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Managing and Using Information Systems A Strategic Approach
KERI E. PEARLSON KP Partners
CAROL S. SAUNDERS University of Central Florida Dr. Theo and Friedl Schoeller Research Center for Business and Society
JOHN WILEY & SONS, INC.
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To Yale & Hana
To Rusty, Russell & Kristin
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Library of Congress Cataloging-in-Publication Data Pearlson, Keri.
Managing and using information systems: a strategic approach/Keri E. Pearlson, Carol S. Saunders. – 5th ed. p. cm.
Includes index. ISBN 978-1-118-28173-4 (pbk.) 1. Knowledge management. 2. Information technology–Management. 3. Management information systems.
4. Electronic commerce. I. Saunders, Carol S. II. Title. HD30.2.P4 2013 658.4 0038011—dc23 2012015379
Printed in the United States of America 10 9 8 7 6 5 4 3 2 1
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cPreface Information technology and business are becoming inextricably interwoven. I don’t think anybody can talk meaningfully about one without the talking about the other.1
Bill Gates Microsoft
I’m not hiring MBA students for the technology you learn while in school, but for your ability to learn about, use and subsequently manage new technologies when you get out.
IT Executive Federal Express
Give me a fish and I eat for a day; teach me to fish and I eat for a lifetime. Proverb
Managers do not have the luxury of abdicating participation in information systems decisions. Managers who choose to do so risk limiting their future business options. Information systems are at the heart of virtually every business interaction, process, and decision, especially when one considers the vast penetration of the Web in the last few years. Mobile and social technologies have brought information systems to an entirely new level within firms, and between individuals in their personal lives. Managers who let someone else make decisions about their informa- tion systems are letting someone else make decisions about the very foundation of their business. This is a textbook about managing and using information, written for current and future managers as a way of introducing the broader implications of the impact of information systems.
The goal of this book is to assist managers in becoming knowledgeable partic- ipants in information systems decisions. Becoming a knowledgeable participant means learning the basics and feeling comfortable enough to ask questions. It does not mean having all the answers nor having a deep understanding of all the technologies out in the world today. No text will provide managers with everything they need to know to make important information systems decisions. Some texts instruct on the basic technical background of information systems. Others discuss applications and their life cycle. Some take a comprehensive view of the management information systems (MIS) field and offer readers snapshots of current systems along with chapters describing how those technologies are designed, used, and integrated into business life.
This book takes a different approach. This text is intended to provide the reader with a foundation of basic concepts relevant to using and managing information. It is not intended to provide a comprehensive treatment on any one aspect of MIS, for certainly
1 http://www.woopidoo.com/business quotes/authors/bill-gates-quotes.htm.
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each aspect is itself a topic of many books. It is not intended to provide readers with enough technological knowledge to make them MIS experts. It is not intended to be a source of discussion of any particular technology. This textbook is written to help managers begin to form a point of view of how information systems will help, hinder, and create opportunities for their organizations.
The idea for this text grew out of discussions with colleagues in the MIS area. Many faculties use a series of case studies, trade and popular press readings, and Web sites to teach their MIS courses. Others simply rely on one of the classic texts, which include dozens of pages of diagrams, frameworks, and technologies. The initial idea for this text emerged from a core MIS course taught at the business school at the University of Texas at Austin. That course was considered an “appetizer” course—a brief introduc- tion into the world of MIS for MBA students. The course had two main topics: using information and managing information. At the time, there was no text like this one, hence students had to purchase thick reading packets made up of articles and case studies to provide them with the basic concepts. The course was structured to provide the general MBA with enough knowledge of the field of MIS that they could recognize opportunities to use the rapidly changing technologies available to them. The course was an appetizer to the menu of specialty courses, each of which went much deeper into the various topics. But completion of the appetizer course meant that students were able to feel comfortable listening to, contributing to, and ultimately participating in information systems decisions.
