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IT Infrastructure and Emerging Technologies
1. List and describe the major components of IT infrastructure. Computer hardware platforms. Consists of technology for computer processing and includes client and server machines and mainframes. Computer software platforms. Includes system software, application software, and enterprise applications. Data management and storage. Includes database management software and hardware for storage, such as disk arrays, tape libraries, and SANs. Networking and telecommunications platforms. Include telecommunication services for voice lines and Internet access, as well as cellular phone services. Internet platforms. includes hardware, software, and management services for maintaining Web sites, intranets, and extranets. Consulting and system integration services. Includes consulting services and staff for maintaining legacy systems and integrating older systems with new infrastructure technologies. 2. Briefly explain why corporations are increasingly interested in using Unix or Linux for their operating system. Linux is an inexpensive and robust open-source relative of Unix. Unix and Linux constitute the backbone of corporate infrastructure throughout much of the world because they are scalable, reliable, and much less expensive than mainframe operating systems. They can also run on many different types of processors. The major providers of Unix operating systems are IBM, HP, and Sun with slightly different and partially incompatible versions. Although Windows continues to dominate the client marketplace, many corporations have begun to explore Linux as a low-cost desktop operating system provided by commercial vendors such as RedHat Linux and Linux-based desktop productivity suites such as Sun’s StarOffice. Linux is also available in free versions downloadable from the Internet as opensource software. The rise of open-source software, particularly Linux and the applications it supports at the client and server level, has profound implications for corporate software platforms: cost, reduction, reliability and resilience, and integration, because Linux works on all the major hardware platforms from mainframes to servers to clients. Linux has the potential to break Microsoft’s monopoly on the desktop. Sun’s StarOffice has an inexpensive Linux-based version that competes with Microsoft’s Office productivity suite.
Distinguish between grid computing, edge computing, on-demand computing, and autonomic computing. Grid computing involves connecting geographically remote computers into a single network to create a computational grid that combines the computing power of all the computers on the network with which to attack large computing problems. Edge computing balances the processing load for Web-based applications by distributing parts of the Web content, logic, and processing among multiple servers. On-demand computing also depends on networks for firms to purchase additional processing power from large computer service firms and to have that power delivered when they need it over a network. Autonomic computing seeks to develop systems that can configure themselves, optimize and tune themselves, heal themselves when broken, and protect themselves from internal and external threats.
Identify and describe five or more of the current trends in contemporary software platforms. Growing use of Linux and open-source software. Open-source software is produced and maintained by a global community of programmers and is downloadable for free. Linux is a powerful, resilient open-source operating system that can run on multiple hardware platforms and is used widely to run Web servers. Java is an operating system and hardware-independent programming language that is the leading interactive programming environment for the Web. Web services and service-oriented architecture. Software for enterprise integration includes enterprise applications and middleware such as enterprise application integration (EAI) software and Web services. Unlike EAI software, Web services are loosely coupled software components based on open Web standards that are not product-specific and can work with any application software and operating system. They can be used as components of Web-based applications linking the systems of two different organizations or to link disparate systems of a single company. New software techniques such as Ajax and RIA for enabling Web applications, and trends for combining Web applications to create new products (mashups). New ways to think about Web applications, in the trend of Web 2.0, which emphasize services over packaged software, trusting users as co-developers, harnessing collective intelligence, using lightweight development methods. Software outsourcing. Companies are purchasing their new software applications from outside sources, including application software packages, by outsourcing custom application development to an external vendor (that may be offshore), or by renting software services from an application service provider.
they can quickly outgrow their infrastructure. Which factors should play into your decision of how much to spend on these investments? Using the competitive forces model for IT infrastructure investment. As firms shrink. . Web services communicate through XML messages over standard protocols. and budgets must be planned to allow for new purchases. It is generally assumed that a successful company will need more computer capacity for more people as it follows a path to continued success. Web Services Description Language (WSDL). Discovery. 7. Universal Description. product. and Integration (UDDI) enable a Web service to be listed in a directory of Web services so that it can be easily located. What capabilities we will want to have over the next five years? Alignment of IT strategy. and training. Discovery. You are starting a market research company with a single business partner and are planning the hardware and software need for the two of you.5. Simple Object Access Protocol (SOAP) is a set of rules for structuring messages that enables applications to pass data and instructions to one another. upgrades. It is important because as firms grow. Competitor firm IT investments. Distinguish between Simple Object Access Protocol (SOAP). and Integration (UDDI). Any modern company must be able to make plans for the future. Web Services Description Language (WSDL) is a common framework for describing the tasks performed by a Web service and the commands and data it will accept so that it can be used by other applications. they can get stuck with excessive infrastructure purchased in better times. What technology-enabled capabilities do our competitors have? We would want to match services with our competitors. one other factor may not play such a large role: That of market demand for services. 6. and Universal Description. though dropping in price. How does our IT strategy match up with the business plan? IT assessment. What is scalability? Why is it essential to the success of the modern business firm? Scalability is the ability of the computer. How much are competitor firms investing in their technology? Because this is a startup. but not behind the times either. Competitor firm services. What are the current technology levels for the services we are offering and our business type? We would probably not need to be at the bleeding edge. the most relevant factors in this decision are: The firm’s business strategy. Computer equipment is expensive. even though that future may be different than what was expected. finding out what the market demand for competitor’s services may uncover ways that this new company could have a competitive advantage. However. or system to expand to survey larger numbers of users without breaking down.
