Crucial System Scanner Tool
Porter divided these activ- ities into two broad categories (Figure 2.5): support and primary activities. Primary activities relate directly to the value created in a product or service whereas support activities make it possible for the primary activities to exist and remain coordinated. Each activity may affect how other activities are performed, suggesting that information resources should not be applied in isolation. For example, more efficient IS for repairing a product may increase the possible number of repairs per week, but the customer does not receive any value unless his or her product is repaired, which requires that the spare parts be available. Changing the rate of repair also affects the rate of spare parts ordering. If information resources are focused too narrowly on a specific activity, then the expected value may not be realized because other parts of the chain have not adjusted.
The value chain framework suggests that competition stems from two sources: lowering the cost to perform activities and adding value to a product or service so that buyers will pay more. To achieve true competitive advantage, a firm requires accurate information on elements outside itself. Lowering activity costs achieves an advantage only if the firm possesses information about its competitors’ cost structures. Even though reducing isolated costs can improve profits temporarily, it does not provide a clear competitive advantage unless the firm can lower its costs below a competitor’s. Doing so enables the firm to lower its prices as a way to grow its market share.
For example, many Web sites sell memory to upgrade laptops. But some sites, such as crucial.com, have an option that automates the process prior to the sales process. These sites have the “Crucial System Scanner Tool,” which scans the customer’s laptop, identifies the current configuration and the capacity, and then suggests com- patible memory upgrade kits. The customer uses the scanner, which identifies the configuration of the laptop, and automatically opens a Web page with the appropriate memory upgrades. The customer does not have to figure out the configuration or requirements; it’s done automatically. By combining a software program like its configurator with the sales process, crucial.com has added value to the customer’s experience by automating a key process.
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