Part 1: Discussion Questions (40 points) Stephanie Castonguay

1. Network design is a key business decision as well as a technology decision. Why? (5pts)

There are three key network designs; the first one is the client/server computing model in which some processing power is located within small, inexpensive client computers. The clients are linked through a network that is controlled by a network server computer that sets the rules of communication for the network. The second one is the packet switching, which is a method of slicing digital messages into parcels called packets, sending the packets along different communication paths as the paths become available and then reassembling the packets once they arrive at their destinations. The third design is the TCP/IP and Connectivity, which is a typical telecommunications network consisting of diverse hardware and software components that need to work together to transmit information. Choosing the design of a network is a key business decision because it is important to know what your enterprise needs to succeed, if it’s better and faster communication outside the company, inside the company, what functions are needed. It also a technological decision because you need to implement a network that functions within your existing company and can be easily put to use.

2. Why is selecting a systems development approach an important business decision? Who should participate in the selection process? (5pts)

A system development is the activities that go into producing an information systems solution for an organizational problem or opportunity. Obviously, selecting the system in which the enterprise should go about is an important business decision because it reflects the entire image of the company and the way it is operated. If we have a service enterprise, communication will be top priority and that is what the system should be based on. Everyone should participate in the selection process, the top managers decide the direction and imagine of the enterprise, the middle level managers need to give their input on how they would like to operate and the IT group as well to make sure the right system is chosen and can be integrated into the enterprise.

3. How does the Internet change consumer and supplier relationships? (5pts)

The internet’s global reach and connectivity, scalability, distributed design, universal standards, richness, and interactivity have made it the primary infrastructure for electronic business and electronic commerce. The internet creates value for businesses by enabling digital markets that are more efficient than traditional markets. In the digital markets the supplier can interact directly with consumers, creating the possibility for developing new products and services and customizing discussion groups to create ongoing dialogues with their customers and use the information they have gathered to tailor communication and products precisely to the needs of each individual. The relationships between consumer and supplier has also been facilitated by the Internet, now both parties can communicate with each other from almost anywhere on the planet, with a cell phone or laptop. Faster access to information, faster purchases, and better circulation means the consumer is happy and the supplier is making his money.

4. A fully integrated IT infrastructure is essential for business success. Do you agree? Why or why not? (5pts)

I agree that the IT infrastructure, the foundation, or platform, on which the firm can develop and run its specific information systems, needs to be fully integrated for business success. The implementation of a successful IT infrastructure can bring about radical reductions in the cost of data and voice communication. The data ranges from various types, such as video, audio and text and is of much greater quality and easily accessible. Global reach is also an important opportunity that IT brings us; we can cross national boundaries, and extend our market to every corner of the world. On top of which, IT has its own Universal standards and language, which contributes to the operations of the business because every firm is on the same level. An other important point is the interactivity between users, is easily achieved and allows personalized messages between anyone, almost anywhere. In today’s competitive world, a business’ most important aspect is the integration of its IT infrastructure; every part of the business depends on it, the exchange of data and information in between employees and outside users. The service provided and products available need to be easy to access and the creation of these needs to be done in the smallest amount of time possible. The competitive advantage nowadays isn’t having the integrated IT infrastructure, it’s who can use it well enough to cut down their processing time, every second saved in a transaction is what puts a business ahead of the others. The IT infrastructure is what brings it all together and makes everything possible, and for that, it needs to be well implemented and used to its full capacity.

5. The Internet may not make corporations obsolete, but they have to change their business models. Do you agree? Why or why not? (5pts)

Yes, I agree because leading edge telecommunications technology and the Internet cannot make organizations more effective unless they conform to the new ways of doing business. If the enterprise keeps its old business models, it’ll still run but it won’t have competitive advantage nor will it be able to keep up with the changes around it and will eventually lose its clients. Old ways of doing business must be changed to work effectively with the Internet and related network technologies. These changes in corporate culture and organizational structure are not easy to make. It took several years of hard work and large financial investments for IBM to make its business processes Web enabled and to convince disparate business units to adopt a “one IBM” mind-set in which everyone uses common tools. Nowadays, the Internet is a vital tool for each enterprise, it is no longer a competitive advantage to have a better network and internet access it is a necessity for every enterprise if it wishes to succeed.