they could consider implementing edge computing. An international ad-hoc group of climatologists and oceanographers needs to set up a system to analyze massive amounts of data on ocean temperatures. 9. without standards. Additionally. and standardized software languages have enabled programmers to write programs that can be used on different machines. they will need a supercomputer or grid computing. The technology and hardware for gathering the data and transmitting the data to a computer is in place. each light-bulb manufacturer would have to also create specific light-bulb sockets for use with their light-bulbs. The design agency will need to add up all the potential costs and risks. collected hourly by hundreds of ships worldwide. They will also incur facilities costs for running the computer. computers and computer technology have been enabled through standards. The standards that have been important for the growth of the Internet include TCP/IP. For example. standardized definitions of a technological application. they need to prepare for their plan if they need more servers? Will they eventually have to run and maintain their own server farm? What if one of their clients’ sites is more popular than anticipated and the server has difficulty handling the load? How quickly can they add servers or processing power? The company should look at collocation. . They need to have a backup plan should the server fail.8. as a networking standard. To process their data. they could look at on-demand or utility computing as well as virtualization and implementing multicore processors. 10. including HTML. In the same way. but they will also need to purchase the server software and any application software they will be using. A small design agency you are consulting for will be creating client Web sites and wants to purchase a Web server so they can host the sites themselves. If they will be using a Web interface to analyze or retrieve data. Standards have allowed many different manufacturers to contribute to the same. the ASCII data standards made it possible for computer machines from different manufacturers to exchange data. For example. Web hosting services. Explain why standards are so important in information technology? What standards have been important for the growth of Internet technologies? Standards are important because they result in different manufacturer’s creating products that can be used either with each other or to communicate with each other. To lower costs. They will also need someone in their IT department to manage and maintain the computers. and WWW standards for displaying information as Web pages. and ASPs to see if their needs will be better met this way. What additional hardware might they need? What techniques might they use to make their research more efficient and lower costs? To store their data they may want to use a SAN. How will you advise them on this purchase? They need to understand total cost of ownership: the costs will go beyond the cost of the server.
What factors will influence how you design the database? Student answers will vary. Data redundancy occurs when different divisions. and agent details). but should include some assessment of data quality. When you design the new contracts database for the publishing house mentioned above. Because it is collected and maintained in so many different places. author address. functional areas. payment schedule. and relationship to existing IT systems. address. and contracts management. Key points to include are: Data accuracy when the new data is input. New business processes for data input and handling. a book title database (title and ISBN of book). date contract ends. beyond looking up contract information. 3. and financial database (payments made). what fields do you anticipate needing? Which of these fields might be in use in other databases used by the company? Author first name. the fields into which the data is gathered may have different field names. 2. Technical difficulties linking this system to existing systems. and (3) different descriptions for the same condition.Chapter 6 Foundations of Business Intelligence: Databases and Information Management 1. book ISBN. and groups in an organization independently collect the same piece of information. Determining which data is important and anticipating what the possible uses for the data will be. Other databases might be an author database (author names. The small publishing company you work for wants to create a new database for storing information about all of their author contracts. Determining how end users will use the data. agent name and address. In addition. author last name. the same data item may have: (1) different meanings in different parts of the organization. date of contract. . Establishing a good data model. List at least three conditions that contribute to data redundancy and inconsistency. Making data definitions consistent with other databases. Determining what methods to use to cleanse the data. title of book. (2) different names may be used for the same item. or different constraints. different attributes. business processes and user needs. amount of money.
A data manipulation language. . programs. or be related to the one car in the database. This capability would be used to create database tables and to define the characteristics of the fields in each table. Describe the ways in which database technologies could be used by an office stationery supply company to achieve low-cost leadership. Each salesperson can only have one car. permitting the user to create new tables that contain only the information required. to help anticipate demand. List and describe three main capabilities or tools of a DBMS. An example might be a table of salespeople and a separate table of company cars. DSS databases using business intelligence could be used to predict future trends in office supply needs. This language contains commands that permit end users and programming specialists to extract data from the database to satisfy information requests and develop applications. and to determine the most efficient methods of transportation and delivery. Sales databases could be used to make the supply chain more efficient and minimize warehousing and transportation costs. A data dictionary to store definitions of data elements in the database and their characteristics. and whether needs are different in different geographical areas. such as usage. delete. business functions. such as SQL. 7. and reports that use each data element. What are the three basic operations used to extract useful sets of data from a relational database? The select operation creates a subset consisting of all records (rows) in the table that meets stated criteria. A many-to-many relationship occurs when records in one table have many related records in a second table. and the individuals. A one-to-one relationship occurs when each record in one table has only one related record in a second table. You can also use sales databases to determine what supplies are in demand by which customers. 5. 6. that is used to add. The project operation creates a subset consisting of columns in a table. An example might be a clients table and a products table. and the records in the second table have many related records in the first table. ownership.4. change. In large corporate databases. security. Each salesperson may have several clients. Clients may buy more than one product. and products are sold to more than one client. An example might be a table of salespeople and clients. A one-to-many relationship occurs when a record in one table has many related records in a second table. the data dictionary may capture additional information. What types of relationships are possible in a relational database? Describe and give an example of each. and retrieve the data in the database. authorization. A data definition capability to specify the structure of the content of the database. The join operation combines relational tables to provide the user with more information than is available in individual tables.
