Department of Decision, Operations and Information Technologies
University of Maryland
BUSI 621 DC06
Strategic and Transformational IT
Instructor: Anand Gopal
Assistant Professor, Information Systems
4307 Van Munching Hall
Class Meets: Sat, 1/2/10 thru 3/6/10, 2:00 to 6:15 PM
Office Hours: By appointment
The objective of this course is understand the role and impact of IT in managing strategic transformation in
organizations. Technology enables firms to offer new products, create new customer channels, and
dramatically improve the efficiency of their supply chains. The purpose of this course is to introduce the
key issues in managing information technology; and to stress management’s role in creating the
“technology-friendly” firm. In addition, the course will provide an overview of key information
technologies in use today and how they support a variety operational, tactical, and strategic decisions within
The course is designed to be an introduction to IT for entering MBA students and therefore represents an
attempt to cover topics of interest in breadth rather than any one topic in depth. Other electives in the Smith
School will cover each of these topics in the requisite depth, should you be interested. This course is
designed keeping in mind two requirements. First, there is a need to understand the common elements of
an IT infrastructure within most organizations today. These IT elements provide vital services to
organizations and are the platforms on which future investments will be made. Second, as we think about
the transformational nature of IT, we need some frameworks and models to guide our thinking. Without a
structured approach to problem-solving and analysis to how technology may change organizations and
strategy, it is hard to manage large-scale IT investments. These are the two broad focal aspects of this class.
Information technology is a fast-moving field and it is not possible for one to keep track of all
developments in all the different aspects of IT-enabled businesses. Therefore, a large part of the class
discussion will be built around combining our collective expertise and backgrounds in furthering our
understanding of the impact of IT on business. More specifically, several deliverables in the course involve
research and analysis of different radical and emerging technology and applications by students and the
presentation of this research in class. I believe that a survey of the emerging applications in IT, as
envisioned in the assignments for this course, will also help you decide your coursework going forward in
the MBA program.
1. Packet of cases from Xanedu (Coursepack # 316410)
2. Readings for the class are provided using permalinks later in the syllabus. You have to be logged
into Business Source Complete using your UMD login at the following page - http://lib.umd.edu/
and then access Business Source Complete through the Research Port.
3. Optional readings: these are additional readings that elaborate in more detail on certain ideas or
concepts introduced in class. I will be posting these readings on Blackboard or provide links.
Course Grading and Deliverables
The final grade for the course will be determined on the following basis. The final grade assignment will be
done based on the distribution of course points at the end of the semester.
2 Individual Case Write-ups 20% (10% each) Individual
Emerging Technology Paper 30% Groups
Show and Tell 10% Individual
Final Take-home Exam 15% Individual
Class Participation 20% Individual
Cemex Case (First class) 5% Individual
Individual Case Write-ups
The individual case write-ups will incorporate your analysis of the primary questions in the case and will
follow the structure provided in the Case Writing Guidelines. You are required to do at least two case write-
ups, each worth 10%. You can submit more than two write-ups and the best two will count towards your
grade. These will be turned in hard-copy only in the beginning of the class when the case is discussed. They
will be graded and returned to you by the next class. Since these represent a sizable portion of your course
grade, please follow the instructions on how to prepare these case write-ups and use both the readings and
frameworks from class to argue your viewpoints to the best of your ability.
Final Take-home Exam
The final will be open-book and will be distributed at the end of the final session of class. You will have 24
hours to complete the exam and email the responses back to me. I will provide more information on the
exam in class. This is worth 20% of your final grade.
Emerging Technologies Paper
Information technology is fast-moving and there are several developments in both the technology and
business domains that are relevant for the IT professional. Although it is not possible to cover all of these
emerging phenomena in detail, it is nevertheless important to be aware of the main trends in these areas.
The objective behind this assignment is to provide the class with this awareness about these different trends.
I would also like to employ the specific skills and experiences that students bring to the classroom in
providing their classmates with their own interpretation of the impact of these emerging technologies.
