Computer systems: Has your business got the right system in place?

Developing and evolving technological systems means many companies are now looking to replace their current computer system with a more advanced system that is easier to operate. Businesses are always looking to improve their efficiency, and one of the best ways to do this is by introducing effective computer systems, which companies can rely upon to help them with the day to day running of the business. Virtually all businesses have some sort of technology, whether it be a simple customer database to a complete stock system, depending on the type and size of the business. Ever our small local shops will have some sort of computer system to monitor their stock.

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In our week 5 lecture, we looked at how crucial computer systems were to businesses and how important it was for a system to operate properly in order to have the desired effects. ‘The prospect of buying a small business computer system poses various traps’ [Freeman, 1980]. In the lecture, we found out why this was, analysing a case study of a book business called Craven Books, which had adopted a new computer system in order to help deal with an increasing customer base and growing demand. However, their budget was not sufficient to have a new system built from scratch, so a system from another company was taken and adapted to suit Craven Books’ needs. It can often be tempting for businesses to get their systems for the cheapest cost, but this can be very risky [Danian, 2015].

The new system at Craven Books did not work as planned however – staff did not understand how to use it, it was not counting stock correctly, and customers were being sent the wrong books. This was because, despite the system being designed to make life easier for the business by using advanced new technology, it simply was not appropriate for the business. The old system was much more basic, but it worked for their needs, and when they tried to upgrade to a more advanced system, the business did not operate efficiently at all, and eventually was closed down.

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The valuable lesson learnt from this case study is that, irrespective of how advanced or clever the computer system is, it needs to be appropriate for the business, otherwise it is not helpful at all. Take our small local shops for example, they probably use basic systems to monitor their stock count, which works well for them, but it would be useless for a larger business and vice versa. We discussed in the lecture about how problems like we saw with Craven Books could be avoided. One of the crucial mistakes Craven Books made was swapping their system over without any form of testing or phasing in. If they would have piloted or phased in the new system gradually rather than implementing it all at once, they may have realised that there were significant flaws and that it would not work for the business. Instead, they simply scrapped the old system and implemented the new one.

I now understand a great deal more about just how critical computer systems are to the successful operation of a business and how detrimental it can be to a business to have an unsuitable system installed. I think that as computer systems continue to develop and have more influence on businesses, it is important for companies to know exactly what they require and have a purpose built system implemented for them. Why not share your experiences of computer systems with me below?

REFERENCES

Danian, D (2015). 9 tips for purchasing computer systems for small business (online). Retrieved from http://www.powersolution.com/9-tips-for-purchasing-computer-systems-for-small-business/

Freeman, J (1980). A practical guide to Small Business Computer Systems

How much does the internet know about YOU?

When most of us open up our internet browsers and enter our details into some of our favourite websites, we never really give it a second thought as to where our personal information will end up. In recent years, internet privacy and identity has become an increasingly hot topic, with more and more people using the internet and entering their personal information to sign up to websites. This was the topic of our week 4 lecture and we looked at the importance of online security and the impact of digital identities. I am interested in this topic and I think it is important for internet users like you and me to understand exactly how our details are used and who can get hold of them once we hit that ‘Enter’ button.

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In recent years we have seen the merging of data between different websites. You can now log in to many websites simply by using your Facebook or Twitter details, even if you haven’t signed up to the site or even visited it before. Given the fact that Facebook alone is used by over 1 billion people [The Guardian], or 1 in 7 people worldwide, it is quite scary to think of how much of our personal information the internet knows. What’s more, many websites already recognise who you are simply by entering your email address. I experienced this first hand recently when I signed up to Creative Hive, a website I had never visited before. When I signed up, there was already a picture of me as my avatar, which was automatically used because my details were identical to the details I had entered on another website, where I uploaded the profile picture. Whilst I thought this was quite clever, I personally don’t like it and think it’s an invasion of my privacy. When I enter details onto a website and upload a picture, I trust them with my personal information and I don’t expect my details to be readily available to other websites. What do you think? Are you comfortable with this?