providing an additional service. . Describe the ways in which database technologies could be used by an office stationery supply company to achieve product differentiation.8. Sales databases could also help a client anticipate when they would need to re-supply. unclassified but related groups. Data mining allows users to analyze large amounts of data and find hidden relationships between data that otherwise would not be discovered. or when they are looking for new marketing techniques or new markets. Product databases could be made available to customers for greater convenience when ordering online. data mining might find that a customer that buys product X is ten times more likely to buy product Y than other customers. Clusters. Classification. events that are linked over time. Data mining could help anticipate trends in sales or other factors to help determine new services and products to sell to the clients. 9. What makes data mining an important business tool? What types of information does data mining produce? In what type of circumstance would you advise a company to use data mining? Data mining is one of the data analysis tools that helps users make better business decisions and is one of the key tools of business intelligence. For example. Data mining finds information such as: Associations or occurrences that are linked to a single event. found by examining existing items that have been classified and by inferring a set of rules. Data mining might also be helpful when trying to analyze unanticipated problems with sales whose causes are difficult to identify. I would advise a company to use data mining when they are looking for new products and services. patterns that describe the group to which an item belongs. Sequences. Databases could be used to track customer preferences and to help anticipate customer desires.
It is used to answer questions such as: Are there any product sales that are related in time to other product sales? In contrast. OLAP is used to analyze multiple dimensions of data and is used to find answers to complex. questions.10. What are the differences between data mining and OLAP? When would you advise a company to use OLAP? Data mining uncovers hidden relationships and is used when you are trying to discover data and new relationships. but known. such as: What were sales of a product—broken down by month and geographical region. and how did those sales compare to sales forecasts? .
and sales and marketing processes. a unified information systems technology platform. and making. delivering. Enterprise systems are based on a suite of integrated software modules and a common central database. Enterprise systems provide many benefits including an enterpriseenabled organization. Enterprise systems utilize enterprise software to support financial and accounting. and marketing automation. and lower costs for customer acquisition and retention. more effective marketing. Supply chain management benefits include improved customer service and responsiveness. and returning items. Analytical CRM refers to customer relationship management applications dealing with the analysis of customer data to provide information for improving business performance. and cash utilization. A supply chain execution system manages the flow of products through distribution centers and warehouses to ensure that products are delivered to the right locations in the most efficient manner. Benefits include increased customer satisfaction. Supply chain management systems help an organization better manage its supply chain. These systems capture and consolidate data from all over the organization and then distribute the results to various systems and customer touch points across the enterprise. and supply chain management are three enterprise applications. cost reduction. Customer relationship management systems can be classified as operational or as analytical. improved management reporting and decision making. sourcing. Customer relationship management systems help firms maximize the benefits of their customer assets. manufacturing and production. Supply chain management software can be categorized as a supply chain planning system or as a supply chain execution system. call center and customer service support. including planning. such as sales force automation.Chapter 9 Achieving Operational Excellence and Customer Intimacy: Enterprise Applications 1. . A supply chain planning system enables a firm to generate demand forecasts for a product and to develop sourcing and manufacturing plans for that product. and more efficient operations and customer-driven business processes. Operational CRM refers to customer-facing applications. reduced direct marketing costs. human resources. Identify and briefly describe three major enterprise applications. Enterprise systems. customer relationship management.
Enterprise software is used by enterprise systems and is a set of integrated software modules for finance and accounting. Analytical CRM refers to customer relationship management applications dealing with the analysis of customer data to provide information for improving business performance. . final production. Pull-based refers to a supply chain driven by actual customer orders or purchases so that members of the supply chain produce and deliver only what customers have ordered. such as sales force automation. replenishment. surviving a cost-benefit analysis. What is an enterprise system? What is enterprise software? Enterprise systems focus on integrating the key internal business processes of the firm. Supply chain planning systems and supply chain execution systems are two classifications for supply chain software. 4. Push-based refers to a supply chain driven by production master schedules based on forecasts or best guesses of demand for products. 6. demand planning. and sales and marketing that allows data to be used by multiple functions and business processes. and marketing automation. 5. Operational CRM refers to customer-facing applications. The two aspects of customer relationships management are: operational CRM and analytical CRM. Identify two aspects of customer relationships management. Supply chain execution systems manage the flow of products through distribution centers and warehouses to ensure that products are delivered to the right locations. and enabling more efficient operations and customer-driven business processes. Which is better? Push-based and pull-based models were discussed in the textbook. distribution management. providing a unified information system technology platform and environment.2. For each category. and transportation planning. providing firmwide knowledgebased management processes. 3. identify five capabilities. inflexibility. call center and customer service support. Pull-based models are better. Identify two categories of supply chain software. manufacturing and production. and reverse distribution. human resources. Identify two supply chain models. distribution planning. Supply chain planning systems enable a firm to generate demand forecasts for a product and develop sourcing and manufacturing plans for that product. What are the benefits of enterprise systems? What are the challenges of enterprise systems? Benefits include creating an enterprise-enabled organization. Capabilities include order commitments. Challenges include a daunting implementation process. and realizing strategic value. advanced scheduling and manufacturing planning. Capabilities include order planning.