Today, many students are digital natives—people who have grown up using information technologies all of their lives. That means that students come to their courses with significantly more knowledge about things like tablets, apps, personal computers, smartphones, texting, the Web, social networking, file downloading, online purchasing, and social media than their counterparts in school just a few years ago. This is a significant trend that is projected to continue; students will be increasingly knowledgeable in personally using technologies. That knowledge has begun to change the corporate environment. Today’s digital natives expect to find information systems in corporations that provide at least the functionality they have at home. At the same time, they expect to be able to work in ways that take advantage of the technologies they have grown to depend on for social interaction, collaboration, and innovation. This edition of the text has been completely edited with this new group of students in mind. We believe the basic foundation is still needed for managing and using information systems, but we understand that the assumptions and knowledge base of today’s students is significantly different.
Also different today is the vast amount of information amassed by firms, sometimes called the “Big Data Problem.” Not only have organizations figured out that there is a lot of data around their processes, their interactions with customers, their products, and their suppliers, but with the increase in communities and social interactions on the Web, there is an additional pressure to collect and analyze vast amounts of unstructured information contained in these conversations to identify trends, needs, and projections. We believe that today’s managers face an increasing amount of pressure to understand what is being said by those inside and outside their corporations and to join the
iv c Preface
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conversations as much as reasonable. That is significantly different from just a few years ago.
This book includes an introduction, twelve chapters of text and minicases, and a set of case studies and supplemental readings on a Web site. The introduction makes the argument introduced in this preface that managers must be knowledge- able participants in information systems decisions. The first few chapters build a basic framework of relationships between business strategy, information systems strategy, and organizational strategy and explore the links between these strategies. Readers will also find a chapter on how information systems relate to business transformation. Supplemental materials, including longer cases from all over the globe, can be found on the W eb. Please v isit http://www.wiley.com/ college/pearlson for more information.
General managers also need some foundation on how IT is managed if they are to successfully discuss their next business needs with IT professionals who can help them. Therefore, the remaining chapters describe the basics of information architecture and infrastructure, the business of IT, the governance of the IS organization, the sourcing of information systems, project management, business intelligence, business analytics and knowledge management, and relevant ethical issues.
No text in the field of MIS is current. The process of writing the chapters, coupled with the publication process, makes a text somewhat out-of-date prior to delivery to its audience. With that in mind, this text is written to summarize the “timeless” elements of using and managing information. Although this text is complete in and of itself, learning is enhanced by coupling the chapters with the most current readings and cases. Students are encouraged to search the Web for examples and current events and bring them into the discussions of the issues at hand. The format of each chapter begins with a navigational guide, a short case study and the basic language for a set of important management issues. This is followed up with a set of managerial concerns related to the topic. The chapter concludes with a summary, a set of study questions, key words, and case studies.
This is the fifth edition of this text, and this version includes several significant additions and revisions. Each chapter now has a Social Business Lens, a textbox that calls out one topic related to the main chapter, but that is enabled or fundamental to using social tools in the enterprise. Most chapters also have a Geographic Lens box, a single idea from a global issue related to the topic of the main chapter. Gone are the “food for thought” sections in each chapter. Some have been incorporated into the main part of the chapter, and others have been moved to the companion Web site available to instructors using this text. Each chapter has been significantly revised, with newer concepts added, discussions of more current topics fleshed out, and old, outdated topics removed or at least their discussion shortened. And every chapter now has a navigation box to help the reader understand the flow and key topics of the chapter.
Who should read this book? General managers interested in participating in information systems decisions will find this a good reference resource for the language and concepts of IS. Managers in the information systems field will find this book a good
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resource for beginning to understand the general manager’s view of how information systems affect business decisions. And IS students will be able to use the readings and concepts in this book as the beginning point in their journey to become informed and successful business people.
The information revolution is here. Where do you fit in?
Keri E. Pearlson and Carol S. Saunders
vi c Preface
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cAcknowledgments Books of this nature are written only with the support of many individuals. We would like to personally thank several individuals who helped with this text. Although we’ve made every attempt to include everyone who helped make this book a reality, there is always the possibility of unintentionally leaving some out. We apologize in advance if that is the case here.
Brandt Walker helped us with this edition by researching various topics, finding cases, and verifying examples from previous editions. We really appreciate his thoughtful efforts. We also appreciate the considerable efforts of Parul Acharya and Arturo Watlington III, students at the University of Central Florida who enthusiastically helped with proofreading, research and background checking of facts. Thank you also goes to Matthew Riley and Steve Kaplan of Presidio for help with the infrastructure and architecture concepts.
