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A library makes an excellent information systems model. It serves as a very large information storage facility with text, audio, and video data archives. Look up the definitions for each term listed below and briefly explain a library’s equivalents.
Select a job title for a career you would like to pursue as summer intern or new graduate. Provide a real-world example of each element in Figure. You may need to interview someone familiar with this position to find the information yourequire.
Skydive Chicago (www.SkydiveChicago.com) is one of the premier skydiving resorts in the United States, serving skydivers ranging in skills from first-time jumpers to internationally competitive free fly teams. Each student in Skydive Chicago’s training program makes a series of progressive training jumps under the direct supervision of a United States Parachute Association– rated jumpmaster. The training program gears each jump in the series toward teaching one or two new skills. Jumpmasters video their students’ jumps. Students use the feedback these videos provide to identify mistakes. They often copy their videos onto a personal tape for future reference.
Jumpmasters may also copy well-executed student skydives to the facility’s tape library. All students are given access to the drop zone’s training room and are encouraged to watch video clips in preparation for their next training jump. This step saves jumpmasters, who are paid per jump, considerable time. Jumpmasters also use these videos to evaluate their training method’s effectiveness.
a. How can this information system benefit the skydiving student?
b. How can this information system benefit Skydive Chicago?
c. Draw an information systems model (Figure). Fill in your diagram with the information about people, hardware, software, and other resources from thisexercise.
The wealth of free information available via the Internet continues to grow at incredible rates. Search engines such as Google make locating useful information practical. This textbook often explores the Internet's impact on various industries, and the textbook industry is no exception. Is it possible that free Internet content might one day replace textbooks?
a. Go to www.google.com and use the search box to look up "End user." Were any of Google's first five search results useful with respect to this course?
b. Go to www.wikipedia.com and use the search box to look up "Knowledge worker." Compare Wikipedia's article with the information provided within this textbook. Which source did you find easiest to use? What advantages did Wikipedia provide? What advantages did this textbook provide?
c. Did Google, Wikipedia, or this textbook provide the most useful information about "Intranets"? Why?
How important are your data to you? What would happen if . . . ? While business managers focus on solving business problems and determining what their information systems should do, disaster recovery consultants ask what would happen if things go wrong. With careful advance planning, disaster recovery specialists help their clients prevent calamity. Although this topic covers a wide variety of software issues, installation configuration issues, and security threats, examining common end-user mistakes may also prove enlightening. Common end-user mistakes include:
1. Failure to save work in progress frequently.
2. Failure to make a backup copy.
3. Failure to store original and backup copies in different locations.
For each of the common end-user mistakes listed above, answer the following questions:
a. How might this mistake result in data loss?
b. What procedures could you follow to prevent this risk?
How can information technology support a company's business processes and decision making and give it a competitive advantage? Give examples to illustrate your answer.
How does the use of the Internet, intranets, and extranets by companies today support their business processes and activities?
Refer to the Real Word Case on eCourier, Cablecom, and Bryan Cave in the chapter. Jay Bregman, CTO and cofounder of eCourier, notes that the company hopes their innovative use of technology will become a differentiator in their competitive market. More generally, to what extent do specific technologies help companies gain an edge over their competitors? How easy or difficult would it be to imitate such advantages?
Why do big companies still fail in their use of information technology? What should they be doing differently?
How can a manager demonstrate that he or she is a responsible end user of information systems? Give several examples.
Refer to the Real World Case on The New York Times and Boston Scientific in the chapter, and think about any technology-enabled innovations that you have read about or come across recently. To what extent is innovation about the technology itself, and to what extent is it about changing the underlying ways that companies do business?
What are some of the toughest management challenges in developing IT solutions to solve business problems and meet new business opportunities?
Why are there so many conceptual classifications of information systems? Why are they typically integrated in the information systems found in the real world?
In what major ways have information systems in business changed during the last 40 years? What is one major change you think will happen in the next 10 years? Refer to Figure to help you answer.
The Expanding Roles of IS in Business and Management
Enterprise Resource Planning and Business Intelligence: 2000s–2010s
Enterprisewide common-interface applications data mining and data visualization, customer relationship management, supply-chain management
Electronic Business and Commerce: 1990s–2000s
Internet-based e-business and e-commerce systems
Web-enabled enterprise and global e-business operations and electronic commerce on the Internet, intranets, extranets, and other networks
Strategic and End-User Support: 1980s–1990s
End-user computing systems
Direct computing support for end-user productivity and workgroup collaboration
Executive information systems
Critical information for top management
Knowledge-based expert advice for end users
Strategic information systems
Strategic products and services for competitive advantage
Decision Support: 1970s–1980s
Decison support systems
Interactive ad hoc support of the managerial decision-making process
Management Reporting: 1960s–1970s
Management information systems
Management reports of prespecified information to support decision making
Data Processing: 1950s–1960s
Electronic data processing systems
Transaction processing, record-keeping, and traditional accounting applications
Refer to the real world example about responsibility and accountability for project failures in the chapter. Are these IT projects or business projects with a significant IT component? Who should be responsible for ensuring their success? Explain.
