Michigan State University

Business Intelligence Resources

Course Description

The purpose of this class is to introduce you to the business information landscape, and to help you navigate this complex and ever-changing environment.  We will discuss how business information is typically used by students and executives alike, and will review how business information is typically created, packaged and delivered to users. Specific search strategies for different types of information will be explored as well as a range of highly specialized resources and tools. Throughout the class, greater emphasis will be on the critical analysis and evaluation of the resources examined, rather than memorization of specific features of any give resource. We will also discuss larger issues that arise as individuals attempt to do research in today’s world - ranging from information overload to the question of online privacy to the transparency and accessibility of market and corporate information.

Course Objectives and Expected Learning Outcomes

Course Objectives and Expected Learning Outcomes:

Objective 1:  Students will develop a deeper understanding of the unique nature of business information upon completion of this course. Specifically, each student will be able to:

  • List 3-5 characteristics of business information.
  • Describe 8-10 typical uses of business information.
  • Explain how business information is created, packaged and accessed.
  • Explain how all of these factors impact the availability of information and your research path.


Objective 2:  Students will be able to recognize the nature and extent of information needed for assignments common to most college level business courses. Each student will be able to

  • Confer with instructors, participate in class discussions and peer work groups to identify a research topic.
  • Identify key concepts and terms that describe the information needed.


Objective 3:  Students will be able to select the most appropriate resources to successfully complete assignments. Each student will be able to:

  • Identify the value and differences of potential resources in a variety of formats.
  • Identify the purpose and audience of potential resources (e.g. popular vs.  trade vs. scholarly).
  • Investigate the scope, content and organization of information resources.
  • Formulate and describe criteria used to make information decisions and choices.


Objective 4:  Students will recognize the importance of critically analyzing information and will begin to do it themselves.

  • Evaluate information resources on a number of different criteria including but not limited to: reliability, validity, accuracy, authority, timeliness and point of view or bias.
  • Recognize the importance of the context within which information is created.
  • Establish his/her own criteria for determining validity of information.


Objective 5:  Students will understand the economic, legal, and social issues surrounding the use of information and will access and use information ethically and legally.Specifically, each student will begin to:

  • Recognize the unique nature of business resources, and its underlying market value.
  • Comply with licensing restrictions and copyright law and understand the legal and moral implications of not doing so.
  • elect an appropriate documentation style and use it consistently to cite sources.

Topical Outline

  Advanced Web Searching,  Website Evaluation

  • Search engines v. web browsers
  • Google overview: How it works, typical search results & limitations
  • Advanced Google Searching using operators
  • Other Google products:  Scholar, Images, Patents, News & Alerts
  • Chrome Incognito
  • C.R.A.A.P.: Website evaluation criteria

 The Invisible Web & Business Research Basics


  • Going Beyond Google: The Invisible Web
  • Unique characteristics & typical uses of business information
  • Business information creation, package and delivery
  • Review of the Gast Business Library webpage: http://www.lib.msu.edu/bus

 Company Information

  • Sources for company profiles, executives and competitors, company analysis, financial information and analyst reports

  Researching a Company for a Job Search

  • Create a list of 20 target companies
  • Research one of your top companies using the worksheet and resources covered to date. 

  Industry Information & Market Research

  • Overview of industrial classification systems and their importance in business research.
  • Discussion of trade and professional associations as sources of industry intelligence.
  • Review of industry reports published by secondary sources; financial ratios by industry.
  • Market research: Definitions and resources

  International Business Sources

  • Discussion of global literacies, impact of globalization on business and need for cultural awareness.
  • Review of sources for country information, risk analysis, business etiquette and international news as well as international company information.

  Business Climate / Environmental Scanning

  • Introduction to environmental scanning concept: review of typical elements of an external analysis.
  • Discussion and review of economic indicators, demographic trends and legal developments and sources for each.

  Small Business & Entrepreneurship

  • Discussion of information needs of entrepreneurs, start-ups and investors.
  • Discussion of the Business Model Canvas as a tool to determine the information needs of a start-up and sources of information for each block.

  Social Media

  • Leveraging social media for business research. Platforms reviewed will include Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, Periscope and LinkedIn.

  Business News, Talk and Blogs

  • Sources for the latest buzz, recent events and current opinion

  Information Management Tools: Websites and Apps

  • Review of tools to organize data as you collect it across platforms and devices.
  • Discussion of website monitoring tools, alert services and tools for monitoring social media trends

 Research paper process / Finding Scholarly articles / APA Citations

  • Steps in writing a research paper
  • Trade v. Popular v. Scholarly Journals
  • Finding articles in appropriate subject indexes
  • Discussion of keyword v. subject heading searchers, Boolean operations and the selection of appropriate search terms.
  • Anatomy of an APA citation; in-text citations & list of references.
  • Discussion of (and tips to avoid) plagiarism.


  Privacy & Security in the Internet Age

  • I know where your cat lives!  …and other interesting facts about your personal information on the web.