6. Security is not just a technology issue; it is a business issue. Discuss. (5pts) Ashley Avolio

In today’s technology age businesses are becoming more dependent on the Internet and networked systems, and thus are more vulnerable then ever to disruption and harm. Security and Control have become a crucial element of information systems investment. During times when computer systems fail to execute, firms that rely heavily on computers undergo extreme loss of business functions. It is quite possible that when computer systems fail they may be down for awhile, and the longer they are down the more serious the consequences are for the firm. Companies maintain vast amounts of internal data and records through networks. Systems often contain confidential information about individual’s taxes, financial assets, medical records and job performance reviews. Furthermore they may also contain information on corporate operations, and military targets. These information assets are incredibly valuable to the organization, and if they are compromised due to security issues the consequences can be destructive. Moreover insufficient security and control measures may also lead to serious legal liabilities. Businesses are not only responsible for the security of their own information assets, but those of employees, customers, and business partners. Failure to protect information assets of the previously stated groups of people can lead to costly litigations for data exposure or theft. Firms can be held liable for needless risk and harm created if it fails to take appropriate protective action to prevent loss of confidential information, data corruption, or breach of privacy. In summary it is essential that businesses protect all areas of their business to ensure consistent flow of business practices on a day to day basis.

7. Some say that the best way to reduce systems development costs is to use application software packages or fourth-generation tools. Do you agree? Why or why not? (5pts) Ashley Avolio

We definitely agree that the most efficient way to reduce systems development costs is to use application software packages or fourth generation tools. Today most software is not developed in house but rather is purchased from external sources. Application Software Packages and fourth generation tools allow for firms to either rent the software from an application service provider, purchase it from a commercial vendor, or have a custom application developed by an outside outsourcing firm. Many business applications are common to all organizations such as payroll, accounts receivable, general ledger, or inventory control. These standard processes do not change a great deal over time, and therefore a universal system can be implemented and fulfill the requirements of many organizations. Since these requirements can be fulfilled by a universal system the firm itself does not have to create its own software, therefore saving both time and money by using prewritten, predesigned and pretested software programs. Furthermore these software packages allow for customization on the part of the organization, allowing organizations to meet unique requirements without destroying the integrity of the package software. Nevertheless if a vast amount of customization is required additional programming and customization work may become so expensive and time consuming that it will negate the initial advantages of implementing an Application Software Package. As the number of necessary modifications to the software packages increase, the cost of executing it does as well, therefore savings originally promised by the package can be taken away by excessive changes. Application Software Programs are the best way to reduce system development costs if and only if not a great deal of customization is necessary to implement the software, therefore organizations are able to implement the software straight from the vendor therefore saving both time and money.

8. Is wireless technology a threat to privacy? Explain your answer. (5 pts) Ashley Avolio

It is evident that there is a growing trend toward the use of cell phones, wireless handhelds, and laptops with wireless connections. This in turn has lead to the development of technologies which provide high speed wireless access to the Internet for PCs and handheld devices. Although there are endless opportunities for these technologies they have nevertheless created other concerns, one of which is that of security and privacy for the users of these wireless technologies. Wireless networks are relatively easy to break into, and thus the possibility to use wireless technology to break into wired networks exists. For example Wi-Fi and wireless internet security is not well developed which in turn make these systems especially vulnerable to penetration from outsiders. Furthermore since the range of Wi-Fi and wireless networks have the ability to extend beyond the confines of the dwelling to which it is being used, an outsider has the ability to penetrate the network, and obtain a free network connection. Not only are these outsiders able to obtain a free network connection but they are also able to gain access to personal resources from the computer of the legitimate network user. Therefore these unsecure wireless networks create a huge threat to privacy, everyone and anyone within the range of the network is able to gain access to all resources as well as any information being sent over the network. Nevertheless today with the constant progress of wireless internet network many of these connections come with the possibility to secure the network by creating a network password allowing those and only those with knowledge of the password to gain access to the network.

