This is an Individual Assignment.
The purpose of the case analysis is to present you with a typical scenario you will encounter in business at some point in your early career and to let you apply the concepts you’ve learned in class and from the book to analyze the issues facing a specific company (or person).
Yourassignment: Using the provided “SMB Case” material plus additional information that you have researched write a Case Analysisthatprovidesasolidly consideredIT/IS strategy recommendation toJanice (Senior Director of IT) that will help acceleratethegrowthofthebusiness byimproving the efficiency and effectiveness of marketing, sales, inventory and accounting functions. Assume that the market opportunity is good so there is growing competition in the region. Think about the implications of Leavitt’s Diamond Model (Stanford 1972) Modified that we covered in class.
There are several questionsthatyou must consider inyouranalysis. Please answer them in order given and restate the questions as a 4 to 5 word header statement:
1. Should the company automate, informate,re-engineer or paradigm shift? Why did you make the specific choice? Cite best-in-class examples that support your choice.
2. Using Leavitt’s Diamond Model (Stanford 1972) Modified, please cover the four main areas*:
3. What will the toughestimplementation task be?
4. Whatrisksarethereoffollowingyourstrategy? How would you mitigate them?(Remember – If you highlight a Risk you must always propose a Solution.)
SMB Case – Rock Solid Industrial Parts, Inc.
(Analysis, Presentation and Briefing)
You work for a family owned industrial parts distribution business (Rock Solid Industrial Parts, Inc.) that is expanding very rapidly. Currently at 50 employees (35 are in sales), the business is expected to grow to almost 100 employees (mostly all outside and inside sales people) within 3 years and coverthe entire west coast and mountain states. Your background and education has made you the go-to-person for all technology related issues in the company. The Owner/President of the company has come to you for advice on what IT/IS systems the company should be thinking about implementing to improve the efficiency and effectiveness of the business. You know the company is in the process of hiring a Senior Director of IT, Janice Drake, who is a relative newcomer to the industry and may not be onboard before the presentation is due. This is your big opportunity to show what you can do to help drive continued growth as well as insure the solutions you pick today will continue to scale with the business over the next decade.A great job could result in a significant promotion.
The company is not very technology oriented. Today, most everything is being done with desktop computers, paper forms, Excel and Quicken. The company has only a rudimentary online presence and an antiquated POTs system. Most of the workers are conservative and older. They are comfortable with computers but do not Facebook or TXT. Many do not even have smartphones.
Specifically, your task is to apply new/modern IT/IS solutionsto marketing, sales (mobile workers supported by an inside sales desk), inventory management (100K SKUs in inventory and growing as they expand into new repair service areas) and accounting to make the business more effective and efficient. Your budget is $250K to $500K. What do you recommend doing?
Overthepastdecade,thesmallbusinessmarkethasbecomeapopularandincreasinglycontested marketfortechnologycompanies.WhiletherearemanydefinitionsofwhatconstitutesanSMB,the mostcommonarebasedonthenumberofemployees.Generally,businesseswithfewerthan100 employeesareclassifiedassmallandthosewithbetween100and250areclassifiedasmedium.The opportunityintheSMBmarketissignificant;however,thelargenumberofsmallbusinessesandthe lowITspendperbusinessmakesitadifficultmarkettopenetrate.Forexample,accordingto Compassresearch,thereare2.4millionbusinesseswithfewerthan1,000employeesintheUSand 2.3millionofthosehavefewerthan100employees.
Smallbusinessesconstitutethemajorityofbusinessesworldwideandtheyaregrowingatafasterrate thanlargeenterprises.According to IDC, worldwide SMB IT spending continues to grow beyond the half-trillion-dollar threshold at roughly 2 percentage points over the rate of GDP.SMB IT spending will be approaching $700 billion in 2019.Inarecentmarketresearchstudyconductedby Compass,small businessownersidentifiedtheirmostimportantITneedsas:attractingnewcustomers,serving existingcustomersbetter,increasingemployeeproductivity,loweringoperatingexpenses,and improvingcollaborationamongworkers.Now,morethanever, hardware and softwaretechnologycompaniesarefocusing onprovidingSMBstheproductstheyneedtomeetthesechallenges.
Basic Technology Overview
Asa business’snetworkingneedsexpand,theneed for managedswitchesincreases.Managed switches areessential forlargernetworks andthosewithvoiceorvideotrafficwhichneedstobe prioritized abovedatatraffictoensurehighqualityfeeds.Anotherimportant featureonmanaged switches isPoweroverEthernetorPoE.PoEisusedtosupplypowertodevicessuchaswireless accesspointsorIPphonessothatthesedevicescanbe installedinlocationsthatlackeasyaccesstoa poweroutlet.
