Assignment: Evolution of Information Resources
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?
Evolution of Information Resources The Eras model (Figure 2.1) summarizes the evolution of information resources over the past six decades. To think strategically about how to use information resources now and in the future within the firm, a manager must under- stand how the company arrived at where it is today. This model provides a good overview of trends and uses that have gotten the company from simple automation of tasks to extending relationships and managing their business ecosystems to where it is today.
IS strategy from the 1960s to the 1990s was driven by internal organizational needs. First came the need to lower existing transaction costs. Next was the need to provide support for managers by collecting and distributing information followed by the need to redesign business processes. As competitors built similar systems, organi- zations lost any advantages they had derived from their IS, and competition within a given industry once again was driven by forces that existed prior to the new technology.
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