Essentials of Management Information Systems: Managing the Digital Firm, 11th Edition
Kenneth Laudon and Jane Laudon
Azimuth Interactive, Inc.
Questions and Answers
Chapter 1: Business Information Systems in Your Career
Case 1: UPS Global Operations with the DIAD
1. List the various ways that DIAD improves customer service.
Faster pickup and delivery schedules. Real-time tracking of packages based on bar code technology, and using Wi-Fi and cellular connections; a local Bluetooth network to connect the driver with the truck. GPS built into the unit to help drivers locate delivery and pickup locations. Color screen for customer to read shipping documents.
2. Write out the steps a package takes from pick-up by a UPS driver to delivery including the role of DIAD, the UPS Data Center, and the UPS Package Center.
Another label is printed specifying delivery truck and position on truck
Geo software used to continuously update dispatch plans for trucks based on current load
Information is displayed on the DIAD IV identifying drop off order, position on truck
At delivery, package scanned. Information sent wirelessly to processing center
Customers sign on the dotted line on the DIAD IV.
Main processing centers store complete track of package for customer tracking
3. What role does wireless communication play in the UPS systems?
DIAD IV is wirelessly connected to the main processing centers and the package centers. Generally UPS trucks contain a transceiver to work with the local driver's DIAD IV, and then communicate that information wirelessly back to the UPS processing center.
4. Why doesn’t UPS use much more powerful and smaller smartphones like the iPhone or Android?
The DIAD units are much more robust than consumer smartphones and can withstand larger drops, rain and intermittent submersion, and other abuse. While many features of the DIAD are also available on smartphones, the DIAD is optimized for these features (like scanning barcodes, using multiple cellular carriers) whereas ordinary smartphones are not.
5. Why is the DIAD V better than the DIAD IV?
Improvements that employees mentioned in the video are:
Reduced size and weight (1.5lb (compared to about 5 lb.)
Easier to handle, one-hand operation
Illuminated screen to use at nighttime
Better signature writing feature
Easier interface for typing
Improved scanner beam performance for scanning barcodes
6. How does UPS’s investment in IT help it achieve the strategic business objectives described in Chapter 1?
The most important contributions of technology to UPS strategic objectives is the greatly enhanced operational efficiency; the compression of time to deliver; the development of new services like tracking, and overnight or 2-day service; the closeness to the customer; improvements in the quality and speed of decisions related to packages.
Firms that made these investments in IT benefit by achieving significant competitive advantage over others in the package delivery business. FedEx remains a much smaller but competitive service especially in the overnight market. Other competitors have largely disappeared.
Case 2 Google Data Center Efficiency Best Practices
1. What is PUE, and why is it an important place to start when considering how to reduce data center power consumption? What value of PUE should data center managers strive for?
PUE stands for power usage effectiveness, measured as the ratio of total facility energy divided by IT equipment energy (watts). IT equipment refers literally to the computers and hard drives used in the facility. Total facility power would include lighting, and cooling. In 2006, a typical data center would consume 2 watts of total facility power to support 1 watt of IT equipment. Today the number is much closer to 1.10 because of changes in IT equipment, and changes in facility power management. The ideal is a PUE of 1, in which case all power was being used to simply operate the IT equipment and no other significant support power was being used.
2. Describe the five methods recommended by Google for reducing power consumption.
Measure the PUE is the first step. If you can’t measure efficiency, you can’t manage it. Second, manage airflow by isolating cool aisles from hot aisles, and preventing the premature mixing of hot and cold air. Third, adjust the thermostat up to operate the IT equipment at a maximum of 80 degrees. Fourth, as much as possible make use of free ambient cooling such as cooler air, or cooler incoming water. Fifth, optimize power distribution and utilization. In this case, reduce the number of conversions from AC to DC and back again. Other methods not mentioned in the film are server virtualization, decreasing power demands of processors, and optimizing the computing load on servers in order to increase their rate of utilization, and decrease the number of servers required to do the work.
3. How much of the world’s global greenhouse gases are the result of computing? List several factors that will tend to retard or accelerate data center power consumption both globally and in the United States.
The entire ICT infrastructure including data centers accounts for about 2% of global greenhouse gas emissions. Of this, about 15% is due to data centers. Data center power consumption depends in part on the rate of economic growth both globally and in the United States
4. Where do you suspect that data center power consumption will be greatest: developing and emerging economies or already-developed economies? Why?
Currently the developed world consumers the most computing power, but the rapid growth of developing countries ensures a faster rate of growth of data center power.
5. Imagine that a company has developed an advanced technology that allows it to reduce its data center requirements by an unprecedented amount, and creates a competitive advantage for the company in the data center market. Why should it share that technology with other data center firms? If this firm does not share its techniques, the rest of the industry will continue to operate highly inefficient centers, and increase global emissions of greenhouse gases.
Firms that have developed a more effective power utilization for their data centers do have a strategic advantage, and would definitely not share the techniques with competitors even if this was not in the best interests of the whole society. To date no single firm has achieved such an inimitable advantage.
6. Should the government or an industry association regulate the carbon emissions of the data center industry as they do the airline industry? Or the automobile industry? Or is it sufficient to rely on the competitive market place to drive down energy consumption in data centers?
Currently, in the United States, there has been no call for data center power regulation by government, in part because data centers are seen as a small component in the total picture of greenhouse gas emissions. There are several professional societies that develop and promote energy conservation in data centers. For example, the American Society of Heating, Refrigerating and Air-Conditioning Engineers, Inc. (www.ashrae.org).