Length of the answers: up to 5 pages

Part 2: Case Studies (50 points)

Case 1 (30 points) Andrée-Anne Lamothe
UPS versus FEDEX: Two Competitors, Two Wireless Strategies, Pages 297-299, Laudon Textbook
In Question 1, ignore the value chain model.
Length of the answers: up to 2 pages

2 – A wireless network has increased operating efficiency for both organizations and has become a major part of their daily business operations. For UPS, the wireless networks are at the source of a lot of its data and information gathering: their delivery staff is equipped with “handheld units called a delivery information acquisition device (DIAD).” With the use of wireless technology, specifically digital cellular technology and cellular transmitters, they can transfer gathered information for pickup and delivery transactions to the operating centers through the organization’s global network almost instantly. FedEx uses the wireless technology in a similar matter but through a different technology. The wireless devices used by FedEx are called PowerPads and use Bluetooth technology to send the data and information to the transmitters. However the transmitters, like the UPS ones, use cellular technology to transmit all the data back to the operating centers. FedEx’s PowerPads also have the capability of locking and unlocking boxes with the use of infrared signals instead of using a key.
All These Functions provided by wireless technologies increases the operations of both organizations and saves them both millions of dollars every month.
3 – If we look at both implementation strategy of UPS and FedEx it is very clear that they have both taken 2 very different approaches. FedEx has to tendency to go about things as if they were still a start-up business; they adopt the new bigger and faster technologies as soon as they can show the adopting it will be economical and will provide advantages for both the organizations and the customers. Some of the disadvantages of using this approach are the effects it sometimes has on the flow of the organization as a whole. These decisions can sometimes be too hasty; and the coordination between departments who sometime don’t adopt the new technology simultaneously can be somewhat costly if it is not anticipated adequately.
UPS does not take on the same approach; only takes on a major technology turnover every 5 to 7 years. This approach is adopted to “enable UPS to revamp its systems with uniform upgrades that can replace segments of the old systems in phases.” UPS however recognizes that some technological advances need to be adapted faster and so it also ready to make intermediate changes to their systems to support priorities that simply cannot wait.
While both approaches to new technology have some similarities and obvious differences the approach UPS takes is safer and probably more advantageous in the long run. While FedEx might show great improvements in the long run; the problems that accompany adopting a new technology too eagerly might be more disadvantageous overtime when having to deal with unexpected problem and glitches.
4 - The two organizations have future plans for their wireless technology programs, both are expected to develop further the Bluetooth application within their organizations. FedEx is looking to adapt it to replace the infrared technology used to lock and unlock drop boxes; this new application of Bluetooth would allow them to detect if the boxes are empty or not. There are however some limitations and potential problem with applying Bluetooth in this matter, if a signal is “silence” it could either mean that the box is really empty but if the Bluetooth transmitter is dead the signal will also be “silent”. Another limitation for FedEx to implement Bluetooth is that it runs on the same frequency as the 802.11b network that the company installed a couple of years ago.
UPS are looking to adopt Bluetooth for to replace their scanning units; these new scanners will be finger-mounted and will use waist mounted terminals; this will help because the workers will no longer get tangled up in the cords and so will improve efficiency.
FedEx is also looking to upgrade their powerpad to 802.11b; this will make it compatible with Microsoft Operating systems; it will also add new look-up and information features providing more detailed information back to the operating centers.
Radio Frequency Identification and global positioning systems are the way of the future and both organization recognize this; they both plan on adapting both of the technologies to their day to day activities but before they are able to do so, their customers will also need to comply with these new technologies.
5 – FedEx and UPS both believe that expanding their networks globally is an important part of where they need to reach. The implementation of the new GPS technology is going to be a key asset to smooth things along.