Why do some companies in a given industry, like eCourier above, adopt and deploy innovative technologies while others in the same line of business do not? Break into small groups with your classmates to discuss what characteristics of companies could influence their decision to innovate with the use of information technologies.
The newspaper industry has been facing serious challenges to its viability ever since the Internet made news available online. In addition to those initiatives described in the case, how are The New York Times and other leading newspapers coping with these challenges? What do you think the industry will look like 5 or 10 years from now? Go online to research these issues and prepare a report to share your findings.
Go online and search the Internet for other examples of companies using technology to help them innovate and develop new products or services. Break into small groups with your classmates to share your findings and discuss any trends or patterns you see in current uses of technology in this regard.
Search the Internet to help you evaluate the business performance of Sew What? Inc. and its competitors at the present time. What conclusions can you draw from your research about Sew what’s prospects for the future? Report your findings and recommendations for Sew what’s continued business success to the class.
Small businesses have been slower to integrate information technology into their operations than larger companies. Break into small groups with your classmates to discuss the reasons for this state of affairs, identifying several possible IT solutions and their business benefits that could help small businesses become more successful.
Go online and search for reports on the aftermath of these two incidents. What consequences, financial and otherwise, did the two organizations face? What changes, if any, were implemented as a result of these problems? Prepare a report and present your findings to the class.
1. How do information technologies contribute to the business success of the companies depicted in the case? Provide an example from each company explaining how the technology implemented led to improved performance.
2. In the case of law firm Bryan Cave discussed above, the use of BI technology to improve the availability, access, and presentation of existing information allowed them to provide tailored and innovative services to their customers. What other professions could benefit from a similar use of these technologies, and how? Develop two different possibilities.
3. Cablecom developed a prediction model to better identify those customers at risk of switching to other company in the near future. In addition to those noted in the case, what other actions could be taken if that information were available? Give some examples of these. Would you consider letting some customers leave anyway? Why?
Visitors to the eCourier Web site are greeted with the words “How happy are you? Take the eCourier happy test today!” Those words and the playful purple Web site represent the company’s customer satisfaction focus. And the company achieves that happiness through its focus on operational business intelligence. Business intelligence is moving out of the ivory tower of specialized analysts and is being brought to the front lines. In the case of eCourier, whose couriers carry 2,000 packages around London each day, operational business intelligence allows the company to keep real-time tabs on customer satisfaction.
1. As stated in the case, The New York Times chose to deploy their innovation support group as a shared service across business units. What do you think this means? What are the advantages of choosing this approach? Are there any disadvantages?
2. Boston Scientific faced the challenge of balancing openness and sharing with security and the need for restricting access to information. How did the use of technology allow the company to achieve both objectives at the same time? What kind of cultural changes were required for this to be possible? Are these more important than the technology-related issues? Develop a few examples to justify your answer.
3. The video rental map developed by The New York Times and Netflix graphically displays movie popularity across neighborhoods from major U.S. cities. How would Netflix use this information to improve their business? Could other companies also take advantage of these data? How? Provide some examples.
Almost everybody has a theory about how to save the U.S. newspaper industry. The only consensus, it seems, is that it needs to change fundamentally or it could all but disappear. At The New York Times, tough times have elevated IT-enabled innovation to the top of the agenda. A research and development group, created in 2006, operates as a shared service across nearly two dozen newspapers, a radio station, and more than 50 Web sites. "Our role is to accelerate our entry onto new platforms by identifying opportunities, conceptualizing, and prototyping ideas," explains Michael Zimbalist, the company's vice president of R&D.
1. How do information technologies contribute to the business success of Sew What? Inc.? Give several examples from the case regarding the business value of information technology that demonstrate this conclusion.
2. If you were a management consultant to Sew What? Inc., what would you advise Megan Duckett to do at this point to be even more successful in her business? What role would information technology play in your proposals? Provide several specific recommendations.
3. How could the use of information technology help a small business you know be more successful? Provide several examples to support your answer.
What do Sting, Elton John, and Madonna have in common? Besides being international rock stars, they all use theatrical backdrops designed and manufactured by custom drapery maker Sew What? Inc. Based in Rancho Dominguez, California, Sew What? provides custom theatrical draperies and fabrics for stages, concerts, fashion shows, and special events worldwide and has become an industry leader in rock-and-roll staging.
1. Eric Brinker of JetBlue noted that the database developed during the crisis had not been needed before because the company had never experienced a meltdown. What are the risks and benefits associated with this approach to IT planning? Provide some examples of each.
2. With hindsight, we now know that the decision made by Eric Raffin of the VA not to fail over to the Denver site was the correct one. However, it involved failing to follow established backup procedures. With the information he had at the time, what other alternatives could he have considered? Develop at least two of them.
3. A small, undocumented change resulted in the collapse of the VA system, largely because of the high interrelationship between its applications. What is the positive side of this high degree of interconnection, and how does this benefit patients? Provide examples from the case to justify your answer
When most people think of information technology, software and hardware immediately come to mind. While these are certainly important, good IT processes, particularly those that need to kick in during a disaster situation, are also critical. Most important, these need to be in place before, and not after, they are needed. For an example, go back to February 2007, when JetBlue Airways was forced to cancel more than 1,000 flights after an ice storm.
