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IT Infrastructure Management Case Study for AstraZeneca


Task: Study "Case DATA ANALYSIS: AstraZeneca Terminates $1.4B Outsourcing Contract with IBM" in your text book [Chapter 12] and answer the following questions:

  • What mistakes did AstraZeneca make?
  • What mistakes did IBM make?
  • Why are outsourcing contracts for five or more years?
  • Why do you think two major corporations could make such mistakes?
  • Do you think the 2007 SLA was doomed to fail? Explain your answer.
  • What provisions in the 2012 SLAs protect AstraZeneca and the vendors?
  • Why would parties prefer to use an arbitrator instead of filing a lawsuit in court?

Task B: Write a paper, 4 pages (2-column format) in length, on a topic covered in our textbook. For this assignment, you need to plan, research, and, use your initiative to express the knowledge you learnt in this subject as well as your own independent thinking and reasoning.

Possible topics: Your attention in this paper can be focused on any of the following topics covered in our text:

  • Information Management / IT Architecture.
  • Database, Data, Warehouse, and Data Mining.
  • Networks, Collaboration, and Sustainability.
  • CyberSecurity, Compliance, and Business Continuity.
  • E-Business & E-Commerce Models and Strategies.
  • Mobile Technologies and Commerce.
  • Social Media.
  • Enterprise Systems and Applications.
  • Performance Management Using Data Visualization, Mashups, and Mobile Intelligence.


Task A:
1. The mistakes made by AstraZeneca in the case study are particularly reflective of the emphasis of the company on outcome-based specifications in the deal with IBM. The specifications in the contract were intended to foster innovation among vendors and the contract was considered as sophisticated and breakthrough model at the time of its inception in 2007 (Andrijcic, Haimes & Beatley, 2013). However, AstraZeneca did not account for the pace of change of the business and its requirements in the design of the contract. Therefore the outcome specifications in the contract were not aligned with the changing requirements for AstraZeneca leading to pitfalls for the organization.

2. The prominent mistake made by IBM that can be noticed in the case study is the lack of precision regarding the exit obligations on IBM in event of termination of the contract. IBM engaged in the contract for providing IT infrastructure services across 60 countries for server hosting and storage facilities for supply chain operations, network and communication and commercial purposes of the client AstraZeneca. Involvement in a contract of such huge magnitude without revision of exit obligations turned out to backfire on IBM when the contract was terminated and a court case ensued between AstraZeneca and IBM in which the former was favoured in the judgments due to the mistakes of IBM (Bryce, Flintsch & Hall, 2014).

3. Outsourcing contracts are generally for five or more years especially in the case of large contracts since it is dependent on the profit earning approaches of vendors. Large outsourcing agreements are associated with substantial investment on behalf of vendors for service setup and customization in the first two years. After the initial phase, the vendor aims for deriving profits in the last two or three years. Therefore considering the time period taken by vendors for realizing profit, the time period of five or more years in large outsourcing contracts can be validated.

4. From a personal perspective, the mistakes committed by two large corporations could be validated on the grounds of preserving personal interests and finalizing the agreement as soon as possible. Furthermore, the reputation and capital strength of the companies involved in an outsourcing agreement could also be accounted as notable factors for each party overlooking minor yet crucial aspects of the deal.

5. The 2007 SLA could be considered as doomed to fail because the magnitude of the project was substantial and did not account for changes in the business environment of the client. The infrastructure proposed in the SLA included characteristics of consistency and implementation across a huge geographical territory in 60 different sites. The failure of the system to cope with changing trends in client’s business, lack of precise termination guidelines and emphasis on outcome based specifications can be explicitly pointed out as reasons for the failure of the 2007 SLA deal.

6. The provisions in the 2012 SLAs formed by AstraZeneca with IT vendors could be accounted as beneficial for the client as well as vendor due to the emphasis on quick action for addressing technical problems in a cooperative structure. The most significant aspects of the 2012 SLA refer to the presentation of multiple contracts with different vendors and inclusion of cooperation policy (Desikachari, 2014). The cooperation policy reflects on 13 principles that guide the practices of collaboration in the agreement. According to the ‘fix first, pay later’ principle, vendors and the client are required to address any urgent IT problems without considering implications of cost. The provisions of the SLA are also reflective of faster payment to vendors which is a benefit for them according to the 2012SLA.