Case 2 (20 points) Crystal Letourneau
Can the Music Industry Change its Tune? Pages 472-475, Laudon Textbook
In Question 1, ignore the value chain model.
Length of the answers: up to 3 pages
Question 1.
The competitive force model describes the interaction of external influences, specifically threats and opportunities’, which affect an organizations strategy and ability to compete. There fore within the music industry, whether it be Canada or US, the major threat is the downloading of copywrited music (illegally {US} or legally {Canada}) to ones computer for person use without compensation to the artist, in turn is causing less CD sales and fewer profits for the entire recording industry. For Canada, a major threat is that the government is still allowing computer users to download music through peer-to-peer sites such as limewire for free, whereas the US has now put a ban on such sites by using legal action against anyone caught.
Opportunities’ that have been stated in the case are that by allowing a person to download a song will lead to them to still purchase the album, but allows them to be more specific in what they may buy. They are no longer buying an album and not enjoying it. It also may increase CD sales by allowing more artists to market directly to consumers by use of the internet for a mere fraction of the price of regular marketing campaigns. Also with the use of the growing trend of blogging, word of mouth and file sharing gives artist free advertising of their music creating a larger fan base, that will in turn may create higher CD sales, or increase attendance at concerts. Industry leaders have to start looking at the trends, if people are buying less CDs but ticket sales are up for concerts then increase concerts to replace money lost. Other opportunities’ are ones that companies like ITunes are already competing in, and that’s of selling individual songs or albums online for a much cheaper price than stores. This trend decreases the industries cost of producing CD’s packaging them and shipping them to stores.
Question 2.
The Internet really revolutionized the way we use, buy and listen to music. It might have reduced the dollar value of sales to artists and producers but it increased the value of music to listeners, allowing us to here the music\album by simply downloading it to see whether we enjoy it or not. We no longer have to pay 16-20 dollars to buy an entire album when mostly we will listen to a maximum of four songs, we can now just purchase the songs we want or (in Canada) download them for free. Therefore using the definition that customer value proposition is what the customer gets for what they pay for, then we feel that the value has gone up for both the consumer and the industry releasing the music. The value for us again is that we can pay for exactly what we want using software platforms like ITunes, instead of purchasing whole CD’s. Looking at the industry, at first they may think they will be loosing money, yet if illegal downloading is stopped, they are actually looking at possible making more money. Looking at the side of how the Internet has changed value proposition, including free downloading, again it gives us the better value because know we are paying nothing for songs we want. For the consumer it is great but for the industry they are outputting money and in turn are recovering very little from sales. The Internet has revolutionized the competitive
environment in two ways. 1. The industry is releasing fewer titles from fewer artists –the case states it’s down 14% since 99, therefore promoting less competition. 2. With putting music on the Internet using websites like MySpace and other blogging sites, more independent unsigned artist can file share music allowing them to create a fan base without actually having a major record label market them, thus promoting more competition. The Internet also allows global competition rather than what the music industry was like prior to its creation, where once it was near impossible to find and listen to other countries artists, today its as easy as a simple click of the mouse. The internet has been responsible for declining CD sales to an extent because of being able to download music for free, yet with the introduction of selling singles online, the industry will start to see their profits return, maybe not by increasing CD sales but just by single sales. Also with the Internet if properly used it can be easier to market full albums and older albums that are hard to find in stores. In conclusion I think the Internet with start to increase profits for the music industry rather than hinder it like it has in the past.
Question 3.
The music industry we believe are having trouble accepting the wave of the Internet and all the benefits that it could bring them. Many of the people working in the industry are older and less acceptable to change. They are scared to loose the hold that they once had in the market and the profits that were once increasing. We feel that with time they will be won over. Management issues that affect this are that it is harder to manage thing when third parties are in play selling your music (i.e. KaZaa), you have less control on what and how your songs are used, marketed, and sold for by these sites. Organizational issues are that you are downsizing your CD productions, and exporting areas. More or less flattening your structure by needing less staff and artists (the case states that they are already signing fewer artists and producing fewer albums). Technology issues are they have to be able to streamline there own production of the songs to the internet, learn and adapt to growing technological trends by they consumers’, and grasp back their market from companies such as ITunes to turn more of a profit.
Question 4.
The current strategy of the music industry is what they have been trying to do for the past five years; it is centered on protecting their traditional business model through technical measures and working towards legally protecting the technical measures. We are not sure of this is the best solution for them but it remains to be seen whether this approach will be successful or not. We argue that the search for new business models is the better way to go, even though it may take some time and effort to identify these business models. Embracing the Internet and all it has to offer might contribute greatly to continuing profits and if they are the pioneers, many other industries may follow such as the movie industry.
We believe that the strategy is similar in Canada where downloading is legal. They have to create a demand for their product to be purchased rather than downloaded for free, yet this poses a serious problem to overcome. They will have to continue to fight to have the laws changed while continuing to create demand. Marketing schemes could be offering a discount of merchandise or concert tickets if one purchases the album rather than download it.

Part 3: Windows on Management/Organizations/Technology (60 points)

Carefully read the cases and answer the questions appearing at the end of each case.