The record and movie industries are not the only industries to find themselves affected by free access to their products. Encyclopedia Britannica faces challenges by a nonprofit competitor that provides its services without charge or advertising, Wikipedia.org. Wikipedia depends on volunteers to create and edit original content under the condition that contributors provide their work without copyright. Who would work for free? During the creation of the Oxford English Dictionary in the 19th century, the editors solicited word articles and references from the general public. In the 20th century, AOL.com found thousands of volunteers to monitor its chat rooms. Amazon.com coaxed more than 100,000 readers to post book reviews on its retail Web site. Outdoing them all in the 21st century, Wikipedia published its one-millionth English language article in March 2006. Wikipedia includes more than two million articles in more than 200 languages, all created and edited by more than one million users.
Can Wikipedia compete on quality? Wikipedia provides its users both editing and monitoring tools, which allows users to self-police. Wikipedia also uses voluntary administrators who block vandals, temporarily protect articles, and manage arbitration processes when disputes arise. A paper published by Nature in December 2005 evaluated 50 Wikipedia articles and found an average of four factual errors per Wikipedia article compared with an average of three errors per article in the Encyclopedia Britannica. More significantly, Wikipedians (as the volunteers call themselves) corrected each error by January 2006. Alexa.com rated
Wikipedia.org as the 17th most visited Web site on the Internet, while Britannica.com came in 2,858th place (Yahoo and Google ranked in the 1st and 2nd places).
Wikipedia has already built on its success. In addition to offering foreign language encyclopedias, it also provides a common media archive (commons. wikimedia.org), a multilingual dictionary (www.wiktionary.org), and a news service (www.wikinews.org).
a. How does the Wikimedia Foundation meet the criteria for an agile company?
b. How does the Wikimedia Foundation meet the criteria for a virtual company?
c. How does the Wikimedia Foundation meet the criteria for a knowledge-creating organization?
d. How would you recommend that Encyclopedia Britannica adapt to this new threat?
Employees often receive a great deal of unstructured information in the form of e-mails. For example, employees may receive policies, announcements, and daily operational information via e-mail. However, e-mail systems typically make poor enterprise wide knowledge management systems. New employees don't have access to e-mails predating their start date. Employees typically aren't permitted to search others' e-mail files for needed information. Organizations lose productivity when each employee spends time reviewing and organizing his or her e-mail files. Lastly, the same information may find itself saved across thousands of different e-mail files, thereby ballooning e-mail file storage space requirements.
Microsoft's Exchange server, IBM's Domino server, and Interwoven Worksite, along with a wide variety of open-standard Web-based products, aim to address an organization's need to share unstructured information. These products provide common repositories for various categories of information. For example, management may use a "Policy" folder in Microsoft Exchange to store all their policy decisions. Likewise, sales representatives may use a "Competitive Intelligence" database in IBM's Domino server to store information obtained during the sales process about competing products, prices, or marketplace rumors. Work Site users categorize and store all their electronic documents in a large, searchable, secured common repository. Organizations using these systems can secure them, manage them, and make them available to the appropriate personnel. Managers can also appoint a few specific employees requiring little technical experience to manage the content.
However, these systems cannot benefit an organization if its employees fail to contribute their knowledge, if they fail to use the system to retrieve information, or if the system simply isn't available where and when needed. To help managers better understand how employees use these systems, knowledge management systems include usage statistics such as date/time, user name, reads, writes, and even specific document access information.
Research each of the products mentioned above and answers the following questions:
a. What steps might a manager take to encourage his or her employees to use the organization's knowledge management system?
b. Should managers set minimum quotas for system usage for each employee? Why or why not?
c. Aside from setting employee usage quotas, how might an organization benefit from knowledge management system usage statistics?
Suppose you are a manager being asked to develop computer-based applications to gain a competitive advantage in an important market for your company. What reservations might you have about doing so? Why?
How could a business use information technology to increase switching costs and lock in its customers and suppliers? Use business examples to support your answers.
How could a business leverage its investment in information technology to build strategic IT capabilities that serve as a barrier to new entrants into its markets?
Refer to the Real World Case on quantifying IT risks and value in the chapter. Why do you think that the "IT as a cost" mindset is so prevalent among organizations? Relate your answer to the discussion about technology as a competitive advantage or a competitive necessity in the chapter.
What strategic role can information play in business process reengineering?
How can Internet technologies help a business form strategic alliances with its customers, suppliers, and others?
How could a business use Internet technologies to form a virtual company or become an agile competitor?
Refer to the Real World Case on companies using smartphones in the chapter. Do you think smaller companies like Lloyd's Construction are ready for large-scale implementations of technology in their business? What could they do to prepare for those implementations? Use examples to illustrate your answer.
Information technology can't really give a company a strategic advantage because most competitive advantages don't last more than a few years and soon become strategic necessities that just raise the stakes of the game. Discuss.
