Business Paper

The business analysis paper should focus on the use of information systems within a company of your choice. You should pick a company for which information systems played a key roll in making that company successful, and the paper should focus on how information systems contributed to that success. Your paper should answer the following areas:

  • Industry Profile: What is the industry? What value does the industry provide to its customers? 
    • Include an analysis of the competitive landscape of the industry in terms of the Porter Competitive model. You will learn about Porter’s 5 forces early in the quarter. Your paper should discuss each of the five forces that effect the competitive landscape of your company’s industry. Discuss why each of the forces plays a strong or weak role in the industry and give evidence to support your argument.
      • Be careful to define the industry correctly. To do so, ask the question “with whom does your company compete?” Be careful that the definition is not too narrow. For instance, Charles Schwab is a discount broker and they obviously compete with other discount brokers like Quick and Reilly and Fidelity. But, they also compete against full service brokers and deep discounters. There is also a risk of defining the industry too broadly. For instance, total retailing in the U.S. is over $2 trillion a year. This includes everything that is sold to a consumer–groceries, automobiles, fast food, clothing, etc. There are sub-sections to the retail industry and these provide a better definition since they are consistent with the criteria cited above regarding who companies compete against. Automobile dealers do not compete with McDonalds or Safeway.
  • Company Profile: What business is your company in, and what value does it provide its customers. In what ways is it different than its competitors? How has it’s history shaped what it can offer its customers?
  • Information Technology: How does the company use IT to support or enable its business processes and competitive strategies? What technologies in particular does it use? Does the company use existing technologies,develop its own technology, or some combination of both? How much of the company’s success do you attribute to its use of IT and/or the company’s early adoption of IT into their business processes? Is it used to enhance or differentiate their product, reduce costs, or both?
  • Leadership: Who are/were the key leaders of the company? What decisions did these leaders make, in particular decisions relating to the deployment of IT? What opportunities did they identify that helped make their company what it is today.
  • Market and Financial Performance: What is the company’s revenue and profit, and how has it evolved over the years? How does the company’s performance compare to its competitors? You may also want to include other industry specific measures of performances, like cost per available seat mile (CASM) for airlines or sales per square foot for retailers. Is the company more or less indebted than its peers? For example, you can look at the ratio between Total Liabilities and Shareholder equity on the company’s balance sheet as one measure, and compare it to that of competitors. Note: It is not sufficient to just provide stock price data of your company without investigating some of the other performance metrics mentioned above. 
  • Trajectory: If the company successfully used information systems in its past, has it continued to innovate and improve up until today? Is the company effectively postured for the future?

The business analysis paper will be done by team of about 4 people with the same grade given to all members of the team. There will be an opportunity during the final ecam for team members to give feedback on how their teammates contributed, and this feedback may be used to adjust the grades. 
The paper will be assessed using the following criteria:

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  • How well does it address the questions listed above? Does the paper incorporate enough information about the company to answer the questions fully? Are the arguments presented in the paper persuasive and supported by facts? Are enough sources cited?
  • Is the analysis presented yours (the students’) or is it all copied from other sources? Are facts and statements taken from other sources properly cited?
  • Is the paper organized in a coherent fashion? Could the paper be more persuasive if it were organized differently?
  • Did the paper cite sources correctly?

You will be marked down a lot if you fail to cite your sources in the body of the text! Please read this guide on citing sources properly.
Did the paper cite print sources and not just Internet sources? Please cite at least 5 print sources in your paper. If your article appears online and in print, cite the print version.
The paper will not be judged by its length, but rather by its content. However, it would be difficult to address adequately all of the relevant questions in less than 12 pages. It should be at least 12 pages

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