Jim Watanabe looked around his new office. He couldn’t believe that he was the assistant director of information technology at Petrie Electronics, his favorite consumer electronics retail store. He always bought his new DVDs and video games for his Xbox 360 at Petrie. In fact, he bought his Blu-ray player and his Xbox 360 at Petrie, along with his surround sound system and his 40-inch flat-screen HD LED TV. And now he worked there, too. The employee discount was a nice perk 1 of his new job, but he was also glad that his technical and people skills were finally recognized by the people at Petrie. He worked for five years at Broadway Entertainment Company as a senior systems analyst, and it was clear that he was not going to be promoted there. He was really glad he posted his résumé on Monster.com and that now he had a bigger salary and a great job with more responsibility at Petrie.
Petrie Electronics started as a single electronics store in 1984 in San Diego, California. The store was started by Jacob Rosenstein in a strip mall. It was named after Rob Petrie, the TV writer played by Dick Van Dyke in the TV show of the same name. Rosenstein always liked that show. When he had grown the store to a chain of 13 locations in the Southern California area, the business became too much for Rosenstein to handle. He sold out in 1992, for a handsome profit, to the Matsutoya Corporation, a huge Japanese conglomerate that saw the chain of stores as a place to sell its many consumer electronics goods in the United States.
Matsutoya aggressively expanded the chain to 218 stores nationwide by the time they sold it in 2002, for a handsome profit, to Sam and Harry’s, a maker and seller of ice cream. Sam and Harry’s was looking for a way to diversify and invest the considerable cash they made creating and selling ice cream, with flavors named after actors and actresses, like their best-selling Lime Neeson and Jim Carrey-mel. Sam and Harry’s brought in professional management to run the chain, and since they bought it, they had added 15 more stores, including 1 in Mexico and 3 in Canada. Even though they originally wanted to move the headquarters to their home-base state of Delaware, Sam and Harry decided to keep Petrie headquartered in San Diego.
The company had made some smart moves and had done well, Jim knew, but he also knew that competition was fierce. Petrie competitors included big electronics retail chains like BestBuy. In California, Fry’s was a ferocious competitor. Other major players in the arena included the electronics departments of huge chains like Walmart and Target and online vendors like Amazon.com . Jim knew that part of his job in IT was to help the company grow and prosper and beat the competition—or at least survive.
Just then, as Jim was trying to decide if he needed a bigger TV, Ella Whinston, the CEO at Petrie, walked into his office. “How’s it going, Jim? Joe keeping you busy?” Joe was Joe Swanson, Jim’s boss, the director of IT. Joe was away for the week, at a meeting in Tucson, Arizona. Jim quickly pulled his feet off his desk.
“Hi, Ella. Oh, yeah, Joe keeps me busy. I’ve got to get through the entire corporate strategic IT plan before he gets back—he’s going to quiz me—and then there’s the new help desk training we’re going to start next week.”
“I didn’t know we had a strategic IT plan,” Ella teased. “Anyway, what I came in here for is to give you some good news. I want you to be the project manager for a project that’s crucial to our corporate survival.”
“Me?” Jim said, “But I just got here.”
“Who better than you? You have a different perspective, new ideas. You aren’t chained down by the past and by the Petrie way of doing things, like the rest of us. Not that it matters, since you don’t have a choice. Joe and I both agree that you’re the best person for the job.”
“So,” Jim asked, “what’s the project about?”
“Well,” Ella began, “the executive team has decided that the number one priority we have right now is to not only survive but to thrive and prosper, and the way to do that is to develop closer relationships with our customers. The person on the executive team who’s even more excited about this than me is John Smith, head of marketing. We want to attract new customers, like all of our competitors. But also like our competitors, we want to keep our customers for life, kind of like a frequent-flier program, but better. Better for us and for our loyal customers. And we want to reward most the customers who spend the most. We’re calling the project ‘No Customer Escapes.’”
“I hope that’s only an internal name,” Jim joked. “Seriously, I can see how something like this would be good for Petrie, and I can see how IT would play an important, no, crucial role in making something like this happen. So, what’s the next step in getting the project approved?”
- How do information systems projects get started in organizations?
- How are organizational information systems related to company strategy? How does strategy affect the information systems a company develops and uses?
- Research customer loyalty programs in retail firms. How common are they? What are their primary features?
- What do you think Jim’s next step would be? Why?
- Why would a systems analyst new to a company be a good choice to lead an important systems development effort?
Valacich, J. S., & George, J. F. (2017). Modern systems analysis and design (8th ed.). Boston: Pearson.