MIS author and consultant Peter Keen says: "We have learned that it is not technology that creates a competitive edge, but the management process that exploits technology." What does he mean? Do you agree or disagree? Why?
Do you agree with the approach and metrics used by Northwestern Mutual to value their IT investments?
Can you think of alternative ways, and how those might stack up against those discussed in the case? Break into small groups with your classmates to discuss the pros and cons of alternative approaches to valuing the impacts of IT in a company.
Go online and search for examples of IT projects that have been successful, as well as those that have failed. Make a list of the different factors that seem to influence the outcome of these implementations. Can you group them into the categories discussed in the case? Which seem to be the most important? Prepare a presentation to share your findings.
In addition to the companies featured in the case, others like FedEx and UPS, which have large mobile workforces, heavily use mobile communication technologies. What other companies could benefit from these innovations?
Use the Internet to research the latest technological developments in smartphones, and discuss how those could be used by companies to deliver value to customers and shareholders.
Most of the discussion in the case was done from the perspective of the trading firms and the value that these technologies add to them and their customer. However, the case also mentions actions taken by stock exchanges to improve their transaction processing and turn these needs into a revenue-generating asset. Research what recent technologies have been implemented by major stock exchanges such as NYSE and NASDAQ and prepare a report detailing what benefits have occurred as a result.
The technologies described in the case represent an example of how different barriers to the flow of goods and information are being overcome by the use of IT. Break into small groups and select an industry other than the one described in the case ; brainstorm what barriers to commerce you see there and how IT may help to do away with them.
Search the Internet to find information about other firms that have transformed their IT organizations and the role that the CIO plays in the governance structure of the organization. What benefits have they been able to derive from these changes? Prepare a report and present your findings to your class.
Consider the virtual reality technologies employed by Procter & Gamble and described in this case. Break into small groups and brainstorm applications of these types of technologies for companies in industries other than those reviewed in the case.
1. By changing the way his group talks about IT investments, CIO Tim Schaefer is trying to change the way the rest of the company sees IT. Why do you think this is necessary? What would be the prevailing mindset about IT in his company, such that he needs to do something about it? Provide some examples of how IT may be regarded in this organization.
2. Chip Gliedman of Forrester Research breaks down IT risks into implementation and impact considerations. Why do you think these are so difficult to manage? What makes IT investments different from investments in other areas of a company?
3. Do you agree with the notion that IT investments can be treated in the same manner as financial investments, and similarly quantified by putting a dollar value to them? Why or why not? Would your answer change depending on the type of IT investment under consideration?
CIO Tim Schaefer thinks words do matter. When he looked at the words IT used inside Northwestern Mutual Life, he felt that they sent exactly the wrong message about IT's role in meeting business goals. So, over the last 18 months, these words are out: IT costs, internal customers, IT leaders, alignment, and IT systems. These words are in: IT investments, external customers, business leaders, integration, service levels, and IT assets. In addition, "IT and the business" is now referred to as "our business."
1. In which ways do smartphones help these companies be more profitable? To what extent are improvements in performance coming from revenue increases or cost reductions? Provide several examples from the case.
2. The companies described in the case encountered a fair amount of resistance from employees when introducing smartphone technologies. Why do you think this happened? What could companies do to improve the reception of these initiatives? Develop two alternative propositions.
3. CPS Energy and Lloyd's Construction used smartphones to make existing processes more efficient. How could they have used the technology to create new products and services for their customers? Include at least one recommendation for each organization.
In early 2006, San Antonio, Texas-based CPS Energy, the nation's largest municipally owned energy provider, was by all accounts riding the road to riches. The company had the highest bond ratings of any such utility provider. Its workforce and customer base in general expressed satisfaction. And most important, it was profitable. In other words, there were no external signs that the company was about to launch a technology program that would redefine the way it did business and reshape its workforce of roughly 4,000.
1. What competitive advantages can the companies described in the case derive from the use of faster technology and co-location of servers with the exchanges? Which would you say are sustainable, and which ones temporary or easily imitable? Justify your answer.
2. Tony Bishop of Wachovia stated that "Competitive advantage comes from your math, your workflow and your processes through your systems." Referring to what you have learned in this chapter, develop opposing viewpoints as to the role of IT, if any, in the development of competitive advantage. Use examples from the case to support your positions.
3. What companies in industries other than securities trading could benefit from technologies that focus on reducing transaction processing times? Provide several examples.
Securities’ trading is one of the few business activities where a one-second processing delay can cost company big bucks. Wachovia Corporate and Investment Bank is addressing the growing competitive push toward instantaneous trading with a comprehensive systems overhaul.
In a project that has cost more than $10 million so far, Wachovia is tearing down its systems silos and replacing them with an infrastructure that stretches seamlessly across the firm's many investment products and business functions.
1. What are the business and political challenges that are likely to occur as a result of the transformation of IT from a support activity to a partner role? Use examples from the case to illustrate your answer.
2. What implications does this shift in the strategic outlook of IT have for traditional IT workers and for the educational institutions that train them? How does this change the emphasis on what knowledge and skills the IT person of the future should have?
