Information systems help an organization in developing an effective complementary network of both software and hardware. This integration of different elements aids a company in processing, creating, filtering, collecting, and distributing the data. The analysis is being done of the current IT environment in an organization by considering the case study on ASDA, a British supermarket retailer. The sample presents information about the current use of information technology and information system in the retail giant and provides suggestions regarding its improvement. It also explores the information needs of various functional areas of ASDA and how it is using advanced information and communication technologies to improve its services.
Introduction to Information Systems in Organization
In the 21st-century business environment, cut-throat competition is present in the market. In such kind of situation, it is essential for enterprises to focus on their resources and IT systems so as to meet the expectations of their customers effectively. It has been found that business firms are relying much more on IT systems and the reason came in front was to convey, manage and control different day-to-day operations, interact with clients, investors, suppliers, and to gain competitive advantages in the market. It is also analyzed that, IT systems are specifically being taken into consideration by firms to perform inter-organizational supply chains and to run business in the e-commerce industry as well.
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Away with this, organizations are also considering IT systems in managing the HR departments, manage financial accounts, and even grabbing the attention of consumers through promoting products and services on online campaigns. On the other hand, it is also found that many organizations have built themselves considering IT systems in order to perform all the operations. In order to better understand the roles of the information systems and the current IT environment, Asda, which is the UK based retail giant, has been taken. The present information investigates the current use of IT and IS within the retail enterprise and their functionalities in different business areas. Furthermore, the report provides recommendations in regard to improving their use of IT and IS.
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1.1 Information needs of the different functional areas of an organization
As every single organization is looking forward to improving the existing services, Asda also came up with the plan to gain competitive advantages. In order to improve its services to the industry and community, the IT department of Asda is emphasizing the effective use of advanced information and communication technologies. The marketing department of Asda is deploying software from Manhattan Associates for the purpose of executing e-commerce operations and promoting its products across the country.
Besides that, in order to manage its financial records and enhance transparency and security in transactions, the finance department of the enterprise has taken initiatives to install the SAP Business Objects system which is hosted on a DB2 database and AIX Unix application servers. Earlier, the enterprise was struggling to manage records of inventory, under the retail method of inventory accounting (Doyle, 2010). However, after deploying this new system, the enterprise was able to perform a variety of functions such as better management of financial information, reduce the complexities around compliance, and improve automation processes at the workplace. Despite that, for managing internet orders from the Asda direct website, a UK-based retail giant was deployed the software in several distribution centers across the country. This helped Asda to start performing all the business-related activities on computer systems.
The main motto of the organization behind implementing information systems and adopting new technologies is to sell a variety of products and services to its customers in a more convenient manner (Saran, 2010). Other reasons behind implementing an IT system is that Asda could effectively take into consideration real-time data, reduce the risk of errors, enhances productivity, and also builds a secure location as well. Considering this, the company will automatically become liable to provide market research opportunities.
This could be understood with a good example of gathered data through using an integrated IT system, where information will help Asda to take right decisions to grab the attention of customers and this will automatically impact positively on the performance level of the company in the international market. However, along with the use of different technologies, it is essential for the US base firms to effectively use the information to make appropriate decisions (Fayoumi, 2014). Management of the firm will require information about inputs, outputs, and processing activities at different levels including strategic, tactical, operational. For example, at a strategic level, information regarding stakeholders, funds,s, and the human requirements to carry out different functions are needed (Whiteley, 2010).
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At this stage, management information systems (MIS) and customer relationship management (CRM) used by Asda can be beneficial for managers and top-level executives. Achieving growth, profitability, improving customer service, current and future trends related information are required at a strategic level to implement a strategic planning process and attaining the long-term business plan of the enterprise. At the tactical level, the management of Asda is required to manage the responsibility and functionality of lower-level departments so as to implement a strategic plan within a stipulated time.
In order to carry out the routine tasks and operational activities of the different departments such as creating a monthly budget, scheduling employees each week, and developing promotional advertisement, etc. information will be needed by a retail giant (Becker and Vering, 2013). If Asda takes into consideration of Enterprise resource planning (ERP) then it may be possible that this company may effectively perform all the business activities on IT systems. This may cost the company but it will be delivering high advantages to the firm for a longer period of time. On the other hand, without establishing an integrated IT system it is maybe possible that Asda might not reach its desired goal i.e.
