Case Study: Roche’s New Scientific Method & Google

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Case Study

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KEY TERMS
business diamond (p. 34) business strategy (p. 26) cost leadership (p. 27) differentiation (p. 28) focus (p. 28) hypercompetition (p. 30) IS strategy (p. 37) Information Systems Strategy Triangle (p. 23) managerial levers (p. 36) mission (p. 25) organizational strategy (p. 34) shareholder value model (p. 29) strategy (p. 25) unlimited resources model (p. 30)

DISCUSSION QUESTIONS
1. Why is it important for business strategy to drive organizational strategy and IS strategy? What might happen if business strategy was not the driver? 2. Suppose managers in an organization decided to hand out laptop computers to all salespeople without making any other formal changes in organizational strategy or business strategy. What might be the outcome? What unintended consequences might occur? 3. Consider a traditional manufacturing company that wanted to take advantage of the Internet and Web 2.0 tools. What might be a reasonable business strategy, and how would organizational and IS strategy need to change? 4. This chapter describes key components of an IS strategy. Describe the IS strategy of a consulting firm using the matrix framework. 5. What does this tip from Fast Company mean: ‘‘The job of the CIO is to provide organizational and strategic flexibility’’?23

CASE STUDY 1-1
ROCHE’S NEW SCIENTIFIC METHOD
For years, the Swiss pharmaceutical giant Roche Group worked hard to create an ultra-competitive culture that pitted scientific teams against one another in fighting for scarce resources. Roche had believed that this culture was instrumental in creating such blockbuster drugs as Valium and Librium. But, on the downside, this approach made it almost impossible for scientists to abandon faltering projects that they felt were pivotal for their careers. Rather, it led them to hoard their technical expertise and findings. In 1998, the company turned to a more collaborative style of teamwork—especially for its teams working in the new field of genomics. Roche began running ads in Science magazine for a young new breed of researchers who could reinvent themselves as their job opportunities rapidly changed. It was the new breakthroughs in genomics and molecular biology that pushed Roche to change the way it hunted for drugs. Roche knew it had to speed up the discovery process 23 ‘‘20 Technology Briefs: What’s New? What’s Next? What Matters,’’ Fast Company, March 2002, http://www.fastcompany.com/online/56/fasttalk.html.

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Chapter 1 The Information Systems Strategy Triangle

for new drugs and size up toxicity risks earlier than ever. Projects needed to be managed in a totally different way. Roche can now churn out 1 million genomics experiments a day. Whereas research teams once spent years looking for a single good idea, they now must consider hundreds or even thousands of candidates daily. The data that is generated is overwhelming not only for the researchers, but also for Roche’s large infrastructure of computers. Despite the daunting task, the potential is too great for Roche to ignore. At a recent media briefing, Roche Group chairman and CEO Franz Humer declared, ‘‘Look at this revolution of genetics, genomics, and proteomics. It’s becoming ever clearer that we will be able to identify early the predisposition of people to disease—and to monitor and treat them more effectively. We’ll develop markers for cancer. That will lead to better test kits and to new pharmaceuticals.’’ Thus, Roche’s U.S. pharmaceuticals headquarters is making adjustments to deal with having ‘too much data, too fast.’ Roche’s management has recognized that it needs to rethink the best ways to build teams, hire people, and create a culture where failure is all right, as long as it is fast. Roche has had to embrace an organizational revolution to accommodate the technological revolution.

Learning to Swim in a Deluge of Data
At the heart of the genomics explosion is the GeneChip. This carefully mounted piece of darkened...
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