We exist in the information age and we have been indulged in it quite some time now. We have more than information at our fingertips, we have information overload. Anything we need to know can be served up to us with a simple Google search. The key to extracting information from the internet becomes a task of knowing what the majority population would type into a search engine in order to obtain the information that meets the searchers requirements. Although this is a complex algorithm built by Google, it is very simplistic in the data it returns back to the user. Since we are considered to be in the information overload era the problem becomes one of sifting through all the plethora of information that we are bombarded with by the online content that is served to us by the search engines. This online content can steer us down rat holes where we become more and more saturated with irrelevant information. This is where the companies of tomorrow will succeed. By utilizing the technologies of things like relational databases and fuzzy logic the companies of tomorrow will be able to give the people the information they need quicker and with much higher levels of relevance. Let's call this competitive advantage and these competitive advantages can be identified in specific strategic information systems. "A strategic information system can be any kind of information system (for example, TPS, MIS, and DSS) that uses information technology to help an organization gain a competitive advantage, reduce a competitive disadvantage, or meet other strategic enterprise objectives" (2009, O'Brien & Marakas, p.44).
Basic strategies in the business use of information technology include lowering costs, differentiation, innovation, growth promotion, and alliance development. Information technology is used in businesses in many areas which can surpass the basic understanding of the market as perceived by humans. Technology gives us the edge with perception that goes beyond our physical capabilities.
Businesses can use information technology to reduce the cost of business processes and the costs associated with customers and suppliers. An example of a case study for lowering costs is Amazon (http://www.amazon.com), which has used information technology to streamline its business in order fulfillment.
Differentiation among products and services can be obtained through the use of information technology and can also diminish the advantage a competitor may have in the market segment while focusing on the company's vital products toward selected market niches.
Differentiation can be achieved through utilization of marketing directives which are steered by output of numerical mathematical programming models that use the results from the analytical model and calibrate to conform to known estimates of supply and demand elasticities in order to simulate the integration of products into specific market segments.
Information technology is incorporated into new products through innovation and also new products can be developed through the help of information technology. Innovation can also be experienced through improving business processes with information technology. Any company that really wants to be successful should have an Innovation Process built into their corporate structure. Many companies think they do. I hate to be the one to tell you, but most Innovation Process strategies are either bad suggestion scheme products that leave you empty-handed or cheap “idea buckets” that gather ideas willy-nilly from employees, customers, the general public, even your competitors with no way of managing or evaluating them. Hardly effective or innovative.
Fueled by increased interest among organizations to team up with customers and partners, software for supporting open innovation is emerging. With innovation software, innovation workers are knowledge enabled - stimulating creative, breakthrough thinking across the product life-cycle from market planning and early product conception through to detailed engineering, manufacturing execution and after-market support.
Innovation software helps innovation workers overcome the challenge of psychological inertia – the myopic thinking that comes from being overly influenced by historical behavior or trends that prevents us from considering the broadest scope of alternatives. Innovation software also helps communicate market requirements and product design capabilities across disparate communities, understand how to prioritize and leveraging knowledge and existing resources, and accelerates creative problem solving.
Jenni (http://www.jenniusa.net) utilizes idea campaigns. An idea campaign is a call for innovation to answer a specific need. You present an innovation challenge and set a reward and send it out. You can define who takes part, by department, location, etc... This allows you to target idea campaigns to specific relevant groups. For instance, you may want to pose a highly technical innovation challenge exclusively to R&D and a sales budget challenge to both accounting and sales by region. You collect ideas, during which others can collaborate and give feedback, building onto ideas they like. In the next phase you, and your team, conduct a formal evaluation to identify the ideas with the greatest innovation potential. At the end of the campaign you are ready to implement that new innovation.
Information technology is used to manage business expansion in all regions and helps diversify and integrate into other products and services. CRM (Customer relationship Management) software systems help keep a sales force in touch with its customers. Programs like Goldmine, ACT, and Salesforce.com are examples of this type of software system.
The creation of virtual organizations and support systems for collaboration and relationship building among customers, suppliers, and others. Companies utilize systems like Microsoft's share point server. One of the buzz term that surrounded this type of technology was portal software.
The companies that will succeed and flourish in the 21st century are the companies that will understand what users need and will be able to offer them the experience that can be obtained through technology information systems and the use of architecture that will evolve information above the realm of simple searches. It's not about the information, it's about how companies braid information along the thought patterns of users that will enhance and compliment their searches and eliminate unnecessary hoards of information and advertising.
O'Brien, J.A. & Marakas, G.M. (2009). Management Information Systems. McGraw-Hill Irwin. 9th ed.