Strategic Information Management in Corporate Strategy

The purpose of this document is to critically examine the role of information management in corporate strategy by utilizing a scenario of a store that has multiple sites and locations to deliver products in a fast and efficient manner. The corporate IT strategy is to improve IT communications throughout the organization. There are three projects under consideration to assist the organization in communications. One project is to use wireless networks in order to access data faster. Another project involves using a collaborative system that allows for synchronous and asynchronous communications. The third project involves using a customer resource management system, however this project requires replacing previous systems and a lot of lead-time to deliver the system for operations. This document is intended for anybody looking to gain a basic knowledge or understanding of strategic information management.

The retail clothing company Kucera Clothiers with over 100,000 employees in 3500 locations is looking to improve their corporate IT strategy. The company’s desired corporate strategy is to improve communications between the corporate headquarters, satellite offices, and distribution centers, while improving access to corporate records and customer accounts as personnel are either in the office or travelling thus resulting is shorter times for purchase orders to be sent to distribution centers and shorter times for products to get to the customers. The company has narrowed the options down to three projects that will best suite their needs. The first option involves providing wireless network connectivity with associated devices in order to provide access to all necessary data and services at all of their locations. The second option involves providing a collaboration system that is either accessible on the Intranet or over the Internet by using both synchronous and asynchronous forms of communications, however the system involves a deployment of a new software system and training for employees. The third option involves the implementation of a customer resource management system throughout the organization, which replaces any previous systems, and there is a lot of lead-time that is needed to both implement the system and train employees.

When considering the corporate strategy with each of the proposed projects it can be determined that the use of a collaboration system best aligns to meet the company goals, but also is the most cost effective solution. Synchronous and asynchronous forms of communications can be seen as either active or passive forms of communications. This directly correlates to the corporate strategy because when an employee is either at a brick and mortar location or if they are travelling on the road, they are able to either establish and active communication between them and an intended party or they are simply able to post a message on a collaboration system and others are able to view the message the next time they log into the system. This can greatly improve communications, not only between different sites, but also between the sites and the corporate offices. A good example of this system best being used would be that a salesman is travelling on a business trip and they run into a customer that would like to place an order. The salesman doesn’t have much time, but takes the customers information anyway. The salesman is then able to post a message on the collaboration system directed to a person or a group of persons about the customer’s needs and then continue on with their travels. Once the message is in the collaboration system, that salesman’s manager can log into the system and see a message from that salesman. The manager can then initiate the order and push the order over to accounting so that the customer can be charged for the order and then the order can go to the distribution center. Once the distribution center gets the order they can ship out the purchased products to the customer and all of this is able to happen before the salesman returns from the business trip they were on. Once the salesman returns from their trip they can conduct a follow-up with the customer to ensure everything was received as ordered and gather valuable feedback from the customer. Once the salesman receives the feedback they can post a message to the collaboration system informing the corporate office that there is another satisfied customer. Although this is an example of how the collaboration system can be used, it illustrates the value of the technology as it directly relates to the corporate strategy (Frenzel, Frenzel, 2004 P.49). Also because this system can be access via the Internet or Intranet, all communications and information can be easily accessed from anywhere in the world. The online collaboration system aligns well with the corporate strategy because information can be accessed from anywhere in the world and communications will improve in order to satisfy both the company and the customer’s needs.

When comparing the collaboration system proposal to the wireless network and the customer resource management system proposals, it is easy to see the conditions necessary for success far outweigh those of the other proposals (Frenzel, Frenzel, 2004 P.80). The collaboration system can be accessed from the company’s Intranet or the Internet via a network-based or web-based interface. When an employee is travelling they are able to communicate via synchronous or asynchronous communications. The system can be deployed rather quickly by installing the necessary software and by using web-based training, all employees are able to be trained quickly and efficiently from anywhere in the world. The only drawback to the collaboration system is that the longer it takes to realize this is the most ideal solution, the more revenue will be lost and customer satisfaction will decrease. In contrast to the collaboration system the wireless network proposal seems like a good solution, but there are too many drawbacks. One major drawback to the wireless network proposal is the cost. The cost alone for the wireless networking equipment, computers, PDA’s, and the cost to ship all of that equipment to each location, install it, and then train everybody how to use it, is so grand that this proposal just does not make good business sense. Another drawback to the wireless network proposal is the time that is necessary to purchase all of the wireless equipment, computers, PDA’s, inventory all of this equipment, ship all of this equipment to all 3,500 locations throughout the world, inventory the equipment again, test the equipment, install the equipment, and then finally be able to use the equipment is again not good business sense because the time it takes can cost the company greatly in loss of revenue and/or customers. The third major drawback to this system is that this system does not align with the corporate strategy, as there are not wireless access points everywhere in the world so communications will not be improved for employees who are travelling. The customer resource management (CRM) system seems as though it will align with the corporate strategy because it provides multiple access points and accessing the data will be fast and efficient, however there are also some major drawbacks. One major drawback to the CRM is that it will replace any systems that are currently in use. This seems as though the company is “reinventing the wheel” instead of building off of already established and proven systems. Another major drawback is the time it will take to implement this system. Not only will it take a substantial amount of time to map all of the data, but it will also take a great deal of time and resources to train all of the 100,000 employees. The overhead costs that are necessary for this system prove that this system would be more ideal for a new company, but not for an established company like Kucera Clothiers.

In conclusion, when applying strategic information management to the role of information management in corporate strategy, it is important to weigh all of the options available in order to make a management decision as to the most ideal solution to meet company goals and objectives based upon the company strategy. Some of the factors that have been considered when choosing the most ideal solution are such factors of: time, money, resources, legacy support, training methods, communication methods, and return on investment. After applying strategic information management techniques it has been determined that the collaboration system best suites the company goals both today and in the future, as well as, aligning with the desired corporate strategy.

Frenzel, Frenzel, Carroll W., John C. (2004). Management of Information Technology Fourth Edition. Boston, Massachusetts: Thomas Learning Inc..

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