We also want to acknowledge and thank pbwiki.com. Without their incredible and free wiki, we would have been relegated to e-mailing drafts of chapters back and forth. For this edition, as with the fourth edition, we wanted to use Web 2.0 tools as we wrote about them. We found that having used the wiki for our previous edition, we were able to get up and running much faster than if we had to start over without the platform.
We have been blessed with the help of our colleagues in this and in previous editions of the book. They helped us by writing cases and reviewing the text. Our thanks continue to go out to Dennis Galletta, Jonathan Trower, Espen Andersen, Janis Gogan, Ashok Rho, Yvonne Lederer Antonucci, E. Jose Proenca, Bruce Rollier, Dave Oliver, Celia Romm, Ed Watson, D. Guiter, S. Vaught, Kala Saravanamuthu, Ron Murch, John Greenwod, Tom Rohleder, Sam Lubbe, Thomas Kern, Mark Dekker, Anne Rutkowski, Kathy Hurtt, Kay Nelson, John Butler, Philip Russell Saunders, Mihir Parikh, and Craig Tidwell. In addition, the students of the spring 2008 Technology Management and summer 2008 Information Resource Management classes at the University of Central Florida provided comments that proved helpful in writing some cases and making revisions. Though we cannot thank them by name, we also greatly appreciate the comments of the anonymous reviewers who have made a mark on this edition.
The book would not have been started were it not for the initial suggestion of a wonderful editor at John Wiley & Sons, Inc., Beth Lang Golub. Her persistence and patience have helped shepherd this book through many months of creation, modifica- tion, evaluation, and production, and she will shepherd it through translation into other languages. Special thanks go to Samantha Mandel, who very patiently helped us through the revision process. We also appreciate the help of all the staff at Wiley, who have made this edition a reality.
From Keri: Thank you to my husband, Dr. Yale Pearlson, and my daughter, Hana Pearlson. Once again, their patience with me while I worked on this edition was incredibly supportive. They understood my manic moments, and celebrated the
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victories and completion with as much joy as if they had written this book themselves. They also provided some ideas and examples, especially around the social business topics. I love you guys!
From Carol: Rusty, thank you for being my compass (always keeping me headed in the right direction) and my release valve (patiently walking me through stressful times— like writing revisions). I couldn’t do it without you. Every year I love you more! I love you, Kristin, Russell, and Janel very much!
viii c Acknowledgments
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cAbout the Authors Dr. Keri E. Pearlson is president of KP Partners, an advisory services firm specializing in creating business leaders skilled in the strategic use of information systems and organizational design in the Web 2.0 world. Dr. Pearlson is an entrepreneur, teacher, researcher, consultant, and thought leader. She has held various positions in academia and industry. She was a member of the information systems faculty at the Graduate School of Business at the University of Texas at Austin, where she taught management information systems courses to MBAs and executives. She held positions at the Harvard Business School, CSC, nGenera (formerly the Concours Group), AT&T, and Hughes Aircraft Company. While writing this edition, she was also an Adjunct faculty member at Babson College, in Wellesley, MA, and elected the first President of the Austin Area Society of Information Management chapter.
She is co-author of Zero Time: Providing Instant Customer Value—Every Time, All the Time (John Wiley & Sons, 2000). Her work has been published in numerous places including Sloan Management Review, Academy of Management Executive, and Infor- mation Resources Management Journal. Many of her case studies have been published by Harvard Business School Publishing and are used all over the world. She currently writes a blog on issues at the intersection of IT and business strategy. It’s available at www.kp partners .com.
Dr. Pearlson holds a Doctorate in Business Administration (DBA) in Management Information Systems from the Harvard Business School and both a Master’s Degree in Industrial Engineering Management and a Bachelor’s Degree in Applied Mathematics from Stanford University.
Dr. Carol S. Saunders is professor of Management at the University of Central Florida in Orlando, Florida, and Schoeller Senior Fellow (2012) at the University of Erlangen- Nuremberg. She served as General Conference Chair of the International Conference on Information Systems (ICIS) in 1999 and Telecommuting in 1996. She was the chair of the ICIS Executive Committee in 2000. For three years, she served as editor-in-chief of MIS Quarterly. She has received the Association of Information Systems (AIS) LEO award for lifetime accomplishments and is a Fellow of the AIS.