RoutersareusedtoconnecttotheinternetandtosendtrafficbetweenLocalAreaNetworks (LANs).Routersconnectphysicallyseparatenetworkssuchasofficefloors, differentoffice locations orVLANs (VirtualLANs)intooneseamless network totheendusers.Routersalsoprovide additionalsecurityandprotect againstdenialofservice attacks andothersecuritythreats.
Designing therightnetworkarchitecture requiresadegreeoftechnicalexpertisethatmostSMBsdo nothavein-house.Asaresult,themajorityofmanagedandunmanaged switchesaresoldthrough ValueAddedResellers(VARs)whoperformanetworkassessmentto understandthe business’needs andthendesignthearchitecture, installthenetworkandoftenremotelymanagethenetworkforthe SMB.
Advanced technologiesinclude a number of technology areas such as security, UnifiedCommunications,andwireless,eachofwhichwillbecoveredinmoredetailbelow.
Security–Most vendors todaybuildsecurityfeaturesinto everyproductitsells.Inaddition,many vendors alsosellsanumberof othersecurityproductssuchasspamblockers,firewalls,andidentitymanagementsoftware.
UnifiedCommunications–UnifiedCommunications, orUC,isabroadcategorythatrefersto applicationsthatcombinevoice,data,andvideooverthesamenetwork.Ciscoistheworldwide leaderinUnifiedCommunications followedcloselybyMicrosoft. Historically,PBX(publicbranch exchanges) wereusedasthenetworktocarryvoicetraffic.However, withUC,voicetrafficcanbe convertedintopacketsandpassedoveranIPnetworkandreassembledontheotherend.Combining voiceanddatanetworkssavesbusinessesmoneybecausetheyonlyhavetomaintainonenetwork andallowsfornewproductivityfeaturessuchasaccessingvoicemailonyourdesktopasanexample.
InstallingUCbeginswithanetworkassessmentandoftenrequiresanupgradetotheexisting networkinfrastructure toensurethatthenetworkcansupporthighqualityvoicetraffic.Nearlyall SMBs work withaVAR toconductthenetworkassessmentanddeploytheUCsolution.Oneofthe barrierstoadoption ofUChasbeentheupfrontcapitalcost,whichmanySMBsarenotwillingto undertake eventhough UCwillsavemoneyovertimethroughlowertelecomandnetwork maintenancecosts.
UCadoptionhasacceleratedintheEnterprisemarketoverthepastfewyears,butSMBsare onlyjust beginningtoadoptthistechnology. ThemostpopularUCproductsforSMBsareIPtelephony solutions,suchasCisco’sSmartBusinessCommunication Systemthatcombinesanetwork foundationwith security, wireless,andvoiceapplicationsallinonesystem.
Wireless–WirelessnetworksconsistofWirelessLANcontrollersandaccesspoints(APs).SimilartoUC,wirelessnetworkshavebeenwidelyadoptedamonglargeenterprises,butSMBadoptionis much lower.Wirelessproductsrangeincomplexity fromsimplestandaloneaccesspointsthatareeasily installedandrequirelittleornosetuptomorecomplexnetworks consisting ofmultipleAPs integratedintoaseamlessnetwork.
Asthecomplexityofthenetworkincreases,manySMBswillenlisttheservicesofaVARtohelp themoptimizethelocationsoftheAPstoavoiddeadspotsandimproveconnection speeds throughouttheiroffice.Asa result,wirelessproductsaresoldthrougha varietyofchannelsincluding retail,onlineresellers,andVARs.WirelessishighgrowthsegmentforSMB.
There are a number ofcompanies that offerproductstargetingSMBs.
Ciscois the world leader in IT system solutions. They offer very broad and deep solutions thatcompetewitha numberofcompaniesintheSMBspaceinnetworking,switchingandunified communications.It’salsoimportanttonotethatCiscocollaborateswithseveralofthe followingcompaniesinonemarketwhilecompetingwiththeminanother.
HPisthelargestITcompanyandnumbertwoinLANswitchingsalesintheworld.ProCurveisHP’snetworkingdivisionwhichstrivestopositionitselfasthe“NetworkofChoice”withagoalofbecomingthealternativetoCisco.HP’sstrategyistoprovidequalityproductsatvalueprices, typicallylessthanCisco’s,alongwithalifetimewarrantyandnextbusinessdayreplacement. In additiontoswitchingproducts,HPProCurvealsocompetesinthewireless,serverandsecurity markets.
