Instructions for Analysis Essay #2
In this essay, you will provide an overview of the server-side and client-side hardware and software requirements of your information system. You will then focus the bulk of your essay on analyzing the competitive advantage that your information system provides to users of the system (or to the company who created and maintains the system) and on proposing your own recommendations for improving and enhancing the information system with additional features and functionality.
Before you begin writing, download the attached file, AnalysisEssay2Template.docx, and very carefully read and follow all instructions contained in the file. Also, make sure you compose your essay in the provided template file, as it is already formatted with the correct margins, fonts, headings and sub-headings, etc.
Your essay will automatically be checked for plagiarism by TurnItIn. You do not have to upload your paper to TurnItIn – it will be automatically submitted to TurnItIn for you when you submit your essay through the Assignments section of the classroom. Make sure you write in your own words – there must be no more than 5% similarity to sources to receive credit for this assignment.
Name your file “LastFirstAnalysisEssay2.docx” where “Last” is your last name and “First” is your first name. For example, if your name is John Smith, you would name your file SmithJohnAnalysisEssay2.docx
If you have additional questions or need clarification on these instructions, please post your questions to the Ask Your Questions thread in the Discussion Forum.
Rubric for Grading:
|Rubric for Analysis Essay 2||Points|
|Analysis of the server-side hardware requirements of the information system|| 5|
|Analysis of the server-side software requirements of the information system|| 5|
|Analysis of the client-side hardware requirements of the information system|| 5|
|Analysis of the client-side software requirements of the information system|| 5|
|Analysis of competitive advantage provided by the information system|| 20|
|Your three recommendations for enhancing/improving your IS with additional features and functionality|| 30|
|APA In-Text Citations and APA Reference List|| 10|
|Grammar and writing style|| 10|
Replace this Line with the Title of Your Essay
Your Name Goes Here
American Public University System
Replace this Line with the Title of Your Essay
Start your introductory paragraph(s) here (i.e., delete all of my paragraphs of instruction after reading through them, and replace them with your own paragraphs for your essay). Leave the font for your essay on Arial 10, double-spaced (except for the reference page, which is single spaced). Leave the margins at 1 inch. Leave page numbering set to automatically number each page of the body of your essay in the upper-right corner of the page (the title page and reference page should not be numbered). The body of your essay should be 3-4 pages long (minimum of 1500 words), not including your title page and reference page.
Write free flowing text (allow your writing to automatically wrap around to the next line as you type – do not hit Enter at the end of each line within a paragraph). Organize your essay into paragraphs within each section, but make sure all writing is in prose paragraphs (full sentences and complete paragraphs). Do not use lists in your essay and do not write in bullet statements. The only indentations you should have in your essay is one tab at the start of each paragraph, just like I have modeled for you in the way I have written these instructions. Do not put blank lines between paragraphs and do not put blank lines before or after section headings and sub-headings. You may include images or tables in your essay, if you deem them appropriate, but they do not count toward the 3-4 pages of body text that you are required to write, so adjust the length of your essay accordingly to compensate for space taken up by the images and/or tables.
You should customize the title page by replacing the first two lines of text with your essay’s title and your name, respectively. You should also replace the heading at the top of this page with your essay’s title. However, do not modify or remove the section sub-headings that appear below, throughout the rest of your essay (i.e., “Server-Side Hardware Requirements,” “Server-Side Software Requirements,” “Client-Side Hardware Requirements,” “Client-Side Software Requirements,” “Analysis of Competitive Advantage,” “Recommendations for Improvement,” “Conclusion,” and “References”) and do not add additional sub-headings. Leave all of the section sub-headings in your document to keep it organized. Everyone is required to write the same sections in their essay. You will analyze your own unique approved information system, filling in each section of this template appropriately.
Write in your own words and remember that your similarity rating must be 5% or less. Try to paraphrase and explain information you learn from your sources in your own words, rather than quoting from your sources. Your reference page does not count towards your 5% allowable similarity. To check this, after your TurnItIn report is generated, there should be a filter you can click on in the report that will bring up the option to “Exclude Bibliography.” After selecting this option, your adjusted similarity rating needs to be 5% or less. I will select “Exclude Bibliography” on all essays before grading them, to adjust the actual similarity rating in your essay and confirm it is no more than 5%.
