NYU Stern School of Business

Undergraduate College

INFO-UB.0001.001 (C20.0001): INFO TECH IN BUS & SOCIETY

Summer 2012

Instructor Details

Li, Beibei


M 5-6pm, Other time by appointment.



Course Meetings

MW, 3:00pm to 4:55pm

Tisch T-UC19


Homework Due:   Before Monday Noon (11:59am)

Mid-term Exam:   June 11th (Subject to Change)

 Final Exam:   June 27th

Schedule exceptions
    Class will not meet on:   May 28th


Course Description and Learning Goals


Course Overview
Information Technology (IT) has radically changed the internal operations of organizations and the structure of the markets in which they compete. As a result, the toolkit of the business professional must include an understanding of the fundamentals of IT and its impact on other functional areas, such as strategic management, finance, accounting, marketing, and operations. This course is intended to provide this base set of knowledge and skills.

Course Objectives
This course introduces you to information technology in business and society. Broadly, here’s what you’ll learn from the course, and why these things are important: First, as a future knowledge worker you will use personal computer systems in your work every day. You need to know how to publish information on the Internet, model and analyze decisions using a spreadsheet, and get information from relational databases. In this course, your in-class conceptual learning of these topics will be complemented by a set of computer-based self-learning tools. Second, in the digital firm, you will be involved increasingly in decisions about information systems. You will therefore need to recognize the large-scale systems that run modern organizations, understand what drives the success of a company’s IT investments, and learn how these investments facilitate effective business strategy and emerging business models, all topics that we will cover in this course. Third, you must know how to evaluate and analyze information-based products and services in the increasing number of industries that are being transformed by information technology. In this course, you will learn about the unique economics of information pricing and technological lock-in and network effects, so that you can perform informed business analysis and formulate effective strategies in the digital economy.

We will also discuss a set of special topics, which will include digital music, information privacy, data mining, digital piracy, and the business implications of online social networking. Assignments, projects and case studies throughout the course will reinforce your learning of how to use information technology to solve business problems.

Course web site
You should be familiar with Blackboard, the web-based application that houses online materials for enrolled students across NYU. You can access our course by logging on to Blackboard 8.0 at http://w4.stern.nyu.edu/sternlinks/ (using your Stern netID/password), and choosing the course titled C20.0001 Information Technology in Business and Society. We will be using Blackboard extensively for this course, so make sure that you log in and get familiar with the course web site as soon as possible.


Course Outline

IT, Strategy and Competitiveness

We will cover Porter's framework of industry competitiveness and then we’ll apply Porter’s framework to understand how IT has transformed long-distance telephony.


How Computers & the Internet Work

We will cover a select set of IT concepts: digitization, basic computer architecture and Moore's Law, operating systems, applications, and how these lead to powerful shared IT platforms in business. We will discuss how the Internet works, including the business structure of the Internet, client-server basics, packet switching, protocols and peer-to-peer networks.


Data Mining, Databases, and Intelligent Decision Support

We will cover business data analysis beginning with some relational database fundamentals and some artificial intelligence technologies used in business data analysis and decision making including expert systems, neural networks, genetic algorithms and intelligent agents.


Social Media, Platforms, and Information Privacy

We will cover the challenges and opportunities in monetizing the social graph, including sources of revenue and sustainable competitive advantage in online social networking. We will introduce the concepts of Internet platform and discuss digital privacy.


Digital Goods, IP and DRM

We will cover information goods and their unique economics, focusing on costless production, costless distribution, "rendering", and remixing. We introduce the idea of digital rights management and understand how it is central to strategy in the digital economy. We will also discuss IP law, and how it is just one of the forces that regulate digital consumption. 


Network Effects

We will cover what network effects are, why they pervade IT-based products and services, and show how they are responsible for Facebook's future wealth, and for Office and Windows being two of the most profitable products in history.


Web Search and Advertising & The Search Economy

We will cover the history of search, the fundamentals of search technologies and the search economy, including PageRank and its superiority to its predecessors, Google's business model, and sponsored search advertising. We will also discuss the "long tail" phenomenon and its drivers.

Computer crime and security

We will cover some common forms of computer crime enabled by the Internet and what individuals and companies do to protect themselves. We will discuss viruses, denial-of-service and DDOS attacks, encryption and authentication, web defacing, and some common computer security precautions.


Required Course Materials

Most of the required material for this class will be in the slides and/or discussed during the class lectures.

There is also an optional textbook for the class, titled Management Information Systems is available in the main NYU bookstore. It contains the following material:

  1. A complete copy of Management Information Systems for the Information Age, 8th Edition.
  2. Chapters 2, 5 and 7 from Information Rules, by Carl Shapiro and Hal Varian.
  3. The article How Competitive Forces Shape Strategy by Michael Porter.
  4. The case The iPremier Company: Denial of Service Attack.

