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1. apply and evaluate techniques for the strategic analysis of the organisation’s competitive environment as the context for effective IT systems strategy development in higher education (universities).

2. critically appraise the role of IT systems strategies in contributing to sustainable competitive advantage in higher education (universities)

3. University Top Management Team have recently stated that Competitive Intelligence, critical thinking and Competitive Advantage has become a vital IT Strategy for university establishment’s success. Prepare a report that critically analyses the contribution of competitive intelligence, critical thinking and competitive advantageto an information technology strategy for the success in the university in this century 

4. Examine and critically analyse the relevance of Information Technology to the university. Argue for and against strategic delivery and achievements in the services that you have researched on this establishment that are using technology to achieve excellence. Illustrate your answer using the frameworks of Porter, SWOT, Johnson & Scholes and other relevant models with examples relating to the university establishment as discussed in module material 

5. Prepare a report of approximately  informing university Top Management Team of the importance of these (1 and 2 above). This should carry a critical analysis of the issues involved and frameworks used. Excellent reports will give a succinct overview introduction, critical content in the main body and a well-rounded conclusion & recommendations capturing main points in both part 1 and 2 of the reports. Please note that both reports are related and therefore allows for an in-depth discussion to ensue.

6. The referencing should conform to the ‘House style –Harvard’ which can be seen in ‘Quote, Unquote’ handbook to avoid losing marks in both ‘in the text citation and bibliography (including appendices, grammar, spellings) 

Applying and evaluating techniques for the strategic analysis of the universities Competitive Environment regarding IT systems

University IT (Information Technology) systems are associated with computer accounts, computers network, servers, host systems, wireless devices, software, bandwidth, webpage, voice over IP and electronic mail. These systems help a university to be connected with the students and other stakeholders (Han and Mithas 2013). Use of IT systems is a privilege for the students and it also leads to the issue of misuse. This report aims to find out The University of Bradford competitive advantage which they get from using IT systems in within the university protocols. The university can use the IT system as their strategies to ensure competitive advantage, competitive intelligence and critical thinking. Students and management can both use the IT systems that they have within the university to make the process of working easier. In this report, the competitive advantage of the universities using the IT systems has been revealed. In addition, the relevance of IT systems within a university has also been discussed. In this report, supporting theories and models like Porter's Five Forces, SWOT analysis, PEST analysis have been done to underpin the concept. In the final section, a set of recommendations has also been given in order, to sum up, the conclusion.   

IT systems are mainly owned by the university management and these systems are used for mainly university-related activities. University can access all central information systems when they issue the accounts of the students (Holtshouse 2013). Competitive environment can be defined as dynamic systems that a firm uses to take to compete in the market. In case of a university, it can have a competitive advantage by providing best possible teaching to the students. Good teaching can be ensured through providing good faculties or implementing new technologies to the students. The University of Bradford can beat the direct competitors in the market by having best IT systems within the system of the university. Most importantly, universities can take differentiation strategy when they implement best IT system in the market (Jain and Thietart 2013). Differentiation strategy can be one of the best competitive strategies as it makes others far away from the firms. The service offerings of a university will be far better than others if the university has best IT systems. Technology innovation affects the competition as universities must adopt an internet-based service to the students. Moreover, university management does not disclose the data stored in the database for security purposes. It is important for the staffs to ensure the secrecy within the system and encryption of the IT coding (Kolotylo et al. 2017). When The University of Bradford makes a website for sharing the information, it is needed to have a team that has the privilege to allow the information system on behalf of the university. They share the information and the team answers to the students' queries. Some of the private universities have their own social media pages in order to attract the students and share the information regarding the students' admission and results.  

IT systems give competitive advantage as university system is comprised of multiple servers. A university can have a competitive advantage when they need to have special things to offer to the students and the resources must result in higher revenue to the university (Koppman et al. 2016). IT systems provide efficiency in university work process and it provides special references to the students for having extra facilities like WiFi enabled campus and E-learning opportunities. Traditional competitors are present in the market and existing universities share market space with their teaching facilities. New market entrant is another issue for a university as small and new university always tries to use new technologies and features to attract the students. The University of Bradford may not lock them in a cage so that they can expand their opportunities and share IT systems with students.