What unique problems might you anticipate they have in their supply chain? What might remedy these problems? Typical problems in supply chains arise from unforeseeable events. growing season. To determine whether this would be beneficial to Santori. retain high-lifetime value customers. It would be ideal to determine if their efficiency meets benchmarks in their industry and allows them to be competitive with other businesses in their niche. although there are enterprise software packages that are available to smaller companies. cross-sell products more effectively. reduce sales and marketing costs. improve response rates to direct mail. identify and retain profitable customers.. . Then I would review existing hosted applications to see how the applications business processes matched up with Santori’s. increase product utilization. It would be very important to have up-to-date forecasting of the weather or growing seasons that could anticipate possible problems. plant diseases. improve customer loyalty. The majority of their business is conducted online: Consumers purchase typically small quantities of products online and Plant Away coordinates the shipping from the most appropriate nursery. A hosted enterprise application might be the most economical way to implement an enterprise system. Plant Away is an Oregon-based retailer and distributor of trees and shrubs. help sales staff close deals faster. and making sure plants survive and are healthy during transportation. You have been hired by Santori. sell additional products and services. The company is interested in what benefits an enterprise system would bring. I would first look at their existing business processes. Identify five benefits of customer relationship management systems. and analyze and determine the best transportation routes. an example answer is: An enterprise system may be too expensive. Benefits include: better customer service. Other problems might be interstate regulations governing plants allowed in different states. simplify marketing and sales processes. In a plant nursery. increase product profitability.7. It would be important to compare the costs of instituting new business processes with the benefits and cost-savings. and respond quickly to market opportunities. a small company that imports and distributes an Italian sparkling water. Would an enterprise system be appropriate for this company? What steps would you take in determining this? Student answers will vary. provide customer information for developing new products. acquire new profitable customers. making call centers more efficient. 8. Inc. 9. They have hundreds of smaller nurseries based around the country that grow the plant stock. optimize service delivery costs. variations in the weather. crop output would be uncertainties.
a new nurse would have instant access to the patients’ needs. You have been hired by Croydon Visiting Nurse Services. The CRM might also be able to record which types of treatments or products customers were most interested in or gave the greatest benefit to customers. products needed by the nursing service would be more easily anticipated. . with CRM capabilities. Since the employees work in the field. and help anticipate needs. or away from a central office. Internet-based communications might provide tools for reviewing employee performance. whose business processes are all manual. and delivered.10. How might a CRM system benefit them? A CRM system that includes patients’ health records would allow any nurse to take over if another needed replacement. ordered. Additionally. paper-based processes. Assuming that the nurses had access via laptops or PDAs to the system.
Tacit knowledge would include the experience of drivers. knowledge work systems. and could a taxi service benefit from knowledge management? Knowledge management is the set of processes developed in an organization to create. perhaps linking up to a wider library system to share resources. Acquisition. 3. and intelligent agents. Provide two examples of each. neural networks. learning management systems. Storage.Chapter 11 Managing Knowledge 1. Knowledge work systems include: Computer-aided design systems. Dissemination. destinations. A taxi company’s knowledge might include explicit knowledge. Application. and financial investment workstations. and intelligent techniques. and knowledge networks. A taxi service might benefit from a system that gave drivers guides on routes that included alternate routes drivers had found. Intelligent techniques include: Data mining. The library would need to determine how the card catalog information is accessed by the public or by staff. genetic algorithms. perhaps a central server. Enterprise knowledge management systems include: Structured knowledge systems. information. 3. and alternate routes. Briefly outline the knowledge management chain as it might apply to the online catalog system of a public library. expert systems. and apply the firm’s knowledge. such as maps and routes between destinations. This would entail using the system with a card catalog base for other services. the card catalog would be linked to a system of borrowing. Management and organizational activities. or book loaning between systems. disseminate. 2. semistructured knowledge systems. 2. Steps in the knowledge management chain include: 1. store. virtual reality systems. case-based reasoning. For an online catalog of a library this would be getting the book data into digital format. such as the best alternate routes between destinations or passenger needs. It might benefit from a learning management system that trained drivers for locations. This would involve the systems for storing this data. hybrid AI systems. Identify the three major types of knowledge management systems. so that users would know from the card catalog whether a book was out on loan. What is knowledge management? What types of knowledge might a company such as a taxi service have. 5. . fuzzy logic. This would involve the card catalog becoming part of the library’s business processes. The major types of knowledge management systems are enterprise knowledge management systems. For example. gather. 4.
such as powerful graphics. analytical tools. and acting as change agents as they evaluate. and blogs for helping gather and disseminate tacit knowledge. There is commercially available software for enterprise-wide knowledge network system. 5. . FAQs. and promote new projects. The most important of these is to develop new knowledge as it applies to the making of products or services. The three major functions of knowledge workers are: keeping the organization up-todate in knowledge as it develops in the external world. and communications and document-management tools. The expertise and experience of firm employees can be gathered by documenting their experience through documenting best practices and frequently asked questions. Knowledge work systems must be carefully designed to optimize the performance of the specific tasks of the pertinent knowledge worker. social bookmarking. How can knowledge be gathered from the personal and undocumented expertise of professionals within a firm? List at least four ways to gather and disseminate such knowledge.4. In the modern economy. Knowledge work systems must give knowledge workers the specialized tools they need. collaboration tools. You can also develop a referral system by providing a way for employees to find a company expert for the solution they are looking for. Knowledge work systems must provide a user-friendly interface to the KWS. serving as internal consultants regarding their areas of knowledge and its opportunities. wikis. but other tools you can use include best-practices documents. knowledge is truly power. but should include an understanding of the three main functions of knowledge workers. Without them. as offering products and services is the mainstay of the corporation. These userfriendly interfaces save time by allowing the user to perform needed tasks and get to required information without having to spend a lot of time learning to use the computer. Identify three important qualities or capabilities of knowledge work systems. initiate. Why are knowledge workers so important to the digital firm? What are their functions and which of these do you feel is most critical to the success of the firm? Why? Student answers will vary. the firm would stagnate and become less competitive in an environment that is always changing and is increasingly more competitive. 6. An example answer is: Knowledge workers create new products or find ways to improve existing ones.
