The Commercial Real Estate Outlook for Agents and Realtors in 2012

The commercial property year has well and truly started, and in most locations formed some common trends and patterns. If you are a commercial agent it pays for you to read the patterns in the marketplace and use them for the opportunity they provide. Property change and churn factors are active in most markets. They are an opportunity in waiting.

These are some of the common trends that most agents are seeing:

  1. Sellers are now adjusting their prices to suit the real property market and the existing levels of enquiry
  2. Buyers are fewer and taking longer to make a decision. Some buyers are looking for bargains.
  3. Finance is still tougher to get and the banks remain selective and diligent in the provision of a mortgage to buyers.
  4. Tenants are out looking for better premises at more favourable rents
  5. Developers are not doing much unless they can see a significant demand for a certain property type
  6. Developers are finding in many cases that the set up and construction costs for the new developments is out of balance with the achievable sale prices

Taking these things on-board, it is the agent that works both the leasing and the selling market that catches more opportunity. You have to be versatile.

As this article is being written it is the start of the second quarter of the 2012 calendar year; it is commonly the time where more listings and deals occur leading up to the change of financial year.

Right now is the right time to push your marketing and networking to the fullest. Sellers and Landlords that need help with property this year are typically planning that process right now.

So the best ways forward if you are an agent is to build a solid prospecting and cold calling model that is relentless in its process and drive. You have 8 months of the year to make the commissions that you need. Now is the time to get moving on this as it takes about 3 months of real effort before the conversions and listings start to appear.

Should you list everything that comes your way? Probably not, given that the market and buyers or tenants are so selective currently. It is better to choose the properties to list that are realistically priced or rented. You only have a certain amount of time to apply to your listed properties, and on that basis they should be the properties that offer the most realistic chance of selling or renting.

On one final note, it is appropriate to look at your listing strategy and decide if you should be taking open listings or just exclusive listings. In the case of exclusive listings, you have control of the property for a definite period of time and you can do more in marketing. In simple terms and in most cases exclusive listings sell faster and at a better price than openly listed properties. Make the right choices here.

The Importance of Having Physician Lists Handy

Selling pharmaceutical products, medical equipment and services is the niches’ niche. Previously companies and corporations that handle these sort of business transactions often do their marketing internally or have special relationships set up with either health group collectives or certain factions of government supported or aided organisations. Like other businesses, giant pharmaceuticals to even smaller retailers or wholesalers of medical equipment and services (including pharmaceutical grade drugs) have shifted part of its marketing strategies to the virtual worker – where the internet and offline direct marketing can increase their reach and profit margins. This is where the importance of having physician lists handy would be applicable to the direct marketing manager – giving them a highly targeted and volumous list of potential sale leads.

The amount and variance of products that can be found within this niche market is both wide and sometimes overlapping. From general practitioners to dentists, there are many products that either have a general market appeal or specialised products that can enhance the methods and operations of specialist medical practitioners all over the world. Because the lists are highly concentrated and more often than not verified multiple times, you are ensured of having a several groups of potential clients you can use to call and follow up on.

The medical industry is booming all over the world – with U.S.A being a prime example of a country that is on the cutting edge of the medicine. Many companies and laboratories are coming up with newer, better and more advanced methods and traditional means of information dissemination just cannot keep up with these developments. These companies are reviewing their methods of personal door to door selling or direct mail – because of the limitations of their workforce and the time taken for leads to be generated. Product insertion into the marketplace also takes quite a bit of time with this method.

This is where the internet comes in, especially with the advances of online marketing and digital fax – an ability to reach over thousands of prospective in a short period of time. Having a physician list handy means you can acquire and target which market to sell to and how the brand of the product you are selling can resonate with certain individuals. It also allows the direct marketing agent to target several overlapping markets and introduce new, revolutionary products that have a wide application. Marketing by its nature should never be limited and having as wide and as targeted a reach as possible means better sales and more leads.

Invest in a good physicians list – it can mean make or break, especially when you are dealing with such a niche market. Competition is quite stiff as well as you have quite a number of corporations jostling for selling space both offline and online. Lists like these have changed – becoming marketing necessities rather than just a complement to strategy. Specifics work wonderfully here and they have helped a lot of people make a tremendous amount of money just working from home.