Avayaisawell-respectedIPtelephony,unifiedcommunicationsandcontactcenterproviderwithalargeinstalledbasedworldwide.Avayasellstheirproductsthroughanetworkof2,500authorized resellersandpartnersinnearly100countries.Thecompany’sstrategyistodeliverintelligent communicationsolutionsfocusedonlinkingcommunicationwithbusinesspractices.SinceAvaya doesnotofferafulllineofnetworkingproducts,theyrelyonpartnershipswithothernetworking technologycompaniestoprovideend-to-endsolutions.
Netgear’sfocusisonprovidingnetworkingsolutionstosmallbusinessesandhomes.Theirmajor productlinesincludewirelessroutersandaccesspointsandLANswitching.Netgearsellsprimarily throughasaleschannelnetwork,whichincludestraditionalretailers,onlineretailers,directmarketresellers,valueaddedresellers,andbroadbandserviceprovidersinNorthAmerica,Europe,Middle East,Africa,andAsiaPacific.62%oftheirnetrevenueisgeneratedoutsidetheUS.Netgear’sretail pricesarefairly aggressive.
Microsoftistheworld’snumberonesoftwarecompany. They offer a wide verity of solutions for the SMB market using predefined best practice processes which are highly configurable and can accelerate time to value. This includes new social capabilities enable businesses to connect employees, partners, and customers through social networks and a variety of other communication and collaboration channels. These processes work to prioritize tasks, like executing targeted campaigns, closing deals faster, and turning customers into fans.
They areoneoftheleadersinunifiedcommunications(UC).WhileMicrosoftandCiscocollaborateina numberofareas,theyare competitorsintheUCmarket.Collaborationtoolslayoutthebattlegroundforthetwocompanieswith Microsoft’s SharePoint and Cisco’s WebEx clients performing similar functions.
Microsoft Dynamics CRM is a solution that powers the dynamic business—an enterprise of the future that connects employees, partners, and customers using their preferred devices and channels of engagement. To deliver this vision, they focus on three principal investment pillars:
• Outcome-focused, process-centric applications
• Guided, contextual, and social user experiences
• A flexible, agile, and open platform
Microsoft Dynamics CRM combines and harnesses technology trends, like cloud computing, mobility, social, and big data, to support your sales, service, and marketing aspirations.
Salesforce.com is a leading provider of enterprise cloud computing and social enterprise solutions, and are dedicatedto helping customers transform themselves into social enterprises. Social enterprises leverage social, mobile andopen technologies to engage and collaborate with their customers and employees in new and powerful ways. Theirtechnologies are targeted at businesses of all sizes and industries worldwide. Their products are based on the simple concept of deliveringcustomer relationship management, or “CRM”, applications via the Internet or “cloud.” Cloud computing refersto the use of Internet-based computing, storage and connectivity technology to deliver a variety of differentservices. In recent years, they have seen a broad shift in the information technology (“IT”) industry to socialnetworking and the use of mobile devices. Industry analysts describe how social networking users have surpassedthe total number of email users, how consumers are spending the majority of their time on the Internet usingsocial websites, and how more people are browsing the Internet on mobile devices than on desktop computers. In 2012, to address this shift to social networking, they began to work with companies of all sizes the offer them the benefitsof becoming a more social enterprise.
SAP AG is the world leader in enterprise software and software-related services. They focus on several key areas for small business with pre-packaged solutions that deliver:
• Streamlined and automated business processes that cut costs and reduce risk
• Improved cash flow, margins, and financial management
• Higher workforce productivity, engagement, and satisfaction
• Faster, more informed decision making that drives growth and market share
• Increased service levels and differentiated customer experiences
• Simpler, more secure mobile access to real-time insights and critical processes
Oracle offers an optimized and fully integrated stack of business hardware and software systems. Oracle helps customers implement best-in-class solutions for operational excellence, business analytics, and risk compliance management. Their deep portfolio of business solutions address a range of customer needs, including social relationship management, customer relationship management, procurement, and supply chain management. Oracle engineers hardware and software to work together in the cloud and in your data center–from servers and storage, to database and middleware, through applications. Oracle systems:
• Provide better performance, reliability, security, and flexibility
• Lower the cost and complexity of IT implementation and management
• Deliver greater productivity, agility, and better business intelligence
For customers needing modular solutions, Oracle’s open architecture and multiple operating-system options also give customers unmatched benefits from best-of-breed products in every layer of the stack, allowing them to build the best infrastructure for their enterprise. For smaller customers they have prepackaged web based solutions.
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