Prof. Mike Uretsky

9-74 Management Center




Sudheer Arora (TA)


Jennifer  Brown (Blackboard)


Laura Wenham  (Secy.)




B01.2119 – Fundamentals of Information Technology and Electronic Commerce

Fall 2001


Major technological advances always bring with them changes to industries, companies and managerial requirements.  This was true with the steam engine, the railroads, the electric motor, the telephone, etc.  It is happening again as powerful distributed, interconnected information systems become ubiquitous. 


This course focuses on information technology and the changes it brings about.  We will examine IT at three levels:

·        The technology needed to facilitate and enable current business activities.  This examination will include identification of trends that should be monitored as indicators of future direction.

·        Changes taking place in market structure, decision-making and business strategy.

·        Issues relating to the use of information technology as a source of long-term gains in productivity and competitive positioning.


When you finish this course, you will have the tools needed to evaluate the impact of information technology on a company’s operations.  In addition, you will be able to:

·        Identify the critical technologies facilitating or driving the modern business environment.  For each technology, you will be able to explain its characteristics, use, importance, limitations and trends.

·        Describe both the firm’s IT infrastructure and how it impacts the firm’s strategies and activities.

·        Able to identify technology-related management issues, describe the importance of theses issues, and identify options for addressing them.

·        Describe changes in markets and market structures related to IT.

·        Discuss typical IT issues with professionals in the field.

Assumed Background


The following assumptions guide the design and structure of this course.

·        You have a computer and you know how to use it for things like gaining access to the Internet.

·        You have a general familiarity with standard Internet tools, e.g., you have used one or more browsers and search engines.

·        You can use the standard capabilities of program suites, e.g., Microsoft Office.

·        You read the newspaper every day and can discuss current events impacting the information technology world.



Texts and Other Resources


The Required texts serve two objectives.  Along with additional handouts, they provide an overview of the invariant characteristics of information technology.  They also provide a roadmap of the changing technologies and their potential impact on business.


·        MA - Menasce, Daniel A., and Almeida, Virgilio A., Scaling for E-Business, Upper Saddle river, NJ: Prentice Hall, 2000.

·        R - Uretsky, M.   Fundamentals of Information Technology and Electronic Commerce – Readings and Case Packet, 2001.

·        RS – Readings supplement (to be given out in class).

·         (OPTIONAL) SR - Stair, Ralph M. and Reynolds, George W., Fundamentals of Information Systems.  Course Technologies, 2001.  (NOTE: This text is purely optional.  Any references to it in this document are purely optional.  Skim it and if you honestly feel that you understand its contents, don't get it!)


The Menasce and Almeida text provides a technological framework for understanding the computer infrastructure needed to support an electronic business environment.  With modification, the same approach can be used to address most aspects of the information technology infrastructure.   It is the framework that is critical.

NOTE: Be sure to download and install the Excel simulations found both on Blackboard and at  These simulations will be used to drive some of the structure analyses and discussions.  Be sure to use the simulations to work through the examples in the text.  (There are comments within the chapters telling you which examples are accompanied by Excel simulations).


In addition to the above texts, you will find that the Internet is a treasure trove of supplementary information. 

·        You can always get definitions and explanations of individual technologies from one of the readily available sites access through a search engine, like Google. 

·        The school also has a contract with Jupiter Research.  They produce a large number of excellent research papers regarding current trends and issues. 

·        Be sure to access web sites of companies mentioned in cases or research reports. 

·        Information about technologies and trends can generally be found on the web sites of technology companies, e.g., IBM, Microsoft, Sun or major consulting firms publishing reports as a form of advertising.





Your grade in this course will be based on the following components:





Written Case Analyses



Technology Quizzes



Infrastructure Analyses










All of the above items will be graded on a 100-pooint basis, i.e., you will not be receiving letter grades for individual assignments.  These grades will ultimately be combined using the weights specified above.  The final grade will be based upon the weighted numerical score.


Groups.  Some of the activities will take place in groups.  You may form your own groups.  They should consist of 3-4 class members.  Groups will be formed during the first class.