The objective of this assignment is as follows. You are required to select one of the following topics and
research the current trends, technologies and management thinking in this domain. Specifically, you are
required to provide the class with an accurate and insightful analysis of the current state of knowledge about
the particular phenomena. The purpose of this assignment is also to give you the opportunity to relate the
theory and concepts that we have been emphasizing in class with the marketplace and practice of
You will do this in teams of 2-3 students only. Each team will prepare a 20-minute PowerPoint presentation
of your analysis of the phenomenon of interest, which will be presented in one of the two sessions dedicated
to student presentations. In addition, you will prepare a 20-page report on the emerging application that will
be submitted on the last day of classes in hard copy only. The presentation is worth 10% and the report is
worth 20% of your grade.
The topics you can choose from are shown below. I will need the team composition and topic selection
by 9th January 2010. Each topic will be assigned to the first team that claims it. If you want to work on a
topic that is not from the list below, please consult with me first.
1. Social computing
2. Sponsored search
3. IT-based genomics and pharmaceuticals
4. Wireless networking and location based services
5. Web 2.0
6. Non-profit / governments and IT
7. Business analytics and data mining
8. Optical networking and all-optical networks
9. Privacy Issues in IT Management
10. Intelligent Devices
11. IT in Healthcare
There are several sources that you can use to research your report. The following are useful sources of
The “Marketplace” section of Wall Street Journal, the “Business Day” section of the New York
Times, the “Information Technology” section of Business Week, the “Science and Technology”
section of Economist, technology-related articles in Financial Times, Fortune, etc.
Read magazines geared towards IT executives and technology managers, such as InformationWeek
(www.informationweek.com) , Datamation (www.datamation.com), ComputerWorld
(www.computerworld.com), Red Herring (www.redherring.com), etc.
The UMD library system and associated portals such as ABI Inform and VBIC (www.vbic.umd.edu)
as well as other sources such as wikipedia.
The project report should be of professional quality, double-spaced with 12-point font and should not
exceed 20 pages. References and bibliographies generally are not included in the page count. Your
Powerpoint slides should be emailed to me at least 24 hours before your presentation. More details on the
assignment will be provided during class.
An interactive approach to learning is vital in this class and class participation is an important part of the
learning experience. I will try to provide an environment conducive to discussion in the class and I will
expect you to contribute to the class through your thoughts and ideas. Please note that 15% of your grade
depends on class participation and therefore, poor attendance will affect class participation grade.
The class participation grade will reflect my judgment of the quality and quantity of the students'
contribution during class sessions over the course of the semester. Students should attend class prepared to
discuss the assigned readings, answer questions and contribute to class group discussion. In particular, I
expect every student to participate in the case discussion.
The following are some general guidelines I use to grade class participation. If you almost never speak out
in class or miss several classes, you will receive a grade of C. If you speak occasionally but rarely say
anything inspired, your participation grade will be some sort of B. The path to an A grade involves things
like 1) applying conceptual material from the reading or the lecture, 2) doing a bit of outside reading and
applying it in the class discussion, 3) integrating comments from previous students, 4) reaching back to
something said previously in the discussion that is pertinent to the discussion at the moment, 5) pulling
material together from several places in the cases and readings, 6) drawing parallels from previous cases
and readings and 7) generally demonstrating that you have carefully read the assignments and give them
Special Administrative Considerations
It is important to recognize that a grade reflects another’s evaluation and judgment of your work. I will
personally grade the team project papers. You are encouraged to meet with me at any time to discuss the
strengths and weaknesses of your course work (i.e., to gain understanding of your performance). I will
seek to ensure that grading is fair and consistent for all students. Please understand that this is a core
course and grading is done on a relative rather than absolute basis. The distribution is typically 40% A’s
and 60% B’s. Your final grade will be determined based on your performance relative to your peers.
