An MIS is a computer system that collects data from various online landscapes, examines the information, and reports to assist the executive leadership of an organization in decision-making. It is a computer system that has incorporated both the hardware and software aspects of computing and it is applied in various departments of a company in different ways such as reporting, monitoring, operations, scheduling, and system planning (Tan et al. 167).
In the contemporary world, almost all multinational companies have installed such systems in their computer operations because it comes with several benefits. For example, it bolsters a firm’s competitive edge by managing the corporation’s weaknesses and other non-performing sections to increase its competitiveness over the rivals (Tan et al. 170). This system also helps in studying customers’ trends thereby revealing more data about them. Therefore, the establishment will be able to design a more effective promotional and marketing campaign. This paper explores a real-life company which has incorporated the use of MIS.
Selection of a Corporation
Walmart is one of the leading retail-based companies in the world. Its central base of operation is located in Bentonville, Arkansas in the United States and it serves consumers from all over the globe (Tan et al. 168). It was established in 1962 by Sam Walton, and it emerged as one of the companies with a significant market share in the retail sectors (Tan et al. 167). Its competitive landscape comprises of world-renowned firms such as Target, Amazon, Home Depot, and the Kroger Company. Its competitive advantage over these firms is its cost leadership strategy which incorporates elements of low prices to gain and sustain its current market share in the industry.
The firm has also adopted information systems to improve its operations and promote decision making. It has expanded its use of technology innovation in the management of its brick-and-mortar store in an initiative to effectively compete with Amazon. Recently, it announced an improved rollout of technologies ranging from in-store pickup to assist consumers in grabbing their online orders.
General Description of the firm’s MIS
The company has heavily invested in the field of technology and it implements a state-of-the-art information system. For example, in 1991, the firm financed a project worth 4 million USD to create an IT system referred to as a retail link system (Tan et al. 170). A significant percentage of its suppliers have been using this system to scrutinize sales of products at the store and also restock inventories. It has installed a Transaction Processing System which gathers, keeps, adjusts, and recovers information associated with the store’s transactions.
It adopts an Electronic Data Interchange (EDI) to eliminate the need for intermediaries when purchasing essential raw material (Tan et al. 171). This technology allows the suppliers to make copies of purchase orders and other sales information associated with products sold. Therefore, this resource enables Walmart to conduct forecasting, planning, shipping applications, and replenishing of depleted stock. Lastly, it applies a Decision Support System (DSS) to enhance its productivity, quality of decisions, interpersonal communications, and organizational control (Tan et al. 171). With these technologies at its grasp, Walmart is among the most successful retailers in the business world.
IT infrastructure of Walmart
This global business manages one of the most advanced computer hardware in the world. It has a huge data warehouse which has access to a hi-tech server that stores terabytes of information. Its data center is located in Bentonville and it is referred to as a data café. Since the retailer attends to the needs of millions of customers globally, it ensures the affordability of its commodities by managing massive cloud storage to examine the customer, competition, and market data. It also uses various forms of software packages, especially in its inventory management. Examples of these packages are Xero, QuickBooks, and other accounting software.
Another significant software that the retailer has adopted is Radio Frequency Identification (RFID). It is a technology that allows corporations to identify objects through radio waves (Tan et al. 171). As hardware, this resource comprises transmitter and scanner, alternatively known as interrogators. As a software, it has firmware that operates the readers and enables it to filter data that convert tags into meaningful information about inventories and the location of assets.
Walmart is among the retailers that introduced this technology to the trade market. Using this resource, this firm can identify and monitor stock levels. It has also enabled the company to identify the location and number of goods without the need for manually searching for them, thereby saving time. RFID tags also contain production and expiry dates of these products as they are more effective than barcodes (Tan et al. 172). Therefore, this technology has significantly impacted the performance and productivity of the retailer over the years.
The company has recently integrated artificial intelligence in its store. The technology was revealed at the Neighborhood Market in New York and is referred to as Intelligent Retail Lab (IRL) which incorporates the features of AI to indemnify inventory position and freshness of fragile commodities such as produce and meat (Tan et al. 172). The store also features cameras and sensors to generate diagnostics of customers’ movements and their preferred products. With these technologies, Walmart can focus on product inventory and adequacy where the teams in charge utilize real-time data to search efficiencies that will suggest the time to replenish products (Tan et al. 172). Since the customers shop more often in this store than other Walmart Superstore, several situations are tested. Therefore, the goal is to evaluate several options and formulate feasible solutions.