Choice of E-Cigarette Cartridges

It is a fact that technology is fast growing increasing convenience and affordability. E-cigarettes are no exception. They are a replacement to normal tobacco cigarettes which inconvenience others. They generally have cartridges in them that contain nicotine in varying concentrations. There are different types of e-cigarette cartridges available. You can choose one as per your wish.

Electronic cigarettes or e-cigarettes are machines that resemble normal cigarette and give you the same kind of taste and flavour. E-cigarettes have cartridges of different types which are used for smoking. These cartridges contain nicotine in different dosages. There are also different flavours available in the cartridges. To know which one is right for you, first know the various types of cartridges available. In the market, currently there are three types of e-cigarete cartridges available- one, two and three-piece. All of them have their own positive and negative points. You choose the right cartridge depending on your machine and your preference.

One-piece e-cigarette cartridge

These are disposable type of e-cigarete cartridges. You throw it after use. You can use it to test an e-cigarette machine and decide if it works for you. There is a pre-charged battery that comes along. So you can use this immediately after buying. However, remember to dispose the battery along with the e-cigarete cartridges after use. To activate the battery, twist the battery or remove the safety tab so that the battery gets started. Pour the liquid into the atomizer and it is ready for use. This type of cigarette cartridge is cheap and easy to use.

Two-piece e-cigarette cartridges

Also known as cartomizer, the two-piece it can be refilled whenever needed. They are very convenient to use. You must remember to recharge the batteries from time to time and replace the liquid in the e-cigarete cartridges. However, if you use these types of e-cigarette cartridges on a regular basis then the atomizer will wear more quickly than other varieties.

Three-piece e-cigarette cartridges

This type of e-cigarette cartridges contains a battery, liquid and atomizer. This is the most preferred among all other cartridges by long-term smokers. Some beginners also prefer this because it is easy to use. These types of this are refillable and users can also modify them. However, one disadvantage of a three-piece e-cigarette cartridge is that it wears out more quickly than two-piece e-cigarette catridges. This is because the combined performance decreases due to continuous use.

Consumers are hard pressed for choice with these three different types of e-cigarete cartridges. While each one has some advantage, they also have some disadvantages. To decide the right type among all the e-cigarete cartridges for you, consider the number of times you smoke and your budget. If you keep buying cartridges from time to time then it will be an expensive venture. It may prove more expensive than buying tobacco cigarettes.

Car Rentals is a Must For Every Traveler

The Gold Coast is an ideal holiday destination for you and your family. It has everything that can make your holiday down under a memorable one. The Gold coast is arguably the best tourist destination in Australia with almost 10 million tourists enjoying its fabulous surf beaches, unparalleled theme parks and dense rainforests every year.

The most visited tourist spot in the Gold Coast is Surfers Paradise. The place offers you with many entertainment options to explore. You can indulge in various exciting activities like surfing, jet skiing, fishing and parasailing during your trip to Surfers Paradise. Apart from these, Surfers paradise is also well known for its active nightlife and unmatched facilities for beach volleyball, golf and bungee jumping.

Along with the surfers paradise, you will find many other tourist attractions. The American Style Theme Parks are few of them. These parks have in stored some of the most exciting options for you and your family. Dreamworld, Movieworld and Wet n’ Wild are the three most famous theme parks in Gold Coast. While planning a trip to these parks, make sure that you have ample time in your hand because these parks are too big and too wonderful to be done with in a single day.

Gold coast is also the home of some of the most incredible architectural masterpieces. The Q1 Building (world’s tallest residential building), Gold Coast Arts Centre, Ripley’s Believe It or Not Museum are the finest examples. You can’t even afford to miss out the attractions like Tropical Fruit Farm, Sea World and Currumbin Wildlife Sanctuary, during your trip to Gold Coast.

Car rentals gold coast is one of the ways to witness and admire the real beauty of all the tourist attractions. By renting a car, you can visit all these places at your own will. There are many car rentals options that are available for you in Gold Coast. You can go for one way car rental plan, which includes picking the car up from one place and dropping it to the other location. Generally, this plan is preferred by people, who hire cars between airport locations. Another one can be two way rental, which is normally taken up by tourists.

