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Is IT Value Linked to Organizational Strategy?

Zara, a fashion store chain, has a fairytale history of growth and popularity. Part of its rise to international fame is the quick-footed responsiveness of its designers and supply chain, along with its focus on what customers want. So where does IT fit? Gregory Tucker explains how the IT of Zara enables the quick responses across the entire company, optimizing logistics routes and supporting the organizational strategy: Zara is just one example of how Information Technology supports the organizational strategy. It is particularly revealing because the organization actually has such a strategy, but it is not the only example. Wal-Mart Stores have been analyzed in great detail already, but one point worth examining is Wal-Mart’s use of bar-code scanners. The adoption of bar-code scanners is almost synonymous with Wal-Mart Stores, but the firm did not invent even become an early adopter. Kmart began adopting bar-code scanners at the same time as Wal-Mart in the early 80’s, and they were in use in grocery stores before that. However, Wal-Mart seemed to benefit more than anyone else. The firm integrated bar-code data into its logistics system faster than its competitors, and traded its bar-code data with suppliers in return for product discounts.3  The important point for Wal-Mart is the use of bar-code data integrated with and supported the rest of Wal-Mart’s logistical system as part of an integrated and self-reinforcing design. They were not one CIO’s pet project that was tangential to the rest of the organization. By supporting this link through keeping the CIO in the boardroom and thinking if IT as a strategic asset, companies can keep their customers in mind. The service of IT has expanded past keeping systems operational; it’s grown to a point of creating new and agile systems to support the business’ efforts.

About Anne Grybowski

Anne is a former staff writer for CAI's Accelerating IT Success, with a degree in Media Studies from Penn State University.

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