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Digital Transformation Project – Group 35

In recent times, online retailing has undergone significant transformation as a result of increased competition. In this fierce competition, Amazon is one of the leading players.

A thorough analysis of Amazon’s IS strategy showed us that Amazon has always been a forerunner in innovating and implementing the newest technologies and IS strategies. Amazon follows a data driven approach and has heavily invested in big data analytics. These intelligent models have helped provide customized solutions to customers. Amazon has also greatly leveraged its partnerships and set up successful networks. Such and many other strategies have been key success factors for Amazon.

However, consumers have become more demanding in terms of having an enriched shopping experience. While interviewing an Amazon employee, we found that increasing product return rates has become a disturbing trend from them. One emerging technology we felt could help them reduce their returns rate and enable them to create a strategic difference in its business approach is ‘Augmented Reality’. Since customers will be able to make better informed purchase decisions, there will reductions in returns.

A thorough evaluation of the AR technology proved to a feasible venture for amazon. Amazon has already ventured into this arena with Amazon Flow, a visual search engine. Amazon also plans to expand further in online groceries segment where AR has already made waves. Thus venturing in AR is strategically advantageous for Amazon. Technologically as well, there are not many constraints since a wide variety of applications already exist. Amazon’s main task would be to collate these different technologies and integrate them.

Internet will be the primary mode for user interaction for the AR system. Also, a camera would be required to capture the user’s physical environment. In order to ensure that the user sees the actual size of the virtual product, the Tangible AR technique can be implemented. (Kato et al, 2000). The implementation of the AR system should begin with pilot implementations in the first year as it would give meaningful insights and customer feedback. Secondly, it is important to integrate the newly developed AR system with the existing knowledge base and workflows. The context-specific information gathered from AR can be used to enhance other functions such as warehousing requirements, delivery logistics and relationships with third-party sellers.

The benefits that Amazon will be able to gain with successful implementation of AR are increased sales and profits, lesser returns and increased customer satisfaction. Amazon could also find new avenues via AR and this will reinforce Amazon as a pioneer in technological innovation. We have also identified some risks like compatibility issues in integration of available technologies. Since AR is still emerging, there is no confirmation of the final cost of the implementation. If the final developed system ends up too bandwidth-heavy, too slow or the interface is difficult to comprehend, it will dissuade customers from using the feature.

In conclusion, we can see that there are certain risks involved with implementing this new technology but the benefits certainly outweigh these risks.
Abhilasha Gupta              439253
Deepanshu Pattanayak   439337
Swati Seth                       439362

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The Vasa Ship and Software Project Management

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I recently had the opportunity to visit the Vasa ship museum at Stockholm. The grandeur and the majesties of the ship truly amazed me. The ship itself has a very intriguing story. The story dates back to the 17th century when King Gustavus Adolphus, the King of Sweden, ordered the building of the Vasa. Sweden was at war and the king needed all the ships that he could get at the Baltic Sea.

King Gustav was deeply involved in the design of the Vasa. After the construction of the ship had started, King Gustav noticed that his enemy, the Poles, had somehow created ships with two deck of guns. He immediately ordered for a modification of the design of the Vasa to make it one of the most powerful ships of the time. The ship designers explained to him that with the current construction, the ship would end up with very little ballast in order to support the two decks of guns which would make the ship unsafe to sail. The king, however, insisted on the new design.

In 1628, the ship was done ready for testing. The ship failed its stability test. It started to tilt widely during the test, so much so that they had to cancel the test. Yet, they decided to go ahead with sailing the ship. On August 10th, 1628, the Vasa launched for her maiden voyage. Within 10 minutes of the launch, a stiff breeze knocked the ship sideways and the ship sank.

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You must be thinking what this history lesson has got to do with software project management. But the Vasa is a story that is a classic example of a project gone awry and it is very often being relived today in many organizations within the software industry. The following are some of the problems that the Vasa faced:

  1. Requirements Creep: After the initial design was confirmed and the construction of the ship had started, the design requirements went through many changes. This resulted in an unstable base platform leading to the sinking of the ship.
  1. Meddling of Senior Management: The King was deeply involved in the design of the ship even though he wasn’t an expert in ship designing. Even though the ship could not handle the modified design, the king insisted on going ahead despite the concerns displayed by the designers.
  1. Testing Failure: Even after the failure of the acceptance test, the ship was allowed to sail without any rectifications. The test results were covered up in order to meet the strict deadline commanded by the king.

Many software projects in recent times have faced and continue to face these same problems leading to huge failures and losses. Can you think of recent examples of software project failures similar to that of the Vasa?

References:

https://iccpm.com/sites/default/files/kcfinder/files/RFairley%20MWillshire%20Why_the_vasa_sank.pdf

http://www.ribbonfarm.com/2010/09/08/king-gustavus-folly-the-story-of-the-vasa/

http://www.stickyminds.com/article/how-save-your-software-project?page=0%2C0

Crowdsourcing for Innovation

Teamwork builds big idea. If everybody gives a little, it adds up.

Teamwork builds big idea. If everybody gives a little, it adds up.

I recently heard about an Indian movie called “Lucia”, a movie that was completely financed through crowd-funding. With more than 110 investors contributing to the movie through Facebook and a blog run by director, the film became one of the first of its kind in India to foray into this new world of financing. Almost 51 lakh Rupees (~ 78,000 USD) was raised in just 27 days. However, what was more intriguing was that the movie was not only crowdfunded but crowdsourced as well. Audiences came forward and offered all kinds of services ranging from designing, location setting, music and some even for acting.

Crowdsourcing is not a new phenomenon. Science and Academia have been relying on incremental contribution to research for decades. Open source software is also another development through crowdsourcing. Big companies have also been implementing crowd sourcing by creating crowd contests. Very recently, the pharmaceutical company, Merck set up an 8-week contest with a prize money of $40,000 for participants to identify the chemical compound which held the most promise for future testing. The winning solution in fact came from individuals not related to the life sciences field. Lego, Lay’s, Starbucks, Microsoft and Tesla Motors are other establishments that have used crowdsourcing to come up with new ideas, flavors and designs. Wikipedia is also another example of a crowdsourced innovation.

You can find many tips and suggestions online on how to run a successful crowdsourcing campaign. But is crowdsourcing always a good idea? Dows it work for all kinds of projects? While researching, I found that two of the primary conditions required for a successful crowdsourced project is high modularity and low granularity. Modularity has to do with the nature of the project, whether it can easily be broken down into individual units to work on separately and then aggregated back together. Granularity refers to the size of the individual modules in terms of the time and effort that an individual must invest in producing them. Together these conditions enable individuals to make incremental contributions that adds to the overall project. As was in the case of the movie ‘Lucia’, the different aspects of film making could easily be divided into different components and put together to make a good movie. Can you think of other industries that could also implement crowdsourcing?

References:

http://articles.economictimes.indiatimes.com/2013-04-13/news/38511296_1_kannada-film-industry-lifeu-ishtene-first-kannada-movie

http://www.aziteez.com/category/lucia

https://hbr.org/2013/04/using-the-crowd-as-an-innovation-partner/

http://blog.megafounder.com/blog/brands-crowdsourcing/

http://www.umass.edu/digitalcenter/research/working_papers/08_002SchweikMinnowbrook.pdf