Case Study: Management Information System at Dell

Management information system involves the information system and the organization. MIS begins where computer science ends. Computer scientists deserve accolades for developing and delivering even more advanced forms of information technology: hardware technology; software technology; and network technology. Yet because no technology implements itself, there is more to MIS than just information technology. MIS has dimensions. The four interrelated dimensions of MIS are as follows: First, MIS involves not just information technology, but also its instantiation; second, MIS involves, as reactive and inextricable elements, both an information system and its organizational context; third, MIS involves information technology as a form of intellectual technology; and fourth, MIS involves the activities of a profession or corporate function which are integral to the essence of what MIS is (Currie & Galliers, 1999).

Dell Computer Corporation: Company Background

Dell Computer Corporation is a major manufacturer of personal computers, computer peripherals, and software. Among the leading producers of computers in the world, Dell sells its products directly to customers through the Internet and mail-order catalogs rather than through retail outlets. The company is based in Round Rock, Texas. At Dell Computers, customers are brought into the product planning and manufacturing processes, with all employees encouraged having contact with customers. Through effective collaboration across boundaries, ideas can be shared about product designs and value propositions. The result is faster and more customer-focused product and service innovation. To produce the capacity for this, considerable attention must be placed on organizational structures, processes, skills and culture. Such elements  may need a radical overhaul in established companies (Dennis & Harris, 2002). Dell was founded in 1984 by Michael Dell. In 1983, during his freshman year at the University of Texas, he bought excess inventory of RAM chips and disk drives for IBM personal computers from local dealers. He resold the components through newspaper advertisements at prices far below retail cost. By 1984, his sales totaled about $80,000 a month. In April 1984, Dell dropped out of school to launch his company (Ford, Honeycutt, & Simintiras, 2003).

The new company soon began manufacturing its own IBM-compatible computers under the name PCs Limited. Because Dell sold computers directly to users through advertisements in magazines and catalogs, the company could price its machines lower than those sold through retail stores. Sales reached nearly $6 million during the company’s first year, climbing to $34 million the following year. By 1987, Dell was the leading mail-order computer company in the United States. In that year, it created a sales force to target large corporations and began adding international offices to capture the direct-mail market outside the United States (Ford, Honeycutt, & Simintiras, 2003). While the company continued to grow rapidly; Dell experienced a series of setbacks that hurt profits. In 1990, the company began selling computers through retail stores, an effort it abandoned in 1994. In 1991, Dell launched a line of notebook computers, but quality problems and inadequate production planning forced the company to stop selling  for a year. In 1994, Dell launched a new line of notebook computers and expanded efforts to increase overseas sales. Dell also began focusing on the market for servers, which  used  the computers  to run local area networks. By the late 1990s, Dell was firmly in place as the world’s number one direct seller of computers. More than 50 percent of the company’s computer sales transactions took place via its website, which generated worldwide sales in excess of $40 million a day (Ford, Honeycutt, & Simintiras, 2003).

Information Processing Tools

Information processing or Data processing is the analysis and organization of data. It is used extensively in business, engineering, and science and  an increasing extent in nearly all areas in which computers are used. Businesses use data processing for such tasks as payroll preparation, accounting, record keeping, inventory control, sales analysis, and the processing of bank and credit card account statements. Engineers and scientists use data processing for a wide variety of applications, including the processing of seismic data for oil and mineral exploration, the analysis of new product designs, the processing of satellite imagery, and the analysis of data from scientific experiments (Thierauf, 1978).

Data processing is used extensively in business, engineering, and science and to an increasing extent in nearly all areas in which computers are used. Data processing is divided into two kinds of processing: database processing and transaction processing. A database is a collection of common records that can be searched, accessed, and modified, such as bank account records, school transcripts, and income tax data. In database processing, a computerized database is used as the central source of reference data for the computations. Transaction processing refers to interaction between two computers in which one computer initiates a transaction and another computer provides the first with the data or computation required for that function. Most modern data processing uses one or more databases at one or more central sites (Thierauf, 1978).

Transaction processing is used to access and update the databases when users need to immediately view or add information; other data processing programs are used at regular intervals to provide summary reports of activity and database status. Examples of systems that involve all of these functions are automated teller machines, credit sales terminals, and airline reservation systems (Thierauf, 1978).

The information processing tools that Dell uses include computers, the internet, maps, spreadsheets, models, and databases. For the operational level of Dell, the most appropriate tool for information processing is maps. Through the said information processing tool, decisions on how to operate the organization can be initialized and made. Maps can be used to determine which country/place information will be acquired from, it can also assist in determining the demographic level of people and information will be gathered . Maps can be in the form of charts that can also provide necessary information. The information gathered in turn can assist in helping to decide how an organization will be operated.  For the tactical level of Dell, the most appropriate tool for information processing is databases. Through the said information processing tool, the records that can assist in finding out the strength and weakness of the company can be used to determine the tactic that will be used by the organization. For the strategic level of Dell, the most appropriate information processing tool is the internet or World Wide Web. Through the internet, trends and strategies by other companies can be known. After analyzing the trends and strategies used by other companies, an appropriate strategy can be formulated to use by the organization.

Inventory control systems

Individual businesses need, first and foremost, an efficient inventory control system. This implies the minimum amount of inventory that will provide the consumers with what they need whenever and wherever they need it. Effectiveness of the inventory system means basically having an inventory mix that is most likely successful in satisfying consumer needs (Samli & Sirgy, 1995). The inventory control systems used by Dell is up to date and reliable to prevent problems to arise. The inventory system of Dell makes sure that anything the consumer need will be available to them at any given time. It is also what the company uses to know if certain products are still available or misuse of the inventory system may cost problems to the company.

Conclusion

Management information system involves the information system and the organization. Dell benefits a lot from the management information system. The system helps the company create strategies that will help the company conquer any problems and threats from competitors. The system also assists the company in processing the needed information. Management Information Systems also helps a company to create or update its inventory control system.

Recommendations

Since the MIS of a company is a vital part of its operations and its survival in the modern world, it must be well updated and it must compete well with MIS’s competitors. The MIS  of a company should be created from high standards so that it can be of stiff competition against its counterparts.  The MIS system should help the company to achieve its goals and assist the company in reaching its potential.

Questions:

1. Comment on the MIS in Dell and suggest the positives and negatives of MIS in Dell?

2. The dell directly sells its computers to the customer whether it will give them good and reliable information or they are lacking in information system due to this move?

3. Develop the information flow diagram for dell and suggest some improvement in the same.

4. MIS is a combination of Management, Information and System otr of the three parts of the information system in which area does the Dell lacking?

About Abey Francis

Abey Francis is the founder of MBAKnol - A Blog about Management Theories and Practices - and he's always happy to share his passion for innovative management practices. You can found him on Google+ and Facebook. If you’d like to reach him, send him an email to: [email protected]
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