Vasant Dhar

Press Appearances

I mainly teach three classes at Stern:

1. Digital Marketing: This core course of the Digital Marketing specialization at Stern addresses a fundamental business question of the digital age: how to increase shareholder value through digital media. This is a question that all firms are currently struggling to answer in an era where they can, for the first time, engage in rapid twoway conversations with potential and current customers. If firms ask themselves the question “how do we attract and retain customers?” the answer to this looks very different from a decade ago when the Internet was in its infancy. At the current time, reputations can be impacted within minutes, presenting great opportunity as well as a high degree of risk.

The focus of the course is on how to make firms more intelligent in how they conduct business in the digital age. This requires a fundamental understanding of the technologies and platforms that form the backbone of electronic commerce, the ability to govern and leverage large amounts of data that are generated as a by-product of electronic interactions, and sociological norms and individual preferences. Measurement plays a big role in this space. As a modern-day figure famously remarked “In God we believe, everyone else please bring data.”

2. Trading Strategies and Systems: As financial markets become more electronic and more liquid, a higher degree of knowledge about systems and analytics is required in order to compete. This course teaches students how modern financial markets function as a network of systems and information flows, and how to use the information emanating from the markets for decision making and building and implementing systematic computer-based models for trading.

The financial industry as we know it today wouldn’t exist without high powered information systems. These systems make markets possible through electronic intermediation and supporting services such as data and analytical support, payment, settlement, authentication and representation. They are also becoming used increasingly to support or make decisions about taking or controlling some sort of risk – financial, operational, and regulatory.

The course begins with a description of the financial markets, specifically, equity, currency, fixed income, and commodities, and the systems that enable them. We consider exchanges, ECNs, and other dealer markets and the information that emanates from them. This provides the backdrop for the bulk of the course which covers the design, evaluation and execution of trading strategies that are commonly used by professionals in the various markets. There is increasing interest in particular, on systematic trading strategies and execution systems because of their scalability and transparency.

The course strikes a balance between theory and practice by grounding the discussion in the current state of financial markets. Senior portfolio managers from industry are invited to class periodically, and students are encouraged to make the most of these visits. The course requires students to do several hands-on exercises with real market data. The exercises start with a review of simple concepts of risk and return and progress to simple trading strategies that students build and evaluate. The objective is to help you understand how to assess markets in an orderly and scientific way so as to be able to draw sound inferences from the analysis.

3. IT&Corporate Strategy: We are at the early stages of an information revolution where information technologies are redefining business models, transforming industries, creating new markets, and generating a whole new “space” where new human communities, behaviors, norms, and regulation are just beginning to emerge. Information technologies are an increasing part of developing new products and services, of integrating business functions, and of managing customer relationships. IT-driven disruptions in business models are frequent.

In such a business environment, decisions about information technologies are increasingly central to business success. In more stable, “industrial age” industries, business models were relatively stable, and the central basis for success with IT investments involved aligning them with complementary organizational and process changes. However, when IT transforms an industry, it realigns the industry’s structure and boundaries, and changes the fundamental business models that work.

The course is case oriented. The cases have been chosen to cover a range of industries and transformations of business models over the last ten years, and span search advertising, financial intermediation, retailing, digital music, telecommunications, the IT industry, entertainment and gaming, and social networking. (Sample cases and questions are listed in Appendix 1.) Since the emphasis of the course is on information technologies in business, the course includes a module on the impacts of emerging technologies to force us to think through issues of industry and business transformation induced by currently emerging technologies. The objective here is to end up with a framework that you will find useful in generalizing to other information technologies.

This course will not make you an IS technical specialist; its emphasis is on industry and managerial issues. However, through an overview of the technologies, activities, and applications of IS, this course will help you to acquire an appreciation for the possibilities created by IT in tomorrow’s markets, organizations and society. We personally believe that every future executive needs to learn how to think about how IT transforms business, so recommend it to you independent of your planned career path.

Upon completion of this course you should have:
• An understanding of the major information technology enabled business models that have emerged over the past decade.
• An understanding of how information technologies change business models and how to anticipate these changes.
• An understanding of how information technologies transform industries, and a framework for thinking about how to predict whether IT will transform yours.
• A perspective on how information technology can create new markets and social structures.
• An appreciation of the many organizational consequences resulting from alignment (or lack thereof) of IT strategy and business models.


Digital Marketing,
Trading Strategies and Systems,
IT and Corporate Strategy, B20.2318.10
Trading Strategies and Financial Markets, B20.3147
Business Intelligence and Data Mining