During peak seasons, you might also get some bonus or special offers on your car rental plan. In spite of the plan you choose, make sure that you negotiate with the car rental company.

After all, at the end of the day, it is your money!

What Should You Ask Your Contractor About Your Bathroom Remodel?

One of the best ways to make a noticeable change in your entire home is to remodel one or more of your bathrooms. Although the process may seem a little intimidating at first, you can make everything go as smoothly as possible by asking the right questions before you get started. If you want to avoid unnecessary interruptions and confusions throughout the process, you will to make a list of important points to discuss with your contractor before they even start the job. Here are a few things that you should talk about:

What Type of Remodel Do you Want?

Before you even pick up the phone to start shopping for a contractor, think about what type of remodel that you want. A simple remodel can consist of a new coat of paint and new fixtures, while a complete bathroom overhaul is much more extensive. Decide how extensive you want your remodel to be, determine your budget and then call your contractor to talk about the specifics. They will be able to help guide you through the process from there.

How Much Will It Cost?

While this is a very important aspect of conducting a remodel, you should always make sure to balance cost with the quality of your contractor. You will want to choose someone who is reliable, skilled and has extensive experience working with bathroom remodels. That being said, make sure that you talk with your chosen bathroom remodeling company about the total cost of the project. They should be able to provide you with at least a very close estimate to what the total cost should be. Some will even provide you with a firm bid after doing a full assessment. Always be up front with how much you have to spend on any given project, so that you can be on the same page from start to finish.

How Long Will It Take?

In addition to a cost estimate, you should also ask your builder for a time estimate. While a simple bathroom remodel could take just a few hours, a total overhaul could take several weeks. Because the bathroom is a very important room in your home, you will want to have a fairly clear idea of how long it will be until you can use it again. After you have an idea of how long it will take, come up with a plan to make sharing the other bathroom or bathrooms in your home much easier while you remodel.

In the end, completing a hassle free bathroom remodel relies on constant, clear and honest communication from both you and your contractor. To make sure that you are getting what you want, at a price within your budget, you must communicate these needs to them. Because your bathroom is such an important room in your home, you can’t afford to be vague, unsure or silent about any of the aspects of the remodel. If you follow these tips, and work closely with your chosen remodeling expert, you can expect a bathroom remodel that meets your expectations from start to finish.

Compare e Cigarettes – Manual and Automatic

E cigarettes are catching on real fast as healthier alternatives to smoking conventional cigarettes due to their many advantages over ordinary rolled tobacco cigarettes. Let us compare e this – both manual and automatic and see what each one of them has to offer to the smoker, their advantages and disadvantages.

When you compare this to conventional cigarettes, these are the clear winners due to the many advantages they have over conventional rolled cigarettes. To begin with, those claims that e cigaretes are healthier – they are true. E cigaretes do not work by burning tobacco like ordinary cigarettes do, they use a cartridge and a heater, a cartridge is basically a little container that contains a little substrate that is soaked in e cigarette fluid. A heater heats up the cartridge and the fluid gets vaporized and you have to inhale these vapors. When you compare e cigaretes to conventional cigarettes, the sensation is real and there is no difference between actual cigarettes and e-cigaretes.

But let us compare e-cigaretes of two types, manual and automatic. The first e-cigarettes that made their appearance were in fact manual. A few of these are still available, although they are becoming increasingly getting rare. Today’s e-cigarettes are practically indistinguishable from real cigarettes in terms of looks at least. They are made to resemble and feel like real cigarettes as closely as possible. When you compare e cigarettes of today to the e-cigarettes that were there a few years ago, you will see a huge difference indeed. Today’s e-cigarettes are much better than yesteryears’.

When e-cigarettes first made their appearance, they were awkward devices. They were heavy and didn’t really feel right. The technology was still in its infancy. Now when you compare e cigarettes to actual cigarettes, the mechanism of working is different and the e-cigarette uses a heater. This heater is an electrical device. And like all electrical devices, it needs to be activated somehow. And the way to activate the heater is by pressing a button. The button activates the heater and this is what makes the e-cigarette work.