Her current research interests include the impact of information system on power and communication, overload, virtual teams, virtual worlds, time, sourcing, and inter- organizational linkages. Her research is published in a number of journals including MIS Quarterly, Information Systems Research, Journal of MIS, Communications of the ACM, Academy of Management Journal, Academy of Management Review, Communications Research, and Organization Science.
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cContents Introduction 1
The Case for Participating in Decisions about Information Systems 3 What If a Manager Doesn’t Participate? 6 Social Business Lens 8 Skills Needed to Participate Effectively in Information
Technology Decisions 9 Basic Assumptions 11 Economics of Information Versus Economics of Things 17 Summary 19 Key Terms 20 Discussion Questions 20 Case Study I-1: Terry Cannon, MBA 20 Case Study I-2: Anyglobal Company Inc. 22
c CHAPTER 1 The Information Systems Strategy Triangle 23
Brief Overview of Business Strategy Frameworks 26 Brief Overview of Organizational Strategies 33 Social Business Lens: Building a Social Business Strategy 34 Brief Overview of Information Systems Strategy 36 Summary 37 Key Terms 38 Discussion Questions 39 Case Study 1-1: Lego 39 Case Study 1-2: Google 41
c CHAPTER 2 Strategic Use of Information Resources 44
Evolution of Information Resources 45 Information Resources as Strategic Tools 47 How Can Information Resources Be Used Strategically? 51 Social Business Lens: Social Capital 64 Strategic Alliances 64 Risks 66 Co-Creating IT and Business Strategy 68 Summary 69 Key Terms 70
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Discussion Questions 70 Case Study 2-1: Groupon 71 Case Study 2-2: Zipcar 72
c CHAPTER 3 Organizational Strategy and Information Systems 74
Information Systems and Organizational Design 78 Social Business Lens: Social Networks 85 Information Systems and Management Control Systems 85 Information Systems and Culture 89 Summary 95 Key Terms 96 Discussion Questions 96 Case Study 3-1: The Merger of AirTran by Southwest Airlines:
Will the Organizational Cultures Merge? 97 Case Study 3-2: The FBI 98
c CHAPTER 4 Information Systems and the Design of Work 100
Work Design Framework 102 How Information Technology Supports Communication and Collaboration 104 How Information Technology Changes the Nature of Work 104 Social Business Lens: Activity Streams 113 How Information Technology Changes Where and When Work Is
Done and Who Does It 116 Gaining Acceptance for IT-Induced Change 128 Summary 130 Key Terms 131 Discussion Questions 132 Case Study 4-1: Trash and Waste Pickup Services, Inc. 132 Case Study 4-2: Social Networking: How does IBM Do It? 133
c CHAPTER 5 Information Systems for Managing Business Processes 135
Silo Perspective versus Business Process Perspective 137 Building Agile and Dynamic Business Processes 142 Changing Business Processes 143 Workflow and Mapping Processes 145 Enterprise Systems 148 Social Business Lens: Crowdsourcing Changes Innovation Processes 161 Summary 162 Key Terms 163 Discussion Questions 163 Case Study 5-1: Santa Cruz Bicycles 164 Case Study 5-2: Boeing 787 Dreamliner 165
Contents b xi
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c CHAPTER 6 Architecture and Infrastructure 167
From Vision to Implementation 168 The Leap from Strategy to Architecture to Infrastructure 170 From Strategy to Architecture to Infrastructure: An Example 177 Architectural Principles 180 Enterprise Architecture 180 Virtualization and Cloud Computing 183 Other Managerial Considerations 185 Social Business Lens: Building Social-Mobile Applications 192 Summary 192 Key Terms 193 Discussion Questions 193 Case Study 6-1: Enterprise Architecture at American Express 194 Case Study 6-2: The Case of Extreme Scientists 195
c CHAPTER 7 The Business of IT 197
Organizing to Respond to Business Demand: A Maturity Model 198 Understanding the IT Organization 199 What a Manager Can Expect from the IT Organization 199 Managing IT Activities Globally 203 What the IT Organization Does Not Do 205 Chief Information Officer 206 Social Business Lens: Community Management 208 Building a Business Case 209 IT Portfolio Management 213 Valuing IT Investments 215 Monitoring IT Investments 218 Funding IT Resources 222 How Much Does IT Cost? 226 Summary 231 Key Terms 233 Discussion Questions 233 Case Study 7-1: Troon Golf 234 Case Study 7-2: Balanced Scorecards at BIOCO 235
c CHAPTER 8 Governance of the Information Systems Organization 236
