On November 15, 2010, IT150 students had the wonderful opportunity to tour the City of Pittsburgh Information Systems Department with city CIO Dr. Howard Stern.
During the tour Dr. Stern passionately discussed the mission of his department, the various functional areas, and the emerging technologies that the city has adopted to make public safety processes more efficient and effective. Such emerging technologies include – server virtualization, virtualized desktops, potentially cloud computing. We also learned about the city’s impressive disaster recovery capabilities.
It was a wonderful tour! I hope you enjoyed it :)
Kristal- The hardest part of the project for me was trying to find the time to meet with my group members because we all have very tough schedules. Although we are all very busy, we worked around our schedules and were very successful with this project idea. The best thing that I have learned from this would just be the different kinds of information systems that can be used in a variety of ways. I never really thought about all of the options there are for making companies better, but now that we have done this project I have noticed a lot of things that could be made better in stores by adding a new information system. This project really helped with learning about course topics because you had to know what all of the information systems were before you could successfully work on the project. By needing to know what all of these were required you to read the book and be attentive in class.
Chrissy- The hardest part of the project for me was making time to actually work on the project. We are all very busy and it was very difficult to find a time when all of us can meet. Another very difficult part of the project was figuring out such things as costs, benefits, and risks. The most valuable thing that I have learned from this project was that just because an idea seems good to one person, does not mean that the idea should be implemented or that the idea will be beneficial. This project helped learn about course topics because a lot of the new topics we learned about may be useful to implement the system. For example, a database may be used to implement information regarding customer’s wants and needs based from information that the customer entered into the system through the kiosk. Overall, the project was very beneficial in many ways and was a very rewarding experience.
Steve- The hardest part of this project was not the actual research involved or the writing of the papers, but it was trying to find the time to meet as a group to work on the project. We were not too keen on the virtual group meetings or mass e-mails or discussion boards or anything like that. We all agreed on meeting face to face. I think the best thing I learned was you do not have to be a professional or even an expert on the topic of information systems to come up with a usable idea. We were able to come up with an idea that can be proposed to the actual company of PUMA and we are still in the beginning stages of learning about IT. I believe this was one of the most valuable things learned. This project also helped me learn about course topics through all of the research that went in to it. Even the things like EXCEL and ACCESS were helpful in simply putting together tables for the costs and benefits. We also even attempted all of the online meeting tools that we discussed in class. It was a valuable project and one that helped me understand that you do not have to be an expert in IT to change my own life or a companies.
Team Barnes and Noble: Amanda Reed, Lillie Frydrych, and Emily Cubellis
Just yesterday our group was discussing how far we have come on this project. We began with the simple idea of improving a system at Barnes & Noble, and it soon grew into an intricate analysis and detailed system. Initially, we used our experiences at Barnes & Noble as a basis to gather information. We all agreed that the customer help desk was helpful, but not as dependable as a customer might hope. In order to refine our ideas, we considered the pros and cons of all of the opportunities. Some obstacles that we ran into throughout the project was estimating any costs and benefits. Although we researched many monetary components of our proposed reccommendation process, there were still some numbers that were not fully justifiable. Other than this section of the project, we had a rather simple time coming up with the other information. This was due to creative and responsible group members with great ideas.
Amanda: The hardest part about working on this project was, as mentioned, certain sections of the costs and benefits. Since I have not been exposed in any business classes to propsing a new process for a store in the past, it was difficult to come up with reliable numbers. Other than that, the project was time consuming, yet not extremely difficult. The best thing I have learned from this project is how much planning goes into a business proposal for implementing any changes. A thorough description must be discussed, along with the costs, benefits, and assessments. It has taught me a lot about business to do this project. Also, this project has taught me that group projects are not all that bad. Granted I had a responsible and dependable group, but with a list of rules and tasks, a group project can be a lot less “painful.” The project helped me to better understand the concept of CRM. Customers who use a reccommendation system built around their past purchases will feel appreciated. This feeling will likely keep them coming back to the closest Barnes & Noble store. This should, in turn, create more business.