3. To what extent do you agree with the idea that technology is embedded in just about everything a company does? Provide examples, other than those included in the case, of recent product introductions that could not have been possible without heavy reliance on IT.
C IO Steve Olive isn't handing out any gold stars to IT for providing good PC support or networking service at Raytheon Integrated Defense Systems. "Consistently reliable and excellent IT service should be a given," he says. "What businesses need and IT should be providing are innovative solutions to business challenges." That means creatively applying technology to produce goods more efficiently and at a lower cost, to sell and service more of them, and to do so at the highest possible profit margins.
The table below details price and capacity figures for common components of personal computers. Typical prices for microprocessors, random-access memory (RAM), and hard disk storage are displayed.
The performance of typical components has increased substantially over time, so the speed (for the microprocessor) or the capacity (for the storage devices)is also listed for comparison purposes. Although not all improvements in these components are reflected in these capacity measures, it is interesting to examine trends in these measurable characteristics.
Write a short paper discussing the trends you found. How long do you expect these trends to continue?Why?
The Turing test is a hypothetical test to determine whether a computer system has reached the level of artificial intelligence. If the computer can fool a person into thinking it is another person, then it has artificial intelligence. Except in very narrow areas, no computer has passed the Turing test.
Free e-mail account providers such as Hotmail or Yahoo take advantage of this fact. They need to distinguish between new account registrations generated by a person and registrations generated by spammers' software. Why? Spammers burn through thousands of e-mail accounts to send millions of e-mails. To help them, spammers need automated tools to generate these accounts. Hotmail fights this practice by requiring registrants to enter correctly an alphanumeric code hidden within an image. Spammers' programs have trouble correctly reading the code, but most humans do not. With this reverse Turing test, also called a CAPTCHA, Hotmail can distinguish between a person and a program and allow only humans to register. As a result, spammers must look elsewhere for free accounts.
a. A side from those mentioned above, in what applications might businesses find it useful to distinguish between a human and a computer?
b. Describe a Turing test that a visually impaired person, but not a computer, might pass.
c. Search the Internet for the term CAPTCHA and describe its strengths and weaknesses.
Punch cards, keyboards, bar code scanners-the trend is clear. Input devices have continued to promote faster and more accurate data entry. Key to this advance is capturing data at their source, and no tool does this better than radio frequency identification (RFID) systems. An RFID transmitter sends out a coded radio signal. An RFID tag changes and reflects this signal back to an antenna. The RFID system can read the reflection's unique pattern and record it in a database. Depending on the system, this pattern may be associated with a product line, shipping palette, or even a person. Although an RFID system's range is limited to a few dozen feet, this approach enables remarkable inventory tracking that doesn't rely on a human to keyboard interaction or scan. Except for the presence of a 1-inch-square (5-cm-square) RFID tag, humans may have no idea an RFID system is in operation.
Indeed, that may be part of the problem. Consumers have expressed concern that RFID chips attached to products they purchase may be used to track them. Others fear their government may require embedded RFID chips as a form of personal identification and tracking. What started as a new and improved input device has devolved into a matter of public policy.
a. How would you feel if your university used RFID tags embedded in student IDs to replace the magnetic swipe strip? On a campus, RFID tags might be used to control building access, manage computer access, or even automatically track class attendance.
b. Enter "RFID" into an Internet search engine and summarize the search results. Of the top 20 results, how many were positive, negative, or neutral?
c. Enter "RFID" and "privacy" into an Internet search engine, select a page expressing privacy concerns, and summarize them in a brief essay. Do you find these concerns compelling?
What trends are occurring in the development and use of the major types of computer systems?
Will the convergence of PDAs, subnotebook PCs, and cell phones produce an information appliance that will make all of those categories obsolete? Why or why not?
Refer to the Real World Case IT asset management in the chapter. What advice would you provide to a growing company to avoid facing the issues discussed in the case?
Do you think that information appliances like PDAs will replace personal computers (PCs) in business applications? Explain.
Are networks of PCs and servers making mainframe computers obsolete? Explain.
Refer to the Real World Case on speech recognition in health care in the chapter. Although these and other technologies are becoming more prevalent in health care, doctors have traditionally been reluctant to adopt them. Why do you think this is the case? How would these technologies change the way doctors perform their job?
What are several trends that are occurring in computer peripheral devices? How do these trends affect business uses of computers?
What are several important computer hardware developments that you expect to happen in the next 10 years? How will these affect the business use of computers?
What processor, memory, magnetic disk storage, and video display capabilities would you require for a personal computer that you would use for business purposes? Explain your choices.
What other peripheral devices and capabilities would you want to have for your business PC? Explain your choices.
An important metric in this area considered by companies is the Total Cost of Ownership (TCO) of their IT assets. Go online and research what TCO is and how it is related to IT asset management. How are companies using TCO to manage their IT investments? Prepare a presentation to share your research with the rest of your class.
What does Don Barry of IBM mean by “life-cycle” in the context of this case? How would this life-cycle management work when it comes to IT assets? Break into small groups with your classmates and create a working definition of life-cycle management and how it works as you understand it from the case.