The cameras and scanners installed transfer events in real-time to the data center in the center. As such, the company generates approximately 1.6 Terabytes of data every second (Tan et al. 172). Generally, the implementation of AI systems in Walmart is regarded as a revolutionary process. The retail’s management is motivated by the desire to lead some of the store initiatives of Amazon. Therefore, the prosperity of the Neighborhood Market can be evaluated by its growth of sales and customer’s acknowledgment of the new shopping technologies installed in the storeroom.
Walmart has also invested in using updated, secure, and reliable operating systems (OS). For example, it announced a strategic partnership with world-renowned Microsoft Corporation which allowed Walmart to use Microsoft 365, Microsoft AI, and Azure to streamline its retail undertakings (Tan et al. 172). An investment in Microsoft Azure has improves Walmart’s cloud presence allowing it to capitalize on computer capacity. It has also enabled it to seamlessly handle assignments in a flexible environment.
Number of Devices used in Walmart
The retailer has installed several gadgets to improve its business operations. For example, the company is known for using smartphone technology to allow its associates to access its digital network. Robots have also played a vital in helping the firm to replenish its depleted stock (Tan et al. 173). These machines are also capable of finding and returning misplace commodities as well as monitoring inventory levels to facilitate the process of time management. A roaming robot navigates the store to collect information while also ensuring that price and shelf tags are precise (Tan et al. 173). The device can also inspect general produce departments once a day and visit foods and other consumables.
Database Dodels and their Impact on the Business
These are systems that store information in a manner that is organized and can easily be analyzed. There are several types of database systems that companies use, depending on their needs and workload such as Microsoft Access, Oracle, FileMaker, and many more. A corporation as big as Walmart benefits from using such databases to manage their data for decision-making processes (Tan et al. 173). The company uses cloud data to store items which are often ordered by the clients via shopping devices such as Google Home. The database helps the company to enhance its in-store operations as well.
Walmart’s data warehouse is perhaps is most considerable of all on the entire planet. This database has been kept secret for years as the company has always been concealing information associated with it. It is among the companies that have the largest, non-military database which holds information in the size of half a petabyte (Tan et al. 173). Since its inception, the retailer has been keeping hundreds of millions of clients purchasing billions of commodities. Therefore, the retailer has been using this information to uphold its cost-leadership strategy of keeping low prices. Its success in becoming one of the leading lucrative business is attributed to its database.
Its database has improved its organizational performance over the years. For example, it plays the role of a Decision Support System (DSS) because it enables the firm to processed data for making informed business decisions (Tan et al. 173). Throughout the years, the company has ensured the effectiveness of its database by hiring qualified personnel to manage and keep it functioning. The organization understands that achieving organizational goals required a talented team to help it achieve its objectives. For example, the company identified one individual to act as the project leader of the data warehouse. It has recruited talented persons to ensure the objectives of the database are aligned with the firm’s business model (Tan et al. 174). Database analysts have also played a vital role in ensuring the efficiency of the resource. these people have also worked with database individuals from every department of Walmart. In particular, they are responsible for extracting, transforming, and loading data into the databank.
Walmart’s database has also enabled it to improve the effectiveness of using other technologies incorporated by the company. These resources have formed an ecosystem where the database act as a centralized unit that governs and controls other technologies. For example, its Retail Link know-how cannot function without the assistance of the databank. Another technological resource that works alongside the centralized unit is the RFID (Tan et al. 174). The latter functions by scanning tags attached to products to read the information that has been stored in the database.
Network Technologies Adopted
These are a category of technological resources that are used to transfer data between two or more different points. They are used in almost all sectors of businesses as they come with several advantages. However, they are divided into several categories based on transmission and area coverage. For example, based on area coverage, there are several types such as Local Area Network, Metropolitan Area Network, and many more. In terms of transmission, network technologies exist in two categories such as multipoint and point to point (Tan et al. 174). Since Walmart is among the leading retailers in regard to percentage market share, the company has invested heavily in reliable and robust network technologies to ensure seamless flow of information.
Local Area Networks
The retail outlet adopts LAN technologies but also incorporates other elements of a Wide Area Network. These technologies allow it to connect to its central database based on the network features it adopts. The firm enjoys a wide range of benefits from using this kind of networking. For example, expensive resources such printers can be shared by other computers within its network while also enabling central storage in one place (Tan et al. 174). In addition, it incorporates the capabilities of WAN at the point of sales to facilitate communication with the distribution center or directly to the firm’s headquarters.
