Learning Objectives

Chapter 4
Network Computing:
Discovery, Communication,
& Collaboration
Learning Objectives
 Understand the concepts of the Internet and the Web, their
importance, and their capabilities.
 Understand the role of intranets, extranets, and corporate
portals in organizations.
 Identify the various ways in which communication is executed
over the Internet.
 Demonstrate how people collaborate over the Internet,
intranets, and extranets using various supporting tools,
including voice technology and teleconferencing.
Learning Objectives (cont.)
 Describe groupware capabilities.
 Describe and analyze the role of software agents for the
Internet/ intranets.
 Analyze telecommuting (teleworking) as a techno-social
 Consider ethical issues related to the use of the Internet.
Case: National Semiconductor Corporation (NSC)
 The semiconductor industry is one of the most competitive global industries.
 To keep up with customer specifications, NSC needed to upgrade its
communications channels.
 NSC introduced a corporate portal where it posts detailed descriptions of its
10,000 products. The NSC Web site offers design assistants and simulators to
guide customers in designing their products.
 NSC’s sales and profitability increased significantly in 1996 and 1997 due to the
Internet solution.
Lessons from the Case
 The NSC opening case demonstrates the increasing role that the
Internet, intranets, and extranets play in organizations, and their
potential benefits.
 Using various Web-based applications, NSC enabled its
employees to work very closely with its customers, to speed up
design and cut costs.
 NSC made full use of Web technologies both for internal and
external applications.
 Customers use the Web to discover information, to communicate
with NSC’s employees, and to collaborate with the technical staff.
Wireless Networking
 Wireless networking is gaining popularity for flexible
communication in wide area networks in cities and local area
networks in buildings.
 Internet2 is a project involving over 180 U.S. universities working
in partnership with industry and government.
 This project aims to provide the following advanced next generation
Remote diagnosis
Digital libraries
Distance education
Online simulation
Virtual laboratories
Internet Application Categories
The Internet supports applications in the following major
 Discovery. Discovery involves browsing and information retrieval.
 Communication. The Internet provides fast and inexpensive
communication channels that range from messages posted on bulletin
boards to complex information exchanges among many organizations.
 Collaboration. Due to improved communication, electronic
collaboration between individuals and/or groups is on the rise.
 Discovery is done by browsing & searching data on the Web.
 There are 2 main types of search facilities available on the Web:
 Search engines (e.g., Altavista, Google) maintain an index of
hundreds of millions of Web pages and use that index to find pages
that match a set of user-specified keywords.
 Directories (e.g., Yahoo!, About.com) provide a hierarchically
organized collection of links to Web pages.
Search Engines Index Comparison
GG =Google, FAST=FAST, WT=WebTop.com, INK=Inktomi, AV=AltaVista,
NL=Northern Light, EX=Excite, Go=Go (Infoseek).
Grey portion = the number of indirect pages, if any, used during the search.
Web-browsing Assisting Agents
 Intelligent Agents are computer programs that carry out a set of
routine computer tasks on behalf of the user.
 Some agents can facilitate browsing by offering the user a tour
guide of the Internet. They work while the user browses.
 FAQ agents guide people to answers of frequently asked
 The agent (such as FAQFinder) addresses large numbers of FAQ files
and provides an interface by which people can post their questions.
 AskJeeves (askjeeves.com) is an example of a FAQ assistant.
Web-browsing Assisting Agents (cont.)
 Web robots, spiders, and wanderers travel the Web and perform tasks
such as information retrieval and discovery, validating links or HTML,
and generating statistics.
 Indexing agents can carry out a massive autonomous search of the
Web on behalf of a user or, more commonly, of a search engine.
 Metasearch engines integrate the findings of the various search
engines to answer queries posted by the users.
 Internet softbots attempt to determine more specifically what the user
wants and can better focus a search.
Case: Catching Cases of Plagiarism
 The Internet provides abundant information to students who may be
tempted to download material and submit it as their own work.
 Some companies (e.g., Plagiarism.org) are offering Internet-based
anti-plagiarism technology to identify such cases of plagiarism.
 Manuscript are checked against a database of other manuscripts
collected from different universities and from all over the Internet.
 Cases of gross plagiarism are more likely to be flagged.
Internet-based Data Mining
 The term data mining refers to sophisticated analysis techniques
for sifting through large amounts of information.
 Web mining is the application of data mining techniques to
discover actionable and meaningful patterns, profiles, and trends
from Web resources.
 Web mining is used in the following areas:
Information filtering (e-mails, magazines, and newspapers).
