Digital Business



Yablonsky, Sergey, Associate professor, Department of Information Technologies in Management, Graduate School of Management, St. Petersburg University




Core courses of the previous semesters

Course Description:

Digital technologies, including Internet and other related technologies, are changing the way companies do business. The digital economy is an economy based on digital technologies. As a result, new ways of doing business in the digital economy have been opened up.

The course provides an introduction to digital business. Digital business is the creation of new business designs by blurring the digital and physical worlds (Gartner). Digital business involves the interaction of people, businesses and intelligent or smart "things/machines”. Digital business usually refers to business conducted over the Internet, but in general, any network, public or private, can be included. Digital business is a term that has a broader definition of digital commerce that includes servicing customers and collaborating with business partners in ecosystems, conducting electronic transactions within an organization, as well as buying and selling. Digital business is increasingly important in our networked world of global transactions and global competition.

The course offers the basics of digital business and includes understanding of the digitalization technologies (cloud computing, big data, IoT, mobile, artificial intelligence, blockchain etc.), concepts, terminology, strategy, business models (especially, platform business models), digital transformation, business cases, and services related to digital business. The course aims on how digital business is carried out, including innovative technologies, strategy, business models, value chain, infrastructure, services, planning, marketing, logistics, and retailing, as well as the advantages and disadvantages of digital business. Specifically, the focus will be placed on understanding how multinational firms can deploy existing digital strategies and business models that it would lead to the creation of strong competitive advantages and innovative way of operating for international expansion to the emerging markets with the specific emphasis on digital platforms (Alibaba, Amazon, eBay, Google, Baidu, Apple, Facebook, Uber, Airbnb as well as Russian Yandex, VK,, and undertake the critical analysis of their differences.


After course students will have all knowledge and skills to answer on such research questions:


  • Understanding the concepts, terminology, and innovative technologies related to digital business. 
  • Understanding the strategy, sourcing, and governance in the digital business domain.
  • Identification and explanation the variety of digital business models. 
  • Explanation the benefits and limitations of using digital business models in relation to traditional business models. 
  • Introduction in digital retail, web/mobile analytics, digital marketing.
  • Identification and explanation the digital business applications. 
  • Introduction in digital transformation and economics

Skills and abilities:

  • Practice in preparing a group project report and presentation of digital start-up/transformation pitch.
  • Hand-on practice in digital business solutions (Strategyzer, Shopify, Google / Facebook /Youtube and some other digital business services).
  • Team working and decision-making in digital business sphere.
  • Paper and case analysis in digital business.

Course Content (Topics and subtopics):

Topic 1. Brief introduction to digital business. Digital Enterprise intro
Topic 2. Innovative digital technologies and digital business. Big Data, Cloud computing, Mobile, Internet of Things (IoT), Artificial Intelligence (AI), Smart machines/things. Digital products and services.
Topic 3. Digital business strategy. Digital business models (BM). Platform BM and markets.
Topic 4. Digital Commerce. Web Store. From Retailing to digital tailing. Digital Auctions
Topic 5. Digital marketing. Web analytics. CRM
Topic 6. Digital supply chain. Digital Logistics. Cloud computing, IoT, Big Data, Blockchain influence
Topic 7. Digital enterprise
Topic 8. Digital enterprise transformation
Topic 9. Digital Finance, Digital banking, Digital payment systems. Cryptocurrencies and Blockchain
Topic 10. Digital business security
Topic 11. Planning, financing and launching digital business
Topic 12. Law, ethics and consumer policies in the digital age

Course Organization:

1) Lectures, case studies, tests, in-class discussions,hand-on practice, group projects.
2) Special software required for the course (Strategyzer cloud service 1 license, Shopify e-shop standard cloud service (6 one month licenses), Google AddWords campaign, 6 x 200 rubles, Facebook Add campaign, 6 x 200 rubles).
3) Maximum number of students per group (<30).

Course Reading (the full list):

Core reading:
1. Turban, E., King, D., Lee, J.K., Liang, T.-P., Turban, D.C. “Electronic Commerce. A Managerial and Social Networks Perspective”. Springer Texts in Business and Economics, 2015. 791 p. (9 paper books in GSOM library).
2. Morabito, Vincenzo. Trends and Challenges in Digital Business Innovation. Springer. 2014. GSOM Digital Library Books24x7.

Supplementary reading:
1. Osterwalder, Alexander, and Yves Pigneur. Business Model Generation: A Handbook for Visionaries, Game Changers, and Challengers. John Wiley & Sons. © 2010. Books24x7.
2. Uhl, A., Gollenia, L. (eds) (2014). Digital Enterprise Transformation: A Business-Driven Approach to Leveraging Innovative IT, Gower Publishing Limited, 314 p. GSOM Digital Library Books24x7.
3. Papers from professional journals in management, economics, marketing or other areas.
4. 5 HBS Cases.

Exam format:

Duration: 90 minutes

Grading Policy (% or points):

Course progress – 50 %, exam – 50 %.
The course progress tasks include: cases discussions, project development, class assignments (digital services practice: Strategyzer business model development, mastering e-shop, e-shop development, Google analytics, SEO, Google AdWords, Facebook campaigns etc.), home assignments (paper reading).
Course progress includes:
1. Class and home assignments – 10 %
2. Group project – 25 %
3. Cases – 15 %

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