Another significant networking tool organizations use is Wi-Fi. It is a computer technology that allows computers and other wireless devices to connect remotely. In the case of Walmart, the retail has applied this technology in its warehouses. This resource allows the firm to effectively meet its inventory goals by allowing for the completion of orders, receiving stock, and outbound distribution (Tan et al. 173). It enjoys a number of benefits such as the ability to monitor inventories in real-time and maintaining accurate counts of stock. Moreover, it allows the firm to improve its online experience in several ways.
Relative to rivals, Walmart has been innovative in amplifying application use for customers generating almost 50% of its website traffic from mobile devices. The wireless connection allows its IT experts to improve its Pay application which was recently expanded to reach about 4,600 stores in the United States (Tan et al. 174). This technology allows the company to sense when a client enters the physical store and enables surfing of the store’s advertisements and offers, while also assisting with item locations. Interestingly, it allows the consumers to create a shopping catalog, use coupons, and contribute to the total cost of their shopping in real-time (Tan et al. 173). Therefore, wireless technologies play a vital role in enabling this firm to execute its retail initiatives.
In essence, Walmart’s application of RFID is significantly dependent on wireless technology. This resource would not be functional without a fast and reliable internet connection which enables it to track inventories in real-time. The retailer also manages one of the largest private clouds in the world. It receives and scrutinizes data from about 11,000 stores with an anticipated size of 40 petabytes of data (Tan et al. 172). With radio technologies, the company can effectively manage these gigantic data centers while also remaining vigilant to possible cybersecurity threats.
It is a confidential network within a company that is used to safely distribution company information and computer assets among the staff. It increases communication within a firm by facilitating easy access to significant information, databases, links, and classified information. In 2014, the retailer introduced one of the largest private networks, which facilitates both voice and video communication features (Tan et al. 175).
Its primary purpose to enable the connection between the retailer’s stores through audio and video conferencing. Moreover, it permits senior managers to get updates on the status of the stores, thereby enhancing the operation, control, and compliance with the firm’s policies (Tan et al. 173). Walmart’s intranet allows senior managers to relay vital information to the employees rather than actual visiting of stores. The intranet has also facilitated vertical, horizontal, downward, and upward communication (Tan et al. 177). Therefore, employees can communicate directly with their seniors while also sending and receiving messages from co-workers.
It is a computer network used by organizations to send and receive messages from partners, suppliers, and other customers. Walmart’s extranet is used to allow vendors to access the retailer’s inventory system. This tool has been significant in improving the store’s inventory management processes since it has helped its sellers to successfully manage their stock and supply chain (Tan et al. 177). In essence, its extranet has ensured seamless communication and coordination to achieve the firm’s inventory and supply chain goals.
Techniques for Securing Databases and Network
The advent of modern technology has made multinational corporations to be vulnerable to ever-changing cybersecurity threats. Therefore, data security is an important factor that organizations should consider and implement ways of improving it (Tan et al. 177). Walmart operates on a global scale which makes it susceptible to several security risks. However, it has adopted several ways to ensure the safety of its data in cloud computing.
For example, it deployed a data security and encryption model to safeguard its data over its international network. The company collaborated with SSH Communications, a certified brand in cybersecurity, to bolster its remote access and delivery end-to-end transfer of files throughout its global system (Tan et al. 177). The accredited brand in cybersecurity assisted the retailer to ensure cybersecurity in several ways. For example, it provided Walmart with SSH Tectia packages to secure classified organizational data in transit by installing an enciphered program, supporting various computing platforms, and several authentication technologies.
Another strategy adopted by the retailer towards cybersecurity is the training and education of employees. For example, the company has developed a tradition of assigning members to different teams to continually evaluate their system by attempting to hack into it. Additionally, the retailer also applied the security standards provided by the Payment Card Industry Data Security Standard (PCI DSS) (Tan et al. 177). The latter provides a framework associated with protecting an individual’s credit card details.
In conclusion, this paper has explored the information system technologies used by one of the leading retailers in the world. Companies in the contemporary world have adapted the fast-changing business landscape to incorporate the latest trends in technologies. It is because they have to continually revamp their competitive edge to remain relevant in the long-run. Walmart’s success in the retail segment has been attributed to several factors, more importantly, technology has played a vital role in its journey. It uses the most advanced technologies such as RFID and information systems to improve its inventory management processes.
It has been able to prevent theft and check-out time by using such technologies to keep its inventories replenished. However, as technology keeps advancing, cybersecurity threats also emerge. In response, the retailer has invested in cybersecurity measures to ensure it does not suffer the detrimental effects of cybercrimes. Moreover, it values training and education to ensure its workforce is informed on the best practices of cybersecurity to minimize the risk associated with data breaches.
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