2.1 Evaluating strategic analysis of universities competitive advantage regarding IT systems

University system: According to Olson et al. (2017), university system can be described as affiliated and multiple university services that are distributed geographically, however, they are merged due to this system. Some of the universities share common IT system and component with various names. This system is governed by system-wide governing bodies and this system is aligned with internet and cloud-based system. This system is a common system that is used by the universities to keep in touch with university regulation system and this does not provide an extra competitive advantage. This university system can provide an advantage to keep track of the multiple campuses. In the UK and USA there are several universities which have multiple campuses, however, they are aligned with one single system (Ravindran et al. 2015). When an examination occurs, the students are linked to one single system. This system is approved by the government with regional accreditor and university marketing department tries to emphasise on the independence of the member institutions.

University Website: Each of the university has its website and they update information through their website. In addition, if The University of Bradford shares its result and examination dates, it shares the information through the website. The website is the medium to share information of a university and this has importance to the educational scenario. The IT infrastructure of the website should be good and it should be developed a set of experienced IT team as many of the students check the website at a time and it should not get crashed. As opined by Tellis (2017), some of the universities have their subordinate colleges under the, therefore, universities need to update the information to the colleges through the website.

University Database Management system: Database management system is set of programmes that manage the data structure and control access to data that are stored in the database (Fitzsimmons 2013). University database management system is the intermediary between database and user. The database structure is stored in the file and the users can access the data and database get an application and translate the requests in complex operation to fulfil the requests. In addition, The University of Bradford accesses the database for attendance, record the performance and budget sanction and many other reasons.  

E-learning management system: Universities try to be unique in order to have a competitive advantage and they offer e-learning to the students through the internet. The University of Bradford provides an extra feature to the students in the classrooms where the students can access the e-classes from the faculties across the globes. Moreover, students can get e-learning sessions in their homes when they feel convenient. E-learning system has to develop in a way that would be helpful for the students and IT system needs to escalate this in a user-friendly way (Orlikowski and Barley 2014).

Student Records system: Some of the universities have the features of Student Records System and it is a session of the students that they have to record, store and administer to share their aspects. The record session provide hands-on PC to the students and students have to share their information through this.

University system

Information revolution has been sweeping through the economy as universities are using the IT systems to communicate market and process the data of the students and about management. Dramatic reduction has been done on organisational cost due to obtaining, processing and transmitting the information of the business. Universities’ Board of Directors need to understand the IT and this IT system is far more than of just computers. IT must be conceived in a way that must create and wide spectrum to link with the developed technologies (Jasperson et al. 2015). In the university, data recognition equipment, computers system, communication technologies and factory information are associated with the IT. The University of Bradford has to spend on budget to create an atmosphere that must support the IT systems of service and hardware. IT can change the industry structure in higher education through video calling, e-book reading technologies, virtual classrooms and e-learning ambience. As suggested by Gaspar and Glaeser (2015), IT provides help in doing and altering the rules of competition in the industry and it has been creating opportunities by giving the universities new ways to overshadow and outperform the other universities. IT systems bring the new concept of value activities that the university can measure how much a student is willing to pay for the learning facilities according to the IT services and facilities they are willing to pay. In order to gain competitive gain over the competitors, it is needed to lower the cost or the universities have to differentiate the services with premium costs (Melville et al. 2014).

Competitive intelligence can be defined as analysing, gathering and distributing intelligence about services, customers and competitors from different aspects of the environment needed to allow the management of an organisation in making strategic decision. As stated by Bates and Poole (2014), competitive intelligence is business practice with legal activities and it is opposite to industrial espionage. Competitive intelligence is related to external business environment and this process is involved to the information, converting intelligence to decision-making tool. In university, the management needs to understand the students; demands in order to provide services by identifying opportunities and risks in the market. Information System increases competitive ability of The University of Bradford as it enhances the evaluation criteria of the university activity when the students compare other universities. IT system can increase the competitive capacity of the university when they move pedagogical and academic production of the university. The IT system is stipulated for the teachers, students, academic results, scientists, arrangements and publication of the news. These all news can be published through using IT system and management of The University of Bradford can evaluate the competitive capacity to get the reliable information. In addition, as opined by Green and Gilbert (2015), IT technologies in university can improve university management as the whole process requires systemisation of computerised the process and it is needed to integrate the separate process of IT. University principals can take the decisions of students that can increase the reliability of the students. IT systems can decrease the administration expense and it allows simplifying the process and rejects the existing system. IT systems help to calculate the scholarships and bookkeeping of the library. Information system can allow effectively forming the confirmed reports.