fuzzy logic. the ability to reference up-to-date local or national building codes. then more possible solutions are created by combining the factors involved in those first “best” choices. . change management and implementing business processes that incorporate the system. the “best” choices are made. 8. What is the difference between a neural network. such as plans. operates over a desktop computer. a system for storing case studies. What features do you think would be of most benefit to them? The ability to store structured documents. collaboration tools. Fuzzy logic creates rules that use approximate or subjective values. The original applications were in gaming. which can organize multiple media types to put users in a simulated real-world environment. Virtual reality applications are being developed for the Web using a standard called Virtual Reality Modeling Language (VRML). It describes a particular phenomenon or process linguistically and then represents that logic in a small number of flexible rules. blueprints.7. 9. The results are a program that can “learn” by comparing solutions to known problems to sets of data presented to it. HyperPlant allows users to go through three-dimensional models as if they were physically walking through a plant. I think a neural network would be of most use. poorly understood problems for which large amounts of data have been collected. Neural networks are used for solving complex. best practices. and requires little bandwidth. but new uses in education. 10. VRML is platform independent. and corporate standards. defining taxonomies. The process continues until an optimum solution is reached. gathering accurate knowledge. Genetic algorithms are problem-solving methods that use the model of living organisms adapting to their environment. Virtual reality systems use interactive graphics software and hardware to create the illusion of reality in cyberspace. What do you see as the challenges in setting up a knowledge management system? Determining what knowledge will be the most effective or offer the most benefits to the company. Possible solutions are evaluated. You have been hired by a small architectural firm interested in implementing a knowledge management system. because of its ability to analyze large amounts of data and find hidden relationships. DuPont’s HyperPlant is an example of a business application. quantifying the system’s success. which reduces errors during the construction of manufacturing structures. and genetic algorithms? Which would be most useful to an organization of astronomers analyzing gamma ray emissions reaching Earth? A neural network attempts to emulate the processing patterns of the biological brain. especially with regard to VRML and its applications in the business arena. Discuss the concept of virtual reality. These genetic algorithms are useful for finding the optimal solution for a specific problem by examining a very large number of alternative solutions for that problem. and business are being developed and have great promise. science. and choosing again.
flexibility. Some take advantage of the company-wide data provided by enterprise systems. MIS provide information on the firm’s performance to help managers monitor and control the business. They support decision making by allowing users to extract useful information that was previously buried in large quantities of data. What is the difference between a model-driven and a data-driven DSS? Model-driven DSS use some type of model to perform “what-if” and other types of analyses. DSS emphasizes change. MIS accents reports based on routine flows of data and assists in the general control of the organization. What is the business value of a DSS? DSS can help companies improve supply chain management and customer relationship management. DSS provide new sets of capabilities for nonroutine decisions and user control. The user of this type of model might supply a range of historical data to project future conditions and the sales that might result from those conditions. fixed. or other factors between communities. They typically produce hard copy. Statistical modeling software can be used to help establish relationships. . 4. income. A classic use of optimization models is to determine the proper mix of products within a given market to maximize profits. Forecasting models are often used to forecast sales.Chapter 12 Enhancing Decision Making 1. and rapid response to unstructured problems. Optimization models determined optimal resource allocation to maximize or minimize specified variables such as cost or time. 3. Data-driven DSS analyze large pools of data found in major organizational systems. Describe MIS and DSS and differentiate between them. Sensitivity analysis models ask “what-if” questions repeatedly to determine the impact of changes in one or more factors on outcomes. DSS today can also harness the interactive capabilities of the Web to provide decision-support tools to both employees and customers. 2. Discuss four types of models commonly used by DSS. such as relating product sales to differences in age. regularly scheduled reports based on data extracted and summarized from the organization’s underlying transaction processing systems. Companies often use this software to predict the actions of competitors. Their analysis capabilities were based on a strong theory or model combined with a good user interface to make the model easy to use.
the decision is more likely to realistically reflect the needs and goals of the group. by providing structure. people are encouraged to be more honest. GIS have modeling capabilities. By having more people working on the problem. . Additionally. A third use could be customer demographic data and map information to locate people who are likely to become customers for the company’s services. its ideas and solutions. The ESS modeling tools would be used to provide different views of status. List and describe at least three ways in which GIS can be used by modern business. and development planning. This will also enhance the accuracy of the solution. because anonymity is a feature. because GDSS provides value by allowing collaboration over important decisions—the decision doesn’t rest in the hands of one person alone. For instance. establishing optimized delivery routes. such as determining the best pricing for a product. What do you see as the business value of a GDSS? GDSS helps groups make decisions about unstructured problems. 6. 7. what qualities distinguish the two types of system? DSS are concerned with solving more specific business problems. whereas ESS are designed specifically for executives to use as a way of managing the company and seeing an overview of both external and internal information in order to monitor more general business situations.5. Geographic information systems are a special category of DSS that use data visualization technology to analyze and display data for planning and decision making in the form of digitized maps. Secondly. the GDSS may enhance the efficiency of the particular type of unstructured decision making. resource management. The ability of the GDSS to record the meeting and decisions means that the decision-making process. If both contemporary ESS and DSS incorporate tools for modeling and analysis. Firstly. rather than to analyze large amounts of data to arrive at a solution for a specific problem. allowing managers to change data and automatically revise business scenarios to find better solutions. A second way in which it could be used would be to analyze demographic information to decide where to open branch restaurants. can be made part of the company’s knowledge base. GIS can best be used to support decisions that require knowledge about the geographic distribution of people or other resources in scientific research. rather than just one person. a company could display its customers on a map and then design the most efficient delivery route for its products.