IT Governance 237 IT Governance and Security 244 Social Business Lens: The Consumerization of Technology 248 Decision-Making Mechanisms 248 Governance Frameworks for Control Decisions 251 Summary 257
xii c Contents
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Key Terms 257 Discussion Questions 257 Case Study 8-1: IT Governance at University of the Southeast 258 Case Study 8-2: The Big Fix at Toyota Motor Sales (TMS) 259
c CHAPTER 9 Information Systems Sourcing 261
Sourcing Decision Cycle Framework 262 Social Business Lens: iCloud 274 Outsourcing and Strategic Networks 283 Summary 284 Key Terms 285 Discussion Questions 285 Case Study 9-1: Crowdsourcing at AOL 285 Case Study 9-2: Altia Business Park 286
c CHAPTER 10 Managing IT Projects 288
What Defines a Project? 290 What is Project Management? 292 Project Elements 295 IT Projects 301 IT Project Development Methodologies and Approaches 303 Social Business Lens: Mashups 311 Managing IT Project Risk 312 Summary 319 Key Terms 320 Discussion Questions 320 Case Study 10-1: Implementing Enterprise Change Management at
Southern Company 321 Case Study 10-2: Dealing with Traffic Jams in London 322
c CHAPTER 11 Knowledge Management, Business Intelligence, and Analytics 325
Knowledge Management, Business Intelligence, and Business Analytics 327
Data, Information, and Knowledge 330 Knowledge Management Processes 335 Business Intelligence 335 Competing with Business Analytics 336 Components of Business Analytics 338 Big Data 340 Social Analytics 342
Contents b xiii
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Social Business Lens: Social Graphs 344 Caveats for Managing Knowledge and Business Intelligence 345 Summary 345 Key Terms 346 Discussion Questions 346 Case Study 11-1: Stop & Shop’s Scan It! App 347 Case Study 11-2: Business Intelligence at CKE Restaurants 348
c CHAPTER 12 Using Information Ethically 350
Responsible Computing 352 Corporate Social Responsibility 356 PAPA: Privacy, Accuracy, Property, and Accessibility 359 Social Business Lens: Personal Data 363 Security and Controls 369 Summary 371 Key Terms 372 Discussion Questions 372 Case Study 12-1: Ethical Decision Making 372 Case Study 12-2: Midwest Family Mutual Goes Green 375
xiv c Contents
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cIntroduction This chapter introduces the perspectives that are used throughout this text. It begins by making the case for general manager participation in information systems decisions and the consequences that arise when managers do not participate in IS decisions. Basic assumptions about management, business, and information systems made by the authors are stated. The chapter concludes with a brief discussion about the difference between the economics of information versus things.
Why do managers need to understand and participate in the information decisions of their organizations? After all, most corporations maintain entire departments dedicated to the management of information systems (IS). These departments are staffed with highly skilled professionals devoted to the field of technology. Shouldn’t managers rely on experts to analyze all the aspects of IS and to make the best decisions for the organization? The answer to that question is no.
Managing information is a critical skill for success in today’s business environment. All decisions made by companies involve, at some level, the management and use of IS. Managers today need to know about their organization’s capabilities and uses of information as much as they need to understand how to obtain and budget financial resources. The ubiquity of personal devices such as smart phones, laptops and tablets, and access to apps within corporations and externally over the Internet, highlights this fact because today’s technologies form the backbone for virtually all business models. This backbone easily crosses the globe, adding the need for a global competency to the manager’s skill set. Further, the proliferation of supply chain partnerships and the vast amount of technology available to individuals outside of the corporation has extended the urgent need for business managers to be involved in technology decisions. In addition, the availability of seemingly free (or at least very inexpensive) applications, collaboration tools and innovation engines in the consumer area has changed the landscape once again, increasing the integration of IS and business processes. A manager who does not understand the basics of managing and using information cannot be successful in this business environment.
