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Information Systems in the Business Decisions

Executive Summary

This business report relates to the information system applications in the business decision-making process. The business report is designed as a case study of an organization. The business organization selected for the study is Elkat International Food Services Pty Ltd, which is a Frozen Food retailer in NSW, Sydney. This case study focuses on the importance of the information system (IS) tools for the effective decision-making process in the organization and ultimately to the business growth of the organization. Information system helps business organizations in making crucial decisions. In the different functional level decision-making processes, IS tools are applied by the company. As the company properly manages the information system it helps the company in attaining the organizational objectives by way of timely decision-making and acting according to the decisions.

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Introduction

The Elkat International Food Services Pty Ltd is a prominent player in the food and beverages industry in Sydney. It acts as the agent of sellers and buyers in the industry. Together with this, it is also dealing in industrial and commercial machinery types of equipment as well as the seafood business. Technological services are also provided by the company (Elkat international food services pty ltd 2009).

In the competitive business world, decision-making is a complex process that is influenced by several factors. To take accurate and reliable strategic decisions, the influencing factors have to be properly analyzed. Various tools are available with the information system for assisting the decision-making processes at different functional levels. The information system is a system of wisely and effectively using the data and information for making important managerial decisions. The information system can be defined as “an organized collection, storage, and presentation system of data and other knowledge for decision-making, progress reporting, and for planning and evaluation of programs.” (Center for program evaluation and performance measurement n.d.).

In the food retailing industry, information system applications are an inevitable part of the business. Information management with the assistance of information system tools in the Elkat Food Services is discussed in deep to identify the importance and contribution of IS tools in the business growth of the company.

Findings of the research

Applications of information system techniques in the Elkat Food Services

Elkat Food Service is dealing with different types of business. Tocoordinateco-ordinates co-ordinate and control the entire functions in the organization, as well as its external affairs with the supply chain partners, data and information sharing is an essential function. Availability of data and information relating to the market conditions, customers’ changing tastes and preferences, and the market opportunities for expansion and new product development, is influencing the business growth of the company. To exploit the business opportunities, accessibility of real-time information is necessary for the business organization. In Elkat Food Services, advanced information system tools are employed for enhancing business operations. They are explained below;

Data Collection

In the food retailing industry, to take adequate and proper decisions, detailed market information is an essential factor. Therefore, information system plays a significant role in the collection, storing and using of the market information. The market information so collected is used for taking various managerial decisions. The company has a system of collecting information in which the customers, the general public, and also suppliers are involved. The company regularly conducts surveys separately for each of the above-said parties. The information so collected is processed and analyzed using different statistical and other tools and finally, they are used for taking various managerial decisions. The reason for processing the collected data is that the collected information may be raw. They are to be organized and made into a form that can provide valuable information to the management for decision-making.

Storing of the collected data

The data collected by using different information system methods are to be properly stored so that it can be made available for future decision-making and references. Elkat International Food Services Pty Ltd has a sophisticated system for storing the collected data. The company makes use of the technology for storing the data. The data and information are stored in computer systems in such a way that they can be accessed easily as and when required. Therefore, it has to be stored systematically. Otherwise, the easy retrieval of the required information will be a complicated task. The company stores different information under separate major heads. Under each major heads, there will be subdivisions which help the concerned people to get the required information easily, for taking decisions

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Using of the stored data

The collected data are used for different purposes. For example, the data collected by way of a survey of the customers are used for knowing the present position of the market, studying the need for any change in the product mix, analyzing the market share, and finding out the ways for improving the market share…etc. The data collected from the general public are used for making critical decisions regarding the environmental policy of the company, making decisions that have a direct or indirect impact on society…etc. The data and information collected from the survey of the suppliers are used for knowing the availability of the food items with different suppliers, whether there is a chance of interruptions in the supply of food items…etc.

Information system as an aid to the decision-making process in the organization

Information system acts as a very important tool for top-level as well as middle-level managers for taking various decisions which has a direct or indirect connection with the organizational objectives. The managers are expected to make decisions that help the company in achieving its objectives. “Decision-makers are expected to make decisions which have a positive effect on the future of their enterprises.” (Wiederhold 2009).

In today’s business situation, businesses are relying on various types of external data for the decision-making process. “Business is now mostly relying on the kind of information available and that can be collected through various sources both inside the industry and outside through personal contact or taking the help of Internet. However, both collection and analysis of data take time but are useful for long-term strategic decision-making. In case of short term goal companies often take the business decision without experimenting or analyzing too much and here they only depend on intuition.” (Business intelligence in decision-making 2008).

Advanced information system tools are applied by organizations for assuring accurate and reliable decision-making processes. Through website development, they incorporate the possibilities of advanced information systems in conducting the business. On the company website, detailed product descriptions are arranged together with the price. Thus customers can select the product online and put the purchase order. In the decision-making process, to connect with the partners in the supply chain system, links are arranged on the websites. Through this, direct connection with each of the partners in the supply chain is possible. While taking decisions on the purchase and delivery, this system is greatly useful for the company. Quicker contacts with the suppliers and customers are facilitated through the websites. With the assistance of computer managers, it is possible to procure quick and reliable quantitative information relating to the business and thus decision-making process becomes much effortless. “Businesses are highly interdependent, their suppliers, and their customers. Decisions are not taken in isolation. The effects of any decision will depend critically on the reactions of other groups in the market. These have to be, as far as possible, take into account before decisions are made.” (Organization- decision- making in business n.d).

The business decisions in the organization are mainly of three types. They are strategic, tactical, and operational decisions. In each of these decisions, different information system tools are applied by the organization for enhancing its effectiveness in the decision-making process. They are explained below;

Strategic decisions: These are decisions that affect the entire organization and involve decisions relating to the introduction of new products, expansion of business, etc. Through the advanced information system tools, the strategic decisions taken by the organization become much effective in meeting the business objectives.