Comments on Deliverables:  Because of the large class size, general comments will be posted on Blackboard.  You will only get individual comments when they relate to something that is unique to your presentation.


Deadlines:  Deliverables are due on the dates listed on the assignment.  They must be turned in at the beginning of the class session.  (This is defined as the time at which the class is scheduled to begine)  If you are traveling or otherwise unable to attend class, they should be submitted in advance or by fax.  (The same deadline applies).  You may not submit them as email attachments!  You will be penalized 10 points per day for late submissions.


Mandatory Curve.  The Dean’s Office has mandated that no more than 35% of the grades in a core course may be A or A-.



Content and Structure of Course and Class Sessions


This course outline is specifically designed for Langone Students who are attending classes once a week for sessions lasting several hours.  As such, the topics in the course have been linked to themes and each session will cover material falling into each of these themes.  Stated another way, instead of having a session dealing primarily with hardware or software, we will deal with hardware and software issues throughout the course, but in the context of providing a technology infrastructure, dealing with changing technologies, dealing with changing user behavior, etc.


From a delivery point of view, the individual sessions will be a mix of lecture, group activities, case discussions, etc.  Thus, for example, we may take a snack break that includes giving you time to meet with your group and discuss a specific topic or case.





Blackboard (a course management program available on the Stern web) will be used to support all the class activities.  It is designed to accomplish several objectives.

·        It provides you with detailed information regarding all aspects of the course.

·        It helps you access the essential materials needed for each session in the course.  (NOTE: these materials are just a starting point and you should go beyond them).

·        It facilitates access to other web sites related to each session in the course.

·        You will have specific discussion and information sharing assignments that must take place on Blackboard.  You MUST participate in Blackboard assignments and discussions every week.  Your participation will be monitored and your active participation will be a component of the 'class participation' segment of your course grade.


You will find the following information on blackboard:

·        Bulletins regarding clarifications, schedules, or last minute changes.  (NOTE:  Last minute announcements will be posted here.  There will be no broadcast emails.  It is thus essential that you check this section Blackboard on a regular basis).

·        The outline for this course.

·        A listing of assignments and detailed instructions for satisfying each one.  The assignments will frequently include questions or comments to help you focus on important issues raised within the case or reading assignment.

·        References to illustrative web sites that will be helpful to you.

·        Copies of class slides.  (Note:  I will generally publish a preliminary set of class slides before each class.  Feel free to download them and use them   taking notes.  These are preliminary slides.  They do not include items that I was to evolve from class discussions.  I also reserve the right to update the slides up until class time).  A final set of slides will be posted after each session.

·        Discussion boards to discuss class issues, get help from other students, etc.

If you have general questions about assignments or deliverables or the course, you should post hem within the Blackboard discussion board rather than send individual emails to me.  This way everyone will benefit from the dialogue.

·        Each group will have a private group area.  This area can be used for passing information back and forth, sending email to your group, and holding group discussions.  Effective use of this facility will significantly reduce the need for face-to-face meetings.


Blackboard will be available by this weekend.  You will get an email from me telling you that it is available, how to access it, and how to use it.


You can access "My Blackboard" at  You will see a list of all courses for which you are registered in Blackboard and can link directly from there.  You should use their net ID and associated password to enter.  If you do not find this course listed in My Blackboard, your registration is not complete.  Once it is, you can contact Jennifer Brown at to get yourself included.





The best way to contact me is by email.  I monitor it throughout the day, and also over the weekend.  In order to ensure that I give you message high priority, please preface the subject line of all class-related emails with B01.2119-Fall.  My email address is 



Elaboration on Assignments


Written Cases Analyses


Everyone must read every case and come to class prepared to discuss it.  You will be randomly selected for case-related comments.