University Website

Critical thinking is the process that is involved in application of judgement and the main aim of critical thinking is to intervene a firm to behave more intelligent way. It is needed to adopt the critical thinking to use effectively the system. Critical thinking system can consist some of the procedures that foster proper application of university's issues (Jorgenson et al. 2013). This thinking needs to be The University of Bradford’s natural part of the university culture. This issue of new culture would be ensured if The University of Bradford would take IT formation. In order to embed critical thinking is to deal the organisational culture is to make systems that are required to this. The University of Bradford can have Critical Thinking system to mandate a series of concrete and recognized steps already performed by the staffs. When critical thinking is associated with the university, all the stakeholders need to adhere the same system and behave in similar way (Lynch 2014). IT systems are used in university for accounting, students' purposes and for management. In all these functions, computers do repetitive functions in order process as systems need to be optimized in order to check the process to execute the function. The University of Bradford uses a database that is included accumulated experience of knowledge that helps in appliance service for the students over phones and online platform (Barney 2014). In this regard, the students need to use their critical thinking when they use cloud services of The University of Bradford as treating online services of university need to avail the authorized permission.

The use of information technology (IT) may prove to be a beneficial move for universities education. In this regard, the United Kingdom has been a way behind to Australia and the United States. According to some experts, the educational standard of the UK may fall behind to Australia and the US (Beetham and Sharpe 2013). The reason behind such fact is an incompetent investment. Technologies like e-learning, distance learning and hi-tech model classrooms have been identified as potential strategies. However, it is yet to become a mainstream affair. The most probable reason behind the fact is the Big Data Risk, which has probably prevented universities from implementing the different IT services (Ferguson 2012).

The advent of internet has redefined the education standard in secondary schools and in universities. The technology has contributed hugely in changing the perception of students towards education. They were traditionally limited to books available in libraries. However, the advent of internet and most importantly the Smartphones have helped to broken the limits to a significant extent. Students now can access to even more books in the form of e-books through internet on PCs and on Smartphones. This very few examples just support that the use of IT technology like e-books have taken the study level to a next level (Huang, Lin and Huang 2012). Educational centers across the globe even in developing countries like Nigeria have shown great resilience to IT related resources (Aluede, Idogho and Imonikhe 2012). They have thought of moving a step further with the inception of different types of IT resources. The high benefits of using IT resources in educational centers on the other side are also associated with some threats. One of such threats is the insecurity of e-learning environment. Big Data threats is one of such threats that might be restricting a full-fledge implementation of IT resources in universities in UK (Daniel 2015).

Role of Technology Innovation in Competitiveness

Universities in UK have been significantly behind to Australia and the United States in terms of implementing different types of IT resources. However, the country has even a bigger population than the United States that use internet (Quiñones-García and Korak-Kakabadse 2014). Despite the fact top rated universities in UK have not yet considered a fully integrated approach to IT resources. University of Bradford is one of very few universities that have shown resilience for IT resources. Big data insecurity is probably one of the reasons that have limited the integration of IT system with the universities in UK (Hasan et al. 2013).

Industry rivalry:

The market is still growing. Industry rivalry is low. Very few universities have shown resilience to IT services. University of Bradford is one of those few universities. The market is quite saturated for few of e-learning activities such as digital library. However, it is still far behind in offering an effective online teaching and learning environment. Additionally, it is also very limited in integrating the classroom to advanced technologies to make it hi-tech class (Islam, Beer and Slack 2015).

Bargaining power of suppliers:

It is also low. The industry is still in the growing stage. There are ample resistances in the way of development. Big data insecurity is one of such resistances. It is very challenging to prevent useful and confidential data from hackers. Additionally, investments to improve the ICT infrastructure in UK universities are another resistance (Islam, Beer and Slack 2015).

Bargaining power of customers:

This is high. The world is turning to internet for their majority of basic needs. In fact, the United Kingdom is even ahead to the United States of America in terms of highest number of population that use internet (Quiñones-García and Korak-Kakabadse 2014). Despite the fact the growth is very minimal. Nevertheless, demands are there for online learning facilities and hi-tech modeling of classrooms (Islam, Beer and Slack 2015).  

Threat of new entrants:

It is fairly low. The identified threats like big data risk has kept universities limited with the approach. Additionally, they have at present very less support from the UK government in terms of investments. Very few universities have so far shown the interest. University of Bradford and the Oxford University are the few of such universities (Islam, Beer and Slack 2015).

Threat of subsititution:

It is high. This is so because the country still lags behind in terms of offering quality online teaching & learning facilities. They have done well with few of the e-learning facility such as digital library; however, they are still an underperformer in terms of online learning and hi-tech classroom environment (Islam, Beer and Slack 2015).  

