Operation and Information Management
In the business world, companies engage in different strategies to increase their foothold in an economy or to increase returns on investment (Schultz & Mir 2001). Some of these strategies increase robust expansion plans that involve mergers, acquisitions partnerships and take over (Rezaee 2004). Recently great Smartphone manufacturers and technology companies have engaged in mergers on an international scale highlighting the need to have a wide coverage and to some extent the weaknesses involved with such moves as supported by Rezaee (2004). Companies such as Google acquired Motorola Mobility in a $12 billion deal only to sell it at a huge loss of $3 billion to Lenovo. On the other hand, Microsoft bought Nokia’s mobile business and is making strides to recover lost ground. This is an indicator that in a bid to increase market share and expand, partnerships and mergers are common but the results are not always encouraging (Reddy et al 2013). Therefore there is a great need to conduct extensive analysis of the economies of scale for the company before engaging on any partnership in order to establish with a high degree the viability of the move (Penman 2000).
Theory of operations and information management
Under the theory of operations and information management, it is important for the players to understand the role of information flow to the cost of production and the risks involved in poor decision making process in any company. Information management is not only limited to overall decision making in a company but also processing lots of data and using quantitative methods in analyzing and planning to come up with viable solutions (Jorion & Eli 2000). There are different models involved in managing operations in a company which include operations research in Marketing, operations research in transportation, linear programming, optimization and planning (McKeen 2012). These activities will lead an operations manager on the right path of getting things done and ultimately to profits.
The other important section of management that is important for business is the management of the supply chain (Jorion & Eli 2000). Supply chain is very critical to ensure the entire process converts to profits or is viable. It involves the process of acquiring raw materials, their transport to the manufacturers until they get to the customers as finished products.
Information management in international operations
In international information management the same factors explored in local level are applied though at an advanced level since different jurisdictions are involved (Zaheer &Akar 2001).
Being a growing business, Smarts has a great opportunity of branding itself as a reliable Smartphone and accessories retailer not only in the UK market but in any other market that it sets footprint in. One of the advantages that growing companies is that they have an opportunity to create an image before the customers and populations start stereotyping their services and image (Strassman 1990). In addition, the company has an opportunity to expand to other markets which are either undersupplied with Smartphone and accessory marketers or lack marketers at all. In the last two decades, many companies have started focusing their resources on upcoming and growing economies such as the BRIC (Brazil, Russia, India and China) in order to consolidate their footprint in the global economy. In order to grow a strong business entity in the international market, the company can exploit the already established chain in the UK to serve as a launch pad into the other European market. The UK market being in the European Union economies, can serve as an example and a reflection of what to expect in the euro markets across the channel.
In addition the euro markets in the mainland Europe have a unified approach in investment and therefore setting a footprint in one is almost a guarantee to have a smooth ride in the rest (Michael et al 2000). Germany and France, the largest European markets are some of the markets where Smartz can seek to start in its quest to conquer the European Union Market outside of UK. With strong economies and with major Smartphone and accessories suppliers having manufacturing companies in these two economies especially Germany, the company will have little or no problem obtaining supplies for its customers.
The other opportunity that the company should realize and exploit is that Mobile industry is the future of technology as per today. Therefore currently and the near foreseeable future the company can utilize the opportunity to grow with the revolution in technology being experienced worldwide. Smartphone experience is putting more and more people on its bracket every day and therefore companies such as Smartz are in a great opportunity of exploiting that window and help more people get there. There is an expected convergence of computer services with mobile services, a trend that began with the first Smartphone in 1993 (IBM Simon) and being experienced today in the name of ipads and other tablets including phablets.
In addition, the internet today is giving almost everyone equal opportunities to market him/herself to millions of people locally and worldwide through social networking sites. This is a great opportunity for upcoming entities such as Smartz to build their names locally and internationally. Today social networking sites such as Facebook, Twitter, Google+ and others are at the forefront of internet based marketing since most people are taking to online for source of information.
Weaknesses and threats
Despite the apparent strength which the company is showing in terms of growth, there is a bumpy road ahead for the company when it comes to threats and weaknesses. One of the biggest weaknesses to achieving the aspects mentioned above is the financial muscle which the company possesses. It is well known that for a rapid expansion, an organization must have billions in dollars required for mergers, acquisitions, take over and many other rapid expansion moves. This is one thing that Smartz lacks because of its limited scale and clearly limited resources. The only other option is to obtain loans from banks which may have disastrous ramifications in case of default or a financial crisis as seen in Europe and USA since 2008. Therefore lack of initial investment capital to invest into expansion and at the same time have running finances creates a very huge obstacle for the success of the venture.
The other weakness that the company possesses is the lack of a strong brand name for itself. Very few consumers can easily identify Smartz as a Smartphone and accessories retailer on a whim especially on a national scale. This calls for the company to engage in an aggressive advertising campaign in order for its brand to be recognized and customers will have ability to identify them with it. Compared to other retailers such as Amazon from the US, Smartz is a small entity and lacks strength in brand. The company is also very weak in terms of competition when compared to other international players such as Amazon and the manufacturers. This is because those manufacturers have established a shop in most countries in the world and therefore leave little room for middlemen to benefit from the business. Companies such as Apple, the US Smartphone manufacturer (iphone) Samsung the Korean manufacturer of Samsung smart phones as well as others such as Blackberry have already established their own outlets in the local market and therefore it is an uphill task for the company to try to compete with these international marketers.