These readings will be supplemented by selected online content, available through the Course Documents section of this site.The textbook is also available on reserve in the Bobst library, for those of you who prefer to use the textbook only occasionally.

You can also get (optionally) the SimNet software for Office 2007, which contains instructional material for learning how to use the Office 2007 suite. We will also offer recitations on Excel, Access, and on web page development. Many students prefer the live recitations to the SimNet software, while others consider SimNet a useful complement as well.

Make sure that you check the Course Documents section of the course web site before every session -- you will find a document for every classroom session, which will contain detailed information about pre-class readings, a copy of the class slides, information about assignments or projects, and pointers to how far you should have progressed on your SimNet Tutorial lessons.


Assessment Components

Deliverables and grading
During this course, you will be assigned individual assignments and group projects. You will have one midterm exam and one final examination. You are expected to participate in classroom and online discussions. The breakdown of points (out of a total of 500) is as follows:

Each assignment and project will provide you with a set of instructions and guidelines. Expect to use Excel, Access and the Web extensively. Examinations are closed book/notes/computer/PDA/iPod (you get the idea). We will further discuss their format in class.

In general, homework will be due on Mondays by 11:59am. Late submissions will be accepted and graded, but you will only be given credit for 50% of your score.

Group projects will be done in groups of 5 students. After you have posted your personal Blackboard page, your classmates will know you better, and this will help facilitate the group formation process. During the semester, your TA’s will facilitate this process further, and we will give you a set of detailed guidelines about working in teams. You will also be asked to evaluate the contribution of each of your team members after each group project.

The classroom discussion presents a unique opportunity for you to develop and enhance your confidence and skills in articulating a personal position, sharing your knowledge, and reacting to new ideas. All of you have personal experience with information technology that can enhance our understanding of the subject, and that we want to encourage you to share.

The grade we assign for your class participation is a careful, subjective assessment of the value of your input to classroom learning. We keep track of your contributions towards each class session, and these contributions can include (but are not restricted to) raising questions that make your classmates think, providing imaginative yet relevant analysis of a situation, contributing background or a perspective on a classroom topic that enhances its discussion, and simply answering questions raised in class. Emphasis is placed on the quality of your contribution, rather than merely on its frequency. A lack of preparation, negative classroom comments, or improper behavior (such as talking to each other, sleeping in the classroom or walking in and out of the class while the lecture is in process) can lower this grade.

Participation and Attendance
This course, like many other courses at Stern, uses learning methods that require active involvement (e.g., participation in discussions and exercises). Not only is this the best way to learn, but it also develops your communication skills. Regular attendance and participation are very important. Active participation requires good preparation—thoughtful reading of the assigned material and completion of assignments, quizzes, and projects before class is essential. We recognize that expressing viewpoints in a group is difficult, but it is an important skill for you to develop. We will do what we can to make this as easy as possible. If you feel that contributing on-line is easier for you than contributing in-class, please feel free to do so. Remember though that only regular and insightful contributions will be rewarded (e.g., asking a question about the homework will typically not increase your class participation grade).

In addition to in-class participation, you should also participate in the discussion board on Blackboard, where we will discuss topics ranging from relevant developments in the news to issues related to the class material. The participation should be substantive: read what others have said and reply to their remarks, but do not repeat their points. You can also ask questions of each other. This will help you learn and prepare for exams. The discussion board will also be used to ask the instructor or TAs questions about assignments and exams as well as to facilitate group formation. All administrative questions should be posted there rather than sent to us in email. If you like, you can post feedback anonymously.

Academic Honor Code
Consistent with Stern's honor code, your exams and quizzes should be completed individually. On individual assignments, you can only discuss the assignment with the TAs, or with the instructor. On group assignments, you can only discuss them with your teammates, with the TAs, or with the instructor. All external sources such as web pages, periodicals, books, etc. should be properly cited in your work. Any attempt to represent the work of others as your own will be considered plagiarism and will be referred to the Stern Discipline Committee. Penalties determined by this committee range from academic probation to expulsion. It is in your best interest to submit nothing or a partial assignment, rather than an assignment copied in violation of the honor code.

Grading Issues

We usually will publish the grading guide for the assignments and projects, so that students can learn from their mistakes and judge the fairness of the grade. If you believe that the grade you received was unjustified, you can appeal the grade. To appeal the grade you must write a one page explanation as to the reason for your appeal and hand it along with your graded assignment back to the TA responsible for that assignment. Please think twice before appealing a grade: the TA will completely re-grade the assignment, which may increase your grade, but may also lower it (e.g., if the TA catches more mistakes the second time around). If after re-grading you feel that your grade was again unjustified, you can appeal the grade with the instructor.