The GDSS software tools follow structured methods for organizing and evaluating ideas and for preserving the results of meetings. Describe and explain how a GDSS works to enhance group decision making. The documentation of the meeting by one group at one site can also be used as input to another meeting on the same project at another site. the manner in which the problem is presented to the group. The outcome of group meetings depends upon the composition of the group. and change management. ESS must be designed so that high-level managers and others can use them without much training. GDSS software tools contribute to a more collaborative atmosphere by guaranteeing contributors’ anonymity so that attendees can focus on evaluating the ideas themselves. ESS need to have some facility for environmental scanning. allowing non-attendees to locate needed information after the meeting. The nature of electronic meeting technology is only one of a number of factors that affect meeting processes and output. One area that merits special attention is the determination of executive information requirements. GDSS meetings can increase the number of ideas generated and the quality of decisions while producing the desired results in fewer meetings. and the appropriateness of tools selected for different types of meetings and decision problems. . the facilitator’s effectiveness. because ESS potentially could give top executives the ability to examine their work without their knowledge.8. If properly designed and supported. the types of information and overview of the organization needed. An example answer is: A major challenge of building executive support systems has been to integrate data from systems designed for very different purposes so that senior executives can review organizational performance from a firm-wide perspective. Implementation of the ESS must be carefully managed to neutralize the opposition of managers at the lower levels of the organization. The ESS need to be designed so that both external and internal sources of information can be used for environmental scanning purposes. the organization’s culture and environment. but should take into account technical difficulties (integrating data from different systems). 9. What factors will you advise management to take into consideration? Student answers will vary. the cooperation of the attendees. You have been hired as a consultant for an established bicycle parts manufacturer to assist senior management in planning a new ESS. What are at least four factors involved in the successful outcome of any group meeting? Beyond three to five attendees the traditional meeting process breaks down. A key information requirement of managers at the strategic level is the capability to detect signals of problems in the organizational environment that indicate strategic threats and opportunities. the quality of the planning.
internal business processes. The data is mined and ad-hoc reports can be created. . feed a central data warehouse. and learning and growth. What is the balanced scorecard model? Why is it particularly useful? Where does it get its information? The balanced scorecard is a model for analyzing firm performance that supplements traditional financial measures with measurements from additional business perspectives. Managers can use balanced scorecard systems to see how well the firm is meeting its strategic goals.10. from sources such as financial ledger applications and client retention and market penetration ratios. Data to fill out the scorecard. such as customers.
In a hotel. identify other process actors and decision makers. the reservation and check-in system might be designed to allow the customers to reserve rooms and check in themselves. Now they should perform some more analysis on that process itself. identifying the information structure and flow. They would like to set up a system by which prospective students can apply online. this might mean that the idea of renting rooms on a night-bynight basis to clients might be rethought of as an extended stay place. labor. simplified and redesigned. 4. In a hotel. In rationalization of procedures. 2. and time involved in the process. identifying the various activities and buffers or time delays in the process. What factors should they consider before embarking on systems development? Student answers will vary. In business process reengineering. They will need to review the existing process and determine what steps can be automated or reengineered. 1. standard operating procedures are streamlined. identifying the process owner. Factors they will need to look at include: identifying the inputs and outputs. In a hotel. employees are assisted with performing tasks automatically. the very nature of the business is rethought and new business models are defined. Give an example of each type of change. without the need of a hotel employee to confirm the process. . A systems analysis with feasibility study should ultimately be conducted. identifying the flow of this process. 2. In a hotel. An example answer is: The university has decided which business process they wish to enable through information technology. identifying the resources: capital. but should include an understanding of the elements of reviewing an identified business process to understand how the process works. Describe each type of organizational change enabled by information technology. In automation. In paradigm shift. business processes are analyzed. this might mean that a reservation system that required three or four steps for checking a customer in would be reduced to one or two steps. which has previously been handled entirely with a paper-based process. You are consulting for the information technology division of a state university to guide and facilitate the design of a new system for handling college applications. 3.Chapter 13 Building Systems 1. or perhaps even as a condominium or other business type. this might mean that a system is set up for the reservations desk to record and process customer reservations. as it might be illustrated through the operations of a hotel.
organization structure design. timing Input. select testing method. Simplicity. 4. cut over to new system Training. required reports. From this organizational analysis. user documentation Conversion. Process flexibility: the ability of the process to produce a variety of outputs or change in the face of environmental pressures. initiate procedures. Transfer files. reporting relationships. volume and speed requirements. Process time: the total decision and activity time of all actors. organization and design. develop training modules. Task redesign.3. What activities. Often the solution requires building a new information system or improving an existing one. Select training techniques. Give at least two examples for each one. and organizational standpoint. specifying the solution. the systems analyst details the problems of existing systems. procedural controls Security. Medium. errors Database design. and procedures. logic. job design. where Controls. The systems analysis itself would include a feasibility study to determine whether the solution suggested would be achievable from a financial. Access controls. work papers. output controls. content. identifying its causes. Output. technical. identifying the primary owners and users of data in the organization. By examining documents. catastrophe plans. Origins. Process quality: the amount of time and money spent to correct defective parts and service. who performs them. 2. There are four main dimensions used to measure business processes: 1. systems documents. List and describe at least nine factors considered in the design specifications for a new system. efficiency. feedback. What is the purpose of systems analysis? What does the systems analyst do to achieve these goals? It consists of defining the problem. 3. observing system operations. Operations documentation. record specifications Processing. processing controls. Computations. process design. when. timing of outputs Manual procedures. and interviewing key users of the systems. 5. audit trails Documentation. how. 4. program modules. Input controls. and identifying the information requirements that must be met by a system solution. the analyst can identify the problem areas and objectives a solution would achieve. Describe how business processes are measured. Logical data model. The system analyst creates a road map of the existing organization and systems. . data entry User interface. identify training facilities Organizational changes. Process cost: the total cost of the process for a typical transaction. flow.
