Business Information Systems


Business Information Systems

TIM 50

Spring Quarter 2013

Course Syllabus and Study Guide


John N. Skardon, Ph.D.


Technology and Information Management

Baskin School of Engineering

University of California-Santa Cruz


Phone:  (831) 204-8140

Office: PSB 310


Meeting Information:  Monday, Wednesday, Fridays from 3:30-4:50 pm in Kresge 321.


Course Overview


Information technology enables much, if not all, of modern business.  When you graduate, you will interact with a wide variety of different IT systems and software to perform your job.  Understanding how these systems are organized and operate will help you be more successful.  Traditionally, most software was purchased and installed in on-premise servers and other hardware.  You will be graduating at time of great change, as global technology driven industries begin to move some or most of their IT infrastructure to cloud based services.  This shift in IT deployment creates opportunities and challenges. 


This course provides an introductory survey of the use of information systems in business enterprises. We will study how organizations can use information systems to improve efficiency and enable new ways of doing business. You will gain a conceptual understanding of the basic building blocks of information system technology, such as database management and network architecture. We will study examples of how business needs can drive the development of new technology and also how advances in technology can drive changes in business. Such an understanding will enable you to identify existing technologies to solve a business problem or conceptualize new technologies that meet emerging business needs.

Learning objectives

Successful completion of TIM 50 will enable you to:

1.  Understand and be able to explain how information technology is organized and designed to support company processes and strategy.

2.  Demonstrate your ability to combine, sort, and conduct basic analysis on data organized in tables using industry standard tools and methods.

3.  Understand the principles of modularity and layering in the design and architecture of information systems

4.  Understand and explain how firms can leverage information technology to gain competitive advantage over their rivals

5.  Explain how e-commerce works and the role of the underlying technologies and systems.

6.  Explain the advantages and disadvantages of cloud-based computing and how software services (SAAS) are delivered to the customer.

7.  Gain a detailed understanding of current Internet technologies including devices, sensors, systems, e-commerce,  digital goods.

8.  Understand the basic concepts of network security, including firewalls and a demilitarized zone (DMZ).

General approach

The primary method for content delivery in this course is through lectures.  We will explore a major topic or question each Monday.  On Wednesday’s class,  we’ll explain/elaborate on the specific question.   On Friday, we’ll summarize and do in-class assessments and evaluations.

Lectures will be supplemented with video, online sources, readings from the primary texts, and lab work.  I will assess your preparation and understanding of key learning objectives through a variety of individual and group assignments. 

You will have several database related assignments in the course.  The course TAs will conduct tutorials to familiarize yourself with Microsoft Access™.  If you are not familiar with Access, please insure you attend these tutorials.  The purpose of these database assignments is to provide you some familiarity with how data is stored in tables, and how you can query and sort data to produce reports. The great power of these tools is the ability to rapidly visualize, summarize, and explain what is going on in your business. 

Group work is a central part of the course.  At the beginning of the course we will organize the class into 4 person groups.  Your group will complete five written case study analyses and one major group paper.  Your case studies will focus primarily, but not exclusively, on decision making and the role of information technology in supporting corporate mission and strategy.

Our class TAs and I will create a group site for you on E-Commons.  Only members of your group, our TA’s, and myself will have access to the group.  You will upload your group assignments here.  The TAs and I will provide feedback to you via your group site.

Professional Writing Expectations

My expectations of your finished work products include:

§  Zero spelling errors

§  Zero grammar errors

§  Proper citation of sources

§  Use of titles, headings, page numbers to properly annotate you documents

§  Maximum of use of original figures, charts, drawings to illustrate key concepts

Spelling and grammar errors in finished work products are not tolerated in business and we will use that rule in this class.  Write as if your next promotion depends upon clear and concise communication.  Put another way: careless spelling and grammar errors will cost you a letter grade on your assignments.

Textbooks and other course materials

I will make my lecture slides available for each week of study at least 1 week in advance. 

Two readers are required for this course.  These can be purchased at the Bay Tree Book Store.

1. TIM 50 Business Information Systems, Winter 2012, published by Pearson Custom Business Resources.  This contains chapters from - Selected chapters from Essentials of Management Information Systems, 9/e by Laudon and Laudon.

2. TIM 50 Titled “Musacchio”,  An extract of chapters from a well known text - Understanding Networked Applications, by David Messerschmidt.   Please note that this spiral bound volume also contains the 5 major case studies used in this course.

This material may be supplemented by handouts, supplemental readings, and homework.

Estimate of student work load and productivity strategies

TIM 50 is a 5 credit hour course.  You will need to invest considerable amount of individual time each week in reading and outlining each assigned chapter.   Further, your group assignments,  5 case studies and a major business paper, will require you to work as a team/study group with other students.   Obviously a good strategy is to use some of your study group time to review major concepts. 