The case talks about electronic medical or health records systems. These are slowly becoming standard in many hospitals and clinics, both private and public. Go online and search for reports of these implementations. What are the main benefits derived from their adoption? What have been the major roadblocks preventing their acceptance? Prepare a report to share your findings.
The case above was presented from the perspective of practitioners and hospital administrators. How comfortable would you feel, as a patient, knowing that your health care providers are using these technologies? Would you have any concerns? Break into small groups with your classmates to discuss this issue.
Grid computing technology is becoming increasingly popular and has recently received support from giants such as IBM, Sun, and Oracle. Visit their Web sites (www.ibm.com , www.sun.com , and www.oracle.com ) and review their current offerings in this regard. How do their products compare to each other? Prepare a presentation to share your findings with the class.
One of the main benefits of grid computing arises from the possibility of replacing expensive hardware, such as mainframes or supercomputers, with commodity-priced servers and even personal computers. What about the cost of administering so many different servers and the power consumption associated with them? Go online to search for information that would allow you to compare grid computing to more traditional, mainframe-based alternatives. Write a report to present your findings.
Most of the fame attached to the iPhone has resulted from individual, end-user applications. How could companies use the iPhone as a platform for commercial use? Break into small groups and brainstorm some possible uses of the technology, as well as what benefits organizations can derive from them. Then prepare a presentation to share your ideas with the class.
Information technology advances rapidly, and touch screen is no exception. Go online and search for developments more recent than those mentioned in the case. What new large-scale (i.e., wall-sized) applications could you find? Prepare a report comparing new developments with the examples mentioned here.
1. What are the companies mentioned in the case trying to control, or manage, through these projects? What is the problem? And how did they get there?
2. What are the business benefits of implementing strong IT asset management programs? In what ways have the companies discussed in the case benefited? Provide several examples.
3. One of the companies in the case, UnitedHealth Group, tackled the issue by imposing standardization and "charging" those stepping outside standard models. How should they balance the need to standardize with being able to provide business units with the technologies best suited to their specific needs? Justify your answer.
Global pharmaceuticals giant AstraZeneca needed some strong medicine of its own to fix a burgeoning IT asset management problem. It was brought about by multiple acquisitions and their nonstandard gear, a high-tech workforce spread across 255 facilities in 147 countries, and a total of more than 67,000 employees using more than 90,000 hardware and software assets ranging from notebooks to SAP and Oracle enterprise applications and databases.
1. What are some of the benefits afforded to organizations implementing voice recognition technologies in these settings? How can you quantify these benefits to assess the value of the investment? Provide several examples from the case.
2. There is no margin for error when working in a health care setting. How would you go about implementing these technologies in this high-risk environment? What precautions or approaches would you take to minimize risks? Develop some recommendations.
3. In what other areas of medicine would you expect technology to make inroads next? Where do you think it would be most beneficial, and how would it change the way doctors and nurses work today? Provide several examples.
The infamous doctor's scrawl may finally be on the way out. Voice technology is the latest tool health care providers are adopting to cut back on time-consuming manual processes, freeing clinicians to spend more time with patients and reduce costs. At Butler Memorial Hospital, voice-assisted technology has dramatically reduced the amount of time the Butler, Pa., hospital's team of intravenous (IV) nurses spends recording information in patients' charts and on other administrative tasks.
1. Applications for grid computing in this case include medical diagnosis and financial transaction processing. What other areas do you think would be well suited to the use of grid computing and why? Provide several examples from organizations other than those included in the case.
2. The joint effort by IBM and the Cancer Institute of New Jersey works by digitalizing medical diagnoses on the World Community Grid (WCG). What are the advantages and disadvantages of relying on a volunteer based network such as this? Provide examples of both. Visit the Web site of the WCG to inform your answer.
3. IBM, Wachovia, and PayPal are arguably large organizations. However, several vendors have started offering computing power for rent to smaller companies, using the principles underlying grid computing. How could small and medium companies benefit from these technologies? Search the Internet for these offerings to help you research your answer.
IBM researchers and a team of doctors are building a database of digital images they hope will enable oncologists to diagnose and treat cancer patients faster and with more success. Researchers at the Cancer Institute of New Jersey have digitized CAT scans, MRIs, and other images using a high-performance system and computational time on the World Community Grid, also known as the world's largest public computing grid.
1. What benefits may Starwood Hotels derive from the introduction of touch-screen technology as noted in the case? What possible disruptions may occur as a result. Provide several examples of each.
2. Bill Buxton of Microsoft stated that "[t]ouch now may be where the mouse was in about 1983." What do you make of his comments, and what do you think it would take for touch technology to displace the WIMP interface? Justify your answer.
3. Is advanced touch-screen technology really a solution in search of a problem? Do you agree with this statement? Why or why not?
