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Information Technology For Knowledge Management

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Question:

Discuss about Information technology for knowledge management.

 

 

Answer:

Introduction

Strategic information systems are becoming an integral part of the organizational strategies. Currently, organizations are implementing SIS for aligning the business strategies with various organizational information systems. It helps in supporting the present strategies of the business and also helps in assisting the change in the business structure as well as strategies (Altaf and Khalil 2016). SIS facilitates the senior management group to make appropriate strategic decisions by accurately channelizing valuable information. Organizations have become aware of the benefits of SIS, and their current focus is on utilizing the functionalities of SIS to resolve the existing inefficiencies in the business processes (Altameem, Aldrees and Alsaeed 2014). SIS efficiently utilizes information for enhancing operational efficiencies of the strategic business units as well as departments.

This literature review describes the services and products that are offered by the organization. It focuses on the structure of Woolworths. It discusses the existing processes of Woolworths and identifies the gap in the processes. This literature review discusses specific issues that can be resolved by the new system. It explains IS strategy and briefly outlines the various difficulties that Woolworths can face while implementing the IS strategy. It also provides suggestions for overcoming the difficulties. The following literature review critically analyses the main causes responsible for the IS project failures and recommends remedies for preventing project failures.

Discussion

Woolworths is known as the largest supermarket chains in Australia. It operates 995 stores in the country, and it has 11500 employees across its distribution centres, support offices and stores (Woolworthsgroup.com.au 2018). Its main focus is on giving superior range, value, convenience and services to the customers. It ensures best quality services and products to the consumers. Woolworths is one of the innovative retailers in Australia which allows customers to buy the products from the store as well as the online app. 

 

Woolworths- Structure, Services and Products

  1. a) Organizational Structure: The hierarchical structure of Woolworths has divided the entire organization into various levels such as operation or first level, tactical or second level and the strategic or the top management level. The informational needs of the various levels are different. Operation level requires daily operational information for executing regular activities. The tactical level of the organization needs information for achieving short-term objectives of the organization. The highest level of the organization needs information for making strategic decisions.
  1. b) Products and services: Woolworths mainly sells groceries. It provides fresh fruits and vegetables to the customers. It offers best quality dairy products to its customers. Woolworths offers various household products, products for infants as well as health products. It has different sections that also sell beauty products, clothes, pet supplies, stationery items and magazines. It is a supermarket chain that provides all kinds of products that are needed by the consumers. For improving customer experience, it has developed its app for facilitating the customers to buy online and save time.

Functionality and Operations

  1. a) Woolworths- current processes: The various processes of Woolworths focus on inventory management, customer service management and financial accounting methods. Organizational change management process is considered to be one of its main processes. The purchasing process of the supermarket chain is centralized, and the inventory levels of the company are reported by the frontline managers. Based on the level of inventory the order placing is done by the managers to its suppliers. The inventory process monitors and manages the inventory based on the FIFO technique. The core focus of senior executive processes of Woolworths is on improving its customer experience by providing quality products and controlling business procedures (com.au 2018). The accounting or finance process of Woolworths constitutes the methods for handling sales data, financial data and payroll. The marketing and sales processes are part of the main processes of the supermarket chain.
  2. b) Gap Identification: The increase of competition in the market is responsible for slowing down the market growth of the Woolworths retail chain (com.au 2018). Lack of innovative marketing strategies has affected its productivity and sales. Woolworths offers products at a higher price as compared to its competitors. The traditional management techniques followed by the top management team of Woolworths led to the development of improper pricing strategy. The ineffective business models and strategies affected the business growth and caused a fall in its share price. The low morale of its employees has a negative impact on the organizational performance. Lack of strategic information systems has prevented the organization to align its business strategies with the IS and affected its present working procedure as well.
  1. c) Specific issues or problems that will be fixed by the new system: The gaps in the marketing strategies of Woolworths can be resolved by implementing the new system or SIS. It will help in solving issues related to fallen share price and low employee morale. Woolworths will be able to achieve competitive advantages and strategic goals by implementing the new system. The new system will help in improving business performance by lowering product price and satisfying the customers. Woolworths will be able to improve its market position by implementing the new system.
  2. d) Criteria for proving that the proposed or new system meets its requirements: One major criterion is the new system performance. Verification and validation of the system is essential for proving whether the new system meets the requirements or not. System verification and validation methods can be utilized for checking whether the system requirements are met or not. Software and hardware functioning of the proposed system are one of the main criteria for proving that the proposed system is meeting its requirements. The operational requirements of the customers need to be met and this is another main criterion (Bajdor and Grabara 2014). System testing and evaluation can be performed for understanding the performance of the system. System throughput along with system reliability forms the main criteria for proving whether the new system meets its requirements or not (Cassidy 2016). The other criteria include vendor support, documentation quality and system scalability. 
 