The majority of U.S. adults own a smart phone, laptop, and access to online apps. According to the Pew Research Center, in 2011, 83% of U.S. adults had a cell phone of some kind, and of those who had a mobile phone, 42% had a smart phone.1 Individuals now have to manage a virtual “personal IS” and make decisions about applications to purchase. Doesn’t that give them insight into managing information systems in corpo- rations? Students often think that because of their personal experience with technology, they also are experts in corporate IS. There is some truth in that perspective, but it’s also a very dangerous perspective for managers to take. Certainly managing one’s own
1 Smartphone Adoption and Usage, July 2011, http://pewinternet.org/Reports/2011/Smartphones.aspx.
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information systems gives some experience that is useful in the corporate setting such as knowing about interesting apps, being able to use a variety of technologies for different purposes, and being familiar with the ups and downs of networking. But in a corporate setting, information systems must be enterprise-ready. They must be scalable for large number of employees; they must be delivered in an appropriate manner for the enterprise; they must be managed with corporate guidelines, and sometimes governmental regula- tions, in mind. Issues like security, privacy, risk, and architecture take on a new meaning within an enterprise, and someone has to manage them. A similar phenomenon occurred in the early days of database applications. Individuals who used a personal computer version of a database assumed they understood databases, but they ran into issues when they try to integrate enterprise-level data from multiple users. That required a different architecture and skill set. Enterprise-level managing and using information systems require a unique perspective managers develop over time.
Consider the now-historic rise of companies such as Amazon.com, Google and Zappos. Amazon.com began as an online bookseller and rapidly outpaced traditional brick-and-mortar businesses like Barnes and Noble, Borders, and Waterstones. Man- agement at the traditional companies responded by having their IS support personnel build Web sites to compete. But upstart Amazon.com moved on ahead, keeping its leadership position on the Web by leveraging its new business model into other marketplaces, such as music, electronics, health and beauty products, lawn and garden products, auctions, tools and hardware, and more. It cleared the profitability hurdle by achieving a good mix of IS and business basics: capitalizing on operational efficiencies derived from inventory software and smarter storage, cost cutting, and effectively partnering with such companies as Toys “R” Us Inc. and Target Corporation.2 More recently Amazon.com changed the basis of competition in another market, but this time it was the Web services business. Amazon.com Web services offers clients the extensive technology platform used for Amazon.com, but in an on-demand fashion for developing and running the client’s own applications. Shoe retailer Zappos.com challenged Ama- zon’s business model, in part by coupling a social business strategy with exemplary service and sales, and they were so successful that Amazon.com bought them.
Likewise, Google played an important role in revolutionizing the way information is located, changing the playing field for advertising and publishing business models. Google began in 1999 as a basic search company but quickly learned that a unique business model was a critical factor for future success. The company changed the way people thought about Web content by making it available in a searchable format with an incredibly fast response time and in a host of languages. Further, Google’s keyword- targeted advertising program revolutionized the way companies advertise. By 2001, Google announced its first quarter of profitability, solidifying the way the world finds information, publishes, and advertises.3 More recently, Google expanded into a com- plete suite of Web-based applications, such as calendaring, e-mail, collaboration, shopping, and maps and then enhanced the applications by combining them with social
2 Robert Hof, “How Amazon Cleared the Profitability Hurdle,” BusinessWeek Online (February 4, 2002), http://www.businessweek.com/magazine/content/02_05/b3768079.htm (accessed on May 23, 2002). 3 Adapted from information at www.google.com/corporate/history.html (accessed on June 17, 2005).
2 c Introduction
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tools to increase collaboration. Further, like Amazon.com, Google also offers clients similar on-demand services.4
These and other online businesses are able to succeed where traditional companies have not, in part because their management understood the power of information, IS, and the Web. These exemplary online businesses did not succeed because their managers could build Web pages or assemble an IS network. Quite the contrary. The executives in these new businesses understood the fundamentals of managing and using information and could marry that knowledge with a sound, unique business vision to achieve domination of their intended market spaces.
