Research Proposal: International Technology Management

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International Technology Management

Oasis Bicycles Case Analysis

Oasis Bicycles is faced with the dilemma of many globally-based manufacturers, which is how to scale across multiple manufacturing locations located in regions that have cost and customer-based advantages, while staying integrated as a company. Manufacturing centers in the Netherlands, China, Taiwan and potentially in the U.S. underscore the need for a telecommunication network that can integrate supply chain, order management, manufacturing and service-based processes while at the same time giving the company advantage of manufacturing in specific locations. In addition to the need for global distributed order management system and set of processes to ensure that when a bicycle is ordered in one geography its parts are sourced, its manufacturing scheduled and its delivery defined by the optimal set of constraints in the Oasis manufacturing network. This approach to collaborative order management based on manufacturing network constraints is critically important for companies to stay demand-driven yet lean-based in their production workflows (Alt, Gizanis, Legner, 2005). This is the most strategic issue facing Oasis Bicycles today as it has a direct effect on their ability to anticipate, respond to and fulfill demand. There are also the issue of change management and the need for the company to concentrate on alleviating the barriers to new system and process adoption. Third, the need for evaluating how best to integrate Web 2.0 technologies (O'Reilly, 2006) including social networking applications (Bernoff, Li, 2008) needs to be considered from a global collaboration standpoint as well.

Analysis of Current Manufacturing and New Product Development (NPDI) and Introduction Processes

At its most fundamental process level, Oasis is at risk of not being able to scale to meet the requirements of its increasingly diverse customer base, manage their supplier base to a high quality level, and also efficiently manage the new product development and introduction (NPDI) process. There are many factors contributing to the company being pulled in these three separate directions. Going after low manufacturing costs, locating regionally for better supplier agility, and managing customer's unique demands all pull the company in different directions. What is critically important however is for all of these strategies to be aligned to customers' requirements and needs, which is often called being demand-driven (Ettlie, Perotti, Joseph, Cotteleer, 2005). The organizational fit and structure as it relates to an Enterprise Resource Planning (ERP) system must also be taken into account (Morton, Hu, 2008). The question for Oasis is not necessarily how to define ERP functionality and modules, software components and specific applications, but more importantly which of these three strategic process areas needs the most work in becoming more efficient and customer focused. Only after Oasis can make each of these three process areas does the concept of customizing an ERP system for their needs make sense. For any large-scale transformation of an enterprise to take process, all processes must be aligned to a common objective, vision, purpose (Rothenberger, Srite, 2009). For Oasis, this needs to be centered on how to be demand-driven in each regionalized manufacturing strategy. The European market requires more standardization, while the American market requires extensive customization of mountain bikes. All of this translates into 25% of the company's customer base defining build-to-order bicycles. With one out of every four customers ordering a customized bicycle, the corresponding and related quoting of the custom bike, its order capture, and manufacturing all have to be compensated for as exceptions to the mainstream manufacturing processes. As a result of these variations in quoting, pricing, and manufacturing the company needs to have a scalable, well defined build-to-order process in place as well. This process is significantly different than their make-to-stock manufacturing process that is driven by their forecasted demand by common bicycle configuration. The build-to-order process and its front-end customer-facing processes, the quote-to-order process, require significantly different series of systems, processes and data integration points as well. When the quote-to-order process is considered the role of systems and process integration becomes even more critical to the success of Oasis. Add in the need for managing the 65 designers efficiently and giving them a global platform to collaborate on using Web 2.0 technologies, and the need for an IT architecture that is scalable enough to support wide variations in processes yet stable enough to support manufacturing planning is needed. The strategies of Oasis need to all be aligned on the customer and the resulting variations in ordering, quoting and manufacturing taken into account from a process basis first, and then automated so they are as efficient as possible. Of those ERP implementations successfully completed in China in the manufacturing industries, this focus on customer centricity and being demand-driven was one of the most critical criteria for success (Brown, He, 2007). Aligning supply chain, quoting, pricing and order management systems all to a common focus on the customer and staying agile and scalable enough to meet their unique needs is a strategic predictor of enterprise systems deployment being successful for the long-term (Ettlie, Perotti, Joseph, Cotteleer, 2005).

Once Oasis aligns processes to all support a customer-centric and demand-driven vision for the company, they will significantly reduce the risk of any transformational investments in IT, technologies and networks from failing (Brown, He, 2007). Oasis needs to begin with the definition of their IT infrastructure, defining the IT system and supply chain, manufacturing, selling and service process touch points all within a common architecture. This is often referred to as a Service Oriented Architecture (SOA) (Qiu, 2007). The intent of the SOA framework is to ensure all systems, processes and applications can operate from a common system of record so there is consistency of information throughout the company (Qiu, 2007). Many companies rely on ERP systems as their systems of record (Chan, Mills, Walker, 2008) yet this is not broad enough to take into account the wide variation in processes necessary for supporting quote-to-order and build-to-order workflows for customized bicycles. The build-out of an SOA framework will also give Oasis the opportunity to define secured telecommunications links between regional manufacturing centers more efficiently than if they did not have one in place. Second, the SOA framework will also be able to define which specific aspects of the network need to have Virtual Private Network (VPN) access in place for remote dial in and use of the databases, applications and query for order status and pricing, the development of quotes for custom configurations, and the managing of retailer and channel management workflows. All of these external processes to Oasis will need to have state-of-the-art network support including full security for Internet access to applications behind the firewall.

In addressing change management issues, Oasis is going to need to define a member of the senior management team to champion and lead first the process-reengineering effort, and second the long-term project of technology, systems and process integration. The single greatest predictor of success for any transformational IT strategy is the role of the leader who can change organizational structure to make the process and system modifications part of the new norm (Chan, Mills, Walker, 2008). This will be critical for resistance to change to be dealt with and overcome. There really is no substitute for being able to get to this level of commitment to a project, and the CIO, CEO and CKO of Oasis need to define who will champion the transformational process. Research shows that it must be a leader who has the authority to change existing policies, procedures, and processes and also make and keep commitments that will streamline the transformational process (Chan, Mills, Walker, 2008). They must also have an innate strength of process thinking and orientation along with a strong base of knowledge of IT and how processes can be made more customer-centric and profitable as a result. All of these attributes must also be continually reinforced and supported by other senior management team members if the champion of the change initiative is to succeed over the long-term, which is also a critically important aspect of overcoming resistance to change that ERP systems bring (Aladwani, 2001). Only by taking the responsibility of managing change of this magnitude, it is critically important that each person's job most directly impacted by the new systems and software, and the many changes to processes and procedures that often happen have an opportunity to contribute to their redefinition (Chan, Mills, Walker, 2008). By giving employees the opportunity to internalize these changes, there is a much higher probability of the transformation being successful over time (Aladwani, 2001) (Chan, Mills, Walker, 2008).

The rapid adoption of Web 2.0 technologies (O'Reilly, 2006) is predicated on the design objectives as shown in the Web 2.0 Meme map in Appendix A of this document. Underscoring the design objectives as outlined in Appendix A is the proliferation of social networking applications based on the core technologies of Web 2.0 including XML integration and the use of AJAX programming standards. Combined, XML, AJAX programming languages and technology advances being made as a result of Web 2.0 technologies is leading… [END OF PREVIEW]

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