Management Information Systems Essay

This essay has a total of 2667 words and 13 pages.

Management Information Systems

General Motors has several internal and external influences that are challenging them to
reduce their operating costs and become more efficient. In doing an analysis of the
General Motors using Porter's Competitive Model these influences become clear and
opportunities for the company to reduce costs and increase efficiency using information
systems becomes obvious. Porter's Competitive Model is a model used to describe the
interaction of external influences; specifically threats and opportunities that affect an
organizations strategy and ability to compete [Laudon & Laudon, 2005, p. 103].

Starting at the center of the model is the current industry, which includes General Motors
and their typical competitors, such as, Ford, DaimlerChrystler, and the Japanese [Laudon &
Laudon, 2005]. All of these traditional competitors are able to produce cars at a much
cheaper cost than General Motors.

Looking at the supplier portion of the competitive forces model, part of the reason
General Motors was unable to produce cars inexpensively in comparison to their competitors
was that they were producing a lot of their own parts. Their competitors were able to
purchase parts from outside vendors at lower prices. General Motors viewed this as an
opportunity and has since shed a lot of workers and factories and are currently searching
everywhere for the lowest prices on parts. Also General Motors was very slow at producing
cars because of old information systems and outdated processes. A lot of General Motor's
systems could not communicate with each other, which was causing a major lag in the
production of automobiles. By integrating these systems they were able to become faster
and leaner and were able to increase their customer focus [Laudon & Laudon, 2005].

In the competitive forces model, General Motors also has influence from new products and
services to reduce costs and increase efficiency. General Motors wants to experiment with
new ways to serve their customers, one of which was online shopping, allowing customer to
shop for car models and colors online and giving them dealerships in the area that were
currently in possession of the car they preferred. By utilizing the Internet, GM was able
to provide additional services to their customers and allow them to also purchase vehicles
online. General Motors also found an opportunity to build vehicles to order. This allows
them to reduce the cost of inventory and sales incentives by finding ways to make cars
that customers have actually ordered [Laudon & Laudon, 2005].

Another new technology-based service General Motors has been experimenting with is called
OnStar. OnStar is a navigation, Internet, safety, and communications capability that is
available on a majority of GM models. Customers have to subscribe to the service but with
the service they receive roadside assistance, stolen-vehicle tracking, and concierge
support such as making dinner reservations [Laudon & Laudon, 2005, p. 111]. OnStar is a
comprehensive service, however, has not been successful in gaining interest of a lot of GM

New entrants to the automotive market have been a threat to General Motors. Some of these
entrants include Nissan and Hyundai. Although, they have been around for a while, they are
increasingly gaining a large portion of the market and have been very efficient in product
development and bringing new models to the market quickly. In response to this threat
General Motors has attempted to stream line their product development portion of their
business. In the past, General Motors would have to go through several departments and
systems to take a car from design phase to actual production. The average was typically 48
months for this process.

After some analysis, General Motors has formed a single committee that now handles the
entire product development process. They removed all of their former design and
engineering systems and replaced them with a single system called EDS's Unigraphics
[Laudon & Laudon, 2005, p. 112]. Everyone involved in the committee has access to this new
system and are able to access from a web-based interface to share three-dimensional
designs [Laudon & Laudon, 2005]. It now takes General Motors approximately 18 months from
initial design to production.

Customers also play a part in the competitive forces model. General Motors still struggles
in changing potential and actual customers perception of the company from a second rate
automobiles compared to their competitors. With the Internet service and new product
development technique they hope to change this perception and bring new automobiles and
services to these customers.

Information technology has played a large role in the redesign of General Motors. They
have been able to successfully reduce operating costs by becoming more efficient and
competitive. They have integrated several systems and have stream lined internal processes
to reduce costs and have also utilized the Internet to gain new customers and aid in sales
of automobiles. General Motors will need to continue using information systems to gain
advantages over their competitors and to stay a major competitor in the automotive market.

Within the last few years preventing future terrorism attacks like the one that occurred
on September 11th has become a major concern for both citizens and the government of the
United States and globally. In response to this concern, governments and their
organizations have created massive databases of personal information on citizens and whom
they think could be potential terrorists. These databases have brought up questions of
social and ethical issues regarding citizens' privacy and rights in regards to the
information being collected.

Ethical issues are a concern on the individual level [Laudon & Laudon, 2005, p. 153].
Citizens need to be concerned about the information that is being gathered about them from
these systems and how it will be used. As individuals, we need to know if the information
being gathered about us by the government is going to improve our quality of life and
ultimately protect us or will it hinder our everyday lives. For example, the government is
keeping track of travelers that could be a potential terrorist, but some of that
information is not current and could cause a person to be wrongly identified. Another
major concern is that someone may steal information, such as, a hacker to use for purposes
of identity theft or harassment.

On a slightly broader scale there are social issues that surround the collection of
personal data. Bringing up questions of how the collection of personal data will affect
society and better society as a whole. If the information being collected helps to catch
someone that is going to blow up a building and kill people than it is our responsibility
to provide the government with this information. We all need to do our part in protecting
others from harm. However, the information could once again identify the wrong person and
then how will that person's name be cleared and will society reject them.

Some of the information being gathered also helps with traffic flow by recording the
number of cars and license plate numbers that pass through bridges or enter into a city
daily. This can greatly help society by reducing congestion, however, is gathering a
license plate number relevant to reducing this congestion.

The last issue concerns the government and political issues in collecting personal data.
The government's responsibility is to protect the citizens and they need to evaluate if
collecting this information is going to help or create a greater threat. By having all
this information integrated could make them an even bigger target for crime or will it
allow them the ability to weed through the millions of law-abiding citizens and catch
those that are a threat to society. The government needs to find what information is
really relevant and what information invades citizen rights. Some of the systems that they
discuss in this book seem to linger close to the line of invasion. Especially, Carnivore,
the system that watches at what citizens are looking at on the Internet lingers close to
that line. People want to feel safe but don't want to be watched.

Another challenge the government faces is the security of this information. If they put it
all together and it gets into the wrong hands and is used wrongfully then they have
compromised the safety of the citizens they are trying to protect.

Information Technology is allowing us greater and greater storage of information and some
of which is being collected without for sure use. The government needs to make sure that
all this information that is being collected and viewed is really useful. They also need
to make sure they accurately interpret the information and not flag the wrong person
without looking at all the facts. There is a thin line between invasion of privacy and the
information already being collected and it needs to be clear that it is for protection and
not for alternative uses.

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