As in business,  how you spend your time preparing and studying will make a huge difference in your ability to comprehend, process, and retain the knowledge you gain from this course.  At the beginning of the course,  we’ll spend a few minutes on some proven methods to make the most of your study time.  We’ll examine how to prepare chapter outlines using Google documents, use concept maps and timelines to explain processes and relationships ( ,  how to use note/clipping software for doing background research on cases and your paper (,  and a free bibliographic management tool called Zotero that manages all of your citations and bibliography for your paper  (   Keep in mind that these commercial software tools are just suggestions or examples of tools that you might use, not endorsements.   Many other tools are available.

Instructor office hours

Monday, Wednesday, Friday from 1pm – 330pm and 4pm-530 pm.

Invitation to students with special needs

If you have any special needs or the teaching format presents challenges,  please contact me directly.  Also please take advantage of the University’s  Disability Resource Center.

A Statement about Academic Integrity

Academic integrity is the cornerstone of a university education. Academic dishonesty diminishes the University as an institution and all members of the University community. It tarnishes the value of a UCSC degree.

In the event a student is found in violation of the UCSC Academic Integrity policy, he or she may face both academic sanctions imposed by the instructor of record and disciplinary sanctions imposed either by the provost of his or her college or the Academic Tribunal convened to hear the case. Violations of the Academic Integrity policy can result in dismissal from the university and a permanent notation on a student’s transcript.


Your grade in this course will be driven four factors:  a) individual assignments,  b) group assignments, c) your performance on the mid term and final examinations, and d) database assignments.  See the table below for a detailed breakdown of assignments and due dates.


Due Date


Individual assignments, in class assessments, forums



Database assignments



Group Case Study Analyses



Group Business Paper






  Competitive Analysis (Porter model)



  Final Paper



Midterm Exam



Final Exam




I will provide a grading rubric for each assignment. 


How To Study For This Class


The course is organized around a weekly schedule:  each Monday will start a new topic.  Prior to monday, you should complete a thorough outline of the assigned chapter or material after reading.  During the week,  make some updates to your chapter outlines/notes as we explore the topic/question in more detail.  At the end of the week, we will have graded in-class assessments to test your knowledge of the material.


They key to good case study analysis begins with a thorough reading of case.  We’ll address some specific techniques early in the course on the basics of case study analysis.    Some  key points to remember:

  • Build a timeline
  • Identify key players
  • Identify key decisions that have been made
  • Look for or identify implicit assumptions or decisions
  • Examine the relationships among data and make some informed “guesses” about what data might be missing or needed
  • Make an effort to understand “context”- the rich and often complex background that shapes how business decisions are made


The course will require you to master an analytical technique in business called the “Porter Model”, named after Harvard professor Michael Porter.  The model is quite simple conceptually,  but proper application can lead you to some very interesting insights about competition.  The Porter model classifies and explains the five major forces acting on for-profit firms. There is excellent coverage of this topic in the TIM 50 Reader from Pearson Publishing.


Contact me or the TAs for questions


The only “dumb question”, in my experience, is the one that was not asked. 
Class Schedule Organized by Weekly Topics and Questions

(check online for changes, additions, deletions)










Class Introduction


Identify Your Groups



Business organization and Information Systems

Laudon & Laudon Ch 1:  Global E Business




Case Study Analysis Tutorial





How can IT help us achieve competitive advantage in the marketplace?

Laudon & Laudon Ch 2: Achieving Competitive Advantage











Otis Elevator case analysis



Can IT accelerate productivity, quality, and improve profits?

Laudon & Laundon Ch 3: Achieving Operational Excellence











Cisco Systems case analysis



What are the building blocks of IT?

Messerschmidt: Chapter 4- Information Technology











Alibaba case analysis



What are the differences between distributed and centralized computing?

Messerschmidt: Chapter 5- Client-Server Computing














What are the advantages and disadvantages to modularity and layering of systems and software?

Messerschmidt: Chapter 6- Modularity and Layering











DB Assignment 1 is Due



How is the communications industry unique in their use and application of IT?

Messerschmidt: Chapter 7- Computer and Communications Industry












Zhejiang Case analysis



How are the major enterprise-scale applications deployed in modern business?

Messerschmidt: Chapter 9-Applications and The Organization

Extra readings in cloud computing, ERP, CRM,  DMS and other apps










Amazon Web Services Case analysis








How can databases and data mining improve my ability to compete in the marketplace?

Laudon & Laudon: Chapter 5: Foundations of Business Intelligence

DB Assignment 2 Due








How does the telecommunication industry leverage IT investment to keep up with technological change?

Laudon & Laudon; Chapter 6: Telecommunications










Final Exam Prep

Group Paper is Due


Instructors and Assistants