Lillie: The hardest part of this project was, like Amanda said, coming up with numbers for the costs and benefits. There was also an uncertainty about what kinds of systems and software would be necessary to make the reccommendation system run. We simply went with the ideas that we thought worked best. The best thing I learned from this project was that information technology can really help better a business. The proposed kiosks with integrating software will generate higher customer satisfaction and seemingly better business. Our group consisted of people who were easy to get along with. We all put in our fair share of work. CRM is the main concept that our project focused on. Customers need a system that is more reliable than the customer help desk. Although it is more personal to speak with an actual person, the reccommendation system would hold all of their purchase history. This would likely make them feel a greater sense of value to be known as more than just a face.
Emily: The hardest thing about this project was gathering certain information, like Lillie and Amanda both said. Coming up with the ideas and details about the reccommendation system was not very hard, but finding other details about the project was such as finding the price of a kiosk. The information involved much research because prices were not offerred openly. The best thing I learned from this project is how working in a group makes finding information much easier. We all helped eachother out when we had a problem coming up with details for the project. The project itself taught me a lot about assessments of a proposed idea as well. The thought of implementing a new reccommendation system has helped me understand the concept of CRM much better. Customers at Barnes & Noble would enjoy coming back to the store if they feel appreciated. Workers at the customer help desk will still be available as a friendly face or back up if the system has problems. Customers might feel a stronger bond to a store which holds a record of their interests (books).
Overall, the group project wasn’t hard for us, it was just very tedious at times. We picked which business we were going to use quickly by just picking one that we came up with when we had to draft our ideas. We decided on Ann Taylor Loft becuase we all had an interest in the company and Jordan works there, which was able to help us gain more informatin on the company. Through each draft that we did we refined each one to be better and go into more detail about what we think would help Ann Taylor fix their scheduling problem. We didn’t run into many obstacles except trying to find a software that would fit the company and woudn’t cost much. Our breakthrough came when we fianlly did find a cost efficient software that would work well with Ann Taylor. Once we came to our final draft of the paper everything fit together and shows how Ann Taylor will benefit from this software.
Ashley: I think the hardest part about working on this project was not knowing exactly how Ann Taylor ran their business. I kind of had an idea of why many of the employees at Ann Taylor got frusturated with the scheduling system because the restaurant I work at uses the same kind of system. This system is just writing down when you can work on the back of the schedule. However, since I only knew little about it and what Jordan told us I decided to do a little bit of research on my own to find out more about the comapny. Once I did that I was able to understant more about the company and what they had to work with technology wise. One of the best things I learned from this project is that there are many different technologies available for companies to use for this kind of problem, most of which are fairly inexpensive. By doing this project, it has helped me to understand which course concepts would apply to a company like this with the same problems and which concepts would not. The main concept that I feel applies to this project is Business Intelligence. I feel that this concept applies because it deals with business performance management, competitive intelligence and much more. Those two things that I mentioned play a major part within Ann Taylor. Since Ann Taylor is a competitive women’s clothing store they need to be as technology savy as their other competitors while making wise decisions to enhance performance such as sales. Because of this is one of the many reasons I feel that this concept applies. Overall, I feel that the project went very well and I learned alot from it and learned more about the concepts that we talked about in class. I feel that I have a better understanding of them from doing this project and hope that I can continue to use these concepts in the future.
Jordan: The hardest part about working on this project was finding times to meet with my group in person. As an Ann Taylor Loft employee, I knew a lot about their scheduling system and was able to give a lot of insight into the company. The best thing I learned from this project was how information systems really can help business run more effieciently. Technology is available all around us and we should take advantage of it. I also learned that working in a group project is not totally horrible. I was fortunate to have a great group! This project really helped me to under stand how BI or business intelligence can be helped with technology. Scheduling of employees is very important to BI because you need to know how many employees are needed for each shift.
