000). Internet Business Models and Strategies: Text and Cases. Burr Ridge, IL, McGraw-Hill Irwin.Recommended reading
This new textbook, based largely on the value configurations framework created by Stabell and Fjeldstad, mixes theoretical summary and a good collection of cases of companies facing strategic choices in a digital world.
Amor, Daniel (1999): The E-business (R)evolution, Prentice-Hall
The "technology book" of the course, though there is little reason to feel intimidated. Very complete book on all aspects of life online, practically oriented and surprisingly up-to-date. And, for an added bonus, written by a European....
Shapiro, Carl & Hal R. Varian (1999) Information Rules : A Strategic Guide to the Network Economy, McGraw-Hill/Harvard Business School Press
(For more information, check out the dedicated Web site at http://www.inforules.com/.) In the words of The Economist: "These two Berkeley professors bring a discipline to their analysis that is usually quite absent from the overheated burblings of the cyberprophets... [This book is about] rigorous and practical strategies, based on solid foundations, for surviving and prospering in the network economy. [...] what is so likeable about this book--its fairmindedness and its wise pragmatism."
These books, and a subscription to Wired, Upside, Fast Company or the Red Herring (for the more financially inclined) is excellent background material (and interesting reading, whether you are doing this for grades or not).
Brown, Shona L. and Kathleen M. Eisenhardt (1998): Competing on the Edge: Strategy as Structured ChaosBits: whatever you may find at BRINT or other places on the Net with relevance for the theme of the day.
Case studies of corporations competing mostly in the computer industry, and how they need to balance structure vs. creativity. Each dimension of organization is illustrated in terms on one company that is too rigid, one that is too loose, and one that has the right balance (at least for a while). Solid work.
Cairncross, Frances. (1997) The Death of Distance: How the communications revolution revolution will change our lives. Boston, MA: Harvard Business School Press.
(For more information, check out the dedicated Web site at http://www.deathofdistance.com/.) This excellently written book (the author is a writer for The Economist) lays out the business consequences of the revolution taking place in computers and communications. The book covers, in an irreverent yet informative way, most of the "big picture" aspects of the seminar. Relatively free of fluff and hype, relying instead on research and examples. Some of the book's content has previously been published in the Economist.
Christensen, Clayton M. (1997) The Innovator's Dilemma: Why New Technologies Cause Great Firms to Fail. Boston, MA: Harvard Business School Press.
In this impressively researched book focusing on the hard disk drive industry, Clayton Christensen shows how listening to the customer and giving the customer what they want can get a company in trouble when the technology changes, even though the change may, at the time, seem technologically insignificant. A scary book for technology executives, definitely something that should have been read by IBM, Norsk Data, Digital, Wordperfect, Prime, Data General, Bull, ICL and other former greats of information technology.
Garfinkel, Simson and Gene Spafford (1996). Web Security and Commerce, O'Reilly and Associates
This down-to-earth, hands-on description of tools and technologies for setting up and managing web services provides the details where Cairncross' book gives the big picture. A great reference for people wanting to roll their own Web service, including some wonderful war stories on setting up their own ISP from two seasoned technology writers and tinkerers. However, as with all books about specific technologies, its illustrations quickly age.
McKenney, J. (1994). Waves of Change: Business Evolution Through Information Technology, Boston, MA: Harvard Business School Press.
McKenney, Professor Emeritus and former Chairman of the MIS group at Harvard Business School, provides an account of the development and implementation processes for two of the world's most consequential information systems: Bank of America's check processing system, the model for most of the banking systems we know today; and American Airlines' SABRE, the first computerized reservation system and still the largest privately owned real-time system in the world. From the history of these two system, McKenney develops a "cascading" model of technology development and implementation, and then proceeds to test this model against three other case histories of successful "classic" system cases: Frito-Lays data capture and pricing system within snacks distribution, USAA's use of document imaging and centralized customer information systems within insurance, and American Hospital Supply's revolutionizing ASAP-system for selling and distributing hospital supplies.
Utterback, J. M. (1994). Mastering the Dynamics of Innovation. Boston, MA: Harvard Business School Press
Utterback is a professor at MIT and a pioneer in the field of technology evolution. This book describes the process of technology evolution in a number of industries, from computer chips to a fabulous chapter on the ice industry (where Norway was a very important player on the world market.). A theoretically robust model for technology evolution as a process of evolution and revolution is detailed, a model which is crucial for our understanding of the likely changes we are facing in our increasingly digital business world. This book offers the theoretical weight necessary to put Negroponte's more aggressive statements into a broader context.
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Last updated: March 6, 2000.