The WIMP human-computer interface may have an uninspiring name, but Windows, Icons, Menus, and Pointing (WIMP) devices have dominated computing for some 15 years. The keyboard, mouse, and display screen have served users extraordinarily well. Now the hegemony of WIMP may be coming to an end, say developers of technologies based on human touch and gesture. For evidence, look no further than Apple's iPhone. From a human-interface point of view, the combined display and input capabilities of the iPhone's screen, which can be manipulated by multiple fingers in a variety of intuitive touches and gestures, is nothing short of revolutionary.
ABC Department Stores would like to acquire software to do the following tasks. Identify which software packages they need.
a. Surf the Web and their intranets and extranets.
b. Send messages to one another’s computer workstations.
c. Help employees work together in teams.
d. Use a group of productivity packages that work together easily.
e. Help sales reps keep track of meetings and sales calls.
f. Type correspondence and reports.
g. Analyze rows and columns of sales figures.
h. Develop a variety of graphical presentations.
Decades ago, programmers trying to conserve valuable storage space shortened year values to two digits. This shortcut created what became known as the "Y2K" problem or "millennium bug" at the turn of the century. Programmers needed to review billions of lines of code to ensure important programs would continue to operate correctly. The Y2K problem merged with the dot-com boom and created a tremendous demand for information technology employees. Information system users spent billions of dollars fixing or replacing old software. The IT industry is only now beginning to recover from the post boom slump. Could such hysteria happen again? It can and, very likely, it will.
Today, most programs use several different schemes to record dates. One scheme, POSIX time, widely employed on UNIX-based systems, requires a signed 32-bit integer to store a number representing the number of seconds since January 1, 1970. "0" represents midnight on January 1, "10" represents 10 seconds after midnight, and "-10" represents 10 seconds before midnight. A simple program then converts these data into any number of international date formats for display. This scheme works well because it allows programmers to subtract one date/time from another date/time and directly determine the interval between them. It also requires only 4 bytes of storage space. But 32 bits still calculates to a finite number, whereas time is infinite. As a business manager, you will need to be aware of this new threat and steer your organization away from repeating history. The following questions will help you evaluate the situation and learn from history.
a. If 1 represents 1 second and 2 represents 2 seconds, how many seconds can be represented in a binary number 32 bits long? Use a spreadsheet to show your calculations.
b. Given that POSIX time starts at midnight, January 1, 1970, in what year will time "run out"? Remember that half the available numbers represent dates before 1970. Use a spreadsheet to show your calculations.
c. As a business manager, what can you do to minimize this problem for your organization?
You have the responsibility to manage software training for Sales, Accounting, and Operations Department workers in your organization. You have surveyed the workers to get a feel for the amounts of time spent using various packages and the results are shown below. The values shown are the total number of workers in each department and the total weekly hours the department’s workers spend using each software package. You have been asked to prepare a spreadsheet summarizing these data and comparing the use of the various packages across departments.
a. Create a spreadsheet illustrating each application’s average use per department. To do this, you will first enter the data shown above. Then compute the average weekly spreadsheet use by dividing spreadsheet hours by the number of Sales workers. Do this for each department. Repeat these three calculations for both database and presentation use. Round results to the nearest 1/100th.
b. Create a three-dimensional bar graph illustrating the averages by department and softwarepackage.
What major trends are occurring in software? What capabilities do you expect to see in future software packages?
How do the different roles of system software and application software affect you as a business end user? How do you see this changing in the future?
Refer to the Real World Case on Software-as-a-Service (SaaS) in the chapter. Do you think GE would have been better off developing a system specifically customized to their needs, given that GE's supply chain is like nothing else in the world?
Why is an operating system necessary? That is, why can't an end user just load an application program into a computer and start computing?
Should a Web browser be integrated into an operating system? Why or why not?
Refer to the Real World Case about the U.S. Department of Defense and its adoption of open-source software in the chapter. Would such an approach work for a commercial organization, or is it limited to government entities? What would be the most important differences in each case, if any?
Are software suites, Web browsers, and groupware merging together? What are the implications for a business and its end users?
How are HTML, XML, and Java affecting business applications on the Web?
Do you think Linux will surpass, in adoption and use, other operating systems for network and Web servers? Why or why not?
Which application software packages are the most important for a business end user to know how to use? Explain the reasons for your choices.
By implementing systems based on SaaS, companies are relinquishing control over ownership of the technology and are putting access to valuable data in the hands of a third party. What are the perils of taking this approach? How could companies guard against them? Break into small groups to discuss these issues and provide some suggestions and recommendations.
How does the open-source model of application development and distribution differ from the more common, proprietary approach? Do open-source applications present a legitimate threat to commercial software development, or will they remain niche applications? Break into small groups to discuss various reasons that the companies may or may not want to adopt open source technologies.
This case demonstrates failure and success in the software research, selection, and installation process, as well as some major differences among business application software packages in capabilities, such as ease of use and information access for employees and management. Search the Internet to find several more examples of such success and failure for software suites like SAP Business One or Oracle E-Business Suite and specialized business packages like QuickBooks or Great Plains Accounting.
Break into small groups with your classmates to discuss several key differences you have found on the basis of your Internet research. Then make recommendations to the class for how these differences should shape the business application software selection decision for an SME.
