UB University of Baltimore
Merrick School of Business

INSS737 Strategic Management of Information Technology
Fall 2006

Professor Al Bento

office BC 473 v-mail 837-5272
e-mail abento@ubalt.edu URL http://home.ubalt.edu/abento

(Cases)(Project)(Final Exam)(Course Summary)


This course is about Strategic Management of Information Technology from a top management perspective. Information technology (IT) is an integral part of most products and services of the post-industrial society of the 21st century. Between 1995 and 1998, the IT sector contributed one-third of all U.S. economic growth. Between 1996 and 1997, falling prices in the IT sector have knocked almost a full percentage point off inflation, and in the early 2000s IT accounted for nearly half of all business investments. The collapse of the dot com business ventures, together with higher interest rates, brought one of the long lasting recessions to the US economy. The real estate boom and low interest rates provided a much needed recovery in 2003-2005 period. The IT sector expanded during the recovery and inshore and offshore outsourcing changed the demand and use of IT and IT personnel.

The rate of change of Information Technology is in the up-swing, as always. Managing IT is like managing a river, of which you can take the temperature and speed, but, unfortunately, as soon as you do so the waters you got information have just passed by and new waters are coming. The boom of the late 1990s and the bust of the early 2000s are examples of these constant changes. Did the digital economy failed together with the dot com ventures? What was left behind from the Internet gold rush? The objective of this course is to answer these questions and discuss how the the top management job changed because of these recents "IT eruptions." These evolving themes are: (a) creating business advantages with IT, (b) business models in a network economy, (c) organization forms in a network economy, (d) IT business value and scorecard, (e) internetworking infrastructure, reliabilty and security, (f) organizing and managing the IT function, and (g) managing IT outsourcing and in-house projects.

The course relies extensively on the case method and adopts the latest version (7th edition)of Applegate, Austin and McFarlan, Corporate Information Strategy and Management (Text and Cases) book, McGraw-Hill Irwin, Boston, 2007. The students, organized in groups, will analize and discuss a detailed business case every two weeks. In one week the case data will be analized, and in the following week the case will be discussed and each group will provide recommendations to deal with the case situation. In addition each group will select an additional case to work on as a project: do the case analisis, obtain current information on what happened to the case situation (using Web site information, e-mail and other communications with the organization studied in the case), and write a report explaining the alternatives the organization had, the course of action the organization selected, and evaluation of the results obtained from the course of action taken. Finally, the final exam will be an individual analysis and recommendation of one case included in the textbook, but not used in class.

Course objectives:

At the end of this course you should be able to:

  1. Analyze real-life case studies identifying a firm business model and how IT is contributing to this business model, and/or potential areas IT can increase the business value.
  2. Indicate and explain the location of the firm in the IT strategic grid and the relative importance of IT to the firm.
  3. Recognize if the firm is a modern metworked organization and what would need for the firm to change from an hierachical organization to a modern networked organization.
  4. Create an IT business value scorecard.
  5. Describe the internetworking infrastructure of a firm and explain the importance of TCP/IP and the Internet for this infrastructure.
  6. Explain why SMP and Clusters increase the reliabilty of the infrastructure, and why are reliability and security important to business operations.
  7. Explain the importance for business operations of incremental outsourcing and managing legacy systems.
  8. Consider the management of IT as a shared responsibility of top management, functional management and IT management, and issues related to centralization and decentralization of the IT function.
  9. Participate in the decision of outsource IT services locally or abroad.
  10. Understand how to manage in-house IT development projects.

Assignments and Grading

Cases (6) 50%
Project 20%
Final exam 30%


All cases are to be prepared in six groups of 2 to 3 students. All cases are included in the textbook. The numbers after the cases listed below are their numbers in the textbook. Each case will be prepared and discussed in two steps: (a) preliminary analysis of the case data (one week), and (b) discussions and recommendations (the next week). All groups will prepare reports for both steps. One of the groups, however, will lead the case discussions in the second week and summarize the analysis and recommendations of all groups for a given case. Each case will count as 7% of the grade of a group. The case in which a group leads the discussion will count as 15% of the grade for that group. These are the cases and which group will lead each one of them:

  1. LeapFrog (1-2). Group 1 leads
  2. Global Healthcare Exchange (1-4). Group 2 leads
  3. Wyndham International (1-3). Group 3 leads
  4. Postgirot Bank and Provment AB (2-5). Group 4 leads
  5. Cathay Pacific (3-1). Group 5 leads
  6. Royal Caribbean Cruises (3-2). Group 6 leads