Integrating Smartz with MobUlike systems through SDLC
The system development life cycle is the most reliable method of integrating a new system with an existing one while ensuring that there is no break in communication and there is no downtime in the process as highlighted by Rajgopal et al (2003). System development lifecycle follows a seven stage procedure that ensures that the two companies will adopt a newly developed system while at the same time ensuring that the two companies can retain their individual operating systems or choose to adopt the new system (Rumelt 2011). In addition when the steps are followed consistently the customers will have little or no problem adjusting to the new system which is a win-win situation for both entities and the customer alike.
SDLC requirements fall into five distinct categories that determine how it will be designed (Carlton et al 1994). These are:
- Scope: this is the number of platforms or the task which the system is being developed for. In this case, the scope of the system covers both Smartz’s and MobUlike’s requirements.
- Technical activities: these include testing, installation, production management and others.
- Management activities,
- Usability and
- Installation guidance.
The seven step procedure of integrating the new system to the systems of Smartz and MobUlike.
Preliminary analysis: this is the first step of system development life cycle for integrating a new system which would serve the new entity. MobUlike and Smartz have two different systems, Open source and packaged. Open source choice is the better as seen in the success of Google’s Android operating system. Many companies have come on board and there are more Smartphone devises using Google’s Android than any other OS in the world. In addition, Open source software is comparatively cheaper compared to commercial packaged software and therefore the need to cut costs by using open source. Therefore there is clearly the need to develop a new open source system which will help customers collect and return stock via stores or couriers. Moreover, open source is usually easily manipulated and applications can be developed with the changing dynamics in IT industry as well as changes in customer trends.
In the preliminary analysis, the goals are defined and the management should give the project developers a green light to continue with the next step of development which is the system analysis. The cost of the system development should be established at this stage and viability of the new system identified. It would be a mistake to develop a new system which would turn out to be useful and yet unsustainable due to the costs (Myrers 2003).
System analysis: in this step the system developers should identify the requirements necessary to execute the system overhaul and integration of the new system. At this stage, the project developers should put into consideration the end-user needs. This is done with consideration that these were two different entities with different end user needs and therefore it should be done in such a way that the end user requirements of the two companies is taken care of in the new system. MobUlike customers should be as comfortable with the new system as the Smartz customers and with that achieved, the project would be a success and the fundamental goals will have been met.
System design: system design is the architectural copy of the system to be developed in the coding stage. This phase explores all the contingencies and all the details to be covered in the coding stage of development life cycle. At this stage, a prototype can be developed to be used in the evaluation and the coding of the real system. After the design of the system, project developers can continue to the next stage.
System development: this is the actual development of the new system which includes coding and all other aspects highlighted in the design category. The actual system is developed here which will be deployed to replace the original systems (Coltman et al 2001).
Testing: this is the step where the newly developed system is tested for viability and redundancy. In this stage, the system undergoes two types of testing (Das 1998). The first step is where individual components are tested with the test data while the second step is where the whole system is tested with the test data (Floyd et al 2010). The system is not only tested for workability but also its redundancy and ability to survive extreme climates. Sometimes systems may experience overloads and therefore they are tested in cases where they may be overloaded with data (Douma & Hein 2013).
System implementation: this is one of the most important steps of the development life cycle. The process which the developers choose to implement the system is very important as mentioned by Hand (2001). The developers may choose a whole and immediate system overhaul or they may choose a phased approach where different sections of the companies adopt the new system one at a time (Tichy 2002). In addition, one or both the companies (mobUlike and Smartz) may not be willing to let go of their system as easily. Therefore there is the option of running the new system parallel to the other systems. The problem is that the cost of running two systems parallel may be very high in terms of personnel as supported by Kulkarni & Chande (2008).
Maintenance: this is the final stage of developing and integrating the new system for the two companies. It is actually the longest procedure of the system development because it runs immediately the system installed till the system is exhausted and replaces by a new one (Rumelt 2011).
Paradoxical nature of e-business
With the revolution in technology, the business has started leaning heavily towards online based marketing which is commonly referred to as e-business. The business to customer (B2C) model; of e business is one that has improved coming with it several benefits as well as shortcomings. Some of the advantages associated with B2C model are the availability of a huge customer base transforming to huge cash flow for the business since many of them bur regularly. In addition, the model is very rewarding for a company with the great market share and the opportunities for the business expanding are greatly amplified.
Despite the obvious advantages mentioned above, the model has its challenges. First, bulk buying is greatly limited; this is in addition to the stiff competition the business experiences from other marketers as well. Moreover, the business may be forced to employ lots of staff which may weigh heavily on the resources of the business.
In the business world, decisions made are very important to the entire wellbeing of the organization as a whole. Important matters running from expansion to integration with new business entities require high level of research and strategy. SWOT analysis is one of the aspects where a business can assess its standing and able to come up with a real picture and consequently make unbiased decisions. A business that is aware of its weaknesses is at a better position of addressing them and at the same time able to capitalize on its strengths. In addition, the process of mergers and acquisitions poses challenges for the new entity since each had its doctrines and culture. To avoid conflict of interests, a compromise can be met through installing a new system altogether that can accommodate both interests.
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