The goal of this book is to provide the foundation to help the general business manager become a knowledgeable participant in IS decisions because any IS decision in which the manager does not participate can greatly affect the organization’s ability to succeed in the future. This introduction outlines the fundamental reasons for taking the initiative to participate in IS decisions. Moreover, because effective participation requires a unique set of managerial skills, this introduction identifies the most important ones. These skills are helpful not just in making IS decisions, but all business decisions. We describe how managers should participate in the decision-making process and outline key topics to consider which develop this point of view. Finally, this introduction presents current models for understanding the nature of a business and an information system to provide a framework for the discussions that follow in subsequent chapters.
c THE CASE FOR PARTICIPATING IN DECISIONS ABOUT INFORMATION SYSTEMS
Experience shows that business managers have no problem participating in most organizational decisions, even those outside their normal business expertise. For example, ask a plant manager about marketing problems, and the result is likely to be a detailed opinion on both key issues and recommended solutions. Dialogue among managers routinely crosses all business functions in formal as well as informal settings, with one general exception: IS. Management continues to tolerate ignorance in this area relative to other specialized business functions. Culturally, managers can claim igno- rance of IS issues without losing prestige among colleagues. On the other hand, admitting a lack of knowledge regarding marketing or financial aspects of the business earns colleagues’ contempt.
These attitudes are attributable to the historic role that IS played in businesses. For many years, technology was regarded as a support function and treated as administrative overhead. Its value as a factor in important management decisions was minimal. It often took a great deal of technical knowledge to understand even the most basic concepts.
However, in today’s business environment, maintaining this back-office view of technology is certain to cost market share and could ultimately lead to the failure of the organization. Technology has become entwined with all the classic functions of
4 For more information on the latest services by these two companies, see http://www.amazon.com and http:// www.google.com/enterprise/cloud/.
The Case for Participating in Decisions about Information Systems b 3
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business—operations, marketing, accounting, finance—to such an extent that under- standing its role is necessary for making intelligent and effective decisions about any of them. Furthermore, a general understanding of key IS concepts is possible without the extensive technological knowledge required just a few years ago. Most managers today have personal technology such as a smart phone or tablet that is more functional than many corporate-supported personal computers provided by enterprises just a few years ago. In fact, the proliferation of personal technologies makes everyone a “pseudo- expert.” Each individual must manage applications on smart phones, make decisions about applications to purchase, and procure technical support when the systems fail. Finally, with the robust number of consumer applications available on the Web, many decisions historically made by the IS group are increasingly being made by individuals outside the IS, sometimes at the detriment of corporate objectives.
Therefore, understanding basic fundamentals about using and managing informa- tion is worth the investment of time. The reasons for this investment are summarized in Figure I-1 and are discussed next.
A Business View
Information technology (IT) is a critical resource for today’s businesses. It both supports and consumes a significant amount of an organization’s resources. Just like the other three major types of business resources—people, money, and machines—it needs to be managed wisely.
IT spends a significant portion of corporate budgets. Worldwide IT spending topped $3.7 trillion in 2011, a jump of almost 8% from the previous year. It’s projected to continue to increase.5 More than 350 companies each plan to invest more than $1 billion in IT, particularly in cloud, social, mobile and big data. Companies in a Gartner study reported that cloud services will grow five times faster than overall IT enterprise spending annually through 2015.
These resources must return value, or they will be invested elsewhere. The business manager, not the IS specialist, decides which activities receive funding, estimates the risk associated with the investment, and develops metrics for evaluating the performance of the
IS must be managed as a critical resource
IS enable change in the way people work together
IS are part of almost every aspect of business
IS enable or inhibit business opportunities and new strategies
IS can be used to combat business challenges from competitors
FIGURE I-1 Reasons why business managers should participate in information systems decisions.
5 http://www.gartner.com/technology/research/it-spending-forecast/ (accessed on February 12, 2012).
4 c Introduction
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investment. Therefore, the business manager needs a basic grounding in managing and using information. On the flip side, IS managers need a business view to be able to explain how the technology will impact the business and what the tradeoffs are.