1. Consumers buy some physical items online easily while they are much more likely to buy other physical items in physical stores. Why? Based on your reading and your own experiences, what are the current factors that influence whether a physical item purchase is made online or in a physical store? Explain your answer and support it.
2. Consider how you feel about services you use that require you to reveal sensitive personal information and the various pros and cons to using personal computer-based applications with data on your own hard drive, Web applications with your data stored in the cloud, and professional services where your data is stored in the systems of the professional you have selected (e.g. tax preparation solutions and medical diagnostic and treatment solutions). What are the trends and how are these trends changing how we seek and obtain such services? Support your answer with specific references.
3. The world of travel and travel-related services radically changed following September 11th, 2001 attacks. List the major travel and travel related services that are not typically conducted via eBusiness mechanisms. For each what are the factors shaping those trends? Identify at least two that interest you, indicate where you see the need for improvement, and explain. Support your answers with references.
4. Effective automation is seldom about taking what works in the physical world and just doing it in or with a computer. The best forms of automation tends to occur when the work process is transformed into a totally different process that could not be done without automation support.
For example, airplanes designed to be flown by humans without automation tend to be very stable and will typically return to straight and level flight when the human provides no control input. Such airplane designs are not typically nimble, making it a challenge to produce airplanes with those designs that are great for aerial combat (e.g. aerial dogfighting).
“When War in Europe broke out, the British forces were equipped with a superb training aircraft, but it was so stable that it took effort and time to convince it to change course. They were shot down in droves.” (http://aviation.stackexchange.com/questions/8049/are-fighter-jets-designed-to-be-so-inherently-unstable-that-a-human-cant-fly-on)
Nimble aircraft tend to have unstable designs that require constant adjustments of the flight controls in order to accomplish any particular maneuver, including flying straight and level. Humans get very tired of doing this kind of flying, assuming it is possible for a human to respond fast enough. When one adds a reliable computer into the system, things immediately change. The computer does not “get tired” and is able to react orders of magnitude faster than humans can. In this situation, the human gives “gross” guidance to the computer, which in-turn provides numerous very tactical changes to the flight controls to accomplish the pilot’s intent. The result is an aircraft that can turn, rotate, and pitch far more quickly that non-computer controlled aircraft which is very important during many combat scenarios.
Start with education and professional services and then identify in those domains an opportunity where, in your opinion, a significant process change requiring the use of a computer, could bring dramatic and truly beneficial improvement. Given that application, what are the current trends and what “bar” would you have to “clear,” in your opinion, in order for the improvement to be a game-changer. Explain your answer.
5. It has been suggested that eBusiness makes it possible for businesses to be much more nimble and customized. For example, some firms will only produce their products when hard orders are in hand. Other companies allow you to fully customize every aspect of their product, something very difficult to do without online tools. Many business owners argue that eliminating the middlemen and warehousing costs makes it possible to do so much more for a lot less. Things certainly started much more slowly than many expected, but the trends are definitely upward. Identify two or three aspects of the online experience that has convinced you to always buy certain things online that you used to buy in a physical store. What prompted this change in your behavior? Is there any chance that something might change which would cause you to return physical stores to make these purchases in the future?