BMIS 2411 Information Systems

Fall Semester 2010

Katz Graduate School of Business, University of Pittsburgh

8:00 AM - 9:20 AM Tues & Thurs in Mervis 104 (course #20746)*
9:30 AM - 10:50 AM Tues & Thurs in Mervis 104 (course #20832)**
* cross-listed with BA ACC 2411, course #20756
** cross-listed with BA ACC 2411, course #20830

Professor: Dennis Galletta
342 Mervis Hall
Phone: +1 412 648-1699
Skype name: pittdoctorg
Secretary: Pat Koroly
341 Mervis Hall
Phone +1 412 648-2250


Most areas of study in a reputable MBA program address strategic rather than operational issues. For instance, in Finance you do not learn how to become a cashier. In Marketing you do not learn how to film or script an advertisement. In Accounting you do not learn how to enter transactions into a variety of systems. Instead, all of those areas cover how to manage: what decisions to make; what trade-offs there are; what opportunities might be uncovered. This course is no exception.

The corporate world has made tremendous investments in IT. Those investments have grown over the years to be roughly equivalent to that of "plant" (of "property, plant and equipment" fame): 23% of expenditures. Corporate IT investments now have surpassed $5,000 per employee (from McAfee: "Managing in the Information Age" course overview, April 2005).

The difficulty with such expenditures is that it has taken many years to show "bottom line" benefits from these expenditures. There is a tremendous variance in benefits of IT investments, showing that such investments are unreliable in generating ROI. Variability has been increasing over time, making matters worse. We will show how this begs for strategic treatment. There are many different activities, ranging from forecasting to analysis to communication. Those activities start from determining the need and ending with deployment and evaluation. Each activity is a link in the overall chain, only as strong as its weakest link.

Common sense is not enough. Very smart people implement failed systems, miss opportunities, and, perhaps most importantly, launch initiatives that do not have sustainability. It is a matter of being aware of the technological possibilities, understanding how to complement corporate strategy, and applying principles to increase the sustainability of those moves.

As is the case nowadays in many fields, the operational focus is more likely to be outsourced. Strategic frameworks and analytical processes win out over programming. We focus on how to make use of information technology to fulfill or enable corporate strategy, competitive advantage, and perhaps even to shape a marketplace.

You are likely to become involved in technology decisions almost immediately in your career. As a team or committee member you will see very familiar issues and you will remember that common sense will not be enough. You, and others who have a similar background, will contribute valuable points of view that others using only their common sense will not be able to contribute. You might save the organization millions of dollars at each opportunity.

Learning Objectives

The strategic focus of this course points to decisions that executives need to make about information technology. This "view from 30,000 feet" is intended to emphasize millions of dollars rather than day-to-day decisions that probably don't belong in an MBA program. Strategic frameworks and analytical processes win out over programming and the use of tools. We focus on competitive advantage and the potential to shape a marketplace. When you finish this course, you should be able to:


On days that you do bring along your laptop, please do not distract other students with it by catching up on your e-mail or doing casual browsing during class. Constantly-open laptops could result in lower course participation scores and will result in less learning for your hard-earned (or borrowed) dollar!

Name Tag:

Please use name tags, assuming I do not know your name. Lack of a name tag will result in lower course participation scores.


Pearlson, Keri E. and Saunders, Carol S. Managing & Using Information Systems: A Strategic Approach (4th ed.), 2010, Wiley. ISBN 9-780-470-34381-4.


Other Material:


In the order in which they are assigned (dates in parentheses--if two, then date written/date revised).

Buy the cases at

Final Project: Innovation Project

Under the "Assignments" tab, you will see a description of a group project that introduces some information technology to an organization. The required elements are specified in detail there, but include the following elements:

1. Context
2. Technology
3. Competitive Environment
4. Economics
5. Implementation

This assignment will give you a little creative freedom and come up with a good idea for modernizing a firm. It will guide you through a rather careful analysis of what to do, why, and how. You will also present your ideas in a short amount of time to your classmates and also respond to perhaps one or two of their questions.