Strengths: IT resources will help to take the education to the nest level. This will help to reduce the work pressure of tutors. Students will be able to access to a wide range of e-books available through digital library. E-books are also available for Smartphones in the form of app that also updates the latest releases of e-books. Online education will attract huge applications from across the globe. Hence, the profitability margin will increase. This will improve the local economy (Livingstone 2012).

IT Infrastructure in Ensuring Effective Delivery of Services

Weaknesses: Very few universities in UK have shown aggressive move to the approach. The UK government needs to make sufficient investments to improve the infrastructure at different universities level. The importance of tutors in universities may fall down as students will get enough of information through digital library (Bhuasiri et al. 2012).

Opportunities: IT resources will help to enhance the efficiency level of institution. If they are able to create hi-tech classroom, they will actually enhance the effectiveness of education. Such change will help students develop a comparative skill, which will help them to understand the subject better (Livingstone 2012).

Threats: Big data insecurity is one of the threats that have probably restricted the exploitation of IT services. Private and confidential data may be on risk. Financial records may also be hacked. Student profile may also be leaked by hackers. These few risks are threatening for both the business and the student’s privacy (Bhuasiri et al. 2012).  

The model identifies six interrelated elements, which forms a pattern or a model of cultural environment in an organization or a target industry. Following are the six interrelated elements (García-Villaverde, Ruiz-Ortega and Parra-Requena 2012):

Stories: The surrounding stories tell the exact scenario. The educational standard in UK has been very limited to ICT resources. Few universities like University of Bradford have shown some resilience; however, it is yet to happen in mainstream.

Routines & rituals: The routines and rituals have been limited towards IT resources. A lot can happen if there are sufficient investments from the government. Additionally, security is needed to reduce the big data threats.

Symbols: There are few universities that are in process to symbolize the IT services. University of Bradford is one of few that have shown positive attitude for different IT resources. Some symbolization such as online teaching & learning and hi-tech classroom is still left.

Organizational structure: The university structure in UK has shown some resilience to e-learning; however, online learning & teaching facility still needs a significant infrastructure support.

Control systems: The controlling system of education has largely been the traditional form. There have been a good use of digital library; however, online learning still lags behind in terms of productivity.

Power structures: The UK government has shown some positive attitude towards the online learning facility. Few universities like the Oxford University and the University of Bradford have shown positive signs for the different type of IT resources.

Political: The United Kingdom government has sensed the urgency to switch to the IT resources to improve the university level infrastructure. The e-university concept was a fail; however, the government has shown positive trend for IT resources as these are potential ways to improve the education level (Rienties, Brouwer and Lygo-Baker 2013).

Economic: The IT resources can be very beneficial for the local economy. This can also be for different universities. However, the infrastructure is still underdeveloped due to a limited investment support from government (Rienties, Brouwer and Lygo-Baker 2013).

Social: Number of people using internet is even more than what the United States has. Teachers are also interested as they will find a reduced work pressure for them. E-learning mode and online teaching are contemporary styles of learning that students find relatively interesting and convenient as well (Rienties, Brouwer and Lygo-Baker 2013).

SWOT Analysis of the Relevance of Information Technology to Universities

Technology: The Big Data insecurity is a potential threat to IT resources in universities. Technology is indeed required to prevent it from the hackers (Rienties, Brouwer and Lygo-Baker 2013).  

To recommend, vendors that provides cloud service needs to update the e-learning platform. This will keep students updated with the latest materials. This will also help to prevent this from hackers. Vendors will be able to provide a much reliable service. On the other hand, universities will find a much trusted resource. This will help universities prevent the student’s records. This will also help to protect the financial records of universities.

Data encryption will be another important key to security. Devices such as Smartphone and PCs that are unencrypted are prone to attack. Online learning system in universities needs to be encrypted as this will codify every single element and hence, will provide an improved security.


It has been observed that IT system of The University of Bradford is beneficial for them to have a competitive advantage over other universities and IT systems can include the competitive intelligence and critical thinking. In addition, students need to use IT technologies well and not to use for harassing, offensive and fraudulent cases. Information System of a university bring manner to the overall higher education system and big data can ensure the confidentially in this manner. IT technologies and systems have been spawning the whole new business and it has been bringing changes in existing operations also. University's mission and vision allow creating IT system in order to bring competitive advantage. Outsourcing of the information for the students can bring success factors for the students.


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