Tactical decisions

In this category, decisions having short-term goals are involved. Decisions relating to product development and customer attraction strategies are effectively carried out by the company with the assistance of IS tools applied in the organization. Tactical decisions are required to be taken within a short period. Thus to ensure the effectiveness of the decisions, data must be reliable and accurate. Through the application of IS tools in the data collection and processing, accurate decisions within the short term can be taken by the organization.

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Operational decisions

This category involves decisions relating to the day to day business operations. In the company, decisions relating to the departmental transfer of funds and resources are greatly facilitated through the information-sharing tools adopted by the company.

For making business decisions “business organizations take help of operational data store and data warehouse that provide credibility and validity for analytical processing. However, human intervention is necessary for taking action. So the role of business intelligence in both these two cases is considerably less. It merely builds a data store to extract strategic business value from available data.” (Business intelligence in decision-making 2008).

Flow and management of information within the organization

In the company, for assisting the flow of information between different functional levels, information technology tools are applied by the company. Data sharing between the departmental managers are facilitated through a fax system. Data relating to the entire business functions are transmitted through email and voice mail.

Examples

For up-to-date data relating to the market conditions and data transfer between the parties involved in the supply chain of the business, Elkat Food services used the Dialog portal system. It allows the company to enhance its information management efficiency. “Dialog Portals, a next-generation information service that allows news, research, and competitive intelligence to be integrated into enterprise portals. Dialog offers the deepest and richest set of content choices and information services for integration into industry-standard portal implementations. Dialog Portals is compatible with systems offered by nine leading portals software and applications providers, the broadest array available from any information services company in the portals market.” (Dialog to highlight information-sharing technologies at enterprise content management conference n.d.).

Analysis of the findings

Application software is applied by the company for the storage, management, and restoration of the data. Business intelligence tools are employed by the company for collecting and analyzing information relating to the market and it helped the company to generate successful business strategies. In the age of communication and information technology, adequate and thorough knowledge about market opportunities can be collected through these tools. The data relating to market demand, customer preferences, sales, and customer service can be gathered and processed for taking adequate business decisions. It greatly supports critical decision-making in the business organization.

Information sharing

The website of the company acts as a tool for information sharing between the suppliers and the customers. Along with this, advanced data sharing techniques are employed by the company for assisting the better flow of information among the supply chain. Information sharing technologies are arranged in the organization. The company entered into a contract with a leading worldwide information service provider for applying integrated information system solutions in the organization. Through this, the decision-making process in the organization is highly improved. Online-based information services facilitate the decision-making process in the organization. Integrated information system solutions facilitate the gathering and processing of the data relating to the market situations on a real-time basis. Information sharing technologies available with the organization is empowering the decision-making process in the organization. “Problem-solving and decision-making are closely linked, and each requires creativity in identifying and developing options, for which the brainstorming technique is particularly useful.” (Problem-solving and decision-making 2009).

Recommendations

To enhance the decision support system, Elkat Food Services has to integrate its functional level operations in an optimum manner. While adopting different information system tools for assisting the decision-making process, the company has to assure its authenticity and accuracy for meeting the requirements. Data security may be affected by external influences such as hackers and thus adequate security measures should be employed by the company. In the data collection process, the reliability and accuracy of the data have to be assured. One thing to be noted is that while collecting the information, care should be taken to collect relevant and required information. “Relevant and timely information allows managers to make accurate decisions, irrelevant information makes decision-making difficult, adds to the confusion, and affects the performance of the company.” (Marie(Gina) de Alwis 2001). Application software is applied by the company for the storage, management, and restoration of the data. It requires proper identification and management otherwise it will be affected by the risk of overload.

Future directions that the business can take using the IS

To further enhance the decision support system in the organization, the company is planning to introduce Global Positioning System (GPS) technology. It will help the company to rectify the defaults with the existing system of collection and sharing of data and will improve its efficiency level.

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“Rapid advances in technology and an increased emphasis on data sharing, intelligence-led policing, and fusion center participation can result in an overwhelming volume of information for many agencies. One such technological advance is the rapidly expanding Global Positioning System (GPS) technology, which creates highly valuable sources of data that can improve decision-making.” (NGA privacy policy academy 2009).

Conclusion

The information system tools adopted by Elkat Food Services are contributing to its business growth and increased profitability. Up to date and reliable data and information relating to the market conditions facilitates the company to take adequate decisions for exploiting the market opportunity. It improved its business performance and thus profitability also. Enhanced data and information sharing between the supply chain partners helps to assure the delivery of the products and resources at optimum cost and time. Through the application of these integrated information system tools, the business performance of the company is greatly enhanced.

References

Business intelligence in decision-making 2008, RoseIndia, Web.

Center for program evaluation and performance measurement: information system n.d., BJA: Bureau of Justice Assistance, Web.

Dialog to highlight information- sharing technologies at enterprise content management conference n.d., Dialog, Web.

Elkat international food services pty ltd 2009, Alibaba.com, Web.

Marie(Gina) de Alwis, S & Higgins, SE 2001, Information as a tool for management decision-making: a case study of Singapore: literature survey, Web.

Organization- decision- making in business: interdependence n.d., Tutor2u, Web.

NGA privacy policy academy: GPS technology in policing: ride the wave to make better decisions 2009, Justice Information Sharing: U.S Department of Justice, Office of Justice Programs, 2009, Web.

Problem-solving and decision-making: simple processes for problem- solving and decision – making 2009, Businessballs.com, Web.

Wiederhold, G 2009, Information systems that really support decision-making: abstract, Portal, Web.

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