Every company has, to a greater or lesser extent, an information subsystem—that is, a means by which it gathers data, interprets it, and makes it available to employees through a distribution system.

Every company has, to a greater or lesser extent, an information subsystem—that is, a means by which it gathers data, interprets it, and makes it available to employees through a distribution system. Whether we are talking about marketing information, cost projections, accounting results, or internal quality reports, every company depends on information to inform knowledge to support its planning, decision-making, and control.

So how does knowledge fit into the picture? The emergence of the field called knowledge management has highlighted some key propositions in the last 10 years or so. All organizations are storehouses of knowledge that operate in information-rich environments made up of people and things both inside and outside the organization itself. Organizations organize, interpret, and evaluate this information to solve organizational problems.

Networked information technology enables the processing and utilizing information to advance knowledge. People’s brains are the key knowledge resource of any organization. Codified knowledge stored in books, audio, videotapes, and computer systems can be an important knowledge resource as well.

There are organizational processes and strategies for IT management and management in general. Therefore, these IT processes and strategies, in particular, can significantly enhance the ability of organizations to use their knowledge resources for problem solving.

Several of these themes will come up again in later modules in this course. But by way of introduction to the subject, examine some views of how information sharing works. Listen to each of the lectures below and then take the quiz (which does not count in the grading). This will be followed by a case where you see the power of information sharing enabled by networked computer systems.

Case Assignment

Crowd Funding

What does one do to obtain funding for a new invention, movie, or company? Do you go to the bank? Do you go to venture capitalists? Do you go to angel investors? Crowd Funding is an alternative to these traditional sources of funding. Kickstarter.com is one of the largest of these crowdfunding websites. Here a person posts about the project with a description, maybe a video, and the funding needed. Backers then pledge money to the project. If the funding goal is not reached, then the project is stopped with return of any pending obligations of support.

Kickstarter started in 2009, and since that time has been focused on helping creative types find funding sources. Since 2009 it has received almost 2 billion dollars in pledges from 10 billion backers for over 260,000 projects such as films, music, stage shows, comics, journalism, video games, technology, and food-related projects. So this is a great opportunity for aspiring new artists, inventors, etc., to obtain funding. This is happening on Kickstarter with 1000’s of dollars pledged each day, where the creator of the projects keeps 100 percent ownership of the project in which investors decide they want to invest.

Go to Kickstarter.com and look at the various project categories. Select a category and a project of interest to you. Provide a description for one of your selected projects, including the offerings and number of backers. Discuss the pledges, the amounts of the pledges, and the numbers of people for different pledge amounts. What does the pledge amount tell you about the motivation of the customers?

Explain why crowdfunding may be advantageous to new entrepreneurs. How does Kickstarter seek to build a community for the entrepreneurs?

What information must an entrepreneur provide to get funding? How does Kickstarter manage the collection and transfer of pledges? Would you use this site yourself or recommend it to others?

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