The next improvement in e-cigaretes was when the e-cigaretes went automatic. Now there was no need to press a button, you just had to drag on it like you would with a conventionally cigarette. That is all you had to do to make the cigarette work. Now if you compare e cigaretes of the automatic and manual type, one thing becomes clear. The automatic type feels closer to home. You don’t press a button when you smoke a real cigarette do you? Some people are under the wrong impression that there is a lag in the drag operated automatic e cigaretes, but this is not an issue at all.

How an Online Travel Agency Help in Planning your Trip

Through the Internet, people today can look for information about any product or service they need in a fast, easy, and convenient way. For instance, if you’re planning a cruise trip, you can use search engines to find a website that offers travel packages. These travel agencies’ websites provide details and anything you need to know about cruise vacations. To know more about this, here are some facts on how an online travel agency can make planning your trip easier.

When browsing a travel agency’s website, you can find information on available itineraries, cruise tours, and shore and rail excursions. Through this platform, you can input details on where you like to go, when and how long you prefer to travel, and which departure port is most convenient for you and your group. Read through the agency’s travel insurance policies posted online to know if these cover medical expenses, trip cancellation, baggage damage, and other possible emergency situations.

Like your local travel agencies, online experts provide basic information about what a cruise trip, for example, entails.

They post information about pre-travel requirements, onboard experiences, activities, and amenities, as well as the different ports you and your fellow passengers can visit during the trip. They also give an overview about the life aboard a cruise ship: the dining options, accommodation arrangements, planned activities for people of all ages, and facilities and amenities for relaxation and entertainment.

An online travel agency Minneapolis has to offer also provides a wide range of options for specific cruise lines and ships.

You can choose a luxury, premium, contemporary, or specialty cruise line that suits your budget, adventure needs, and travel preferences. You can view cruise ships’ deck plans, onboard activities, sophisticated environment, and thus decide which travel package will work best for you and your group.

To maximize your budget, consult an experienced travel agency St Paul residents go to for special offers and competitive prices. You can read through their current promotions and get discounts from cruise lines or land-tour operators in their business network. You can also choose a wonderful cruise vacation package inclusive of full cruise fare, pre- and post-hotel accommodations, and other add-ons through their website.

Websites in general serve as a reliable source of information for people. With online
travel agents Minneapolis companies employ, you can plan your trip faster and in a considerably more convenient way. Through their website, you can also subscribe to email promotions, access quick links, and learn about a desired trip with a few clicks. These make planning a big, budget-friendly adventure easier.

Get That Perfect Pair of Horse Boots to Enjoy a Smooth Ride!

People fond of riding horses very well understand the importance of good horse boots. A horse riding boot is footwear worn for the purpose of riding on horses. Classic riding boots have been used since ages immemorial and refer to those that rise as high as the knees to protect the legs from being pinched by the leathers of the saddle. These boots also have a well-built toe that protects the rider’s feet when on the ground, and are also combined with high heels prevent riders from slipping through the stirrup.

But again all boots are not the same. There are several different kinds of horse riding events or sports and there are different boots to go with it. Wearing the correct horse boots for a specific sport or style is an essential element for each horse rider. It has been seen all throughout history that most societies have used horses combined with special clothing and boots in order to make best user of the horses. There are different sorts of boot styles and a very famous one amongst those is paddock boots. These boots have always been associated with aristocracy and luxury and have been worn by very famous people. Paddock boots use laces on the front and a heel.

Though there are various sorts of riding boots; horse boots are mainly divided into two categories, namely English and Western. The English boots are made with soft leather that is of high quality. English boots consist of different styles like tall boots that come up to your knees and paddock boots that come just above the ankle and provide the lower leg with more flexibility. The long ones also come in different styles and look quite graceful.We also have Jodhpur boots that are worn with Jodhpur trousers that come down to the ankles.

The Western boots are also available as long and short types. They are normally made of leather with a solid heel and sometimes have a decorative pattern on the calf area. Western boots always will come up to your calf. These are usually made of cowhide but sometimes even materials like alligator or snakeskin are used. Perfect and suitable horse boots are very important both for the rider as well as the horse to avoid accidents and injuries.

What Is the Big Deal About Shopping for Cheap Shoes and Women's Sandals?