Every group must prepare and submit a written analysis of two cases.  You must do the Sun case and any one of the others – not including the Dell Case.  Case analyses test your ability to understand complex situations, put them in a broadly defined business context, and analyze the implications of the situation.  Cases do not have to be descriptions of something that is wrong.  They can just as easily be situations raising interesting discussion points.  In particular, for purposes of this class, we are focusing on the information technology implications of the case,


Case write-ups should be a maximum of 10 pages long.  They must be in PowerPoint format – preferably with ‘speaker’s notes.’   The cases must stand alone, i.e., not need any elaboration.  The use of the PowerPoint ‘speaker’s notes’ is an opportunity to elaborate on or clarify your points.


Be sure to bring the case up to date before starting.  Review the firm’s web site.  Check analyst and industry reports.


Use the following outline for your presentation.  I will use it as a grading checklist.

·        Title page – group, names of group members, student identification numbers, course number, contact phone number, email addresses.  The title page does not count in the 10-page limit.

·        Company description

·        Industry description – Who are the major competitors?  What is the basis for competition (now and in the future)?  Where does the firm stand in the competitive environment?

·        Critical business issues they are facing.  As such, this discussions should include both industry and company-specific items,

·        How does IT add value and build competitive advantages for this company?  See the Mata, et al article.  How sustainable are these advantages?  If IT impacts both the firm’s market and it’s internal operations, you should deal with both of them separately.

·        What are the critical IT issues for this firm?  Why are they critical?  (Here too, if IT impacts both the firm’s market and it’s internal operations, you should deal with both of them separately).

·        What would you recommend?  If you have several recommendations, what are your recommended priorities? What is the impact of following your recommendations?


Your substantiation of your points is very important.  More emphasis will be placed on the substantiation than on the specific points.


Cases must be turned in at the start of class on the day on which it is due.  You will lose credit for anything that is submitted after that point.  (See the grading section).



Technology Quizzes


Blackboard will contain technology quizzes for each session.  These quizzes are intended to make sure that you understand the technologies relating to that session.  You must take and pass these quizzes prior to coming to class.  You may retake the quizzes until you pass.  Note that the exams are non-credit, but you must pass each one prior to the start of the class where it is discussed.



Infrastructure Analyses


Several of the sessions will contain assignments asking you to analyze portions of the firm’s IT infrastructure.  These analyses will generally require that you use the models presented in the text and then respond to questions


The infrastructure analyses will have to be turned in at the start of the classes for which they are assigned.



Class Performance


You are expected to come to every class and to participate in the activities taking place.  If you miss a number of sessions and/or just let your classmates do the work, you will lose a portion of this credit.


A series of questions will be posted on Blackboard for each class session.  You may consult with your business colleagues and/or IT experts regarding these questions.  (In one or two instances, I will ask you to consult with them).  You should post your comments on Blackboard and you should comment on the postings from others in the class.


Your weekly use of Blackboard and participation in discussions will be monitored and considered as part of the course grade.






Overview of Class Sessions











·          Class structure

·          Deliverables

·          Class organization






·          Course Summary

·          Submission of take-home final

Technology and Trends

·          Hardware and software fundamentals


·          Client-server

·          Internet overview

·          Web structure and operation

·          Infrastructure standards as building blocks

·          Data representation

·          Intelligence on the web

·          Data analysis and knowledge discovery

·          Towards a wireless environment

·          Decision automation


·          Payment mechanisms

·          Critical trends to track

·          Visualization

·          Framework for a performance audit

Technology Infrastructure

·          Overview

·          Analytical framework

·          Web site infrastructure

·          Towards a distributed web environment

·          Peer-peer structures

·          Security

·          Capacity planning

·          Dealing with growth and changing usage patterns


Business Impact

·          Framework

·          Information value chain

·          Productivity matrix

·          Total cost of ownership

·          Modeling a web site

·          Understanding changing user behavior

·          The B-C environment

·          The B-B environment

·          Capital investment




Technology Management and Issues



·          Introduction to performance modeling

·          Economics framework

·          Information goods and markets

·          Intellectual property rights

·          Development strategies (Open Source)

·          Development and management strategies (outsourcing, ASPs, etc)

·          Community formation

·          Changing work environment

·          Privacy issues

·          International regulatory and business concerns


·          Towards the knowledge firm


Weekly Schedule






Learning Objectives

When you have completed this session, you will be able to:

·        Outline all of the requirements for the course.

