Discussion: IT Management Skills

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Discussion: IT Management Skills

Discussion: IT Management Skills

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Value Creation Value Sustainability

Resource/Attribute Value Rarity Imitation Substitution Transfer


IT Infrastructure Moderate because of its skillful use of the POS equipment, handheld computers, automated conveyors, and computer‐controlled equipment to cut patterns, but similar technology could be purchased and used by competitors

Easy to imitate and transfer its infrastructure

Moderate for substitution of infrastructure (automated conveyers)

Information Repository

High value and rarity because of its information about customers’ preferences and body types, which Zara leverages strategically; well integrated with Zara’s operations and personnel; retail information analyzed by designers to identify future products

Difficult to imitate and transfer

Extremely difficult to substitute because of the volume and nature of the data


Technical Skills Low value/rarity because IS professionals could be hired relatively easily to perform the technical work

Moderately difficult to imitate, substitute, or transfer; some sustainability results because the skills are used to integrate across a range of systems

IT Management Skills

High value/rarity because they were acquired over time

Difficult to imitate, substitute, or transfer; resources leveraged well

Relationship Skills—Externally Focused

High value from relationships with European manufacturers

Moderate rarity because other companies also have relationships with manufacturers although required time to develop the relationship

Difficult to imitate, substitute, or transfer; turnaround time of under 5 weeks from conception to distribution

Relationship Skills—Spanning

High rarity of spanning Difficult to imitate, substitute, or transfer spanning; unusual tight‐knit teams at headquarters not easy to imitate or purchase in the marketplace, allowing the ability to correctly interpret and quickly respond to customer needs

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47Strategic Alliances

Zara has created considerable value from the other information asset—its valuable information repository with cus- tomers ’ preferences and body types.

In terms of information capability, much of Zara ’ s value creation is from its valuable and rare IT management skills. Zara ’ s relationship skills also serve as a tool for value creation and sustainability. Overall, Zara is able to create high value from its IT management and relationship skills. It would be moderately to extremely diffi cult to substitute, imitate, or transfer them.

The resource‐based theory, although highly cited, has received its share of criticism. 12 The major criticism is that it doesn ’ t clearly distinguish between value and strategic competitive advantage. Another criticism of the original theory is that it doesn ’ t consider different types of resources. However, IS researchers addressed this concern when they categorized resources into assets and capabilities and then provided examples of each. In applying the theory, it is important to recognize that it is focused on internal sources of a fi rm ’ s competitive advantage and, thus, does not thoroughly take into account the environment in which the fi rm is embedded, especially when the environment is quite dynamic.

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