Surveillance (Internet competitors, patents)
Mining Web-access logs
Assisted browsing
Services fighting crime on the Internet
 Intranets (Internal Webs) are
networks designed to serve the
internal informational needs of a
company, using Web concepts
and tools.
 Intranets have the power to
change organizational
structures and reengineer
Some functions of Intranets:
 Easy and inexpensive Internet
 Postings of employee resumes,
business plans, and corporate
regulations and procedures.
 Communication and
collaboration capabilities, e.g.
 An Extranet is an infrastructure that allows secure
communications among business partners over the Internet.
 It offers limited accessibility to the intranets of the participating companies
as well as the necessary interorganizational communications.
 The use of extranets is increasing rapidly due to the large
savings in communication costs that can materialize.
 Extranets enable innovative applications of business-to-business
(B2B) e-Commerce.
 They are closely related to improved communications along the supply
Corporate Portals
 With the growing use of intranets and the Internet, many
organizations encounter difficulties in dealing with information
 One solution to the problem of scattered and duplicative data are
corporate portals.
 Corporate portals provide single-point access to an organization’s
information and applications available on the Internet, intranets,
and extranets.
 Affinity portals are being built to support communities such as
labor minors, hobby groups, and political parties .
Corporate Portals (cont.)
The top corporate portal applications currently under development include;
 Knowledge bases and learning tools
 Business process support
 Customer-facing sales, marketing, and service
 Collaboration and project support
 Access to data from disparate corporate systems
 Internal company information
 Policies and procedures
 Best practices and lessons learned
 Human resources and benefits
IT Technologies for Communications
Several factors determine the IT technologies used to provide
communication support to an organization.
 Participants. The number of people sending and receiving information can
range from two to many thousands.
 Nature of sources and destinations. Sources and destinations of
information can include people, databases, sensors, and so on.
 Location. The sender(s) and receiver(s) can be in the same room, in
different rooms at the same location, or at different locations.
 Time. Messages can be sent at a certain time and received almost
 Media. Communication can involve one or several media.
Time / Place Framework
In this setting, participants meet
face-to-face in one place and at the
same time. An example is
communication in a meeting room.
This setting can materialize when
people work in shifts. The first shift
leaves electronic or voice
messages for the second shift.
This setting refers to a meeting
whose participants are in different
places but communicate at the
same time. E.g., a telephone
conference call.
In this setting, participants are in
different places, and they send
and/or receive messages at
different times.
 Electronic mail (e-mail) is the
most used service of the
 Instant messaging services
allow users to identify and
exchange instant messages in
real time.
 ICQ is the most popular instant
messaging tool on the Internet.
 Messaging in wireless
environments offer access to
the Internet from cellular
 Software agents are programs
that execute mundane tasks for
the benefit of their users.
 E-mail agents assist users with
the often time-consuming task
of managing their e-mail.
Communications (cont.)
 Web-based call centers provide effective product support and
deliver live customer-service capabilities for any online company.
 Peer-to-peer networks are systems that include a large number
of small computer systems used for information exchange and
sharing resources.
 E.g., Napster (napster.com)
 Chat rooms are virtual meeting grounds where groups of
regulars come to gab.
 Chat rooms can be used to build a community, or to promote a
commercial, political, or environmental cause.
E-Voice Communication
 Voice communication can now be done on the computer using a
microphone and a sound card.
 e.g., Dialpad.com
 Applications of Voice Technology:
 Interactive voice recognition.
 Voice annotation.
 Automated attendant.
 Voice mail.
 Audiotext.
 Collaboration refers to mutual
efforts by two or more
individuals who perform
activities in order to accomplish
certain tasks.
 A work group refers to two or
more individuals who act
together to perform some task.
 E.g., a committee, a review
panel, a task force, an
executive board, a team, or a
Dysfunctions of Group Process
Social pressures to conform may eliminate superior ideas.
Group process can be time-consuming, slow, and costly.
Work done in a group may lack appropriate coordination.
Some members may dominate the agenda.
Some group members may rely on others to do most of their work.
The group may compromise on solutions of poor quality.
The group may be unable to complete a task.
Unproductive time is spent socializing, getting ready, waiting for
people, or repeating what has already been said.
 Members may be afraid to speak up.
Nominal Group Technique
The nominal group technique (NGT) is a group communication
method that includes a sequence of activities:
Silent generation of ideas in writing
Round-robin listing of ideas on a flip chart
Serial discussion of ideas
Silent listing and ranking of priorities
Discussion of priorities
Silent reranking and rating of priorities
 Groupware refers to software products that support groups of
people who share a common task or goal and collaborate on its
 Groupware products comes in two forms:
 A standalone product supporting one task (e-mail).
