Interactive Session: Running the Business from the Palm
Chapter 1 Interactive Session: Organizations: Running the Business from the Palm of Your Hand Case Study Questions 1. What kinds of applications are described here? What business functions do they support? How do they improve operational efficiency and decision making? Email, messaging, social networking, and sales force management are described in this case study. The applications support business functions including collaboration, location-based services, and communications with colleagues.
These applications improve operational efficiency and decision making by allowing people to communicate from wherever they are. They are no longer tethered to one place or one machine. They can receive information and data instantaneously which allows them to make better, faster decisions. In the case of Doylestown Hospital, doctors use iPhone applications to access medical reference applications, giving them a broader base of information on which to base decisions. 2. Identify the problems that businesses in this case study solved by using mobile digital devices.
TCHO Chocolate solved some of its operational and production problems by using iPhone apps to remotely log into each chocolate-making machine, control time and temperature, turn the machines on and off, and receive alerts about when to make temperature changes. The company owner remotely views several video cameras that show how the TCHO Flavor Lab is doing. Company employees exchange photos, email, and text messages via iPhone apps. GE’s employees use iPhone and iPad apps that help them find patterns and trends in large volumes of data that may help alert them to problems before they become serious enough to affect customers or suppliers.
Monitoring apps let managers zoom in from a global map to a specific transformer and read key performance indicators at any time. Dow Corning managers analyze real-time data from core corporate systems including sales figures, trends, and projections, using mobile handheld devices. “In 15 seconds I can get a sense of whether there’s a financial performance issue I need to get involved with,” said Executive Vice President and Chief Financial Officer Don Sheets. Sunbelt Rentals combined multiple systems and databases into a single package for its sales teams.
Rather than accessing several different computer systems for information, sales agents receive combined information from corporate point-of-sale systems, inventory control and management systems, and enterprise systems, for a truly integrated view of business functions. SAP’s Business One mobile application sends alerts on specific events to sales managers, giving them real-time information about deviations from approved discounts, inventory availability, and in-stock products. 3. What kinds of businesses are most likely to benefit from equipping their employees with mobile digital devices such as iPhones, iPads, and BlackBerrys?
Any business with a need to communication with customers, suppliers, and business colleagues can benefit from equipping employees with mobile digital devices. Student answers will vary as they relate their own experiences and knowledge of using mobile digital devices. Try to encourage the students’ creativity and imagination with this question. Here are a couple examples: Insurance companies: claims adjusters or agents writing new policies or updating old ones, can take pictures of property as-is or that’s been damaged, update data on the condition of a property, and document property damage for claims processing.
Real estate agents: can take pictures of homes for sale and send to prospective buyers, send information to other agents or prospective buyers and sellers, answer questions, and complete documents related to buying and selling property. Winemakers: can receive up-to-date weather forecasts, track crop information via GPS coordinates, store and access data on crop varieties for later analysis, track employee productivity during harvest time, take pictures of crops to include in a database, and communicate with suppliers and customers. 4. One company deploying iPhones has said, “The iPhone is not a game changer, it’s an industry changer.
It changes the way that you can interact with your customers and with your suppliers. ” Discuss the implications of this statement. First and foremost, those that effectively and efficiently deploy mobile digital device technology gain a huge competitive advantage over those who do not use the technology to stay in constant touch with customers and suppliers. Sales and Marketing can take a hit by not having access to information that can close business deals faster and more efficiently. Costs can increase without the ability to contact suppliers and track product shipments, especially for those companies who use just-in-time supply chains.
Interactive Session: Technology: UPS Competes Globally with Information Technology Case Study Questions 1. What are the inputs, processing, and outputs of UPS’s package tracking system? Inputs: The inputs include package information, customer signature, pickup, delivery, time-card data, current location (while en route), and billing and customer clearance documentation. Processing: The data are transmitted to a central computer and stored for retrieval. Data are also reorganized so that they can be tracked by customer account, date, driver, and other criteria.
Outputs: The outputs include pickup and delivery times, location while en route, and package recipient. The outputs also include various reports, such as all packages for a specific account or a specific driver or route, as well as summary reports for management. 2. What technologies are used by UPS? How are these technologies related to UPS’s business strategy? Technologies include handheld computers (DIADs), barcode scanning systems, wired and wireless communications networks, desktop computers, UPS’s central computer (large mainframe computers), and storage technology for the package delivery data.
UPS also uses telecommunication technologies for transmitting data through pagers and cellular phone networks. The company uses in-house software for tracking packages, calculating fees, maintaining customer accounts and managing logistics, as well as software to access the World Wide Web. UPS has used the same strategy for over 90 years. Its strategy is to provide the “best service and lowest rates. ” One of the most visible aspects of technology is the customer’s ability to track his/her package via the UPS Web site.
However, technology also enables data to seamlessly flow throughout UPS and helps streamline the workflow at UPS. Thus, the technology described in the scenario enables UPS to be more competitive, efficient, and profitable. The result is an information system solution to the business challenge of providing a high level of service with low prices in the face of mounting competition. 3. What strategic business objectives do UPS’s information systems address? • Operational excellence: UPS has maintained leadership in small-package delivery services despite stiff competition from FedEx and the U. S.
Postal System by investing heavily in advanced information technology. • New products, services, and business models: In June 2009 UPS launched a new Web-based Post Sales Order Management System (OMS) that manages global service orders and inventory for critical parts fulfillment. The system enables high-tech electronics, aerospace, medical equipment, and other companies anywhere in the world that ship critical parts to quickly assess their critical parts inventory, determine the most optimal routing strategy to meet customer needs, place orders online, and track parts from the warehouse to the end user. Customer and supplier intimacy: Customers can download and print their own labels using special software provided by UPS or by accessing the UPS Web site. UPS spends more than $1 billion each year to maintain a high level of customer service while keeping costs low and streamlining its overall operations. • Improved decision making: Special software creates the most efficient delivery route for each driver that considers traffic, weather conditions, and the location of each stop. UPS estimates its delivery trucks save 28 million miles and burn 3 million fewer gallons of fuel each year as a result of using this technology.
To further increase cost savings and safety, drivers are trained to use “340 Methods” developed by industrial engineers to optimize the performance of every task from lifting and loading boxes to selecting a package from a shelf in the truck. • Competitive advantage: UPS is leveraging its decades of expertise managing its own global delivery network to manage logistics and supply chain activities for other companies. Its Supply Chain Solutions division provides a complete bundle of standardized services to subscribing companies at a fraction of what it would cost to build their won systems and infrastructure. . What strategic business objectives do UPS’s information systems address? UPS invests heavily in information systems technology to make its business more efficient and customer oriented. It uses an array of information technologies including barcode scanning systems, wireless networks, large mainframe computers, handheld computers, the Internet, and many different pieces of software for tracking packages, calculating fees, maintaining customer accounts, and managing logistics. You may want to highlight how UPS has had to change and adapt to new technologies to remain competitive. . What would happen if UPS’s information systems were not available? Arguably, UPS might not be able to compete effectively without technology. If the technology were not available, then UPS would, as it has through most of its history, attempt to provide that information to its customers, but at higher prices. From the customers’ perspective, these technologies provide value because they help customers complete their tasks more efficiently. Customers view UPS’s technology as value-added services as opposed to increasing the cost of sending packages.