February 7, 2001

Johnson School, Intel Add to Parker Center

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To stay competitive in the fast-paced world of e-commerce, the Johnson Graduate School of Management opened a new computer lab last month so that its students could learn how to increase the appeal of websites to Internet consumers.

The lab is backed by a $200,000 grant from the Intel Corporation, which is already a founding corporate partner of the Johnson School’s Parker Center for Investment Research.

“By having this type of computing, our students will be on the cutting edge,” said Robert Swieringa, the Anne and Elmer Lindseth Dean of the Johnson School of Management. “I think that these grants are results of good partnerships, and our students and faculty benefit from them.”

The e-business database management (EDB) laboratory contains approximately 50 computers that help students analyze data about consumers’ buying habits on the Internet. By looking at information, such as how often consumers view websites — as well as what and how likely they are to buy certain products — the students strive to make consumers purchase more and browse websites longer.

“We have built a lab to analyze this type of data,” Swieringa said. “It can be used for experiments or simulations.”

“The goal of the grant is to create University-level programs that will increase the breadth of knowledge in e-commerce through hands-on research projects that couple the latest technological tools with new business practices,” Craig Barrett, president and CEO of Intel, said in a December press release.

The computer software the students use supports databases of information that they get from actual websites or from other sources. They can then create web surveys to obtain more information and make the sites more interesting for potential users.

“Spectacular increases in network storage capacity, and corresponding reductions in cost have made it practical to accumulate enormous amounts of information about individual actions, history and preferences,” said Prof. Emeritus Richard Conway, manufacturing management. “Systems that can effectively use this information will be able to target their audiences and customize their responses in ways not previously imaginable.”

Prof. Sachin Gupta, marketing, agrees. “The web enables firms to design more effective marketing strategies by continuously learning about consumers’ needs and preferences,” Gupta said.

Another goal of the students is to seek solutions for the number of dot.com businesses which are not successful. “[Dot.com companies] think of themselves as technology companies, and do not think of themselves as businesses, such as Amazon.com,” said Prof. Levent Orman, management information systems. “They tend to use the technology poorly.”

The EDB Laboratory is one step in the Johnson School’s focus towards e-businesses. The school has created e-business immersion courses, and plans to provide more opportunities to its students to learn about e-commerce.

“E-business has emerged as an exciting new area in the world of commerce, and its study needs to be an integral part of our curriculum. The grant will provide the infrastructure for our e-business immersion courses and will help put Cornell at the forefront of e-business studies,” said Swieringa.

Archived article by Kelly Samuels