Traditional case analysis uses three basic questions to drive the analysis:

  1. What is the Problem? The basic assumption is that there is no decision to be made if there are no problems. To understand the problems we need to know the business of the firm (business model), how well is the firm doing (market share, profits, etc.), industry and competition. What is (are) the decisions being considered and why? This is what each group will do in the case preliminary analysis. As the course progresses we will see analytical tools and frameworks to improve your analysis of the problem definition.
  2. What are the alternatives? There is always the do nothing alternative. If everything went well (rosy scenario) what we would like to do? If everything went wrong (doomsday scenario) what should we do? What can we do in between the rosy and the doomsday scenarios? What are pros and cons of each alternative?
  3. What are your recommendations? What criteria should we use to select the most suitable alternative in the case? Why are you recommending one alternative versus the others? How this alternative satisfies your criteria? How to implement the alternative you selected?

The final case report will include the revised preliminary analysis (what is the problem) and add the alternatives you identified with pros and cons of each one, the criteria you used to select an alternative as your recommendation and how to implement this alternative.

Mid-term Project

Each group will select from the Textbook an additional case (not covered in class) to work on as a project: do the case analysis, obtain current information on what happened to the case situation (using Web site information, e-mail and other communications with the organization studied in the case), and write a report explaining the alternatives the organization had, the course of action the organization selected, and evaluation of the results obtained from the course of action taken. The groups will need to coordinate their case selection with me, so that each group do a different case. Deadlines:

Before selecting a case, go on the Web and see if you find the company Web site, check if the firm still exists, etc. Also see how easy or difficult it will be to obtain current data about the firm, the decision made, etc.

Post your group project in the Project tab in one of the group members Assignments folder. Please save your files as Rich Text Format (.rtf) instead of Word (.doc) before posting them.

Final exam

The final exam is an individual a case analysis and recommendation of a case not used during the course. The same case analysis and recommendations format used both in the cases should be used in this final case to demonstrate the student ability to apply what he or she learned in a different case situation. Specific questions will be provided to guide your answers to the case selected as the final exam. Students may discuss the case among themselves, but the analysis and recommendation should be done individually. I will distribute the final exam December 1st and it will be due back to me by December 11. I will post the exam instructions in a Conference under the title: Final Exam - case and instructions. You will post your answers in the Assignments folder, under the tag Final. Be sure to read carefully the instructions on how to post your answers as a file.


Corporate Information Strategy and Management (Text and Cases), Applegate, Austin and McFarlan, 7th Edition, McGraw-Hill Irwin, Boston, 2007. ISBN: 0072947756


Day Topics Cases Assignments
08/29 Course overview and group formation Li & Fung (A) case example Introduce yourself and group formation
09/05 IT and Strategy (1) LeapFrog Leapfrog preliminary analysis
09/12 IT & Organization (2, 2A) LeapFrog Leapfrog alternatives and recommendations
09/19 Extending the enterprise (3) Global Healthcare Exchange GHX preliminary analysis
09/26 Business Models (3A) Global Healthcare Exchange GHX alternatives and recommendations
10/03 Making the case for IT (4) Wyndham International Wyndham preliminary analysis
10/10 Internetworking infrastructure (5) Wyndham International Wyndham alternatives and recommendations
10/17 Mid-term project case of group choice
10/24 Reliability and Security of IT services (6) Postgirot Bank and Provment AB Postgirot and Provment preliminary analysis
10/31 Managing the Diverse IT Infrastructure (7) Postgirot Bank and Provment AB Postgirot and Provment alternatives and recommendations
11/07 Organizing and Leading the IT function (8) Cathay Pacific Cathay preliminary analysis
11/14 Managing IT Outsourcing (9) Cathay Pacific Cathay alternatives and recommendations
11/21 Thanksgiving break    
11/28 Portfolio approach to manage IT projects (10) Royal Caribbean Cruises Royal Caribbean preliminary analysis
12/05 Challenges to manage in a Network Economy (conclusion) Royal Caribbean Cruises Royal Caribbean alternatives and recommendations
12/11 Final Exam : individual case analysis To be assigned

This page is maintained by Al Bento who can be reached at abento@ubalt.edu This page was last updated on August 31, 2006. Although we will attempt to keep this information accurate, we can not guarantee the accuracy of the information provided.