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In the week 4 lecture, we discussed the impact of our online identities and whether our offline and online identities are beginning to merge. I think this is definitely the case, with the internet being a lot less anonymous now than it was 10 years ago. Perhaps one of the best examples in recent years of this happening is the evolution of Google, who now own and control many different websites including the likes of YouTube. Previously, users would have separate usernames or identifications when logging on to these website, but now you must log in using your ‘universal’ Google ID, meaning instead of having lots of separate IDs, you now only have one. Not only that, but when signing up for a Google account, you are prompted to enter your full name, which is published whenever your post a comment on a Google owned website such as YouTube. This makes anonymity almost impossible and shows how the borders between our online and offline identities are becoming less and less.

What do you think? Is the internet invading our privacy and are our online and offline identities merging into one? Comment your thoughts below…

Oh, and why not check out this video discussing online security…

 

REFERENCES

The Guardian, (2014) Jemima Kiss (online). Available at: http://www.theguardian.com/technology/2014/feb/04/facebook-10-years-mark-zuckerberg

 

The world of online supermarket shopping

The way in which consumers shop with supermarkets has changed significantly over the last few years, and in the week 2 lecture we explored the transition of many supermarket businesses from a ‘bricks and mortar’ approach, in which the business is only present on the high street, to a ‘bricks and clicks’ model, where a business operates online as well as on the high street. We also looked at how the shopping habits of consumers has changed, with more people choosing to do their supermarket shopping online and have it delivered rather than visit a store in person.

The growing popularity of online supermarket shopping amongst consumers means more and more retailers are focussing their attention on providing an online shopping platform for customers. Over the years, all of the main supermarkets such as Asda, Tesco, Sainsbury’s and Morrisons have branched out and made online ordering available to customers. However, I was interested to discover that two of the relative newcomers in the supermarket industry, Aldi and Lidl, do not currently offer online shopping to their customers, despite their growing popularity. In the lecture, we discussed why this might be and it was suggested that, being discount stores, Aldi and Lidl may be focussing on delivering products at the cheapest possible price without incurring the extra costs that online shopping and delivery would bring.

Despite this, I believe that it is only a matter of time before the likes of Aldi will begin to offer online shopping to customers. Even as discount stores, they will still want to expand their appeal to more people and the potential to shop online is undoubtedly something that will attract consumers. In a study by IGD, 11% of shoppersmilk claimed that they do their main shop online, and I believe this figure is only likely to increase in the coming years due to the convenience and ease of online shopping. In the lecture discussions, many of us said that we purchased our shopping mainly online and have it delivered, rather than visit the shops. This was interesting to discover and perhaps suggests that online shopping is more popular with younger people than the rest of the population.

Some businesses are already taking advantage of this growing market. One such company is Ocado, an online supermarket with no high street stores. We looked at Ocado in the week 2 lecture and explored how they operated without having a ‘bricks and mortar’ presence like other supermarkets. In many ways, Ocado could be considered the Amazon of the supermarket world. Similarly to Amazon, Ocado doesn’t have any shops, and relies solely on its online presence for business. Despite this, Ocado has been relatively successful and in 2014 earned almost £1 billion in revenue [Ocado, 2014] .

In the week 2 lecture, we also looked at how online supermarket shopping could develop, and it was suggested that many services could be offered to consumers, such as setting up a recurring delivery, with the same shopping being automatically purchased and delivered to the customer every week or month. In the future, I think that many supermarkets will place more emphasis on the online shopping service they provide, given the growing popularity of this type of shopping.

Take a look at this news story exploring the world of online supermarket shopping…

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=RKJnF5QIaZ0

 

References

IGD, (2015) Vanessa Henry (online). Available at: http://www.igd.com/Research/Shopper-Insight/Pushing-online-shopping-growth-further/

Ocado, (2014) (online). Available at: http://www.ocadogroup.com/~/media/Files/O/Ocado-Group/documents/fy14-prelim-results-anouncement.pdf