Your introductory paragraph(s) should provide an overview of your information system, in light of the topics you will be analyzing in this essay. Make sure you do not re-use the same introduction you used in your first essay, but that you write a new introduction appropriate for this essay. Also, try not to be overly redundant in your introduction with what you have written (or will write) in the main sections in the body of this essay. Rather, give the reader an overview and whet their appetite to learn more about the aspects of your information system that you will be covering in this essay.
Server-Side Hardware Requirements
In this section, briefly describe the server-side hardware requirements of the information system. If you do not have access to specific information about the server-side hardware, you may make educated assumptions for this section and describe a typical server-side hardware configuration that you believe would be required to support your information system. What types of hardware servers do you think the system requires? File servers? Web servers? Is the system large enough that a server farm is required? What types of hardware back-up devices might be used at the server end of the system? Is there any other type of hardware that might be required at the server end to support the information system?
Server-Side Software Requirements
In this section, briefly describe the server-side software requirements of the information system. If you do not have access to specific information about the server-side software, you may make educated assumptions for this section and describe typical server-side software that you believe would be required to support your information system. Be sure to identify any operating system software, application software, cloud computing software and/or open source software that your information system is likely to be using at the server end of the system. Does the system require custom software running on the server to manage the system? What type of database software might be used at the server end to store the data input into the system? Is there any other type of software that might be required at the server end to support the information system?
Client-Side Hardware Requirements
In this section, briefly describe the client-side hardware requirements of the information system. What types of hardware devices can be used to access the information system? Be sure to consider desktop computers, laptop computers, tablets, smartphones, and other handheld computing devices. Are there any other special types of hardware that a user needs? If it is a military system, is a CAC reader required to access the system?
Client-Side Software Requirements
In this section, briefly describe the client-side software requirements of the information system. Be sure to identify any operating system software, application software, cloud computing software and/or open source software that your information system is likely to be using at the client end of the system. Is there special client-side software that needs to be installed on the user’s computer? If it is a web-based information system, is what type(s) of Web browsers can be used to access the system? Is any other special software required to use the system?
Competitive Analysis of the System
Note that this section of your essay is worth 20% of your grade on this essay. Together, the “Competitive Analysis of the System” and the “Recommendations for Improving the System” sections of your essay comprise half of your grade on this essay. So make sure these two sections of your essay are thorough and well-developed. These two sections together should be the main focus of this essay.
In this section, you will analyze how the information system gives a competitive advantage either to the users of the system or to the company that created and maintains the system. Generally, if you are using a work-related information system, the company using the system is doing so in order to gain a competitive analysis over their rivals. However, if you are using a personal web-based information system, you may instead consider how the information system gives the company that created and maintains the system a competitive advantage. For example, Best Buy has a comprehensive web-based information system that customers can use for shopping online as well as for managing their Best Buy rewards account and/or Best Buy credit card account. If you were analyzing this information system, you would analyze competitive advantage from the viewpoint of Best Buy as a company. You would analyze the ways in which their web-based system gives them a competitive advantage over other electronics stores. With some web-based information systems, you may be able to analyze competitive advantage from the perspective of the company that created and maintains the system, as well as from the perspective of some of the users of the system. For example, the creator of Facebook has managed to maintain a competitive advantage over similar rivals such as MySpace and Google+ through the use of network effects, as well as through advertising revenues, etc. However, Facebook can also provide a competitive advantage to organizations and business who use Facebook to advertise their products and services and to communicate with their clients and customers.
Realize that all organizations (even non-profits, government, and military organizations) are concerned about gaining and/or maintaining a competitive advantage. For example our military’s rivals could be considered foreign militaries. The importance of our military being competitive with their rivals should be self-evident. Although government exists to serve its constituents, government organizations often need to concern themselves with providing services that are competitive with industry. Otherwise, if government cannot run their business efficiently, politicians and taxpayers may lobby for the work of government to be outsourced to industry. Even non-profits must be concerned about running their organization efficiently and productively. Non-profits often rely on grants or on government funding. If they cannot prove that they are competitive, they could lose their funding. These are just some of the ways in which your organization may be concerned about gaining and maintaining a competitive advantage over their rivals. Describe in your own words why your organization needs to gain and maintain a competitive advantage and explain who their “rivals” are (i.e., who they are competing against).