7. The parties involved in outsourcing contracts could prefer the services of an arbitrator rather than filing lawsuits in court because the arbitrator is the monitoring authority for contracts and the associated policies. The arbitrator could find out feasible approaches for resolving contract conflicts within favourable timeframes that can imply positive returns for both the client and vendor. On the other hand, legal proceedings are liable for substantial costs and time thereby leading to notable setbacks for parties involved in the agreement.

Task B:
Abstract: The following assessment focuses on the illustration of social media as an emergent ICT trend and its utilization for diverse purposes. The assessment provides an introduction to the topic under concern i.e. social media followed by conceptual underpinnings of the term and different types of social media. The next section emphasizes on the utilization of social media and underlying imperatives for the utilization of social media by users followed by a concluding statement to the assessment (Faust, Abraham & McElmurry, 2016).

Introduction: The increasing developments in the domain of ICT continue to deliver unique contributions for businesses and society alike. The trends of ICT usage are changing substantially and one of the prominent examples of ICT systems that are used in the present generation is social media. This assessment would focus on the use of social media for branding and marketing in business organizations and the factors that should be considered for functional or authentic implementation of social media (Gillen & Mantin, 2013). Prior to discussion on the use of social media in branding and marketing objectives, it is essential to provide a demarcation between the concepts of ICT and social media. ICT is defined as the umbrella term which includes computer hardware and software applications alongside a diverse range of technologies that facilitate the options to users for creation, access, dissemination, storage, management and communication of information in digital format. On the other hand social media could be accounted as a subset in the scope of ICT systems with implications towards channels that are used for social interaction (Hart & Hearn, 2013).

Social media: Social media can be defined as a collection of various interactive platforms in the internet that enable social interaction through web-based or mobile-based platforms and are noticeably characterized with user generated content. According to Hubbell, et al (2015), the internet-based platforms are based on the technological imperatives of Web 2.0 and facilitate opportunities for creation and exchange of user-generated content (Hubbell, et al., 2015). The participatory technology foundations of Web 2.0 are responsible for fostering participation, collaboration and information sharingon social media. The diversity of social media types also describe the potential of social media over conventional approaches of communication or social interaction which can be identified in the form social networking sites, micro-blogging sites, web blogs and social blogs as well as forums and virtual communities. According to the media theory by Jeuland, et al, the different social media types are classified on the grounds of criteria of media richness and disclosure of identity (Jeuland, et al., 2014). Media richness is reflective of the quality and volume of information that can be transmitted through a channel in a specific timeframe.On the other hand, disclosure of identity reflects on the desire of individuals to present a desirable image for others involved in the same media through display of specific personal information according to the preferences of the user (Zhang & Bogus, 2014).

Advantages of social media: Social media has not only revised the conventional communication approaches but has also provided novel approaches for daily living practices. One of the prominent advantages of social media could be validated in the form of examples of real time interaction facilities that customers can leverage for various brands in which direct conversations with customer support service and resolution of customer complaints can be noticed(Kabir, Sadiq & Tesfamariam, 2014). Sels, et al said that this factor is completely different from that of conventional communication through mail or telephonic assistance that were subjected to various limitations especially in the lack of real-time interaction (Sels, et al., 2014).

The use of social media has prominent implications for advertising and branding objectives of business corporations as they could capitalize on the provisions of user generated content for these purposes. The contribution of users to brand related content would imply notable prospects for improvement in engagement of customers with brands thereby improving brand loyalty (Luthra, et al., 2014). Organizations could maintain comprehensive database of their clients and contact them through social media in order to develop and sustain effective and profitable customer bases. Social media has also been adopted as a tool for intra organizational information sharing and task management as it provides the flexibility to workforce for communicating on a personal level. The interactivity of social media platforms enables managers for real-time monitoring of the tasks and outcomes in workplace settings (Redlich & Nemzow, 2015).

Another prominent factor to be noted in context of emerging trends of social media refers to the convergence of ICT and social media as resources that can contribute to means for social change. The outcomes of implementation of ICT and social media in unison could be identified in examples of changes in economic development, cultural change and social revolution (Maurer, Brandic & Sakellariou, 2013).

