UB University of Baltimore
Merrick School of Business

INSS737 - Management of Information Systems - Fall 2000

Manageable Trends

Lecture notes

Six different trends need to be managed to assure IST efficient and effective use and deployment. These trends, although different, affect one another making the task of managing IST very complex.

  1. Differences in strategic impact of IST
  2. You should have been introduced to this topic in either INSS610 or INSS640. For a review of the basic concepts read pages 16-24 of the textbook.

  3. Technology rich work environment
  4. The rise of networking, the pervasive use of IST in all aspects of modern life making IST a commodity, the emergence of software houses and consulting services as an alternative to systems development (see outsourcing below), and organizations' competitiveness transformation have made managing all these trends a challenge. See text pages 24-26 for a historical perspective.

  5. Slow organizational learning
  6. The dangers of too much technology are very frequently overlooked by managers. Human beings and organizations need time to absorb new technologies. This is a major issue, for a company cannot lag behind in adopting technologies or it will loose competitiveness, like discussed above under technology rich environment, with increasing IST strategic impact, also discussed above. BUT, the introduction of new technologies need to be done very carefully and taking into consideration training needs, resistance to change, etc. Read also the textbook pages 26-29 for phases in the introduction of new technologies.

  7. Outsourcing bliss and blight
  8. IT services can be provided in house or outsourced, see text table 2-3 (page 30) for the two sides of the coin. Outsourcing saves in economies of scale realized by the provider and free management time and resources for other projects, in addition to minimizing the needs to acquire very scarce IST personnel. But, managing the contracts with providers, getting them to perform what was contracted is a nightmare for many firms. Don't get me wrong: outsourcing is here to stay! Enterprise Resource Planning (ERP) products like SAP and People Soft are being deployed extensively in organizations. An emergent market of ASPs promisses to change the way end-user software is provided.

  9. Different system life cycle models
  10. You should have seen the basic system life cycle concept (SLC) in INSS610 or INSS640. For a review read pages 31-36 of the textbook. Other models like prototyping, rapid application development, application software factory, etc, besides outsourcing, make the management of IST projects not a trivial pursue. We will see more about this is future classes.

  11. IST management as a partnership
  12. As we saw in the last class meeting the CIO/CEO partnership is a must in the 1990s and beyond. But so is the partnership with functional, user, management. Close to 50% of the IST budget is now under control of line managers, not IST managers. Take a look at the video of Tom Peter's CIO Manifest and other papers you will find in the same page. Of course the texbook pages 36-38 also covers this issue.

As I said in the beginning, trying to take into consideration all these trends when we tackle an IST problem is not easy. Reconciling the various demands that these trends pose requires a careful balance and compromise in a case by case basis, rather than looking for the ideal or overall solution. The objective of this course and to offer you the experience of dealing with many different cases to help you learn this difficult art.

Case instructions

We will use a simple framework to analyze each case: (a) what is the problem, (b) what are the alternatives, and (c) what are the recommendations; like I said before.

We will not start using this framework with the Tale of Two Airlines case. This is a very simple case with interesting lessons. We will first discuss the case in the Forum, then in class, and then your group will submit a written e-mail report, using a simplified set of questions:

  1. What assumptions Prof. McPherson made regarding IT support at the London-based airline? Are they realistic in the mid-90's?
  2. What factors lead to the difference between Prof. McPherson's expectations and the reality? What alternate approaches could have been taken to solve the situation?
  3. What were the difference in approach between the two airlines? Did one had advantages over the other?

This page is maintained by Al Bento who can be reached at abento@ubmail.ubalt.edu This page was last updated on September 13,2000. Although we will attempt to keep this information accurate, we can not guarantee the accuracy of the information provided.