MIT      Construction Engineering and Management                               

E-Business Strategies

E-Commerce and the Internet in Real Estate and Construction  

Course Description


last revised November 30, 2004


Instructor:   John D. Macomber

MIT  1.464 and 11.343J                                         Spring 2005                                               2 - 0 - 4  

Tuesdays 9:30 - 11:30am                            February 1 - March 15                               Room 31-301



E-Business Strategies explores the use of advanced technologies that change the business dynamics of the physical aspect of real estate:  the design, construction, and delivery of buildings.

The global real estate, design, and construction industries are highly fragmented and notoriously inefficient.    This course explores the ways in which firms can gain economies of scale, coordinate design and construction on a multi-firm basis, capture the benefit of new technologies, and change the competitive landscape.   A similar metamorphosis has happened in adjacent service industries which use real estate, including finance, insurance, retail, investing, food services, and consulting;  this course explores they how these disruptive business models will also change the cost and differentiation dynamics in this sector.

E-Business Strategies is an interdisciplinary research course which highlights the application of leading edge technologies being developed at MIT, Harvard, and elsewhere.  These include visualization, remote sensing, 3D solid modeling, knowledge management, and sophisticated supply chain and logistics optimization.

Building on the practical analytical foundations of 1.46 Strategic Management, opportunities are analyzed through the lens of strategic and financial business planning - not just from the point of view of engineering and invention.

Particular emphasis will be given to examples in construction, real estate, and architecture, which together make up the largest industry in the world and are the domain expertise of the instructor.   However, this course is not limited to students in those fields.


The case method will be used to introduce key technologies, the business models that support them, and the underlying contract issues to be addressed.   Lectures, student research, analysis, articles, readings, and on-line content will supplement the materials.


Students will prepare a final project of 10-20 pages relying on original thinking or research on a topic of their choosing.   Past projects have included: writing a new case study to help illuminate cutting edge practice in offshoring of designers;  writing a paper for publication assessing how supply chain technology from one industry might be applied to this industry; or drafting a summary business plan for the franchising of project management training in China.

Target Audience

This course is intended for students who are interested in further study in strategy, students who want to investigate sources of disruptive change in real estate and construction, or students interested in any aspects of implementing an e-business idea. 


Strategic Management in the Design and Construction Value System, MIT 1.46 or Harvard Design School 7305.


John D. Macomber is CEO of BuildingVision, Inc., a consulting and investing firm focusing on the future of the construction industry.    He is a nationally recognized thought leader on information technology and industry change in construction and  real estate  He has been teaching this course and its predecessors at MIT since 1988.