One of the notable examples of the use of social media for inducing social revolution was the “Ice Bucket Challenge” that created substantial awareness for charity. However, the use of social media has also been plagued with noticeable concerns such as identity spoofing, hacking threats and cyber bullying. The use of social media on a large scale implies the vulnerability of user data to malicious elements that can lead to financial and moral loss to users. Therefore, adherence to usability guidelines is considered as an imperative requirement for safe usage of social media (Pascual, et al., 2015).

Conclusion: The topic of usage of social media as a component of ICT reflects on the larger issues such as integration of social media with Internet of Things and the potential threats for using social media as an avenue for attacking secure ICT systems. The increasing prevalence of social media has been responsible for integration of various communication systems and devices apart from mobile phones with social media platforms. The concerns of security in the case of social media platforms could be leveraged by potential attackers to compromise more secure systems. The assessment evaluated the conceptual definition of social media and reasons for difference between various social media platforms according to the media theory. From a personal perspective, the use of social media should be monitored frequently with respect to safety and usability guidelines in order to prevent compromising of personal and financial information.

Reference List
Andrijcic, E., Haimes, Y. Y., & Beatley, T. (2013). Public policy implications of harmonizing engineering technology with socio-economic modeling: Application to transportation infrastructure management. Transportation Research Part A: Policy and Practice, 50, 62-73.

Bryce, J. M., Flintsch, G., & Hall, R. P. (2014). A multi criteria decision analysis technique for including environmental impacts in sustainable infrastructure management business practices. Transportation Research Part D: Transport and Environment, 32, 435-445.

Desikachari, P. (2014). U.S. Patent No. 8,903,757. Washington, DC: U.S. Patent and Trademark Office.

Faust, K. M., Abraham, D. M., & McElmurry, S. P. (2016). Water and wastewater infrastructure management in shrinking cities. Public Works Management & Policy, 21(2), 128-156.

Gillen, D., & Mantin, B. (2013). Transportation Infrastructure Management One-and Two-sided Market Approaches. Journal of Transport Economics and Policy (JTEP), 47(2), 207-227.

Hart, A. B., & Hearn, G. J. (2013). Landslide assessment for land use planning and infrastructure management in the Paphos District of Cyprus. Bulletin of Engineering Geology and the Environment, 72(2), 173-188.

Hubbell, M., Moran, A., Arcand, W., Bestor, D., Bergeron, B., Byun, C., ... & Reuther, A. (2015, September). Big Data strategies for Data Center Infrastructure management using a 3D gaming platform. In High Performance Extreme Computing Conference (HPEC), 2015 IEEE (pp. 1-6). IEEE.

Jeuland, M., Baker, J., Bartlett, R., & Lacombe, G. (2014). The costs of uncoordinated infrastructure management in multi-reservoir river basins. Environmental Research Letters, 9(10), 105006.

Kabir, G., Sadiq, R., & Tesfamariam, S. (2014). A review of multi-criteria decision-making methods for infrastructure management. Structure and Infrastructure Engineering, 10(9), 1176-1210.

Luthra, R., Lombardo, J. A., Wang, T. Y., Gresh, M., & Brusowankin, D. (2014). U.S. Patent No. 8,706,692. Washington, DC: U.S. Patent and Trademark Office.

Maurer, M., Brandic, I., & Sakellariou, R. (2013). Adaptive resource configuration for Cloud infrastructure management. Future Generation Computer Systems, 29(2), 472-487.

Pascual, J. A., Lorido-Botrán, T., Miguel-Alonso, J., & Lozano, J. A. (2015). Towards a greener cloud infrastructure management using optimized placement policies. Journal of Grid Computing, 13(3), 375-389.
Redlich, R. M., & Nemzow, M. A. (2015). U.S. Patent No. 9,015,301. Washington, DC: U.S. Patent and Trademark Office.
Sels, P., Vansteenwegen, P., Dewilde, T., Cattrysse, D., Waquet, B., & Joubert, A. (2014). The train platforming problem: The infrastructure management company perspective. Transportation Research Part B: Methodological, 61, 55-72.
Zhang, S., & Bogus, S. M. (2014). Use of low-cost remote sensing for infrastructure management. In Construction Research Congress 2014: Construction in a Global Network(pp. 1299-1308).


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