Once you understand why your organization needs to maintain a competitive advantage, consider how this information system can help your organization gain and maintain a competitive advantage over their rivals. You may want to review Porter’s Five Forces theory and apply this theory to your information system to help determine ways that your system gives your organization (and/or the organization that created and maintains the system) a competitive advantage. In light of the many challenges inherent in the management of data and knowledge in today’s world, consider how the data assets gathered through the information system might be harnessed to provide business intelligence and a resulting competitive advantage to your organization. Consider whether your information system uses social media or Web 2.0 technologies to market or promote the use and benefit of the information system to businesses and/or potential customers. Also consider other concepts you have learned in this course, such as network effects, in relation to how your information system, can be used to gain and maintain a competitive advantage.
If the finding of your analysis is that your information system does not help your organization to gain and maintain a competitive advantage over their rivals, then instead use this section to explain why it does not. If it does not, then consider what shortcomings of your system would need to be addressed for the system to be able to provide a competitive advantage to users of the system. You can then address these shortcomings in the next section, by making specific recommendations to correct these issues.
Recommendations for Improving the System
Note that this section of your essay is worth 30% of your grade on this essay. Together, the “Competitive Analysis of the System” and the “Recommendations for Improving the System” sections of your essay comprise half of your grade on this essay. So make sure these two sections of your essay are thorough and well-developed. These two sections together should be the main focus of this essay.
In this section, you need to make at least three concrete recommendations for improving or enhancing your information system. Even if you think your information system is the best system you’ve ever used, you cannot simply say, “There is nothing I would recommend changing about this system.” 30% of your grade on this essay is based on your full development of three concrete recommendations for improving your information system, with full details about how you would implement each of the three recommendations for change. If you do not come up with recommendations for improving your information system, then I cannot give you any credit for those 30 points. Fortunately, there are always things that can be improved in any information system. You need to think like an analyst or an entrepreneur and brainstorm for ideas that could make your information system even better. These recommendations need to be your own original ideas.
Think of this section as writing the design specification for new features that you would like the developers of your system to add to the next version of your system that they release. Each recommendation needs to be described thoroughly in its own fully developed paragraph. Your recommendations should not just identify a problem with the system, but should offer a specific, concrete solution to that problem, along with a plan for how you would implement that solution.
The types of recommendations I am looking for are improvements and enhancements to the computer-based information system itself. I am primarily looking for you to suggest new features and menu options that could be added to the system to make it better. What additional functions would you like your information system to be able to do? I am looking for your own original ideas. Other types of technical recommendations you could make include specific ways you would add additional back-up or redundancy capabilities, or specific hardware upgrades that might increase the speed of the system.
Just make sure that each recommendation you make is for a technical improvement to the system itself, and not a recommendation for improving the company’s business practices in relation to the use of the information system. Managerial and organization issues related to the company’s business practices that are not appropriate for this section would be recommendations pertaining to training, use of the system, or issues related to the cost of the system – I cannot give you credit for making recommendations pertaining to how people use the system or how much the system costs. Instead, focus primarily on ideas for enhancing the functionality of the information system by adding new features and menu options to the software itself. Your recommendations need to involve actual changes to the software and/or hardware of the information system itself. Software changes would involve anything that adds new features, menu options, and functionality to the system, or that changes the user interface, layout, or navigation within the system. Hardware changes could involve addition of backup devices, upgrades to the processor or other components, etc. In any case, you need to justify each recommendation you make by explaining how it will solve an existing problem with the system or enhance the system with new functionality. Be as specific as possible about how you would implement each recommendation. For example, if you recommend that the layout of the system’s graphical user interface be made more user-friendly, then describe exactly what you would change about the layout to improve the usability.
Finally, write your concluding paragraph(s) in this section. Try to write a strong conclusion that both ties your essay together and makes a strong final impact on the reader. Rather than simply re-stating what you have already discussed, try to use this section to take the reader one step further. There are many ways to do this and I will leave it to your creativity to come up with an appropriate conclusion for your essay!
List your references in APA format on this page. I have set this page to use hanging indentations (as required in APA references).
Also, APA references are single-spaced, but you need to leave one blank line between each reference, just like how my notes here are formatted.
Finally, make sure that you have at least one corresponding in-text citation, in APA format, for each reference that you list in your reference list.