Understand the role of information systems and the current IT environment in an organization through 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 expectations of their customers effectively. In order to better understand the roles of information system and the current IT environment, Asda, which is the UK base retail giant, has been taken. The present information investigates about the current use of IT and IS within retail enterprise and their functionalities into different business areas. Furthermore, report provides recommendations in the regard of improving their use of IT and IS.
1.1 Information needs of the different functional areas of an organization
In order to improve its services to the industry and community, IT department of Asda are emphasizing on effective use of advance information and communication technologies. Marketing department of Asda is deploying software from Manhattan Associates for the purpose of executing e-commerce operation and promoting its products across the country. Besides that, in order to manage its financial records and enhance transparency and security in transactions, finance department of enterprise has taken initiatives to install the SAP Business Objects system which are hosted on a DB2 database and AIX Unix application servers. Earlier, enterprise was struggling to manage records of inventory, under the retail method of inventory accounting (Doyle, 2010).
However, after deploying this new system, enterprise was able to perform variety of functions such as better management of financial information, reduce the complexities around compliance and improve automation processes at workplace. Despite of that, for managing internet orders from the Asda direct website, UK base retail giant was deployed the software in several distribution centres across the country.
The main motto of organization behind implementing information systems and adopting new technologies are to sell variety of products and services to its customers in more convenient manner (Saran, 2010). Apart from this, for supporting decision making regarding the marketing mix, information systems are used by marketing department of Asda. It provides market research opportunity to enterprise to collect data on the actual customers and the potential customers and enhance sales and customers base of enterprise in long term perspective. However, along with the use of different technologies, it is essential for US base firm to effective use of information to take appropriate decisions (Fayoumi, 2014). Management of firm will require information of inputs, outputs and processing activities at different levels including strategic, tactical, operational. For example, at strategic level, information regarding to stakeholders, fund and human requirement to carry out different functions are needed (Whiteley, 2010).
At this stage, management information system (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 strategic level to implement strategic planning process and attaining long term business plan of enterprise. At tactical level, management of Asda is required to manage the responsibility and functionality of lower-level departments so as to implement strategic plan within 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 retail giant (Becker and Vering, 2013). With help of effective use of Enterprise resource planning (ERP) and Customer relationship, management of Asda can perform different activities including processing order activities, identifying and fulfilling distribution requirements and quick delivery of products and services to its customers at compatible price in a proficient manner. However, without establishing integration between different departments, management of enterprise would be unable to grasp business opportunity and enhances its sales and customer base in long term perspectives. After analyzing different technologies used by Asda, it can be said that technology advancement, changing needs of customers and demand of quality of products at cheaper rate are the major factors which affects organizational structures and culture (Shahidehpour and et.al., 2015). In addition, positive attitude of employees toward new emerging technology adoption lead firm in the competitive retail market and better perform as compared to other retail giants such as Tesco, Sainsbury and Morrison etc.
2.1 Exploring about 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 which provides meaning to data. Information can be collected from primary and secondary sources such as books, journals, online published articles and annual reports of enterprise. However, for management of information, it is necessary for management of enterprise to follow basic principles of security, accuracy and relevancy (Kamel, Lakhder and Ammar, 2012).
By collecting information from valid sources and maintaining confidentiality, organization can enhance accuracy and usefulness of data. The positive outcomes of information systems and new technologies used by retailers can be seen in forms of ordering, bookings, managing personnel records of customers and employees, goods tracking and improved customer service.
In the modern era, different organizations are emphasizing on using variety of information systems including business information, decision support and management information systems. In addition, some enterprises like Tesco and Wal-mart concentrating on proper use of executive information systems, office information system and expert system to perform day to day business functions in more flexible way. Transaction processing systems are used by new start-up‘s 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 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, marketing department of Asda is used 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 specially for performing day to day routine transactions which are required to be conducted in the business (Emmanouil et.al., 2009). On the other hand, MIS is used for evaluating an organization performance through comparing current outputs with previous outputs. For example, sales department of firm is used this system to identify past and present decisions so on that basis future decision can be taken in a proper manner.
On the other side, decision-support system (DSS) is employed by 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 management of Asda has used executive information system at strategic level, management information system at tactical level and transaction processing systems at operation level to perform day to day business activities in a systematic manner (Chuan and et.al., 2014). However, DSS system employed by enterprise is unable to deal with internal and external data sources and offer a customizable to module.
Apart from this, manufacturing unit of UK base enterprise has used DSS to graphical represent the number of products manufactured on a particular line. 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 expectations of customers in a significant manner. Furthermore, IT department of Asda is taken initiative to deploy expert system and neural network to analyze data and produce recommendations (Conde and et.al., 2014). However, for implementing this system, enterprise will require 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 the recent years, technology advancement and changing demand of techno-savvy customers have brought new emergent paradigms in retail sector. Besides that, Cloud computing, internet of things (IoTs) and big data are emerged as 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 use of Cloud-Computing with distributed information system to better management of IT resources, applications, platforms and storage medium to simplify the organization processes and increasing customer flexibility.
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For connecting everything to 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 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 are emerged 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 which focus on new functionalities or areas and incorporate new functionalities of the present information systems (Mithas and Sambamurthy, 2011). In the solving business problems such as managing large amount of records of customers and future predictions, new information systems and technology adopted by 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 system using Cloud-Computing will be beneficial for enterprise. Scalability, reducing infrastructure and licensing cost and easy deploy compared with the old IT paradigms and information system will be attained after implementing this information system at workplace (Van, Turoff and Hiltz, 2014). Earlier, Asda was used MIS and DSS to perform its daily business operations and 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 workplace. In order to overcome such kinds of issues, management of UK base retail giant integrate supply chain technology with company’s core systems to attain long term business objectives in a proficient manner (Saran, 2010).
Advance management information system will be beneficial for UK base retail enterprise in terms of taking strategic and semi-structured decisions at stipulated time and simplifies the lengthy business processes effectively. In addition, by using this kind of IS, report mangers 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 finance department to prepare budget analysis and predict future sales of company in long term perspective. For example, ESS can be used by logistic department to execute order fulfillment process in a systematic manner.
By using this order process, enterprise will be able to perform variety of functions such as check credit, approve credit, generate invoice, assemble and ship products within stipulated time. Besides that, MIS systems used by management integrate sales, accounting and manufacturing and production departments together to boost deliver of products to its customers effectively.
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 advance MIS will be beneficial for enterprise in terms of performing 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 protection of competitive intelligence (Xu, 2011). In addition, by considering Data Protection Act, 1984 and Information management systems effectively, enterprise would be able to enhance accuracy and usefulness of information. However, quality of outputs governed by 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 of that, for increasing accuracy and reliability of information, proper management of information and adequate selection of sources are required (Mithas and Sambamurthy, 2011). In order to enhance accuracy and validity of data, it is necessary for enterprise to collect records or information from authentic sources that may be sales report, marketing analysis 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, enterprise would be able to solve business problem faced by company in managing its resources and taking appropriate decision 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 base retailer to use Cloud Computing and Big Data emerging technologies and incorporates them with information systems used within enterprise. In this regard, Asda can also be used 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 stipulated time (RedEye, n.d.).
From the report, it is clear that information systems used by retailer play an important role in terms of getting business opportunity and increased customer base. On the basis of critical comparison between different information systems, it can be recommended that MIS system and DSS with Cloud-Computing would be beneficial for enterprise to solve current problems faced by enterprise in their day to day business operations. By collecting information from authentic sources, management of Asda would be able to take strategic, tactical and operation level decisions in a significant manner.
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