Well, it’s because most all women love to shop for shoes; your outfit is not complete with out that perfect pair of shoes. But in today economy we don’t have a fortune to spend. So buying cheap shoes becomes a major factor but at the same time we are not willing to give up on the quality and style. Lucky for us we don’t have to there are many online shoe stores that cater to our needs, offering various styles of Women’s sandals, Fashion Boots, pumps, wedges, casual flats and many more giving women what they want without having to sacrifice quality to deliver low cost

The benefit of shopping on line:

Well that’s is an easy one, its cheaper, faster, and the online stores are open 24/7 to allow you to shop at your convince and when you have few minutes to yourself. Plus the online shoe stores have a much larger inventory then a department store. So the chance are you will find your dream shoes at one online store that will soon become your favorite, so remember to bookmark it.

Tips to keep in mind while shopping for shoes

You always what to consider Comfort, style, needs, occasion and outfits are the major tips that should always be at the forefront of your mind when you go shopping for shoes just like we make our lists to go the grocery store, same concept different item!

Successful shopping to enjoy the maximum benefits:

–keep your wardrobe update with the latest styles and trends like heeled sandals, flats, wedges, peep-toe sexy sandals, beautiful pump, stylish thongs, fabulous flip flops etc. but always choose the style that fits you and your personality

–Shopping for the occasion is also an important factor to consider. If it is for a night on the town, a pair of stylish stilettos or platform pumps will do to give you sexy appeal. But if you planning a trip to the beach or a stroll through the park you might want to consider a pair of cute and comfortable flat women’s sandals, a pair of flip flops or even a lovely pair of low wedges will fit the bill. What ever the occasion don’t just settle, find the perfect pair that shows off your personality, your outfit and matches the need for the shoes.

–Choose a pair of footwear that matches most of your outfits for everyday ware. But if it’s a special event then shop for shoes that will well match your selected outfit, giving you the stylish flair you are looking for, with an evening gown, a nice pair of any high heel sexy sandals will be the perfect cherry on the cake to keep you in the limelight. For any casual outfits like sundress or caprices, slip into a pair cute and sassy womens wedges that are all the rage right now.

–And of course comfort is the utmost important thing to consider while picking a pair of women’s sandals. Make sure they fit property, the shoes should fit you comfortably and easy to walk in, after all we are not all made for walking in 6′ stilettos, but hey then there are those ladies that are. Whatever your choice I am sure you will be able to find them at an online shoe retailer that stays on top of all the fashion trends at affordable prices,

Owning stylish beautiful shoes should be the right of every women, and stylish beautiful shoes can still be high quality cheap shoes

Have FUN!! And enjoy your shopping trip

The Strategic Use of Information Technology

TEACHER: Hello, Student. What do you know about Information Technology (IT)?

STUDENT: Well, I know that most software is full of “bugs”! By the way, why are these errors in programs called “bugs”?

TEACHER: Computer “bugs” have been around since malfunctions in a 1945 Mark II were blamed (facetiously) on a moth trapped in a relay. Nowadays the term refers to programming flaws -commands that don’t accomplish the desired result. But I am sure you must know more about IT than the fact that programs have bugs!

STUDENT: Recently I read an interesting article written by John Diebold years ago. Allow me to quote from it:

“Information technology . . . is becoming increasingly the key to national economic well being, affecting virtually every industry and service. One would be hard-pressed to name a business that does not depend on the effective use of information: to design products and services, to track and respond to market demands, or to make well-informed decisions. Information technology will change the world more permanently and more profoundly than any technology so far seen in the history and will bring about a transformation of civilization to match.”

TEACHER: Interesting. There is no doubt that information technology is currently a major force with the potential to affect a range of organizations in fundamental ways.

The impact of information technology on business operations has been enormous and will increase substantially.

There is no doubt that a shift from an industrial economy to an information oriented service economy is under way; and no one knows when the process will slow down.

In essence, scale and the conventional dimensions of time, space, and mass will no longer be constraints on the products of the information age. Unlike the standardized product created for the mass market of the industrial age, the electronic delivery of banking services, for example, is scale-independent and intangible, provides instantaneous service, and is not bound by the physical location of the bank.