·        Identify the components of a typical computer system.

·        Describe a framework for evaluating the role of IT in an organization’s strategy and operations.

·        Identify features that seem important for gaining and sustaining a technology-based competitive advantage.

·         Describe a framework for evaluating IT performance.   This framework will be refined over the course of the semester.


Required Reading

·        Dell Case

·        MA – Chapter 1

·        R – Mata et al

·        R – Davern and Kaufman


Optional Reading

·        SR – Chapters 1,2



·        None







Weekly Schedule




Learning Objectives

When you have completed this session, you will be able to:

·        Explain how a client server system works.

·        Identify the importance of a client server environment.

·        Describe the structure of the Internet

·        Explain how a browser works within this environment.

·        Identify the data that is collected as a by-product of web use, along with the limitations of this data.

·        Describe an analytic framework for modeling both a web-based company and its supporting infrastructure.

·        Identify changes that may take place in user behavior and conjecture about areas that are likely to be impacted.


Required Reading

·        MA – Chapters 2,3

·        Sun Case

·        Stern Weblogs


Optional Reading

·        ST – Chapters 3,4



·        Sun Case (all)

·        Infrastructure assignment based on MA

·        Tracert

·        Discussion of Stern Weblogs on Blackboard

·        On-line quiz






Weekly Schedule




Learning Objectives

When you have completed this session, you will be able to:

·        Explain how data is stored and retrieved in a computer-based system.

·        Relate data storage and retrieval to the IT infrastructure and its performance.

·        Explain how use of the Internet can be personalized.

·        Explain how personalization is impacting the B-C environment.

·        Describe an economic framework for explaining the impact of IT on B-C relations and information goods.

·        Describe growing intelligence on the Internet and conjecture about both the impact of these changes and their potential impact on companies and their customers.


Required Reading

·        R - Berners-Lee, et al.

·        R - Case – Broadvision

·        R – Case - Firefly

·        R – Dornfest

·        R – Han and Mani

·        R - Lieberman et al.

·        R -“Brewing a Hailstorm”


Optional Reading

·        ST – Chapters 5,6



·        Broadvision – optional

·        Firefly – optional

·        Online quiz

·        Blackboard discussion






Weekly Schedule




Learning Objectives

When you have completed this session, you will be able to:

·        Explain the infrastructure needed to support wireless activities.

·        Identify opportunities for using wireless-based geolocation capabilities to improve company activities.

·        Identify changes to the technological infrastructure (hardware, software, communications) needed to build upon a wireless environment.

·        Explain how peer-to-peer systems (Napster?) work and then conjecture about their impact on both the B-C and B-B environments.

·        Describe the impact of the Internet on B-B relationships and then describe how these impacts differ from those found in the B-C environment.

·        Outline the impact of the Internet on domestic and international concerns regarding intellectual property rights.

·        Explain the concept of ‘open systems’ and then discuss the apparent advantages/disadvantages of this approach to systems design. 


Required Reading

·        MA – Chapter 8

·        R – Armor – Open Source

·        R – Case - Freemarkets

·        R – Case - Red Hat

·        R - Lam & Tan

·        R - Meyer

·        R - Mundie


Optional Reading

·        ST – 7,8



·        Infrastructure assignment based on MA

·        Freemarkets case – optional

·        Red Hat case – optional

·        Online Quiz

·        Blackboard discussion

Weekly Schedule






Learning Objectives

When you have completed this session, you will be able to:

·        Describe the operation and components of payment mechanisms on the Internet.

·        Describe a framework for eBusiness security, including identifying objectives, components, and trade-offs.

·        Identify factors impacting capacity planning for eBusiness companies, along with tradeoffs between work load and performance.

·        Discuss the likely impact of new technologies on payment mechanisms, security, outsourcing and company operating styles.

·        Explain how new technological capability have impact (and are likely to impact) the formation of ‘communities of interest,’ Internet use, and company activities.