Any student in this course who has a disability that may prevent him or her from fully demonstrating his or
her abilities should contact me personally as soon as possible, but not later than the second week of class so
we can discuss accommodations necessary to ensure full participation and facilitate your educational
The Robert H. Smith School of Business recognizes honesty and integrity as necessary cornerstones to the
pursuit of excellence in academic and professional business activities. The University's Code of Academic
Integrity is designed to ensure that the principles of academic honesty and integrity are upheld. All students
are expected to adhere to this Code. The Smith School does not tolerate academic dishonesty. All acts of
academic dishonesty will be dealt with in accordance with the provisions of this code. Please visit the
following website for more information on the University's Code of Academic Integrity:
BUSI 621 Spring 2010: Detailed Course Outline
January 2, 2010
IT and Strategy
In a net-centric world, information technology and corporate strategy are intertwined; technology makes
possible new strategies, and the execution of the firm’s strategy depends on its ability to implement and
manage IT. To be successful in developing strategy, a manager has to be aware of the capabilities of the
technology and the opportunities it provides the firm.
Introduction to the Course
Strategy and Technology
Collis, D.J.and Montgomery, C.A. “Competing on Resources” Harvard Business Review,
McAfee, A. and Brynjolfsson, E. “Investing in the IT that makes a Competitive Difference”,
Harvard Business Review, July/August 2008
Optional: Carr, N. “IT Doesn’t Matter”. HBR May 2003.
Basic concepts of Strategy and Porter’s Five Forces framework (Blackboard)
Resource-based view of the firm (Blackboard)
The Value Chain (Blackboard)
Cemex: Global Growth through Superior Information Capabilities (IMD 134) (Hand in the
beginning of class)
Overview of IT Infrastructure / Challenges of Legacy Systems
Weill, P., Subramani, M. and Broadbent, M. “Building IT Infrastructure for Strategic Agility”.
Sloan Management Review. Fall 2002.
El Sawy, O. and Pavlou, P.A. “IT-Enabled Business Capabilities for Turbulent Environments”.
MIS Quarterly Executive
January 9, 2010
Overview of IT Infrastructure / Challenges of Legacy Systems (Continued)
Zara: IT for Fast Fashion (9-604-081)
What is the Value of IT? Frameworks and models for valuing IT
One of the most frequent questions from senior management is “what do we get from our investment in
information technology?” Assessing the value of IT is a challenge because there are so many different
kinds of applications, as well as different kinds of value. Managers proposing new IT innovations need to
become adept at explaining the value they will provide.
Robert G. Fichman, Mark Keil, Amrit Tiwana, “Beyond Valuation: "Options Thinking" In IT
Project Management”, California Management Review, Feb. 1, 2005.
Luehrman, T.A. “Investment Opportunities as Real Options: Getting Started on the Numbers”.
Harvard Business Review. 1998. (98404)
In-class Exercise: Whirlpool Europe (9-202-017). (Read case before class)
Team formations and topic selections for the Emerging Technology Report due.
Show and Tell – Session 1
January 23, 2010
Enterprise Systems Development – Applications to Enhance Efficiency and Effectiveness
Scott, J.E. and Vessey, I. “Managing Risks in Enterprise Systems Implementations”,
Communications of the ACM, April 2002
Davenport, T.H. "Putting the Enterprise into the Enterprise System", Harvard Business Review
Rigby, D.K., and Ledingham, D. "CRM done right," Harvard Business Review (82:11) 2004, pp
Rettig, C. “The Trouble with Enterprise Software”. SMR-259
Hilton Hotels (9-809-029) – Design of a CRM System
Cisco: Implementing ERP (699-022) – Implementation of an ERP
Show and Tell – Session 2
January 30, 2010
IT Governance Models – Managing In-house IT Projects / Outsourcing IT
Weill, P. and Ross, J. “A Matrixed Approach to Designing IT Governance” Sloan Management
Review, Winter 2005, Vol. 46, No. 2, pp. 26–34
Weeks, M. and Feeny, D.F. “Outsourcing: From Cost Management to Innovation and Business
Value”, California Management Review, August 2008
Case: Enterprise IT at Cisco (2004) (9-605-015)
Guest Lecture: Tim Matlack
Show and Tell – Session 3
February 13, 2010
Knowledge Management and Networks
Using Social Network Analysis to Improve Communities of Practice, CMR350, Cross, Lasseter,
Parker and Velasquez, November 2007
Hansen, Nohria and Tierney, What’s Your Strategy for Managing Knowledge?” Harvard Business
Review (77:2) 1999, pp. 106-116.