Give at least two circumstances under which prototyping might be useful. informal. Prototyping is most useful when there is some uncertainty about requirements or design solutions. Working prototype systems can be developed very rapidly and inexpensively. develop an initial prototype. Any individual components will need to be tested separately. Systems built and sometimes operated by an external vendor . If the hosted application supports both Mac and Windows users. limited role of users Prototyping. What unique considerations will you have? The first step is to prepare the test plan. the system will need to be tested as accessed from the variety of platforms that are supported by the application. and then the system as a whole will need to be tested. Rapid prototyping can gloss over essential steps in systems development. users continually interact with the prototype Applications software package. full documentation in testing to build a polished production system. it is more likely to produce systems that fulfill user requirements. rapid and informal. rapid. use the prototype. written specification and approvals. Systems lifecycle.6. Prototyping might be especially useful in designing end-user interfaces. management may not see the need for reprogramming. 8. Requirements specified dynamically with experimental system. Because prototyping encourages intense end-user involvement throughout the process. List the identifying features of each of the five systems development approaches. You work for the IT department of a startup ASP. Describe the processes you will recommend. first. This can backfire later with large quantities of data or large numbers of users in a production environment. Systems created by end users using fourth-generation software tools. The steps in prototyping are: identify the user’s basic requirements. If the completed prototype works reasonably well. revise and enhance the prototype. and iterative process. Commercial software eliminates the need for internally developed software programs End-user development. redesigned. What are the advantages and disadvantages of prototyping? Describe the steps in prototyping. minimal role of information systems specialists Outsourcing. or situations in which the users have no clear ideas of what their information requirements are. the system and its parts will need to be tested using client computers running these systems. Sequential step-by-step formal process. and it is your job to set up the testing processes for a new enterprise system the company will be hosting. Because this is a hosted application. 7.
saving money and development time. E-commerce companies need to be able to add. . Object-oriented development allows objects to be reused and repackaged with other objects to create new software. change.9. and retire their technology capabilities very rapidly. What qualities of object-oriented development make this method especially suitable for Internet applications? Object-oriented development uses the object as the basic unit of systems analysis and design. The system is modeled as a collection of objects and the relationships between them.
users are involved throughout development. through the use and review of iterative steps of the prototype. Discuss the role and influence the user plays in software development. The user is the primary focus of software development. Incorporating user knowledge and expertise leads to better solutions. Whether a new information system succeeds or fails largely depends on the roles of users. through the use of prototyping and JAD. In SLDC work. the users themselves create the system. In joint application design. end users and information systems specialists work together in an interactive session to discuss design. In prototyping. If users are heavily involved in the development of a system. . and more opportunities to control the outcome. The role of the user in the development of software depends on the method of development used. They also are more likely to react positively to the completed system because they have been active participants in the change process. Building successful information systems requires close cooperation among end users and information systems specialists throughout the systems development process. Users are typically more involved also in RAD. they have more opportunities to mold the system according to their priorities and business requirements. end users are limited to providing information requirements and reviewing the technical staff’s work.10. In end-user development.
or managerial challenges? What do project team members consider as the primary challenges? What do clients or stakeholders consider as the primary challenges? . A sample answer is: The factors I would use are: Cost: What was the original budget and final budget Time: What was the original schedule and final schedule Quality: Did the project meet the requirements outlined in the project plan Scope: Did the scope of the project change? Questions I would ask to understand the success or failure of the project would be: What technical difficulties were experienced and which could have been foreseen? What risks did the project entail? What events led to the scope changing? What difficulties occurred that were a consequence of personal. time. cost. employee-oriented problems? What difficulties occurred that were a consequence of environmental. What factors will you use to measure the success of a project? What questions would you ask in order to understand why a project succeeded or failed? Student answers will vary but should include an understanding of the main project variables: Scope. organizational. quality. and risk.Chapter 14 Project Management: Establishing the Business Value of Systems and Managing Change 1. You are working as a project manager for a small IT consulting firm and have been asked to create a plan for reviewing and auditing completed projects in order to gauge their success.
. I will need an understanding of all the current information and process flows. specialists from the relevant end-user business areas. Also. Project management: A group of information systems managers and end-user managers responsible for overseeing several specific information systems projects. You have been hired as a consultant for a nationwide real estate firm who are interested in achieving better organization between branches by updating their information systems. the management structure typically consists of (from top to bottom levels in the hierarchy): Corporate strategic planning group: The higher level group of managers responsible for developing the firm’s strategic plan. Describe the elements of a management structure for information systems projects in a large corporation. consisting of systems analysts. and perhaps database specialists. Information systems steering committee: A senior management group with responsibility for systems development and operation. 3. List five categories of information that should be included in an information systems plan. In a large corporation. rather than reorganizing. application programmers. Will you conduct an enterprise analysis or use a CSF approach to gain an understanding of the corporation’s information requirements? List at least two reasons why you feel this is the better approach. Project team: The group directly responsible for the individual systems project. (2) since the goal is the sharing of information. General categories of information included in an information plan are: Purpose of the plan Business rationale Current systems or situation New developments to consider Management strategy Implementation plan Budget 4.2. Student answers will vary: An example answer is: I would choose an enterprise analysis because this will (1) give a better idea of the types of information that need to be shared. A CSF approach would be better if the information system were primarily for decision support or executive support and geared toward top managers.