Required Reading

·        MA – Chapters 5-7

·        R – Markus et al

·        R – Nelson and Farrell

·        RS -  Djunic and Richton


Optional Reading

·        ST – Chapter 9



·        Infrastructure assignment based on MA

·        Blackboard Quiz

·        Blackboard discussion







Weekly Schedule






Learning Objectives

When you have completed this session, you will be able to:

·        Identify important technology trends along with their likely impact.

·        Explain how changing usage patterns impact the firms technology infrastructure.

·        Identify and discuss privacy issues arising as a by-product of the growing electronic infrastructure.

·        Identify and discuss international regulatory issues and how they impact global firms and markets.


Required Reading

·        MA – chapters 9, 12

·        R- Eick

·        R – Borriello

·        R – Armor – Pervasive Computing

·         RS - Chen


Optional Reading













Weekly Schedule






Learning Objectives

A large portion of this session will be based on the contents of the take-home final that must be turned in at the beginning of the class.

In addition, when you have completed this session, you will be able to:

·        Design a performance audit for electronic firms.

·        Identify and discuss technological and organizational issues concerned with moving to a knowledge-based firm.


Required Reading

·        MA – Chapters 13, 14

·        RS – Choo

·        RS - Lawton



Optional Reading








·        Take home final






Appendix 1 – Contents of Readings Book


“Building User-Centric Experiences: An Introduction to Microsoft Hailstorm,”  A Microsoft White Paper. 2001.

Armor, Daniel.  “Pervasive Computing” in Armor. D. The E-Business Revolution: Living in an Interconnected World..  Prentice-Hall. 1999.

Armor, Daniel.  “The Open Source Community” in Armor, D. The E-Business Revolution: Living in an Interconnected World.  Prentice-Hall. 1999.

Berners-Lee, T., et al.  “The Semantic Web.”  Scientific American.  May 2001. 

Borriello, Gaetano. “The Challenges to Invisible Computing.” Computer. November 2000, 123-125.

Case – Broadvision

Case – Dell Online

Case – Firefly Network (A)

Case – FreeMarkets OnLine

Case – Red Hat and the Linux Revolution

Chen, Chaomai and Raul, Roy J. “Visualizing a Knowledge Domain’s Intellectual Structure.”  Computer.  March 2001.  65-71. (Readings Supplement).

Choo, Chen Wei.  The Intelligent Organization: Mobilizing Organizational Knowledge Through Information Partnerships.  Internet

Davern, Michael J. and Kaufman, Robert J. “Discovering Potential and Realizing Value From Information Technology Investments.”  JMIS.  Spring 2000.  121-143.

Djunic, Goran M. and Richton, Robert E., “Geolocation and Assisted GPS,” Computer, February 2001, 123-125. (Readings Supplement).

Dornfest, Rael.  “Brewing a Hailstorm.”  The O’Reilly Network.  3/23/2001.

Eick, Stephen G. “Visualizing Online Activity.”  JACM.  August 2001.  45-51.

Hahn, Udo and Mani, Inderjeet. “The Challenges of Automatic Summarization.”  Computer.  November 2000. 29-36.

Lam, Calvin K. M. “The Internet is Changing the Music Industry.”  JACM.  August 2001.  62-67.

Lawton, George. “Knowledge Management: Ready for Prime Time?” Computer, February 2001, 12-14.  (Readings Supplement).

Lieberman, H., et al.  “Exploring the Web with Reconnaissance Agents.”  JACM.  August 2001.  69-75.

Markus, M. Lynne, et al. “What Makes a Virtual Organization Work?”  Sloan Management Review. 

Mata, Francisco J., et al.  “Information Technology and Sustained Competitive Advantage:  A Resource-Based Analysis.”  MISQ.  December 1995. 

Meyer, Bertrand.  “.NET is Coming.”  Computer. August 2001.  92-97

Mundie, Craig.  The Commercial Software Model.  Speech given at the Stern School of Business.  May 3, 2001.

Nelson, C. and Farrell, W., “Transforming Legacy Applications with Web Services.”  IBM Developer Toolbox.