Optional: Nonaka, “The Knowledge-Creating Company,” Harvard Business Review, July 2007.
Global Knowledge Management at Danone, HBS 608107
Technology and Industry Transformation
Porter, M.E. and Rivkin, J.W. 2000. “Industry Transformation” Harvard Business Review. HBR 9-
Bower, J.L., C.M. Christensen. 1995. “Disruptive technologies: Catching the wave”. Harvard
Business Review, (73:1), pp 43-53
Warner Bros and BitTorrent, HBS 807012
Show and Tell – Session 4
February 20, 2010
Guest Lecture - TBD
Emerging Technology Presentations
Emerging Technology Paper Due
Case Writing Guidelines
You have three pages to discuss your analysis and one page for the Executive Summary (optional). The
case write-up should be 12-point font, 1.5 line-spacing with 1” margins. Page 1 should contain the
Executive Summary only along with your name and the name of the case. Pages 2 through 4 will address
the other headings discussed below.
Case Analysis and Discussions1
Each case typically focuses on a defining moment in a firm’s history. The case contains all the information about the
firm and industry you will need to perform an analysis of the situation and develop specific recommendations. While
it is tempting to try and figure out “what happened,” and the Internet makes this continually easier, this is typically a
waste of time and a distraction from the development of your own strategic thinking. Cases are necessarily a
simplification of the real situation, and at times actual courses of action are taken for reasons not apparent from the
case or are impacted by subsequent events. Also, at times people make poor decisions. It is expected that you will
work purely from the data in the case and not be blinded by what transpired after the close of the case.
Your learning from the cases will derive both from your preparation and from your participation in the class
discussion. It is important that outside information not be introduced prematurely in a class discussion, as it could
undermine the learning experience for some students. If you are particularly familiar with a firm or industry and
would like to comment on the case from that perspective, please let me know prior to class. I find that a student’s
experience can provide valuable insight in further understanding a case, but that this information must be introduced at
an appropriate point in the discussion to maximize the learning of all individuals in the class.
In preparing for class, it is recommended that you read each case at least three times. The first reading should
be a quick skimming of the text of the case. It should give you a feeling for what the case is about and the types of
data contained in the case. Your second reading should focus on better understanding the business and the situation,
and should involve careful analysis of the case exhibits. As you work through the second reading, you should begin to
develop some fairly clear perspectives on your analysis and recommendations for the case. By your third reading you
should have a good idea about the fundamentals of the case. Now you will be searching for additional specific
confirmatory or contradictory information. You will need to get at the root causes of problems and gather data from
the case that will allow you to make specific, actionable recommendations. Before the third reading, it helps to
understand the case questions that pertain to the case and its specifics – these are posted on Blackboard at least a week
before the case is discussed in class.
Each week you will be assigned conceptual readings that provide frameworks, tools and ideas that will help
you understand, analyze and communicate the case issues. However, these readings certainly will not provide “perfect
insight” into the case issues. Thus when reading and analyzing the assigned cases, you should be prepared to draw on
ideas and frameworks from any source, and should not confine yourself to just one idea. You are encouraged to draw
upon other sources of information with which you are familiar: books, material from other courses, articles, research
reports, your employer’s processes and models, and your personal experience. The frameworks provided in the course
readings should be seen as a first step in performing analysis – the better the first step is, the better are the chances that
you will hit upon the “right” approach to understand the case.
While analyses and recommendations are important elements of case discussions, soare probing questions
that may not have a direct and clear answer. If someone says something that you do not understand, raise your hand
and question that person directly. The purpose of a case discussion is not to come up with the “correct” answer (there
rarely is such a thing), but to learn from each other the best way to analyze situations. When someone in the class
makes a recommendation that you do not agree with, try to understand why they have come to that conclusion, rather
than merely attacking the “correctness” of their conclusions. The objective of using the case method will have been
attained if individuals have a well-formulated position regarding what they would do AND understand why other
individuals would undertake a different course of action.
With thanks to Professor Chris Bingham