Number: BA 290D, EECS 201, IS 224, E298A
Title: Strategic Computing and Communications Technology
Course cross-listing: Electrical Engineering and Computer Science, Information Systems, Business Administration, Engineering. Satisfies core course requirement for the Management of Technology Program (Haas School of Business and College of Engineering and School of Information Management and Systems). Enrollment in MOT is not required, however.
Units: Three, taught each spring semester
Prerequisites: Graduate standing in the College of Engineering, Haas School of Business, School of Information Management and Systems. Space permitting, graduate students from other units, or advanced undergraduate students, may be admitted.
Time and place: 202 South Hall, MW 9:30-11
Transamerica Professor of Business Strategy,
Factors strongly impacting the success of new computing and communications products and services (based on underlying technologies such as electronics and software) in commercial applications. Technology trends and limits, economics, standardization, intellectual property, government policy, and industrial organization. Strategies to manage the design and marketing of successful products and services.
The course will enumerate and discuss factors relevant to the successful deployment and assimilation of new computing (equipment and software) and communications (telecommunications and networking) products and services in commercial applications. Factors covered include technological trends and limits, economics, legal and intellectual property, government regulation, standardization, and relevant industrial organizational issues. The objectives are to understand the impact of these factors on the commercial success of products and services, business strategies for designing and marketing products and services, all with the goal of enhancing their commercial success.
The course will be of interest to students expecting to develop or market new computing and communications products based on electronics and software technologies in a multi-vendor environment, as well as those expecting to manage such organizations.
This course will satisfy a core course requirement for the Management of Technology (MOT) certificate. Enrollment in MOT is not required. Students in are encouraged to enroll for the MOT certificate using this course to help satisfy core course requirements.
More than ever, many non-technical factors impact the success or failure of new products and services in the computing and communications industries. There are a number of factors contributing to this, including:
As a result of these and other factors, product design is increasingly impacted by various external factors. Both strategic and tactical decision making in the design and marketing of products and services are complicated. The goal of the course is to position the students to be better informed strategic decision makers in the definition, design, and marketing of new products and services in the computing and communications space.
In addition, service and manufacturing companies, government, and non profits are strongly impacted by technological change in computing and communications. Often these organizations make decisions based on a retrospective view of technology. This course should prepare students to better anticipate the course of technological change, improving their technological decision making in organizations of all types.
In summary, this course is motivated by changes occurring in the computing and communications industry, resulting in fundamental shifts in the engineering design process, the need for greater awareness of non-technical issues on the part of engineers, more understanding of technology on the part of managers, and a stronger partnership between engineers and managers. An important dynamic will be the mixture of disciplines represented by the students, so that they may learn from one another.
See the “schedule” for specifics on classroom topics and readings.
I. The industry structure
The industry structure consists of many types of suppliers and customers, including products and services, software and hardware, applications and infrastructure. The industry is trending away from large vertically integrated suppliers to a fragmented structure with many more specialized suppliers coordinating themselves through open interface standards, consortia, technology alliances, etc. Both the computer and communications industries are evolving away from stovepipe products based on a single application to integrated layers that service all applications. The merger of the telecommunications, networking, and computing industry, results in massive changes to both industries, increasing the role of standardization and computing and reorganizing telecommunications around global end-to-end networked services. Whole new industries are emerging around enterprise applications and electronic commerce.
II. Buyers and sellers
The economics of software and information content involve large economies of scale through low cost of reproduction. The result is a need for unusual market strategies, including value pricing and versioning. Semiconductor design and manufacturing faces unique challenges of large capital investments, international competition, and government support.
III. Obstacles to change
A large number of complementary products must interoperate for successful applications in network computing. The result is that both customers and suppliers experience lock-in to existing products and solutions. Many products in this industry have the characteristic that they offer more value as more people adopt them (called network effects), resulting in positive feedback that rewards successful products and punishes unsuccessful ones. Together, these effects result in winner-take-all tendencies, and draw the attention of the antitrust law enforcers. Much of the current industry structure demonstrates the imprint of these effects.
