Assignment: Sustainable and Defendable

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Assignment: Sustainable and Defendable

Assignment: Sustainable and Defendable

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The designers communicate directly with the production staff to plan for the incredible number of designs—more than 30,000—that will be manufactured every year.2

The shop managers have the option to order new designs twice a week using handheld computers. Before order- ing, they can use these devices to check out the new designs. Once an order is received at the manufacturing plant at headquarters, a large computer‐controlled piece of equipment calculates how to position patterns to minimize scrap and cut up to 100 layers of fabric at a time. The cut fabric is then sent from Zara factories to external workshops for sewing. The completed products are sent to distribution centers where miles of automated conveyor belts are used to sort the garments and recombine them into shipments for each store. Zara’s Information Systems (IS) department wrote the applications controlling the conveyors, often in collaboration with vendors of the conveyor equipment.

As the Zara example illustrates, innovative use of a firm’s information resources can provide it substantial and sustainable advantages over competitors. Every business depends on IS, making its use a necessary resource every manager must consider. IS also can create a strategic advantage for firms who bring creativity, vision, and innovation to their IS use. The Zara case is an example. This chapter uses the business strategy foundation from Chapter 1 to help general managers visualize how to use information resources for competitive advantage. This chapter highlights the difference between simply using IS and using IS strategically. It also explores the use of information resources to support the strategic goals of an organization.

The material in this chapter can enable a general manager to understand the linkages between business strategy and information strategy on the Information Systems Strategy Triangle. General managers want to find answers to questions such as: Does using information resources provide a sustainable and defendable competitive advantage? What tools are available to help shape strategic use of information? What are the risks of using information resources to gain strategic advantage?


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