STUDENT: AmbaiU’s online courses are a good example! Students from all over the world can instantly access the courseware. The dramatic growth of the Internet’s WWW service has Uncategorizedly been an important factor in the growth of IT in general.

TEACHER: True indeed. Environmental trends like globalization and heightened international competition are speeding the movement toward increased IT use by corporations. The exigencies of worldwide coordination of operations and the need to react rapidly to global competitive threats have emphasized the importance of IT in the current business context. Dramatic technological developments in hardware, software, databases, and telecommunications have simultaneously pushed the utilization of IT further along.

STUDENT: So, is the sky the limit for IT?

TEACHER: Not exactly. At the same time, several factors are militating against the rapid deployment of IT. Among these are the still-slow development of appropriate software, long-standing difficulties in quantifying IT benefits (for justifying IT investment), issues of database integration, and the lack of standards (for the purposes of inter-organizational connectivity).

STUDENT: I also think that there was “over-investment” in IT in the last decade of the 20th. century and even at the beginning of the 21st. And what about IT and Strategic Management?

TEACHER. True, we are primarily concerned with the likely impact of information technologies on the practice of strategic management. The reason for adopting such a perspective reflects a fundamental belief that information technologies can potentially influence the core of a firms activities: Choices pertaining to products, markets, and technologies (the corporate strategy level), as well as competitive methods within each of the product-market segments (the business strategy level).

STUDENT: I assume this is why the role of information technology is becoming broader than that of the traditional Information Systems (IS) function, and is becoming a general management concern and challenge.

TEACHER: Good observation. We will consider three linkages that interconnect three important concepts -strategic management (SM), information technology (IT), and the management information systems (IS) function.

* Link 1: Management Information Systems with Information Technology

According to the traditional view, IS is a service function (just as accounting, human resources, or industrial relations) which is charged with the task of efficient data processing and administration of the management reporting and control systems. According to such views, systems are designed to cater to the informational requirements of different managerial roles and are identified using standard informational requirements assessment methodologies. In consequence, systems are evaluated using criteria such as timeliness, format quality, and reliability, reflecting the technical capability of the system. The implication is that the role of IT was conceived largely as the technical core of the MIS function.

Consequently, the important characteristics of this linkage were hardware and software support for the information architecture, and flexibility of design to support minor modifications in the information requirements or to respond to the fast-changing technical core of the system’s hardware.

The strategic planning level, by virtue of its unstructured nature of decision making, received minimal support from the traditional conceptualizations and role definitions of IS.

Link 2: Strategic Management with Information Systems

The description of Link 1 reflects a view that the charter of the IS function was derived directly from the informational resource assessment and had no explicit linkages with strategic choices at the corporate and business levels. This view was representative of the actual situation until the late 1960s and early 1970s, when the need to tailor the design of MIS to the requirements of the organizational strategic context gained currency. In 1968, McKinsey & Co. published a report titled Unlocking the Computer’s Profit Potential that called for a formal link between the design and implementation of MIS and the firms strategies and objectives. This publication urged managers to visualize the role of computers in business organizations as something beyond a data processing resource at the operational level of the organization and more as a mechanism that supports their strategy.

STUDENT: Even before that McKinsey report, William King proposed that the “IS-strategy set (composed of IS objectives, IS constraints, and IS design strategies) should be derived from the “organization’s strategy set” (composed of organizational mission, objectives, and strategies).

TEACHER: You are a well read student, indeed!

STUDENT: You might remember that I come from an “IT family.” And I keep hearing a complaint from my IT relatives: while there is concern within the MIS discipline to ensure that MIS is designed in accordance with the strategic contexts of the firm, the link in the other direction, from the corporate strategic context to MIS, is still largely ignored.

TEACHER: True, but this is changing rapidly. Also, several authors have called attention to the possibility of exploiting information and information systems for strategic advantages. As William King noted in an editorial comment in the Management Information Systems Quarterly,— Information (and IS) has the potential to be a primary source of (competitive) advantage in the marketplace rather than merely as a resource to be efficiently managed or a service that is periodically turned on and off as needed.