Individual Consultation

We encourage you to meet with the TAs or with the instructor at any point during the semester to discuss your progress or any problems with the material or the assignments. We would prefer if you could come during the office hours, but if you cannot, please see the instructor after class, or send an e-mail, and we can schedule a time to meet.

In the event that you feel the need to email us directly with a question, please make sure to put C20.0001 at the beginning of the subject line, so that we recognize that the email is from one of you, and so that our spam filters do not accidentally delete your message. Please avoid sending email attachments. Please talk to us if you have questions or problems. We are here to help.


Group Projects

Guidelines for Group Projects

Business activities involve group effort. Consequently, learning how to work effectively in a group is a critical part of your business education.

Every member is expected to carry an equal share of the group’s workload. As such, it is in your interest to be involved in all aspects of the project. Even if you divide the work rather than work on each piece together, you are still responsible for each part. The group project will be graded as a whole:   its different components will not be graded separately. Your exams may contain questions that are based on aspects of your group projects.

It is recommended that each group establish ground rules early in the process to facilitate your joint work including a problem-solving process for handling conflicts. In the infrequent case where you believe that a group member is not carrying out his or her fair share of work, you are urged not to permit problems to develop to a point where they become serious. If you cannot resolve conflicts internally after your best efforts, they should be brought to my attention and I will work with you to find a resolution.

You will be asked to complete a peer evaluation form to evaluate the contribution of each of your group members (including your own contribution) at the conclusion of each project. If there is consensus that a group member did not contribute a fair share of work to the project, I will consider this feedback during grading.



At NYU Stern we seek to teach challenging courses that allow students to demonstrate their mastery of the subject matter.  In general, students in undergraduate core courses can expect a grading distribution where: 

Note that while the School uses these ranges as a guide, the actual distribution for this course and your own grade will depend upon how well you actually perform in this course.



The process of assigning grades is intended to be one of unbiased evaluation. Students are encouraged to respect the integrity and authority of the professor’s grading system and are discouraged from pursuing arbitrary challenges to it.

We publish the grading guide for the assignments and projects, so that students can learn from their mistakes and judge the fairness of the grade. If you believe that the grade you received was unjustified, you can appeal the grade. To appeal the grade you must write a one page explanation as to the reason for your appeal and hand it along with your graded assignment back to your section's TA. Please think twice before appealing a grade: the TA will completely re-grade the assignment, which may increase or lower your grade (if the TA caught more mistakes second time around). If again you consider that your grade was unjustified, you can appeal the grade with the instructor.



Professional Responsibilities For This Course




In-class contribution is a significant part of your grade and an important part of our shared learning experience. Your active participation helps me to evaluate your overall performance.
You can excel in this area if you come to class on time and contribute to the course by:




Classroom Norms


Stern Policies

General Behavior
The School expects that students will conduct themselves with respect and professionalism toward faculty, students, and others present in class and will follow the rules laid down by the instructor for classroom behavior.  Students who fail to do so may be asked to leave the classroom. 


Collaboration on Graded Assignments
Students may not work together on graded assignment unless the instructor gives express permission. Collaborating on graded assignments with students from other sections, is a violation of the Stern Honor Code. Similarly, getting help to complete the graded assignments from students that attended the class in the past is also a violation of the Stern Honor Code. Violating the Stern Honor Code results will be referred to the Stern Discipline Committee for further examination. The first violation results, at a minimum, in a decrease of one letter grade from the grade that would be normally assigned to the student for the course. Depending on the severity, it may also results in an immediate expulsion from the course and potentially from the university.


Course Evaluations
Course evaluations are important to us and to students who come after you.  Please complete them thoughtfully.


Academic Integrity

Integrity is critical to the learning process and to all that we do here at NYU Stern. As members of our community, all students agree to abide by the NYU Stern Student Code of Conduct, which includes a commitment to:

The entire Stern Student Code of Conduct applies to all students enrolled in Stern courses and can be found here:

Undergraduate College: http://www.stern.nyu.edu/uc/codeofconduct
Graduate Programs: http://w4.stern.nyu.edu/studentactivities/involved.cfm?doc_id=102505

To help ensure the integrity of our learning community, prose assignments you submit to Blackboard will be submitted to Turnitin.  Turnitin will compare your submission to a database of prior submissions to Turnitin, current and archived Web pages, periodicals, journals, and publications.  Additionally, your document will become part of the Turnitin database.


Recording of Classes

Your class may be recorded for educational purposes


Students with Disabilities

If you have a qualified disability and will require academic accommodation of any kind during this course, you must notify me at the beginning of the course and provide a letter from the Moses Center for Students with Disabilities (CSD, 998-4980, www.nyu.edu/csd) verifying your registration and outlining the accommodations they recommend.  If you will need to take an exam at the CSD, you must submit a completed Exam Accommodations Form to them at least one week prior to the scheduled exam time to be guaranteed accommodation.


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