ELECTRONIC ACADEMIA: A COMPETITIVE ANALYSIS BASED ON THE VALUE CHAIN MODEL Antonis C. Stylianou, Walter L. Turner, Department of Information & Operations Management, The Belk College of Business Administration, University of North Carolina at Charlotte, NC 28223 704.547.2064 firstname.lastname@example.org,email@example.com ABSTRACT While use of technology is rampant in society, it has not yet infiltrated all classrooms and curricula. In fact, the While much has been written about Michael Porter's technological gap between industry and academia seems Value Chain model as applied to business, not much has to be widening. Use of technology in the infrastructure been said about its applicability to academia. As the 21st of academia, while much improved over the last ten century approaches, many factors such as discriminating years, is less than it could be and perhaps less than it shoppers, rising costs, rapid advances in information should be. However, technology's rapid rate of change technology, and the possibility of increased regulation are makes practical application expensive, introduction and causing turmoil in academia. management difficult, and the rate of return questionable. In this paper we apply the Value Chain model to The lack of technology in many graduate curricula academia and examine how, by taking advantage of IT, ensures that newly graduated professors are often not as academia can forge new strategies that can lead to technologically adept as their predecessors. Therefore, competitive advantage. Our research has expanded the "few faculty have the technological expertise to deliver Value Chain model into a model termed "IT Advantage the benefits of education technologies to their students." Assessment Model" which adds the necessary detail for  Quite often this situation does not improve as the application of the Value Chain model to academia. The graduate enters academia, because staying current with results indicate a great advantage in applying this type of technology consumes greater amounts of time as the rate analysis to academia. of change and the plethora of options increases. Small colleges, in particular, can not afford to keep up with INTRODUCTION technology. In fact, professors in small colleges are often not given the necessary release time to stay current in With the advent of the 21st century, academia faces some their fields, irrespective of technology utilization. of its greatest challenges. Students, along with their Inefficiencies resulting from the lack of technology parents, have become discriminative shoppers-- deployment often translate into higher costs for staff and dramatically increasing the competition between faculty, resulting in a higher price for students. institutions of higher learning. Aided by information on the Internet, students are now able to shop for the best Traditional funding sources for academia are educational "package." Armed with this information, disappearing. Given limited funds and the other some students are able and willing to pit institution challenges cited above, what should the objective of against institution in a bidding contest. At a time when administrators be with regard to the deployment and college costs are high and continuing to rise , utilization of technology? Can strategies be derived for students and their parents want proof that they will the effective use of technology? Will deployment of receive value from their investment. State legislatures technology increase costs or reduce costs, and will it add are also concerned with the rising costs associated with value? While much has been written about the attending college. As a result, they are discussing options application of Porter's Value Chain Model to the business such as limiting tuition increases and requiring academia world [1,7,9], very little has been said about its to better manage costs.  In light of the above, application in the world of academia. Our research has distance education is beginning to make an impact.  resulted in an expanded model called the "IT Advantage Assessment Model". This new model, while general in Distance education, a form of spatial disintermediation, nature, was applied specifically to academia with good can be defined as the use of "video conferencing, results. personal computers, telephones and the Internet to reach people unable to get to traditional classrooms". . Soon BACKGROUND there will be competition, not only from local academic institutions, but from institutions half a continent or Porter and Millar  define the activities of an perhaps half a world away. organization that add value, viewed along with the activities of the organization's suppliers and buyers, as a "Value System." The traditional value system for Table 1: Player's Involvement in Value Activities academia is shown below in Figure 1. Value Activities Players Graduate schools Non-profit sector Adult students Businesses Student Parents Admissions X X X Student recruitment X X X X X X Internal communications Porter and Millar , in what is now referred to as the Internal collaboration "Value Chain Model," have defined five steps to assess External collaboration X X the advantages of information technology. These steps Fund raising X X X X X are listed below: Information dissemination X 1. Assess information intensity; 2. Determine the role of IT in the industry structure and Marketing X X X X its impact on the five competitive forces; And many more . . . 3. Identify and rank the ways in which IT might create competitive advantage; Three of the value activities, Accounting, Classroom 4. Investigate how IT might spawn new business; and Instruction, and Admissions were selected for application 5. Develop a plan for taking advantage of IT. of the other substeps of the model. Shown below in Table 2 is a partial list of the resulting IT functions with IT ADVANTAGE ASSESSMENT MODEL Linkages for the Classroom Instruction. In our research, Porter & Millar's steps have been adapted Table 2: Value Activity - Classroom Instruction in order to provide a more detailed methodology for Physical Tasks IT Functions identifying value activities, potential linkages and Handout assignment Provide multimedia information technology applications. The result is what 1 interactive assignment we call the IT Advantage Assessment Model which accessible from consists of Porter's original five steps along with our six anywhere in world via substeps that further define how to accomplish the web strategies of the Value Chain Model. The substeps in the 2 Take attendance Students run ID through IT Advantage Assessment Model were developed from scanner or assist in application of the original Value Chain Model to a fingerprint analysis for variety of industry settings. The substeps provide the distance education necessary details to accomplish this process in a practical 3 Pickup assignments Interactive web-based manner. The substeps are listed below: assignments with scoring included • Identify players and their roles. Display transparency View graphics on laptop • Identify value chain activities. 4 in any classroom or out • Identify the player's involvement in the value chain on lawn via cellular net activities. or via the Internet. • Identify the IT functionality to apply to each value Interactive annotations chain activity. 5 Have a group discussion Video conferencing, • Formulate strategies for IT and prioritize. chatrooms, threaded chat • Conduct interviews and review external strategies to discussion validate strategies. Application of our model to academia resulted in twenty- A subset of the results of identifying player's involvement seven strategies for adding value through application of in value activities for academia is shown below in Table IT to academia. These strategies were then validated 1. This table also depicts a sampling of the results of against strategic plans from various institutions as well as applying the 1st two substeps of the IT Advantage through interviews with CIO's at various institutions. Assessment Model. Two representative IT strategies are shown below in Table 3. Table 3: Representative Strategies What's at stake? Chantal da Silva , V.P. External Strategy Description/Comments Affairs, Students' Society of McGill University, said it best in her report to the Canadian government: "A well- Provide distance Once the infrastructure is educated population is a prerequisite for both economic education options for in place to project classes growth and societal development... Education encourages selected classes over distances, the democracy by creating a literate and knowledgeable incremental costs per class population, lowers crime rates, and decreases dependency to do so are small. Then a on health and welfare programs... Education is an host of side issues arise investment in our future." such as ownership of class contents and simple things REFERENCES such as grading in a distance education  Bloch, Michael, Yves Pigneur, and Arie Segev. "On environment. the Road of Electronic Commerce -- A Business Increase library digital Digital holdings can be Value Framework, Gaining Competitive Advantage holdings used in a greater variety of and Some Research Issues." March 1996. circumstances and by a <http://www.stern.nyu.edu/~mbloch/docs/roadtoec/ec greater number of .htm> (Accessed: 9 Sept. 1998.) students, especially those  Cox, Brad. "Plan for a New University." Mar. 1998. involved in distance <http://www.virtualschool.edu/heu/bpWhat.html> education. (Accessed: 4 Dec. 1998.)  da Silva, Chantal. 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Or, in the Education-Final Report." 21 Jan. 1998. words of Kobulnicky , "if we are to begin to make <http://wwww.nagps.org/Student_Aid/Reauth97/Cost progress in transforming our institutions through the use Comm_Report98.html > (Accessed: 03 Oct. 1998.) of information technology then we must create environments where investments in information technology are derived from a more comprehensive plan for achieving academic excellence."
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