5. In a portfolio analysis. you would list the various systems projects and rate them according to their potential risks and benefits. What Smarty’s would do is have decision makers such as top managers list the various features they feel are important to have in the system. . in terms of how important it is overall to have in the system. Describe the process of portfolio analysis. Each project can be described as having a profile of risk and benefit to the firm. High risk. such as the processes that need support or reports they may need from the system. low benefit projects should be avoided. high-risk projects and low-risk. the managers list is given a weight. You would use the portfolio analysis to determine which potential projects should be pursued and which should be modified or abandoned. a healthy fast-food chain that is undergoing major expansion and is in need of a supply chain planning system. 6. much as is done with a financial portfolio. In what situations is this evaluation method useful? Portfolio analysis inventories all of the organization’s information systems projects and assets. similar to the financial portfolio. You have been hired as a consultant to make recommendations for Smarty’s. The scores of both software packages are totaled and compared to see overall their contribution to fulfilling the company’s requirements. you multiply the weight with the software’s percentage of contribution to arrive at a score for each criteria. and licenses. In the scoring model. Each package then is evaluated in terms of the percentage of requirements it contributes or supports for each criteria. while low-risk. or criteria. What systems evaluation model will help them assess and compare the two packages? How does this model work? A scoring model can be used for selecting projects where many criteria must be considered. high benefit projects would be at the top of the list. low-benefit projects would be reexamined to see if they could be modified to better fit with the companies strategic plans. It assigns weights to various features of a system and then calculates the weighted totals. A mix of profiles could also be defined as acceptable in terms of the company’s overall plans. High-benefit. or rating. including infrastructure. They are evaluating two commercially available software packages. Each feature. outsourcing contracts.
Internal rate of return (IRR) is defined as the rate of return or profit that an investment is expected to earn. the fulfillment of legal requirements and a better corporate image. lower computer expenses. reduced rate of growth in expenses. In what situations are these models not useful? The payback method is a measure of the time required to pay back the initial investment of a project. In what types of systems are intangible benefits more predominant? Tangible benefits can be quantified and given a monetary value. Systems that produce more intangible benefits are MIS. reduced workforce. a monetary value can be given to increased productivity. managers might benefit from using real options pricing models to evaluate information technology investments.client satisfaction. and the time value of money. increased flexibility. Differentiate between intangible and tangible benefits and list three examples of each. decision making. telecommunications. 8. DSS. The net present value is the amount of money an investment is worth. These models may not be useful for some information systems projects. Intangible benefits cannot be immediately quantified but may lead to quantifiable gains in the long run such as higher sales. especially when their future revenue streams are unclear and the upfront costs are high. organizational planning. services. For example.) . IRR is the discount (interest) rate that will equate the present value of the project’s future cash flows to the initial cost of the project. software.7. taking into account its cost. lower outside vendor costs. more timely information and more information. resource control. and the benefits may be more intangible than tangible. lower operational costs. and collaborative work systems. List and describe the four principle capital budgeting models. taking into account the time value of money. Examples of intangible benefits include: improved asset utilization. and reduced facility. and personnel costs. lower clerical and professional costs. earnings. The accounting rate of return on investment (ROI) calculates the rate of return from an investment by adjusting the cash inflows produced by the investment for depreciation. learning. employee goodwill. job satisfaction .(In such cases. operations.
You are the senior project manager for a Web development company with upwards of 100 current client projects. is creating an information system that will allow patients and doctors at participating franchises to communicate online. Americlinic. structure. there may be a need to make sure that an expert who understands usability is present. so this may be a concern in the second project. Any organizational changes should occur prior to implementing the system. power relationships. In order to gain compliance and support of the doctors. I would establish a review committee of influential participating doctors and change agents to discuss the system prior to development and during development in order to meet physician needs and requirements. User training for doctors and nurses will be essential. organizational structure. there may be some issues of making sure any in-house staff has the appropriate level of expertise.9. as this process is relatively straightforward. and technical expertise. and technical expertise. structure. Since the time-tracking project is a new application. saving patients unnecessary visits to the clinic. The user interface involves working with existing programming that will not change. job function. What steps would you recommend to this company to ensure the user acceptance of the system? The first step should be to conduct an organizational impact analysis. This will be a major procedural change. The company should also consider incentives for doctors and patients that use the system. I would also involve focus groups of intended users to review prototypes of the system to make sure it is easy to use. and hopefully easier to use in the relevant health situations than going to the doctor. However. as well as view project statistics. The goal of the system is to allow doctors to respond to minor health questions quickly and more efficiently. The company will need to make sure that there is also an option for users that do not have Internet access. Technical expertise. You have been assigned to evaluate two upcoming projects. a national chain of budget health-care clinics. . An example answer is: The main risk factors are size. documents. Redesigning an interface for the client extranet may simply be designing one or two pages that will be replicated for each client once the initial design is done. Understanding what makes the user interface problematic and defining ways to make it easier to use is somewhat of a less tangible quality than reporting on time. and progress reports. It may be easier to define the requirements of the time-tracking software. Compare the two projects in terms of risk factors. Structure. and behavior that this system requires or will engender. Student answers will vary but should include an understanding of the main risks factors: size. The other project is to redesign the client interface to the company extranet to make it easier to use. It also affects business processes. to determine the changes in procedures. 10. The extranet allows clients to log in and view their current Web sites under development. The time-tracking project is a larger project: It involves creating new programming that may interface with back-end systems and will immediately influence payment and cost. One project is to develop a time tracking solution that would allow your 20 freelancers to submit daily time sheets and would report on the time spent on each project. Size.
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