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Information Systems: A Manager’s Guide to Harnessing Technology


• Select one question from each section.
• Write at least one paragraph per question.
• In the header on the left hand side place your name and on the right hand side place the date.
• When completed upload your answers onto Blackboard to receive credit.

Section 9.1


• What distinguishes the various technologies and services that fall under the old-school Web 2.0 moniker (social media and peer production) from the prior generation of Internet sites?

• Several examples of rapidly rising Web 2.0 efforts are listed in this section. Make your own list of Web 1.0 and Web 2.0 services and technologies. Would you invest in them? Why or why not? Are there cautionary tales of efforts that may not have lived up to their initial hype or promise? Why do you suppose they failed?

• In what ways do social, peer-produced efforts challenge the assumptions that Michael Porter made regarding Strategy and the Internet?

• Trends in computing platforms and Internet services change quickly. How have the firms profiled in the bullet points above fared? Has each increased in use, value, and impact or shrunk? Are there other efforts or updates that you think are worthy of making the list in the next edition of this book?

• How has social media changed the way you consume entertainment, play games, and learn about news? How important are these services to your generation versus the way your parents consume such information? What do these trends mean for managers and marketers?

Section 9.2

• Search online to find out which blogs are currently the most popular. Why do you suppose the leaders are so popular?

• How are popular blogs discovered? How is their popularity reinforced?

• Are blog comment fields useful? If so, to whom or how? What is the risk associated with allowing users to comment on blog posts? How should a blogger deal with comments that they don’t agree with?

• Why would a corporation, an executive, a news outlet, or a college student want to blog? What are the benefits? What are the concerns?

• Identify firms and executives that are blogging online. Bring examples to class and be prepared to offer your critique of their efforts. Show what you feel are effective examples, as well as those that you think are weak. How can the bad ones improve?

Section 9.3

• Visit a wiki, either an established site like Wikipedia, or a wiki service like Socialtext, PBWorks, or Atlassian Confluence. Make an edit to a wiki entry or use a wiki service to create a new wiki for your own use (e.g., for a class team to use in managing a group project). Be prepared to share your experience with the class.
• What factors determine the value of a wiki? Which key concept, first introduced in Chapter 2 “Strategy and Technology: Concepts and Frameworks for Understanding What Separates Winners from Losers” drives a wiki’s success?

• If anyone can edit a wiki, why aren’t more sites crippled by vandalism or by inaccurate or inappropriate content? Are there technical reasons not to be concerned? Are there “social” reasons that can alleviate concern?

• Give examples of corporate wiki use, as well as examples where firms used wikis to engage their customers or partners. What is the potential payoff of these efforts? Are there risks associated with these efforts?

• Do you feel that you can trust content in wikis? Do you feel this content is more or less reliable than content in print encyclopedias? Than the content in newspaper articles? Why?

Section 9.4

• Visit the major social networks (Facebook, LinkedIn, Google+, Pinterest). What distinguishes one from the other? Are you a member of any of these services? Why or why not?

• How are organizations like Deloitte, Goldman Sachs, and IBM using social networks? What advantages do they gain from these systems?

• What factors might cause an individual, employee, or firm to be cautious in their use of social networks?

• How do you feel about the feed feature common in social networks like Facebook? What risks does a firm expose itself to if it leverages feeds? How might a firm mitigate these kinds of risks?

• Investigate Facebook for Work. Would you want to use this service? Would it concern you? Why or why not?

Section 9.5

• If you don’t already have one, set up a Twitter account and “follow” several others. To get more from Twitter, consider installing the free TweetDeck or using the Twitter smartphone app. Follow a diverse group—corporations, executives, pundits, or other organizations. Do you trust that account holders are who they say they are? Why? Which examples do you think use the service most effectively? Which provide the weaker examples of effective Twitter use? Why? Have you encountered Twitter “spam” or unwanted followers? What can you do to limit such experiences? Be prepared to discuss your experiences with your class.

• Visit Which Twitter hash tags are most active at this time? Are there other “trending topics” that aren’t associated with hash tags? What do you think of the activity in these areas? Is there legitimate, productive activity happening? Search Twitter for topics, firms, brand names, and issues of interest to you. What do you think of the quality of the information you’ve uncovered on Twitter? Who might find this to be useful? You can target your search with greater detail using “Advanced Search.”

• Why would a person or organization choose to use Twitter over Facebook’s status update or other services? Which (if either) do you prefer and why?