STUDENT: Can we then assume that many see the link between strategic management and IS today as a bi-directional, mutually interconnected link, implying a strategic role for the IS function?

TEACHER: Certainly, and it was about time. In a transition towar
d a strategic role, the goals and tasks of the management information systems function undergo an important transformation. The systems are no longer viewed in terms of informational support for operational decisions, but rather in terms of the realization of the organization’s strategic objectives, especially the achievement of competitive superiority in the marketplace.

Information systems with a charter to achieve competitive superiority are called “strategic information systems” and differentiated from the more operationally focused MIS. Indeed, MIS has been traditionally concerned with the operational control systems for relatively structured decisions based on readily available, internal data. In contrast, strategic information systems are designed to support relatively unstructured decisions, especially those that are intricately tied to the activities of the market-place.

STUDENT: I hear that usually such decisions require a combination of internal and external data that: are neither well structured nor completely specified.

TEACHER: Exactly. Although a perfect demarcation between management information systems and strategic information systems cannot always be made, the conceptual distinction is important enough to be recognized just as the conceptual distinction between strategic and operational decisions.

Let me mention some examples of strategic information systems operating at real companies:

American Airlines : SABRE reservation System -installed in most travel agents for booking airline, hotel, and rental car reservations.

American Hospital Supply Co.: ASAP-order entry system-installed in over 4500 medical establishments to order supplies on-line. The system is internally interconnected to several supporting systems

Citicorp Extensive use of automated teller machines and global transaction network. Several systems that support their strategies for electronic banking services.

McKesson Corp. Economost -order entry system that supports customers with inventory control and analysis of sales.

United Airlines APOLLO-Travel agency reservation system with several augmented services installed in about 7700 agencies.

Student, can you think of specific strategic objectives any of these companies have achieved through IS?

STUDENT: Well, I am sure that SABRE provides American Airlines with critical operating data that can be used for strategic decisions; travel agents hooked on to SABRE are likely to book on American more than other airlines.

TEACHER: Yes, some much so that the US government has stepped in and put some limit’s on SABRE’s propensity to favor AA!

Strategic information systems achieve their objectives through several mechanisms, but two deserve special attention. These are: (1) the reconfiguration of the information flows within an organization to provide competitive advantages relative to competition, and/or (2) development of inter-organizational systems that extend beyond the traditional boundaries of a single focal organization.

STUDENT: Are these modes are mutually exclusive?

TEACHER: No, but we will discuss them independently.

Reconfiguration of Information Flows

Let us consider the case of an airline that uses timely data to increase its load factor -perhaps the single most critical factor for achieving success in the airline industry. By developing a strategic information system designed not only to continually collect data on flight bookings, but also to compare current sales against historical patterns, the airline can instruct its own ticketing agents (as well as travel agents) to modify the number of discount seats available on a particular flight depending on the current level of advance bookings.

STUDENT: By the same token, I guess that similar benefits can accrue to a hotel, where a key determinant of competitive performance is the occupancy ratio.

TEACHER: Correct. And the basic notion of timeliness of information can be extended from the context of the service sector to the manufacturing sector. Consider the case of an oil company which is able to communicate with its dealers directly and instantaneously as oil prices change to ensure minimum delay between the setting of prices in the headquarters and its realization at retail outlets.

STUDENT: But in these illustrations IT does not influence the fundamental strategic business choices.

TEACHER. Correct. However, the implementation of such decisions through organizational hierarchy and channels is facilitated through the use of IT, leading to improved strategic results.

Inter-organizational Systems Inter-organizational IT applications highlight the potential to achieve competitive success that extends beyond intra-organizational informational flows to the deploying and exploiting of information-based links with diverse actors in the marketplace.

STUDENT: Your are using rather complicated phrases today! In simple terms, what you mean is that an inter-organizational strategic information system is a system that extends beyond the boundaries of a single focal organization to link multiple organizations.

TEACHER: Glad to see that you understood! The potential todevelop such links (and the consequent benefits to achieve competitive advantage) is perhaps the single most important reason for the, increased attention to informational systems from a strategic management point of view.

The railroad industry, which has one of the highest levels of “penetration” of electronic data interchange (EDI) among all industries, displays several levels of inter-organizational systems use. And relatively new industries such as couriers (FedEx, UPS, etc.) are good examples too.

