Name of course: Competing online
Time: February 7-8, 2011
Place: Lorange Institute of Business, Zürich, Switzerland
Instructor: Espen Andersen, Assoc. Prof. Norwegian Business School
The course, a two-day seminar aimed at senior business decision-makers, will give insight into the strategic and tactical choices facing companies going into electronic commerce, whether from a pure online strategy or using an online presence as a support for their regular service and sales channels. The syllabus is not meant to be conclusive – the right to make changes is most explicitly reserved.
If you are interested, you can sign up here.
Tuesday, February 7
Session 1, 0830-1000: Introduction, the promise and peril of online competition
This session will introduce the course and use a short case as a starting point for discussing the impact of online competition on traditional companies. Please read and be prepared to discuss the following:
- Watch this video: Networked Society “On the Brink”
- Case: Catatech: The question of electronic commerce. E. Andersen 2003
- Article: O’Reilly, Tim (2007): What Is Web 2.0: Design Patterns and Business Models for the Next Generation of Software, MPRA Paper No. 4578
- Article: Arthur, W. B. (2011). “The second economy.” McKinsey Quarterly.
Study questions for the case:
- Is eHerramientas a threat to Catatech?
- What should Marisa do to design a strategy to counter eHerramientas’ competition?
- What should Marisa to to communicate her strategy within Catatech?
Session 2, 1030-1200: The mechanisms of electronic commerce: Searchability and findability
Google provides the context in which you will need to be found on the web. Amazon shows a company that helps you find the right product when the customer lands on the site. In this session we will study the offerings by both companies, and see how they have evolved over time.
- Article: Rangaswamy, A., C. L. Giles, et al. (2009). “A Strategic Perspective on Search Engines: Thought Candies for Practitioners and Researchers.” Journal of Interactive Marketing23: 49-60.
- Article: Andersen, E. (2006). “The Waning Importance of Categorization.” ACM Ubiquity7(19).
- Google technology overview, “What is AdWords” video,
- Article: (for the more advanced student): Brin, S. and L. Page (1998). The Anatomy of a Large-Scale Hypertextual Web Search Engine. Seventh International WWW Conference, Brisbane, Australia. (this is the paper that started Google).
- Amazon: “Inside Amazon” video, as well as this article: Linden, G., B. Smith, et al. (2003). “Amazon.com recommendations: item-to-item collaborative filtering.” Internet Computing, IEEE 7(1): 76-80.
Session 3 and 4, 1330-1700, with break: Evolving the pure online company
In this session we will study the evolution of Masterstudies.com, a company that helps graduate schools selectively recruit international students for their MBA and M.Sc. programs. We will be joined in this discussion by Mr. Linus Murphy, CEO of Masterstudies.
- Preparation: Go to masterstudies.com and study the web site. What do you think the main challenges of establishing and evolving a company like this is? Which are their customers? How can they improve their value proposition?
- Article: E. Andersen: Practicing what you preach: The business school edition, Applied Abstractions, Nov 3, 2008
Session 5, 1700-1730: An introduction to disruptive innovations
In preparation for the group work for the night, there will be a short introduction to and discussion of the theory of disruptive innovations.
- Articles: Christensen, C. M., M. Raynor, et al. (2001). “Skate to Where the Money Will Be.” Harvard Business Review (November): 73-81.
Session 6, after 1730: Group work
- Case: Schibsted (HBS case 707474, Bharat Anand)
- Article: “More media, less news”, The Economist, August 24, 2006
- Assignment: On a group basis, prepare a short presentation for tomorrow’s morning session. More precise instructions will be distributed in class.
Wednesday, February 8:
Session 7, 0830-1000: Responding to online competition:
- Case: Schibsted (HBS case 707474, Bharat Anand)
- Group presentations, prepared the night before
Session 8, 1030-1200: Responding to the social web: Blogs, Facebook, Twitter
Social media represents many challenges to business organizations – but also opportunities for increasing brand awareness, learning from customers and .
- Article: Mangold, W. G. and D. J. Faulds “Social media: The new hybrid element of the promotion mix.” Business Horizons 52(4): 357-365.
- Case: A blogger in their midst (HBS case R0309X, Halley Suitt)
- Case: Coca-Cola on Facebook (HBS case 511110, John Deighton, Leora Kornfeld)
Session 9, 1330-1500: Responding to the technical threat
Security and disaster management is often ignored by senior management – partly because the issues are, well, technical and difficult. The iPremier case, in cartoon form for your reading pleasure, allows for a discussion of how to think about and prioritize security in an online business environment.
- Case: iPremier (A): Denial of Service Attack (Graphic Novel Version) (HBS case 609092, Robert Austin and Jeremy Short)
- Article: Knapp, K.J. and Boulton, W.R.: Cyber-warfare threatens corporations: Expansion to Commercial Environments, IBM Journal, Spring 2006
Case study questions:
- How well did the iPremier Company perform during the seventy-five minute attack? If you were Bob Turley, what might you have done differently during the attack?
- The iPremier CEO, Jack Samuelson, had already expressed to Bob Turley his concern that the company might eventually suffer from a “deficit in operating procedures.” Were the company’s operating procedures deficient in responding to this attack? What additional procedures might have been in place to better handle the attack?
- Now that the attack has ended, what can the iPremier company do to prepare for another such attack?
- In the aftermath of the attack, what would you be worried about? What actions would you recommend?
Session 10, 1530-1700: Short written examination
Session 11: 1700-1730: Concluding remarks