• What do you think of Twitter’s revenue prospects? Is the firm a viable independent service or simply a feature to be incorporated into other social media activity? Advocate where you think the service will be in two years, five, ten. Would you invest in Twitter? Would you suggest that other firms do so? Why?

• How does Twitter Amplify appeal to content right holders, to advertisers, and to Twitter? What advantages does this ad product offer to each?

Section 9.6

• What makes for a “wise” crowd? When might a crowd not be so wise?

• Find a prediction market online and participate in the effort. Be prepared to share your experience with your class, including any statistics of predictive accuracy, participant incentives, business model of the effort, and your general assessment of the appeal and usefulness of the effort.

• Brainstorm on the kinds of organizations that might deploy prediction markets. Why might you think the efforts you suggest and advocate would be successful?

• In what ways are legal issues of concern to prediction market operators?

Section 9.7

• What is crowdsourcing? Give examples of organizations that are taking advantage of crowdsourcing and be prepared to describe these efforts.

• What ethical issues should firms be aware of when considering crowdsourcing? Are there other concerns firms may have when leveraging this technique?

• Assume the role of a manager or consultant. Recommend a firm and a task that would be appropriate for crowdsourcing. Justify your choice, citing factors such as cost, breadth of innovation, time, constrained resources, or other factors. How would you recommend the firm conduct this crowdsourcing effort?

Chapter 10 – The Sharing Economy, Collaborative Consumption, and Creating More Efficient Markets through Technology

Section 10.1

• Which firms are the biggest players in the sector often referred to as “the sharing economy” or “collaborative consumption”? Have you used any of these firms? What was your experience like? Would you use them again or recommend them to a friend? Why or why not?

• Research this segment and identify firms that should be considered part of the sharing economy but that aren’t mentioned above. What do you think of the prospects for the firm or firms you’ve identified? Why do you think they’ll succeed or fail?

Section 10.2

• What problems did Lyft face when trying to expand in the Boston market? Why do you suppose Uber is winning in Boston and many other cities?

• Make a list of products that many people own, but that are underutilized. Are there sharing economy start-ups for these categories? If so, conduct some research to try to determine how they’re doing. If not, do you think a market should be established? Why or why not? What challenges might such marketplaces face?

• Give examples of firms that provide supply through peer-to-peer efforts, and collaborative consumption firms that take ownership of inventory.
• Why do some collaborative consumption firms choose to take possession of inventory rather than allow the “crowd” to provide it peer-to-peer style?
• Why do many collaborative consumption marketplaces work well in fragmented markets? What advantages do they offer buyers and sellers over traditional mechanisms of dealing with fragmented markets?

Section 10.3

• Which collaborative consumption firms have Google and Condé Nast invested in? Why are these firms potentially attractive to their corporate investors?

• Give examples of traditional firms that have partnered with collaborative consumption players. What does each hope to gain from the partnership?

• Name traditional firms that have experimented with their own collaborative consumption efforts. Conduct additional research online. Are these efforts successful, failed, or is it too early to tell? What do you think of future prospects?

Section 10.4

• How do Airbnb’s total number of accommodations compare to the room count for Hilton?

• How does Airbnb ensure safety and encourage trust among transacting parties? What role does technology play in trust assurance?

• How does the firm limit the likelihood that it will be ripped off by unscrupulous operators?

• What sort of legal trouble has Airbnb run into? Put yourself in the shoes of city lawmakers. List the pros and cons of allowing Airbnb or other property sharing services to operate in your city. Would you allow these services? Why or why not? If you would approve the service, would you extract concessions or write laws that force some changes that impact how Airbnb and its partners do business?

• Visit Airbnb and browse properties at a vacation destination you’d like to visit, and listings in the area where you live. Would you rent a stay through Airbnb? Why or why not? Would you make your own property available? Why or why not?

Section 10.5

• What do you think Google sees in Uber? Do you think the firm should have invested in Uber? Why or why not?

• Is Uber good for the economy or bad? Justify your answer.

• How might Uber impact cities? Impact car ownership? Should municipalities embrace Uber? Ban it? Regulate it? Have local authorities acted on ride-sharing services like Uber? Do you think their action was appropriate? Develop recommendations for your region and present it to class.

• Lyft has tried to compete with Uber by undercutting the firm’s surge pricing. Will this tactic work? Why or why not?

• How does Uber ensure rider and passenger quality? As a rider or passenger, how would do you feel about these efforts? How does this change the service dynamic compared with traditional cab rides?

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