Ford Motor Company

Case Discussion Questions

1) Web technology first gained serious momentum within Ford in 1994 when the CEO gave the CIO the job of figuring out ways to deploy the technology beneficially across the company. List what you see as the important events that occurred between this meeting and the end of the case. Did this technology adoption process work well? What would you change? Could this process be used in other companies?


2) Web technology deployment at Ford was preceded by a very substantial and expensive infrastructural renewal process. What challenges resulted from Ford's legacy of proprietary networking technologies and old computer applications, and how did Ford meet those challenges? How much money did Ford save through the GENI process?


3) The case lists a number of specific uses of web technologies. What were these and why was the web a particularly useful way of mounting these applications? What lessons can Ford apply as it moves towards using web technologies for more "mission-critical" applications? What policies and principles did Ford employ to maximize the usefulness of web technologies?


Managing in an Information Age: IT Challenges & Opportunities

Designing the Information Age Architecture


Questions for IT Assessment Assignment


1.     Table 1 (Handout) Evolution of IT Architecture in 'Managing in an Information Age: IT Challenges and Opportunties" displays the evolution of IT architecture through four distinct but overlapping eras.


  Map your firm’s current IT architecture onto this table as completely as you can.

You might want to check the boxes in the chart that best describe your unit’s current IT architecture. For example, in terms of information storage, your unit might use a document management system – characteristic of the Distributed Era and not the knowledge management system – characteristic of the Ubiquitous Era.


2.       The questions in Appendix A in (Handout passed out in class) are designed to help identify the information you need in order to manage effectively.


a)    Be very specific about the kinds of information you need. You might want to work through these questions with a close colleague.


b)    Review your answers carefully. Of the information you need but do not currently receive, which one or two pieces of information are critical? Describe the steps you will take to acquire this information. Also, identify the obstacles you are likely to encounter and how will you deal with them.


c)    You might want to give this questionnaire, or a modified version of it, to your direct reports and others in your unit. Doing so may reveal additional information gaps; you can then devise an action plan to fill theses gaps.


3.     Applegate describes the “information politics that can impede the development

And implementation of an integrated IT architecture in 'Designing and Managing the Information Age IT Architecture' (pp. 38-39) (Second Reading).


a)    Describe the information politics at work in your company. Applegate identifies four manifestations on p. 38, to which you might add local variations.


b)    In what ways are you involved, even inadvertently, in these dynamics?


c)    How do these dynamics affect the quality and timeliness of the information you receive?


d)    List the actions you could take to mitigate the effects on your unit information politics.


4.     “ All employees should be able … to access, store, and distribute information without

having to rely on analysts or IT specialists” in 'Designing and Managing the Information Age IT Architecture' (p.32).


a)    List the types of information that are a key to your unit’s business processes.


b)    Briefly describe whether and how your employees acquire, access and store this information. You might find it helpful to draw a chart. If you are not sure what the process is for a certain type of information, how could you find out?


c)    What does your chart reveal about the ease with which your employees can work with critical information? In particular, what kinds of information seem most difficult for employees to access directly? What might be some reasons why?


5.     Table 2 on p. 16 in 'Managing in an Information Age: IT Challenges and Opportunties' outlines three categories of value created by information technology:


·       Process design

·       Individual/group productivity

·       Competitive advantage


a)    List the key IT systems currently used in your unit (e.g., a customer database, an intranet, etc.). Place each into one of these categories. Do your IT systems cluster mainly in the category? If so, what opportunities to create value for your unit or firm are you missing?


b)    Identify two or three additional IT systems that would potentially yield further process improvements, increase productivity, or strengthen competitive advantage. Which system should be a priority for your unit? Why?