XBRL stands for extensible Business Reporting Language, and it is one of the family of XML languages that is becoming standard for business communication across companies. Among other uses, the Securities and Exchange Commission has run a voluntary XBRL filing program since 2005. Go online and research the current status of XBRL implementation and adoption, including examples of companies that are already using it for business purposes. Prepare a report to share your findings.
Investigate other large-scale, system wide implementations of XML such as the one described in the case involving the California Independent System Operator. Prepare a presentation with the proposed or realized costs and benefits of those efforts and share your findings with the class.
1. What factors should companies take into consideration when making the decision between developing their own applications, purchasing them from a vendor, or taking the SaaS route, as discussed here? Make a list of factors and discuss their importance to this decision.
2. What risks did GE take on when they contracted with a small and less experienced vendor? What contingencies could have been put in place to prevent any problems from arising? Provide several examples.
3. What should companies do if none of the "configuration options" perfectly fits with their needs? Should they attempt to customize, or select the least-worst alternative? When would they do each?
General Electric's supply chain is not simply enormous. It's a Byzantine web of sourcing partners, touching all corners of the globe: 500,000 suppliers in more than 100 countries that cut across 14 different languages. Each year, GE spends some $55 billion among its vast supplier base.
1. Given the critical nature of defense activities, security in this environment is a primary concern. How do the agencies discussed in the case address this issue? Can you think of anything else they could be doing? Provide some recommendations.
2. The U.S. Department of Defense is arguably one of the largest organizations in the world. Managing technology for such an organization is certainly a major endeavor. Does the shift toward open-source initiatives help in this regard? Does it hurt? Discuss the advantages and disadvantages of adopting open-source applications in large organizations.
3. After reading the case, do you think the shift to open source software involved a major cultural change for the Department of Defense? Would you expect the same to be the case for large companies? Justify your answer.
The U.S. Defense Department is enlisting an open source approach to software development, which is an about-face for such a historically top-down organization.
The Department of Defense (DoD) says open-source software is equal to commercial software in almost all cases and by law should be considered by the agency when making technology purchase decisions.
1. What problems occurred when Wolf Peak upgraded from QuickBooks to a new accounting software package? How could these problems have been avoided?
2. Why did SAP's Business One prove to be a better choice for Wolf Peak's management than the new accounting software? Give several examples to illustrate your answer.
3. Should most SMEs use an integrated business software suite like SAP Business One instead of specialized accounting and other business software packages? Why or why not?
One of the hazards of a growing small business is a software upgrade. If you pick the wrong horse, you may find yourself riding in the wrong direction. Correcting your course may mean not only writing off your first upgrade selection but then going through the agonizing process of finding a better software solution for your company. That's what happened to Wolf Peak International of Layton, Utah, which designs and manufactures eyewear for the safety, sporting, driving, and fashion industries. Founded in 1998, the privately held small to midsize enterprise (SME) also specializes in overseas production, sourcing, importing, and promotional distribution services.
1. What is the business value of XML to the organizations described in the case? How are they able to achieve such large returns on investment?
2. What are other ways in which XML could be used by organizations to create value and share data? Look for examples involving for-profit organizations to gain a more complete perspective on the issue.
3. What seem to be important elements in the success of projects relying on extensive use of XML across organizations, and why? Research the concept of metadata to inform your answer.
A power consortium that distributes a mix of "green" and conventional electricity is implementing an XML-based settlements system that drives costs out of power distribution. The Northern California Power Agency (NCPA) is one of several state-chartered coordinators in California that schedules that delivery of power to the California power grid and then settles the payment due to suppliers. NCPA sells the power generated by the cities of Palo Alto and Santa Clara, as well as hydro- and geothermal sources farther north.
Having determined the cost per student for each of the classes in the previous problem, you now must carefully manage class registration. Because you pay the same flat rates no matter how many students attend (up to capacity), you want to do all you can to ensure maximum attendance. Your training provider, Hands-On Technology Transfer Inc., requires two weeks’ notice in the event that you need to reschedule a class. You should make sure your classes are at least two-thirds full before this deadline. You should also make sure you send timely reminders to all attendees so that they do not forget to show up. Use the database you created in Problem 1 to perform the following activities:
a. Because the Class Schedule table relates to the Course Table and the Course Table relates to the Pricing Table, why is it appropriate to record the Price per Day information in the Class Schedule table too?
b. What are the advantages and disadvantages of using the participant’s name and e-mail address in the Class Roster table? What other database design might you use to record this information?
Sawmill operators are in the business of turning trees into lumber. Products include boards, plywood, and veneer. For as long as there have been sawmills, there have been sawmill operators who have tried to solve the problem of what to do with their principal by-product: sawdust. Numerous creative examples abound.
Likewise, businesses often generate tremendous amounts of data. The challenge then becomes what to do with this by-product. Can a little additional effort turn it into a valuable product? Research the following:
a. What are your college’s or university’s policies regarding student directory data?
b. Does your college or university sell any of its student data? If your institution sells student data, what data do they sell, to whom, and for how much?