1. SQUARE BOOKS
Square Books is a well-established, global publishing conglomerate. The corporation is structured to allow each country of operation to function as an autonomous business unit, that reports back to head office. The data from each business unit is entered onto the mainframe computer at head office. Each business unit can make use of any service offered by other business units and can also offer services to the other units. The services include translation into different languages, typesetting, printing, storage and so forth. In each country of operation there is at least one, and usually several, retail outlets.
The core business was traditionally based upon the provision of fictional stories for the mass market. For the past decade Square Books has diversified into publishing textbooks and technical literature. The organisation currently enjoys a good reputation in both areas of the business and global sales are increasing annually at a rate of 5% for fictional books and 2% for textbooks. Last year 700 million fictional works and 25 million textbooks were sold.
The corporate management team wish to increase the growth in sales of textbooks but realise that they cannot afford to allocate significant resources to this task as the market, and profit margin, for textbooks is very much smaller than for fiction. They also wish to improve the sales performance of the fictional books.
Square Books is currently having trouble in maintaining a corporate image in some countries of operation. For example, several business units may be unaware of additions to the product range. Another example is that a price change in a book is not simultaneously altered by all the business units, leading to pricing discrepancies.
Some members of the corporate management team see possible advantages to upgrading the existing computer system to one that is fully networked. Other members are more sceptical and are reluctant to consider enhancing the system. Some members have also wondered whether big data could provide useful information to aid decision-making for Square Books, but others think there may be problems with actually using big data.
A. Discuss the issues involved in upgrading the existing information system and the proposed changes, with reference to both the wider business environment and the decision-making process.