Information Systems Strategy     

Alignment of IS structure and organizational strategies are supported by IS strategies (Amrollahi, Ghapanchi and Talaei-Khoei 2014). Woolworths supermarket chains need this strategy for the purpose of supporting its current IS structure for making sure that the valuable information of the current systems is utilized accurately for achieving the business goals. IS strategies play a major role in synchronizing the existing technology platforms of Woolworths with its IS (Whittington 2014). Competitive advantages can be achieved by Woolworths by carrying out integration between IS and organizational strategies (Sakas, Vlachos and Nasiopoulos 2014). IS strategy helps in identifying informational needs at the different organizational levels and gives insight into the business issues (Pearlson, Saunders and Galletta 2016). Organizations get proper direction and new business development opportunities by implementing IS strategies .    

The above discussed benefits clarify why Woolworths requires IS strategy to be incorporated into its organizational strategy. Woolworths will be able to improve its operational efficiency and productivity by integrating the IS and organizational strategy (Argenziano, Severinov and Squintani 2016). IS strategy can help Woolworths to enhance its customer experience and relations. IS strategy will help in enhancing customer experience by improving the internal processes (Peppard and Ward 2016).  The top management team will get access to the strategic information and make correct decisions regarding strategic approaches and procedures. Woolworths will be able to improve its products and strategies by implementing information system strategy that will facilitate in optimally utilizing strategic information.

Difficulties in developing IS Strategy

  1. a) Human challenges: Employees of Woolworths might lack technical skills and competencies. Some of them might not be ready to support the implementation of IS strategy. Absence of employees belonging to technical domains can cause difficulty in IS strategy development. Problems in developing IS strategy can take place due to communication gap in the organization.
  2. b) Management challenges: The top management team might lack the understanding of the benefits of implementing IS strategy. They might not support the development of IS strategy. This can act as a barrier to implementing IS strategy (Boonstra 2013). Internal communication gaps can also cause difficulty in implementing IS strategy.
  3. c) Technical and time-related issues: Technical issues such as system failure can affect the IS strategy implementation process (Liu and Wang 2014). Woolworths might face serious problems in migrating to the new system from its existing system. Extension of the intermediate processes and plans can stop the IS implementation. 
 

Solutions provided for the above discussed difficulties:

  1. a) Solution for overcoming human challenges: Technical training sessions can be held for enhancing the technical skills and knowledge of the existing employees. Hiring staffs with technical experience can help in the successful implementation of IS strategy in Woolworths. Regular group discussions must be held for improving employee coordination.
  2. b) Solution for overcoming management challenges: The advantages of implementing IS strategy must be explained to the top management team for getting their approval and support. Attractive presentation must be prepared for demonstrating the role and need of IS strategy in the organization and removing the internal communication gaps.
  3. c) Solution for overcoming technical issues: Regular maintenance of the current IS and appropriate determination of the technical specifications can help in resolving the technical difficulties. Effective plans can be scheduled for accomplishing the tasks of implementing IS strategy without delay or failure.

Information System Failures

  1. a) Problems or issues that might arise within the IS projects: System failures are considered to be the main problem that might arise within IS projects. If the top management is unable to define the project goals and support the implementation of IS strategy then it can lead to the failure of IS projects (Cecez-Kecmanovic, Kautz and Abrahall 2014). Unclear responsibilities and communication gaps can lead to the failure of IS projects. Improper determination of technical specifications is also responsible for the IS project failure (Rainer et al. 2013). Software crisis due to irregular maintenance of the system can lead to low productivity and harm IS projects (Petter, DeLone and McLean 2013). Sometimes the management team is unaware of the need of IS projects that can act as a barrier in the success of the IS projects. When the project budget and schedule are not properly designed then it can harm the IS projects (Mir and Pinnington 2014). Improper alignment of business strategies with the IS of the organization, and the changing dynamic environment of the business can also create problems within IS project.
  2. b) Recommendations for solving the above mentioned problems
  3. i) System failures can be prevented by properly defining the IS project objectives. Regular group discussions and meetings can be held before starting with the project work for clarifying the need of the IS project and gaining the support of the management team. Decision making process must be participative for clarifying the responsibilities of the staffs.
  4. ii) The system can be regularly maintained by IT specialists and technical staffs for avoiding the issue of software crisis.

iii) Technical competencies of the employees can be enhanced through training programs. Competent staffs will be able to prepare accurate project schedule, project budget and properly align the business needs with the IS of the organization. Dynamic staffs can be hired for adjusting with the changing needs of the market. 

