Monthly Archives: August 2013

Business Strategy and Modeling

In business executives and managers have a responsibility to ensure that their venture stays viable and growing. This requires them analyze their competitors, customers, and market forces to guide their decisions. Patterns are identified to develop abstract strategies and models that are applicable across domains. Since the 1970s academics have developed and refined several techniques to models business.

The first of these techniques is the SWOT (Strengths, Weaknesses, Opportunities, and Threats). SWOT spawned a variant called TOWS. SWOT and TOWS were not sufficient though so the Porter Five Forces Analysis was developed leveraging industrial organization economics to determine the five forces that compose a market’s competitive intensity. The five forces are threat of new entrants, bargaining power of suppliers, bargaining power of buyers, industrial rivalry, and threat of substitute products or services. Executives use insights gleaned to decide if a market is worth entering or exiting. A sixth force was later added to address complementary competitors and government. A final higher level analysis is the PEST analysis that describes political, economic, social, and technological factors. These factors effect entire industries help managers with macro-level strategic decisions.

Indeed, while these techniques are no panacea, they do help illuminate the competitive landscape to enable decision makers to deliver the maximum value to their stakeholders. These models fail though when they are based on flawed information. Managers must be sure models are based on well researched facts and educated assumptions to have the best chance of a successful execution.

An example of a SWOT analysis for Bay Area Rapid Transit (BART).
An example of a SWOT analysis for Bay Area Rapid Transit (BART). Credit Gliffy

The Business Model Canvas

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 developed the following models on


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.


What is a router?


What is a router? A router is a specialized computer that makes it possible for networks to talk to networks thus making the Internet possible. The Internet is designed for redundancy and routers make this possible by maintaining a routing table. Routing tables maintain rules that enable to know where to send a packets based on their destinations. A router may not necessarily know where the final destination is but they know where routers are that may know better. Routers maintain up-to date routing tables by communicating with each other via the protocols Routing Information Protocol (RIP), Open Shortest Path First (OSPF), and Border Gateway Protocol (BGP). These protocols are essential to ensure packets are sent the most efficient way by reducing the amount of “hops” from origin to destination. The origin and destination are determined by the use of an Internet Protocol (IP) address (unique to a network) and an underlying MAC address (globally unique, device specific). Whew, that’s pretty complicated.

It gets worse. The Internet currently runs on version 4 of Internet Protocol (IP). Version 4 limits the amount of IP addresses to 4,294,967,296. There are currently many more devices connected to the Internet than 4.2 billion. This is accomplished through the use of Network Address Translation (NAT). Routers use NAT to connect private networks with local IP addresses that use private address allocations such as These networks on their cannot connect to other networks without the use of a router. Internet Protocol version 6 is currently in the long process of being rolled out which has 3.4×1038 addresses. This will reduce the need for NAT thus, in theory, increasing the overall efficiency of the Internet.

Since routers are specialized computers it’s possible to install software on them. It’s pretty common to find a router with a firewall and other security related software. Their unique position has a middle man between networks allows them to serve as a choke point for malicious network activity such Denial of Service Attacks (DoA). They can use the firewall to restrict the type traffic allowed through thus providing an extra layer of security for it’s network.

If that’s too much or you wish learn more check out these resources.

Hallo und Herzlich Willkommen

Hello. This is a blog brought to you by a graduate student currently enrolled in the Master of Internet Technology program offered by the Terry College of Business at University of Georgia (UGA). I am that graduate student. People known me personally as Craig Oliver. I am known elsewhere on the inter-tubes as craigmoliver. I’m currently employed at the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention as a web developer. The purpose for this Masters degree is broaden my knowledge of related topics and further develop management and leadership skills.

The blog may serve multiple purposes over the next two years of graduate study. The initial purpose will be to complete assignments for the first of two classes; MIST 7500 Internet Technology. Other purposes may include essays about topics related to other classes in the program. There is an off chance I will cross post topics of interest and events from my non-class life where appropriate. I have a personal blog that I haven’t updated in a while,

Note – I don’t really speak German. I did take German as my foreign in high school though. Unfortunately I have subsequently forgot it.

You can find me elsewhere on the Internet via Twitter, Facebook, YouTube, Google+, LinkedIn, and Flickr.