It Strategy

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Assessment Item 2 – Assignment 1
Organisational strategy and IS/IT management

Essay 2500 words
Value 25%
Task
Select a large, multinational organisation that has succeeded in effectively aligning its business and how IS/IT infrastructure and IS/IT projects have specifically supported the overall business strategy of the organisation and identify where they have also been a catalyst in actually enabling and creating new business strategy. Make an evaluation of the degree the selected organisation’s overall approach to IS/IT management has played a part in the successful alignment and implementation of IS/IT and business strategies.

In 2012 Walmart celebrated its 50th anniversary and Rob Walton, Board Chairman and son of the founder, Sam Walton, made it clear in his chairman’s preamble to the annual report that the company’s success was a result of the strength of the mission, people, values and culture. Moreover the future of the corporation was reliant on a continued commitment to strong governance and an intensive focus on global eCommerce, social and mobile retailing (Walmart Corporate, 2012). Walmart is a discount retail business which was established in 1962 by Sam Walton with a single store in Rogers, Arkansas. Today Walmart has grown to become a worldwide industry leader, a multibillion dollar industry with reported revenues of $15.8 billion (Walmart Corporate, 2012). On October 31, 1969 the company was officially incorporated, going public in 1970. By the time Walmart was listed on the New York stock exchange in 1972 it had 51 stores and reported sales of $78 million. By 1991, the company had gone international, through a joint venture with Citra, opening a Sam’s Club in Mexico City (Walmart Corporate, 2012). Today, Walmart operates more than 10,000 retail units under 69 different banners within 27 countries including the United States. They employ over 2 million people worldwide (Walmart Corporate, 2012). Walmart Stores, Inc. comprises three separate business units; Walmart U.S., International and Sam’s Club. These business units consist of retail operations including discount stores, supercentres, grocery stores, Sam’s Clubs, Distribution Centres, and an internet shopping channel called Walmart.com. This essay will review how Walmart has sustained its competitive advantage by effectively aligning its business and information technology. It will discuss how information technology has specifically supported the overall Walmart business strategy and has been a catalyst in actually enabling and creating new business strategies. To conclude the essay will evaluate the degree to which Walmart’s overall approach to information technology management has played a part in the successful alignment and implementation of information and business strategies. When referring to information technology in this essay the term will include all tools that capture, store, process, exchange and use information (Reynolds, 2010). Michael Porter (Porter, 1990) described three strategic approaches which encompassed how an organisation may opt to remain competitive in an industry. The first of these was to become the cost leader. This approach requires that the organisation efficiently and effectively deploy plant, equipment, labour and processes, allowing the organisation to profitably become the lowest cost provider of goods and/or services in the industry. The second approach requires the organisation to better understand the wants and needs of the customer base in the market place and then use this information to develop and implement goods and services that meet these wants and needs better than their competitors. The third and final approach requires the target organisation to focus on a specific niche in the marketplace, developing products and services only for that niche, at the expense of other customers. Moreover an organisation may adopt one, two or all of these strategic approaches to remain competitive....
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