To become a leader in the international retail market. Therefore, it is a must for the company to build an effective decision-making process so Asda can manage all the operations in a much effective and efficient manner. Through this, it is maybe possible that Asda would effectively start grabbing a different range of business opportunities as an integrated IT system would enhance the customer base and improve sales as well. After analyzing different technologies used by Asda, it can be said that technological advancement, changing needs of customers, and demand for quality of products at cheaper rates are the major factors that affect organizational structures and culture (Shahidehpour and et.al., 2015). In addition, the positive attitude of employees toward new emerging technology adoption lead firm in the competitive retail market and better performance as compared to other retail giants such as Tesco, Sainsbury, and Morrison, etc.
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2.1 Exploring different types of information systems
Representation of facts, concepts, or instructions in a structured manner can be described as data. Information is also considered as data that provides meaning to data. Information can be collected from primary and secondary sources such as books, journals, online published articles, and annual reports of an enterprise. However, for the management of information, it is necessary for the management of the enterprise to follow basic principles of security, accuracy, and relevancy (Kamel, Lakhder, and Ammar, 2012).
By collecting information from valid sources and maintaining confidentiality, organizations can enhance the accuracy and usefulness of data. The positive outcomes of information systems and new technologies used by retailers can be seen in the forms of orders, bookings, managing personnel records of customers and employees, goods tracking, and improved customer service.
In the modern era, different organizations are emphasizing using a variety of information systems including business information, decision support, and management information systems. In addition, some enterprises like Tesco and Wal-mart concentrating on the proper use of executive information systems, office information systems, and expert systems to perform day-to-day business functions in a more flexible way. Transaction processing systems are used by new start-ups to collect, store, retrieve, and modify data of customers as well as employees.
Management information system (MIS) is employed by Tesco and other retailers like Asda in the UK in order to maintain historical operational performance data and execute strategic, tactical, and operational planning and operations related decision in a proper manner (Lee, 2008). For example, the marketing department of Asda has used the MIS system to illustrates product sales volume by territory and determine the potential effect on shipping schedules. On the basis of comparison between TPS and MIS, it can be said that TPS is employed especially for performing day-to-day routine transactions that are required to be conducted in the business (Emmanouil et.al., 2009). On the other hand, MIS is used for evaluating an organization's performance by comparing current outputs with previous outputs. For example, the sales department of the firm has used this system to identify past and present decisions so that basis future decisions can be taken in a proper manner.
On the other side, a decision-support system (DSS) is employed by a retail giant to evaluate the possible impact of a decision before it is implemented such as product revenue by quarter sales report and measures the progress toward meeting a specific goal. From the below figure, it is clear that the management of Asda has used executive information system at the strategic level, management information system at the tactical level, and transaction processing systems at the operation level to perform day to day business activities in a systematic manner (Chuan and et.al., 2014). However, the DSS system employed by enterprise is unable to deal with internal and external data sources and offer a customizable module.
Apart from this, the manufacturing unit of UK base enterprise has used DSS to graphical represent the number of products manufactured on a particular line. An executive support system (ESS) is employed by retailers to identify long-term trends in support of strategic planning and understand market trends and buyer preferences to meet the expectations of customers in a significant manner. Furthermore, the IT department of Asda is taken the initiative to deploy the expert system and neural network to analyze data and produce recommendations (Conde and et.al., 2014). However, for implementing this system, an enterprise will require a huge amount of investment in human capital and appointing expertise people to execute tasks in a significant manner.
2.2 Investigating the current trends in using information systems applications to solve business problems
In recent years, technological advancement and the changing demand of techno-savvy customers have brought new emergent paradigms to the retail sector. Besides that, Cloud computing, the internet of things (IoT), and big data have emerged as the latest trends in terms of gaining greater attention and meeting their requirements in a significant manner (Galliers and Leidner, 2014). Many enterprises are concentrating on the use of Cloud-Computing with a distributed information system to better management of IT resources, applications, platforms, and storage medium to simplify the organization processes and increasing customer flexibility.
For connecting everything to the internet, IoTs is used because it concentrates on supporting machine-to-machine communication and new insight to serve particular purposes in changing arena. In the context of getting maximum benefits of the available big data in finance, security, marketing, product development, and manufacturing areas, Big Data Analytics techniques are used by retailers in the UK. In addition, Business-IT alignment and business process modeling techniques employed by enterprises for both technical and methodological development (Gómez, Serna, and Badenes, 2009).
