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The value of information

There is no magic formula for using information to gain a competitive advantage in business.
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LUBNA ALAM: Running a business or working at the management level of an organisation requires you to make decisions, decisions about investment. When we hear the word investment, we have a natural tendency to think about financial investments. But investments come in many shapes and forms, from purchasing an enterprise system, developing a mobile app, to expanding the business into new markets. Some work out while others may not. Take, for example, the Australian supermarket giant Woolworths. The expansion into home hardware market, through Masters hardware chain, ended up being a colossal writedown, to the tune of $1.9 billion Australian.
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On the other hand, the fast food chain giant McDonald’s implemented multiple information systems to store and leverage customer information, provide quick service to its customers, and impact training of its employees. At the core of these investments in IT, what did they recognise and prioritise? The answer is business value, generated from information captured in IT systems about their businesses and customers across the globe. So how do we make the right investment decision? What are the business value returns from a particular ICT investment? Information and communication technology is a major enabler of business, and given the fast changing IT environment, organisations need to invest considerable resources to ensure ICT infrastructure remains current and competitive.
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In the first week in this course, we will look at ways organisations can gain business value from information and technology, how do we then understand why organisations invest in IT. We need to further understand business and IT alignment in the context of their business models. I am Lubna Alam, Associate Professor at the Department of Information Systems and Business Analytics. With over 15 years of experience in teaching and conducting research on technology impacts on businesses, I am sure we will share rich insights on business value from ICT investments. Throughout the course, you will be asked to reflect on your own situation, participate in discussions, and review relevant material.
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At the end of every step of learning, you’ll be asked to reflect on a question or investigate a topic and share with others in the comments. We wish you all the best and encourage you to actively participate. To get started, let’s have a look at something that you’re familiar with, running a restaurant.
There is no magic formula for using information to gain a competitive advantage in business, in the increasingly digital world we live in.
In this course, you will discover ways of seeing through the complexities of business to make informed decisions about information. This includes making choices about Information and Communication Technology (ICT). You will learn about the concept of business value as a stepping stone to competitive advantage. The focus of this course will be to answer the question, ‘how can information give business a competitive advantage?’
A firm is said to have a competitive advantage when it acquires or develops an attribute or combination of attributes that allows it to outperform its competitors by creating more economic value.
Over the next two weeks you’ll: 
  • explore the value of information and information technology
  • examine how technology can support a business to generate business value
  • identify the different components of a business that benefit from technology investment
  • analyse the role of information and communication technology to automate and informate business processes
  • identify how information can be used to create a competitive advantage.

Meet the team

Your lead educator in this course is Associate Professor Lubna Alam who has 15 years experience in researching and teaching technology disruption and IT-business alignment.
This course is also part of a unique set of postgraduate degrees offered on FutureLearn by Deakin University in Australia. It is the first course of five that together make up one of the introductory units for the Masters of Cyber Security.

Your task

Tell us a little about yourself in the comments. Share with other learners what are you hoping to achieve through this course.
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Competitive Advantage: Using Information to Build Business Success

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