 An integrated kit that includes several tools (e-mail, workflow, etc.).
 Groupware products are either Web-based, which is the trend
today, or they are not related to the Internet and work with other
Groupware Technologies
 Workflow systems are
business process automation
tools that place system controls
in the hands of user
 Whiteboarding allows each
user to view and draw on a
single document “pasted” onto
the electronic whiteboard.
 Screen Sharing uses special
software to allow colleagues to
work on the same document,
which is shown on the screen of
each participant.
 Collaborative Web browsing
assists a group of people in
browsing by suggesting new
material likely to be of common
Real Time Collaboration
 Real-time collaboration (RTC) tools help companies bridge time and
space to make decisions and collaborate on projects.
 Lotus Notes is one of the best-known of the RTC tools and offers the
following functions;
 online collaboration capabilities, workgroup e-mail, distributed
databases, bulletin whiteboards, text editing, document
management, etc.
 Microsoft NetMeeting, another RTC package, offers the following;
 whiteboarding, application sharing, remote desktop sharing, file
transfer, text chat, data conferencing, and desktop audio and
 Teleconferencing is the use of electronic communication that
allows two or more people at different locations to have a
simultaneous conference.
 Video teleconferencing enables participants in one location to see
participants at other locations.
 Data conferencing enables data to be sent along with voice &
 Video mail is similar to voice mail; however, the voice and image
components of video mail can be created from portions of
conferences and stored on a file server.
Distance Learning (DL)
 Distance learning (DL) occurs when learning is performed with
tools or technologies designed to overcome the restrictions of
either same time or same place learning.
 Distant learning courseware packages are software programs
that enable distance learning.
 E.g., Lotus Notes, Microsoft NetMeeting, Novell GroupWise, and
GroupSystems, Lotus Learning Space, WebCT.
 Online Corporate Training allow IT organizations to keep their
staff members up to date with the latest innovations in IT.
Video conferencing Strategies
 Strategies to help improve communication while using video
conferencing technology include (Reed, 1999);
 Set expectations and establish protocols.
 Involve students from the beginning.
 Use visual aids.
 Provide supporting materials.
 Punctuate lectures with small group activities.
 Reduce distractions.
 Encourage dialogue.
 Telecommuting, or teleworking is when employees work at home, at
the customer’s premises, or while traveling, using a computer linked to
their place of employment.
 Some experts predict that in 10 to 15 years, 50 percent of all work
will be done at home, on the road, or at the customer’s site.
 The opportunity to work at home helps women or single parents
assume more responsible managerial positions in organizations.
 Telecommuting has been related to an increase in work productivity.
Case: Handling Crucial Files on the Road
 Mellissa McNatt, a telecommuter, was not able to attach large files to e-mail
messages due to objections from her customers.
 McNatt found a solution to her problem at NetDocuments.com, which offers
document storage at its site.
 With this facility McNatt is able to access her documents and also to share
them with her customers.
 Using this online document storage, McNatt expects to cut down her cycle of
contact with prospective customers from 7-8 days to 2 days.
Reasons for Telecommuting Failures
 Insufficient support infrastructure
 Insufficient security policies
 Union difficulties
 Quantifiable gains aren’t achieved
 Teleworker productivity declines
 Overall productivity declines
Ethics on the Net
 Privacy and ethics in e-mail
 Right of free speech
 Copyright
 The privacy of patients’ information
 Internet manners
 Monitoring employees’ use of the Internet
Managerial Issues
 Security of communication.
Communication via networks
raises the issue of the integrity,
confidentiality, and security of
the data being transferred.
 Data crossing national
borders. It is easier to control
data crossing national borders
Managerial Issues (cont.)
 Congestion. Some people believe the increased use of the net will
clog it and that companies should develop a plan to limit its use.
 Control of employee time and activities. Employees may be
tempted to conduct private surfing during work hours.
 Questionnaires and referenda. An increasing number of
researchers and pollsters are using the Internet for marketing or
political surveys.
 Organizational impacts. Technology-supported communication
may have major organizational impacts.
Managerial Issues (cont.)
 Telecommuting. Not all jobs are suitable for telecommuting.
 Cost-benefit justification. Information technologies do not come
free, and many of the benefits are intangible.
 Legal issues. There are many unresolved legal issues.
 Managing the intranet. This is becoming a major problem due to the
ease of placing material on an intranet and the huge volume of