Apart from this, Customer relationship management, Business Intelligence, Human Resource Management, and Objected-oriented information emerge as recent advances in the information systems. Furthermore, Cloud-Computing, Google Analytics, M-commerce, Big Data, and Web 2.0 techniques are the future trends that focus on new functionalities or areas and incorporate new functionalities of the present information systems (Mithas and Sambamurthy, 2011). In solving business problems such as managing large amounts of records of customers and future predictions, new information systems and technology adopted by the management of Asda would be helpful for it.
2.3 Evaluating the suitability of information systems for different functional areas
After analysis of present information systems employed by retailers and future trends, it is clear that distributed information systems using Cloud-Computing will be beneficial for enterprises. Scalability, reducing infrastructure and licensing cost, and easy deployment compared with the old IT paradigms and information system will be attained after implementing this information system at the workplace (Van, Turoff, and Hiltz, 2014). Earlier, Asda was used MIS and DSS to perform its daily business operations and the needs of customers. However, monetary cost, overemphasize decision making, unanticipated effects, and information-overloaded related constraints are associated with the implementation of these kinds of IS at the workplace. In order to overcome such kinds of issues, management of UK based retail giant integrates supply chain technology with the company’s core systems to attain long term business objectives in a proficient manner (Saran, 2010).
The advanced management information system will be beneficial for UK base retail enterprises in terms of taking strategic and semi-structured decisions at the stipulated time and simplifies the lengthy business processes effectively. In addition, by using this kind of IS, report managers would be able to prepare schedule reports, exception reports, Ad-hoc reports, and routine business decisions in a proper way (Bloom, 2014). On the other side, DSS can be used by the finance department to prepare budget analysis and predict future sales of the company from a long-term perspective. For example, ESS can be used by the logistic department to execute the order fulfillment process in a systematic manner.
By using this order process, the enterprise will be able to perform a variety of functions such as check credit, approve credit, generate an invoice, assemble and ship products within the stipulated time. Besides that, MIS systems used by management integrate sales, accounting, and manufacturing and production departments together to boost the delivery of products to its customers effectively.
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3.1 Use an information system to generate valid, accurate, and useful information
After comparing the benefits and limitations of different types of information systems, it is found that advanced MIS will be beneficial for enterprise in terms of performing a variety of functions such as manage, order, organize and manipulate the gigabytes and masses of information in a secured way. Relevant information in a timely and cost-effective manner is required for managing information as a resource and ensures the protection of competitive intelligence (Xu, 2011). In addition, by considering the Data Protection Act, 1984 and Information management systems effectively, enterprises would be able to enhance the accuracy and usefulness of information. However, quality of outputs governed by the quality of inputs, constant monitoring, and lack of flexibility to update related constraints are also associated with the use of information systems in performing retail operations in a systematic manner (Fayoumi, 2014). Despite that, for increasing the accuracy and reliability of the information, proper management of information and adequate selection of sources are required (Mithas and Sambamurthy, 2011). In order to enhance the accuracy and validity of data, it is necessary for enterprises to collect records or information from authentic sources that may be sales reports, marketing analyses, and government statistics.
3.2 Evaluating alternative methods of solving the problem
In addition, by effective use of this information with new emerging technologies such as cloud computing and Big Data, enterprises would be able to solve the business problems faced by companies in managing their resources and taking appropriate decisions at right time. In addition, Asda installed SAP ERP system to replace Walmart's legacy system to reduce the complexities around compliance and improved reporting capability to the group head office. However, time, cost, and requirement of expert human capital-related constraints are also associated with the implementation of this new technique (Conde and et.al., 2014). In order to reduce such kinds of issues, it is necessary for UK based retailers to use Cloud Computing and Big Data emerging technologies and incorporates them with information systems used within the enterprise. In this regard, Asda can also be used the RedEye system to collect data on individual customers and categorize them by store. On the other side, bespoke store-level analysis can be beneficial for Asda in terms of easily identifying any under-performing stores and get information on the availability of deliveries within the stipulated time (RedEye, n.d.).
Related: Importance of Information System
From the report, it is clear that information systems used by retailers play an important role in terms of getting a business opportunity and increased customer base. On the basis of critical comparison between different information systems, it can be recommended that the MIS system and DSS with Cloud-Computing would be beneficial for enterprises to solve current problems faced by enterprises in their day to day business operations. By collecting information from authentic sources, the management of Asda would be able to take strategic, tactical, and operation level decisions in a significant manner.
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