Let me also mention the McKesson Drug Company. The case of McKesson is frequently quoted as one of the most successful examples of business transformation using information technology capabilities. McKesson is a US national pharmaceutical distributor that receives close to 100 percent of its orders electronically from drugstores through its Economost systems. A customer orders by making a single pass through the store with a hand-held order entry device, keying in a product identifier or using a bar code scanner. Reorder quantities are indicated on shelf tags. When the complete order has been entered, it is transmitted to the data processing service.

McKesson clearly achieved operational efficiency benefits to improve its profitability. Although the company apparently did not gain share relative to its major distributor competition, it achieved significant strategic benefits in sales and market share gains relative to its larger competition. The system also achieved “increased tying of the customer to McKesson” which is a substantial strategic advantage. Moreover, McKesson offers a number of other services based on the data it obtains from the order entry system.

The company also provides other firms in the health care business with specialized strategic systems. The following announcement is a good example:

In May 2003, McKesson Corporation announced that LibertyHealth in Jersey City, N.J., signed an eight-year, $47 million agreement for products and services designed to transform the use of clinical information to support patient care in its three-hospital system. LibertyHealth contracted for McKesson’s Horizon Clinicals(TM) suite (of programs) to enhance patient safety, reduce medication errors and increase patient referrals by providing physicians and other caregivers with better access to information.

“We have a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity to reinvent the use of IT to support patient care and enhance quality as we open our new hospital,” said Dr. Jonathan Metsch, LibertyHealth’s president and chief executive officer. “To create the best environment of care, it’s a given that we must provide the latest medical equipment. But, just as importantly, we must provide the most advanced clinical IT solutions to support our 900 doctors and nurses as they provide healthcare for this community of 600,000 people. That’s why we’ve
partnered with McKesson — we get superb, advanced clinical applications.”

Link 3: Strategic Management with Information Technology

Over the last years, several new and powerful forces in the technological and market environment compel one to recognize the link between strategic management and information technology in terms of the fundamental role played by IT in influencing the formulation of a firm’s strategy rather than merely supporting its implementation.

The potential for innovative modes of competing as well as new products and services made possible through IT provides managers with an entirely different spectrum of opportunities and threats. Given the general explosion of computing power and communications capabilities (integrated voice and data, the Internet), several new business applications can be (and have been) developed in those areas that directly enhance efficiency and effectiveness in the market-place.

Example: Merrill Lynch Merrill Lynch’s strategy demonstrates the potential offered by information technologies to develop superior substitute products (or services) as well as altering the definition and domain of business operations. The introduction of Cash Management Account (CMA) by Merrill Lynch represented a revolution in terms of redefining the concept of financial services in a marketplace that was dominated by the traditional banking institutions. The new business concept was built around integrating diverse financial instruments under one common umbrella such that the individual investor is able to enjoy the convenience of moving money across them as well as benefit from the “float” that the banks traditionally enjoyed. This account permitted the integration of four basic services to investors: (1) automatic investment of cash and dividends in a money market account, (2) credit through a standard margin account, (3) cash withdrawal by check or debit card, and (4) investment advice in managing and diversifying the account.

The strategy could not be implemented without the use of information technology, for it requires daily swaps across different accounts to post the credit card charges, checks, securities, and deposits, as well as to develop a daily updated credit limit for each account holder. This complex data processing operation is not incidental to the business concept but is fundamental to its conceptualization and operation. The importance of IT in this strategy is perhaps best emphasized by the fact that Merrill Lynch obtained a patent for the cash management account system. The annual fees generated by this product for Merrill Lynch were quite substantial.

Although several variations (circurnventing the patent protection) of this basic concept have appeared in recent years, none has so far matched the success of Merrill Lynch’s product.

Other firms which have utilized IT to break down traditional industry borders in the services sector include Sears, now an integrated financial services provider; Citicorp, now an investment and realty firm as well as a bank; and American Express, always strong in the travel business, now making a play in international banking, insurance, and securities, in addition, to becoming a financial and information supermarket. Indeed, the entire industry is being transformed due to parallel but related forces: deregulation and technology.