IV. Standardization, alliances, consortia
Because no one company provides a complete solution, and many software and equipment products must interoperate to achieve a successful application, industry coordination mechanisms like standardization, alliances and consortia are increasingly important. Individual companies face difficult decisions as to proprietary technology vs open, de facto, and de jure standards. In view of winner-take-all effects, waging standardization battles are critical to success, and require special strategies.
V. Intellectual property
Copyright laws enable software developers and content producers to maintain ownership and control of their products, and patents allow companies to prevent others from copying their innovative ideas. Managing intellectual property is a key strategic issue for companies, with many contradictory considerations. Networks and digitization introduce many new challenges for information suppliers, with the need for revisiting the laws as well as new technologies like trusted systems. The patenting of software is a major issue for the industry and government. Often industry cooperation and standardization run directly counter to enforcing patent protection.
VI. Government intervention
Government-sanctioned monopolies and regulation have been a fixture of the telecommunications industry for many years. There are many issues relating to the winner-take-all effects in this industry, and the balance between free enterprise, regulation, and antitrust laws is difficult to manage. Government national security and law enforcement concerns have led to major tension with the software industry over security and encryption. Companies must keep in mind these issues in setting their strategic direction.
VII. Case studies (integrate the above)
Most real-world industry initiatives involve some mix of the issues above. Some broad case studies will be used to study the interrelationship of these issues.
Grades will be determined by class participation (20%) and two group projects (80%). See the “projects” section for more detail on the two projects and the “grades” section for more detail on grades and grading policies.
The class discussion forum will be available to discuss these issues offline, and ask questions of the instructors. Students are encouraged to respond to these questions, and the instructors will also frequently participate in this forum. This is generally better than sending email to the instructors or to other students, because the subsequent answers and discussion are available for all students to see. Of course, email is also available for more personal communication.
C. Shapiro and H. Varian, Information Rules: A Strategic Guide to the
D.G. Messerschmitt and Clemens Syzperski, Software Rules (placeholder title). This is a manuscript of a book to be published by MIT Press in 2002. Xerox copy will be provided at no cost to the students. Comments and suggestions on the manuscript are very welcome. If they are of a general nature, they are best posted on the discussion forum, so other students can see them and comment. Otherwise please send email.
If you are not very familiar with some of the technical underpinnings of the course, the following text will be helpful:
D.G. Messerschmitt, Understanding Networked Applications: A First Course, Morgan Kaufmann Publishers, 1999.
Here is a shorter (and cheaper) version of the book:
D.G. Messerschmitt, Networked Applications: A Guide to the New Computing Infrastructure, Morgan Kaufmann Publishers, 1999.
The class will use WebCT, a Web-based instruction management application provided by the campus. The course will depend heavily on Web browsing and email. If you have no access or limited access to a computer with Internet access, please contact the instructor for alternative arrangements.
To login to the course homepages, point your browser at http://webct.berkeley.edu. Create a WebCT account for yourself, and then find and subscribe to the course, listed there as IS224.
If you are enrolled in the course or waitlisted for the course, you should already have an account login ID and password. Your login ID will usually be your first initial and last name. In a few cases, this is not unique, so try your first and middle initial and last name. For example, John T. Student might have login ID jstudent or jtstudent. Sorry, your login ID cannot be changed. Your initial password is your student ID (SID). It is important to change this password the first time you login. If you ever forget your password, contact the instructor at firstname.lastname@example.org, who can assign you a new one.
If you are enrolled in the course but unable to login, please contact the instructor at email@example.com. If you are not enrolled in the course, we regret it is not possible to obtain a login ID. Login ID's will also be removed for students who drop the course.
Important notification about email forwarding: Your instructors (and possibly other students) will send you various notifications and announcements by email using the WebCT mail system. For example, WebCT makes it easy to send email to a project group all at once. It is recommended that you configure your WebCT account in this course to have this email forwarded to your regular email account, so that you don’t miss something important. This is easily done on the “Email” page using the “Manage Messages” option.