Adrienne: I felt the hardest part of working on this project was trying to figure out the estimated costs for our proposal. I had to go to several websites to determine what all the costs would be. It was very time consuming. The best thing I learned was there are many types of systems that help improve the running of a business. The scheduling software for the Loft would be inexpensive and would free up more time for all of the employees. It is a great example of information systems that help businesses. This project helped me to understand BI better because our project was all about Ann Taylor Loft keeping better schedules for their employees by the management. This system deals with a process that managers have to continuously perform and makes the task simpler while reducinig errors.
Cette Groupe: Shaina Bazyk, Ebonie Chestnut, Michelle Petek
This project proved to be an unexpected challenge for us all. First, the problem of finding a business to investigate proved to be an issue: some options seemed to daunting, others far too easy. In the end, though, we found that The VILLA’s particular circumstances proved to be a tasking but ultimately rewarding case. Examining a business’ information systems problems without much prior knowledge or experience in the field proved rather difficult at times, but we feel that our combined knowledge, as well as a bit of support from the instructor, helped our project greatly.
Shaina: I feel that this project presented an unexpected opportunity for academic growth. Coming from the farthest extreme of any business-oriented field (my major is Creative Writing), I initially had a hard time thinking about The VILLA in any kind of practical way. Grounding our ideas in plausibility proved a challenge for us all, but I feel especially for myself. I feel that both our instructor’s and our fellow students’ feedback really improved upon our ideas. Overall, I feel that the best thing I learned from this project is the useful knack of grounding my ideas in practicality instead of novelty. Our project helped me personally learn about SCM – The VILLA’s apparel options are greatly impacted by their vendors’ availability of items. As this affects the company’s overall success, this fact really helped emphasize the importance of a good SCM system.
Michelle: The hardest thing about working on this project was going into it from a non-business perspective. Being a non-business major, I was not aware how many technological processes go into running a business. I had just never really considered it before. Also, before working on this project, I was unaware of the existence of The VILLA, and knew nothing about both its focus and its business processes, therefore making it hard to understand what exactly needed to be done to improve their overall business. The best thing I learned from this project is how creative the girls in my group are, especially with our suggestion of using My Virtual Model (even if this idea was not entirely practical). This project helped me realize how much a well-organized and well-programmed database can improve a business.
Ebonie: The hardest thing about working on this project was the fact that I actually work at The VILLA. Because I am so involved with The VILLA’s operations, and know so much about how the company works, it was difficult to take a step back and look at the bigger picture. Getting outside that mindset was hard at first, but I feel that there was a balance within my group that allowed me to look at The VILLA’s processes in more detail. While my closeness to The VILLA was my greatest difficulty, I also feel that it brought about the best thing that I learned from this project. It helped me learn how to examine a business more closely. This project helped me learn about IT’s overall role in business, and how much of an impact a a system (good or bad) can have on any business.
Remember that you reviewed different alternative Word processing programs for an assignment? Many of you liked Google Docs and Zoho for the ability to do work processing online. Thanks to these innovations, Microsoft has been pressured to offer MS office online. You should be able to do all of your homework assignments online in the foreseeable future! Check out this article that discusses MS office online vs.Google Docs and Zoho.
Hello IT150 students!
Many of you note that learning about the different Google tools is one of the coolest things about this class. What you probably haven’t realized is that we have only sampled a very tiny portion of the applications available from Google. However, although Google applications are popular among end users, they still have a long way to go in terms of cracking the enterprise market. Most corporations are still hesitant to adopt Google apps (Have you wondered why Carlow decided to implement the new email system using Microsoft Exchange even though Gmail is available for free for educational institutions?)
Hopefully that trend will begin to change as Google has been working very hard on meeting enterprise needs. Here are some of the recent developments targeting enterprise clients. Take a tour!