Window on Organizations (10 points) Ashley Avolio
Monitoring Employees on Networks: Unethical or Good Business? Pages 256-257, Laudon Textbook
Length of the answers: up to 1 page

Managers legally have the right to monitor employee behaviour with respect to company equipment during business hours. We believe that aside from legalities managers should monitor employee email and Internet usage. If employee actions on the Internet could potentially put the organization at risk their actions should therefore be monitored, nevertheless rules and guidelines must be thoroughly established. Studies have concluded that 25 percent of employee online time is spent on non-work-related Web surfing, and perhaps as many as 90 percent of employees receive or send personal email at work.[i] These statistics alone provide enough information to determine that a problem does currently exists between employees and internet use on the job. The growing use of email and web surfing during business hours has created concern for managers in terms of loss of time and employee productivity, because employee focus is on personal business rather than that of the company. Furthermore if multiple employees are using company networks for personal business, the possibility of clogging the company’s network exists therefore restricting actual business work from taking place. Another issue is that too much time spent on personal matters can equate to lost revenue or overcharges to clients. Employees have the ability to perform personal business such as trading stocks online or other personal matters and charging that time they spend to clients, therefore overcharging them. Since employees carry the companies name it is crucial that they behave in an appropriate manner. When employees use email or the Web at employer facilities or with employer equipment anything they do, illegal or not, gets carried back to the company. This is turn means that whatever actions the employee executes the company is held liable for, this is one of the strongest points as to why monitoring is necessary. Wrongful actions on the part of the employee could result in adverse publicity and potential lawsuits for the organization. Lastly there is also fear on the side of management that there may be leakages if trade secrets or strategies. All these concerns pose more then enough reason to monitor employee actions on the Internet and in turn an effective email and Web use policy for a company must be established. There are different measures a company can take zero tolerance, blocking specific websites, or decreasing the amount of time that is spent on these websites. We believe that an effective monitoring policy must start by establishing these rules and guidelines in written form, and linking these rules to specific business needs and organizational cultures. They must include explicit ground rules that state, by position or level, and under what circumstances employees are able to use the Web. We believe that the most effective circumstances to place on employees in terms of monitoring is to allow them to use the Internet for personal matters but restrict the sites they are able to visit and the times at which they are permitted to do so, for example during lunch breaks or after hours. This allows employees to still engage in personal business but does not put the business at risk, and will not result in loss of time and or productivity. Next these guidelines must be thoroughly communicated to all employees, and management should also explain why it is their actions are being monitored and that is to protect the organization as well as their jobs.

[i] Laudon C. Kenneth, Laudon P. Jane, and Mary Elizabeth Brabston. Management Information Systems; Managing the Digital Firm. Toronto: Pearson Education Canada, 2007.

Window on Technology (10 points) Andrée-Anne Lamothe
The Rush to Patch? Page 312-313, Laudon Textbook
Length of the answers: up to 1 page
1 - Technological systems are crucial for so many organizations today and keeping these systems safe is a must for all of them but is becoming more and more of a problem. The software patches need to be kept up to date to ensure the security of all these systems.
The time spent to secure organizational data is quite large and very demanding; some organizations do not have to money time or resources to do this adequately. In most cases security flaws are unavoidable; organizations need to have to proper procedures in place to react to these threats.
Today’s corporations depend on data to function and to operate; if their data gets corrupted they can lose their competitive edge and the organization could crumble. The possibility of shutting down a system even temporarily could show to be devastating for the organization and for its operations.
2 - 1) Find the potential problems and solutions faster
2) Better organization structure in regards to dealing with the threats – this will insure that fixing the problems will happen faster and that everything that needs to be done will be done
3) Testing the software better before it gets implemented into the organization
4) Security updates are all up to date

Window on Organizations (10 points) SASHA GAGNE
Wall Street Firms Grapple with Build Versus Buy. Pages 369-370, Laudon Textbook
Length of the answers: up to 1 page

Window on Organizations (15 points) SASHA GAGNE
Does RFID Threaten Privacy? Page 289, Laudon Textbook
Length of the answers: up to 1 page

Window on Technology (15 points) SASHA GAGNE
CN Railway Modernizes Inventory Control System Rapidly. Pages 364-365, Laudon Textbook
Length of the answers: up to 1 page

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