How to Submit:

Please do not e-mail me your case answers and other items due! Please use Blackboard unless there is some kind of emergency. In addition, please SUBMIT, don't just ADD, your items whenever you use Blackboard. You will receive a warning if you just ADD the assignment. If you ignore this warning, your grade could be affected.

Individual cases (4 @ 7 points)Individual28
Group cases (5 @ 4 points)Group20
Innovation Project and PresentationGroup16
Access assignmentIndividual4
Quizzes (3 @ 8)Individual24
Class discussion/attendance/peer evalsIndividual8


Academic Honesty: It is expected that all assignments will be your own original work, not copied and pasted from any source (friends, web sites, etc.). Failure to cite a source and mark quoted material is a serious violation of academic integrity, no matter how small the assignment, and could result in a failing grade in this course and/or the MBA program.

Please note that the lack of quotation marks and specific citations could be grounds for failing the course or being dismissed from the MBA program, even if you provide a reference at the end of the document.

Disabilities: If you have a disability for which you are or may be requesting an accommodation, you are encouraged to contact both your instructor and Disability Resources and Services (DRS), 140 William Pitt Union, (412) 648-7890/(412) 383-7355 (TTY), as early as possible in the term. DRS will verify your disability and determine reasonable accommodations for this course.

ClassDateTopic/MaterialsReading and Assignment Due
131 Aug

Course Introduction

22 Sep

Information Systems – Past, Present, and Future
Does IT Matter?

Pearlson & Saunders Introduction
Carr’s IT Doesn’t Matter reading (see instructions in Documents)
McAfee's Full House reading (available here)
Brynjolfsson’s VII Pillars reading (available here)

37 Sep

Business Strategy and IT Strategy
Group Formation

Pearlson & Saunders 1, 2
Roche case (text pg. 41) (class discussion only)

49 SepBusiness Strategy and IT Strategy

Pearlson & Saunders 2
Brandel's Extreme ROI article (available here)

514 Sep- case discussion

ZipCar case analysis due (text pg. 74) (individual) Answer questions 1, 2, and 4

616 Sep

IT Strategy and Organizational Impacts
IT and the Design of Work

Pearlson & Saunders 3, 4
Automated Waste Disposal case (text pg. 131) (class discussion only)

721 Sep

- case discussion

Lands’ End case analysis due (free on Blackboard site) (group)

823 Sep

IT and Business Processes

Pearlson & Saunders 5
Boeing 787 Dreamliner case (text pg. 160) (class discussion only)

928 Sep

- case discussion

Evergreen case analysis due (individual)

1030 Sep

Quiz 1 (all material through Sep 28)

115 Oct

IT Architecture and Infrastructure

Pearlson & Saunders 6
Cummings Service-Oriented Architecture article (available here)
Kay Cloud Computing article (available here)

127 Oct

Information Systems Sourcing
- case discussion

Pearlson & Saunders 7, part 1
CVS case analysis due

12-14 Oct

Recruiting Week

1319 Oct

Guest Speaker

Kevin Horner, CIO of Alcoa, Inc.

1421 Oct

Guest Speaker

Claudio Abreu, CEO of Bayer Services, Inc.

1526 Oct

Information Systems Sourcing
Governance of the Information Systems Function

Pearlson & Saunders 7 (part 2), 8
Big Fix at Toyota case (text pg. 243) (class discussion only)

1628 Oct

- case discussion

Caregroup case analysis due (individual)

172 Nov

Quiz 2 (all material through Oct 5 through Oct 28)

184 Nov

IT Ethics and Security

Pearlson & Saunders 9
199 Nov

IT Ethics and Security
- case discussion

Eisenman Hackers and Blackmail reading (see Documents)
iPremiere case analysis due (group)

2011 Nov

Funding IT

Pearlson & Saunders 10

2116 Nov

- case discussion

Zara case analysis due (individual)

2218 Nov

Managing IT Projects

Pearlson & Saunders, 11

2323, 25 Nov

Thanksgiving Break

2430 Nov

- case discussion

MDCM case analysis due (group)

252 DecKnowledge ManagementPearlson & Saunders, 12
267 Dec

- case discussion

Threadless case analysis due (individual)
279 Dec

Innovation Project Presentations


Final Quiz (all material Nov 4 through Dec 9)