Woo hoo! The semester is over! A professor asked me once what I learned in MIST 7500. This is an interesting question for me. I came into the Master of Internet Technology program with over a decade of experience in internet technology. I didn’t expect to learn a lot and I was disappointed. It turns out I actually did learn a lot, not about technology though, rather about how technology is applied and used in business. I learned these lessons from the professor and a few guest speakers sprinkled throughout the semester. I found that this was the key insight that I didn’t know I needed.
The application of internet technology in business was the focus of the first several classes. We learned about the The Business Model Canvas, SWOT analysis, and Porter’s 5 Forces Model, among others. These abstractions of business serve to simplify and focus what an organization is all about providing managers and stakeholders with a framework to make decisions. Applying these analytic methods to my work has enabled me to focus my limited time and effort to the most effective part of the problems I am presented with.
The most notable guest speaker in my view was Colleen Jones. Her focus is content strategy, a nascent specialty that leverages analytic methods and scientific research to determine the most effective strategy to leverage web content to achieve an organization’s goals. In the 90s and 00s the focus of web strategy was simply to have a presence on the web. Recently though innovation has abstracted many of the technological hurdles away clearing the way for Colleen and her analytical methods. With her book Clout: the Art and Science of Influential Web Content (reviewed here on this blog) and her consultancy Content Science she has become one of the foremost thought leaders in Content Strategy.
Another speaker I thought was interesting was Jason Lannen who discussed auditing and controls in IT. Working in the government this hit close to home. Almost everything I deal with on daily basis has to do with some level of auditing and controls. Hearing how this is handled in the private sector provided me with insights enabling me to contrast my experience with his. This made me a lot less frustrated with many of the challenges I face at work.
I recently read a research paper by Boris Fritscher and Yves Pigneur titled Business IT Alignment from Business Model to Enterprise Architecture. It descibes how to translate a business model into an enterprise architecture model such as ArchiMate. This model consists of three layers; Business, Application, and Technology. Using their technique the same architecture may be applied to my fictional LEGO builder’s web community website mentioned in a previous post.
At the bottom of the Archimate model is IT Infrastructure layer consisting only of Key Resources (6) from the BMO. Obviously this would include cloud application hosting. The application would be maintained by a development team running on a cloud application administers by an IT team, or perhaps the developers themselves depending on skills. Community managers would not be part of this layer. Perhaps this is redundant and can be removed from that part of the BMO.
Sandwiched in the middle of the Archimate model is the Application layer including from the BMO model Key Activites (7). The lower IT layer enables the middling application layer including community management and website administration consisting of development and support. This could also include social media and other communication tools manage relationships with partners and customers identified above it in the Archimate model.
The top layer of the ArchiMate model is the Business layer. In that layer on top are external roles and actors which include from the BMO Key Partners (5) and Customer Segments (1) consisting of Bricklink (unofficial LEGO marketplace), The LEGO Group, and our core audience; LEGO builders. To support them there are external business services which include items from the Value Proposition (2), Customer Relationships (4), and Channels (3). In our case this would consist of direct brick sales via Bricklink or LEGO Group and the user community data and contributions. Users would create their content using tools on the website and build them using bricks either purchased or out of their collection using parts lists generated by the website.
In our first class of MIST 7500 we discussed business modeling using the The Business Model Canvas. For our homework we were asked to model a business we worked for. Many years ago I work for a in-hospital baby photography company. This company provided exclusive newborn photo services for hospitals. By the time I left the company we were in about 120 hospitals. The challenge for me as an IT support technician was supporting custom installs at all of these hospitals. Each hospital or hospital system had their own mix of technical requirements and complexities. We were able to standardize the photo carts that photographers wheeled into nurseries and patient rooms to photograph the babies. They consisted of a large medical grade cabinet on wheels. The top of the cabinet had a bassinet where the baby would lay. Above the bassinet, mounted to a pole, is a digital SLR with a 28mm lens and a studio flash. The camera connected through the post to a computer via USB cable. This computer connected to a LCD computer monitor mounted midway up the pole where photographer use custom software to take photos. This computer was connect to the internet at the end of the day where it uploaded the image to an FTP server to the home office in Atlanta. Photographers would sell the photos to patients directly or they could call the home office later. The home office could then edit and produce the photos and print them on a commercial printer to be shipped directly to the customer.
I also created a model for a infomediary business; a LEGO builder’s web community. The website would allows users to upload their designs and share them with other users. Users could contribute to those designs or fork the designs to their own derivatives. Users may then purchase the bricks for designs directly from LEGO or an online market place such as BrickLink.