15.358 | Fall 2005 | Graduate

The Software Business


Guidelines for Reaction Papers

The reaction papers are short essays (approximately 1-2 pages each, single-spaced) that provide an opportunity to explore topics in the readings or lectures in more depth. The goal is to go beyond the discussion or analysis in the readings and bring in a more personal point of view, such as reflecting on personal work experience or additional personal knowledge, including what you have learned in other classes. Please do not simply summarize facts or arguments in the readings. The idea is to react to the facts or arguments and add something new to the discussion. Papers will not be accepted after class if they deal with the case or readings discussed on that day. Unless you have a doctor’s excuse, we do not accept late papers because this would be unfair to class members who get their papers in on time.

Paper 1

Please write a short essay (approximately 1-2 pages, single-spaced) reacting to what you have learned from the readings so far about one of the following topics: strategic options for software companies, lessons from the history of software as a business, current standards battles in software, lessons from the Microsoft story, or “Triumph of the Nerds” video. Due Session 4. No late papers.

Paper 2

Please write a short essay (approximately 1-2 pages, single-spaced) reacting to what you have learned from the readings and discussions for Sessions 5 to 7 about one of the following topics: managing software development; software sales techniques, and software marketing techniques, or the special problems associated with software entrepreneurship. Due Session 7.

Paper 3

Please write a short essay (approximately 1-2 pages, single-spaced) reacting to what you have learned from the readings and discussions from Sessions 8 to 10 about one of the following topics: open source software, the special problems associated with software entrepreneurship, or software outsourcing and the software business overseas. Due Session 9.

Guidelines for Team Project Papers

The objective of the team paper is to analyze a particular segment of the emerging or current software business and demonstrate that you know how to combine an understanding of software technology and business issues, as we are examining in class. This must be a team paper (recommended size of 3-4 people). The team will also do a preliminary presentation of the work-in-progress contents in class, as scheduled in the syllabus. As you submit emails stating your interest areas, we will begin grouping students together and suggesting teams. It is your responsibility to talk to other students in the class with similar interests and form teams for the papers. My TA and I will help as necessary. I will also distribute updated lists of student interests as they come in every week. Below are some more specific guidelines:

  • Topic: Any segment of the software business and one or more major players in that segment. You have some samples from my Day 1 handout and also in the text, The Business of Software, Appendix Table 15. Most students have written about “emerging” areas, but you might also write about more established areas of the software business and how they are undergoing technical change, or commoditization, or whatever is important to the business. You must inform me as soon as possible of your general topic and the team members.
  • Length: Roughly 15-20 pages of text, single-spaced, for a 3-4 person group. Shorter or longer for different size groups, as appropriate.
  • Contents: (1) Make sure to do a thorough treatment of the key technology issues. (2) Make sure to do a thorough treatment of the key business issues (company strategies, business models, capabilities of the competitors, evaluation of strategies and capabilities, what is needed to “cross the chasm” into the mainstream market, lessons from history of similar companies or technologies, etc.). Description of technologies and companies is fine, but make sure that you have some analysis and interpretation as well to help us understand what is important, what are key trends, etc.
  • Structure: Make sure the paper has an introduction that tells me what the paper is about and how it is structured. And make sure the paper ends with a conclusion that gives some recommendations for the company or companies you looked at, and makes some predictions as to how you think the technology, market, or companies will do in the future.
  • Sources: Publicly available information is sufficient.
  • Writing: Make sure you write in logical paragraphs in proper English!

Summary of Student Team Topics

  1. Best Practices for IT Services Firms (Session 3)
  2. Current Standards/Platforms Battles – .NET vs. J2EE, other (Session 4)
  3. Report on Different Development Experiences and Paradigms (Session 5)
  4. Software Sales Techniques (Session 6)
  5. Software Marketing and Pricing Techniques (Session 7)
  6. Analysis of For-Profit Open Source Businesses (Session 8)
  7. Startup Analysis, working with Imran Sayeed (Session 7)
  8. Pros and Cons of Outsourcing and Global Development (Session 9)
  9. State of India Report (Session 9)
  10. State of China Report (Session 9)
  11. State of Israel Report (Session 9)

Course Info

As Taught In
Fall 2005