 

Conclusion

It can be seen from the above literature review that strategic information systems can help Woolworths to achieve competitive advantages and enhance its operational efficiency. This supermarket chain can enhance its productivity by implementing IS strategy. The above discussion has shown that IS strategy will enable Woolworths to align the business strategies with the current IS structure. The current processes of Woolworths include customer service, marketing, inventory, sales and accounting process. It has been found out that the gap in the current processes of Woolworths has decreased its market growth. Lack of innovative marketing strategies can be overcome by the new system. According to this literature review, system performance is one of the main criteria for proving that the new system has met the requirements. Woolworths can face certain challenges such as lack of technical staffs, lack of top management support and technical issues while implementing IS strategy. Technical training, effective communication and proper identification of technical specifications are suggested for overcoming these problems. This literature review suggested that the software crisis issue can be resolved by regular system maintenance and gaining top executive support. This literature review concludes that Woolworths will be able to overcome its current limitations and achieve market growth by developing and implementing SIS. 

 

References

Altaf, M. and Khalil, M., 2016. Strategic Information System: A source of Competitive Advantage.

Altameem, A.A., Aldrees, A.I. and Alsaeed, N.A., 2014, October. Strategic information systems planning (SISP). In Proceedings of the World Congress on Engineering and Computer Science (Vol. 1).

Amrollahi, A., Ghapanchi, A.H. and Talaei-Khoei, A., 2014. Three Decades of Research on Strategic Information System Plan Development. CAIS, 34, p.84.

Argenziano, R., Severinov, S. and Squintani, F., 2016. Strategic information acquisition and transmission. American Economic Journal: Microeconomics, 8(3), pp.119-155.

Bajdor, P. and Grabara, I., 2014. The Role of Information System Flows in Fulfilling Customers’ Individual Orders. Journal of Studies in Social Sciences, 7(2).

Boonstra, A., 2013. How do top managers support strategic information system projects and why do they sometimes withhold this support?. International Journal of Project Management, 31(4), pp.498-512.

Cassidy, A., 2016. A practical guide to information systems strategic planning. CRC press.

Cecez-Kecmanovic, D., Kautz, K. and Abrahall, R., 2014. Reframing Success and Failure of Information Systems: A Performative Perspective. Mis Quarterly, 38(2).

Liu, S. and Wang, L., 2014. Understanding the impact of risks on performance in internal and outsourced information technology projects: The role of strategic importance. International Journal of Project Management, 32(8), pp.1494-1510.

Mir, F.A. and Pinnington, A.H., 2014. Exploring the value of project management: linking project management performance and project success. International journal of project management, 32(2), pp.202-217.

Pearlson, K.E., Saunders, C.S. and Galletta, D.F., 2016. Managing and Using Information Systems, Binder Ready Version: A Strategic Approach. John Wiley & Sons.

Peppard, J. and Ward, J., 2016. The strategic management of information systems: Building a digital strategy. John Wiley & Sons.

Petter, S., DeLone, W. and McLean, E.R., 2013. Information systems success: The quest for the independent variables. Journal of Management Information Systems, 29(4), pp.7-62.

Rainer, R.K., Cegielski, C.G., Splettstoesser-Hogeterp, I. and Sanchez-Rodriguez, C., 2013. Introduction to information systems. John Wiley & Sons.

Sakas, D., Vlachos, D. and Nasiopoulos, D., 2014. Modelling strategic management for the development of competitive advantage, based on technology. Journal of Systems and Information Technology, 16(3), pp.187-209.

Whittington, R., 2014. Information systems strategy and strategy-as-practice: a joint agenda. The Journal of Strategic Information Systems, 23(1), pp.87-91.

Woolworthsgroup.com.au., 2018. Woolworths Supermarkets - Woolworths Group. [online] Available at: https://www.woolworthsgroup.com.au/page/about-us/our-brands/supermarkets/Woolworths [Accessed 4 Jan. 2018].

Holtshouse, D.K., 2013. Information technology for knowledge management. Springer Science & Business Media.

Liebowitz, J. and Frank, M. eds., 2016. Knowledge management and e-learning. CRC press.

Willcocks, L., 2013. Information management: the evaluation of information systems investments. Springer.

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