UBC Theses and Dissertations

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UBC Theses and Dissertations

The use of information technology for competitive advantage in Canada Reich, Blaize Horner


This thesis reports the findings from an empirical study of eleven information systems built by Canadian companies and installed in their customers' premises. It examines the factors which enable or inhibit the success of these strategic information systems. Specifically, it investigated factors which enable a company to: 1. Create a customer-oriented strategic system (COSS) before its competitors. 2. Achieve a high level of adoption of the COSS by the customers. 3. Achieve competitive advantage from the COSS. Also examined were the effects that the COSS had on the company which originated it. The findings are as follows: 1. Factors which were associated with "first-movers" are: a. A corporate sense of urgency. b. Management support (the chief executive or a champion). c. A competent, proactive IS department. 2. Factors which are associated with high early adoption are: a. A well-identified need recognized by the customer. b. A low price charged for the use of the COSS by customers. c. A COSS that matches the desired company-customer relationship. 3. Factors that are associated with low early adoption are: a. Absence of a recognized need by the customer. b. A high price charged for the use of the COSS. c. A sales team with low competence at selling the COSS. 4. Factors associated with high late adoption and high competitive advantage: a. Many enhancements made to the COSS over the years. 5. Factors associated with low late adoption and low competitive advantage: a. A system that is perceived to be of poor quality. b. A lack of continuity of the champion. c. A system that has had few enhancements. 6. The main effects that a COSS had on the originating companies were: a. The IS operations staff needed to change their service levels, procedures and attitudes. b. The product sales people who had to sell the COSS needed to upgrade their skills to become comfortable selling an information technology system. In summary, the findings showed that the competitive advantage which accrues from an information system can take many years to become reality. It is imperative that companies wishing to create such systems take the time to develop a customer-oriented strategy, to develop a good quality system and to prepare for several years of enhancements.

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