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3 M's New Information System, Essay

1569 words - 6 pages

I. IntroThe business environment is very competitive. Consequently, companies need to offer customers efficient and reliable service. If they do not, customers will switch to more consumer efficient companies. Furthermore, as companies grow in size, it becomes harder to keep track of the growing amount of customer information. If a company does a poor job of organizing and maintaining customer records and data, it can result in problems for both the company and the consumer. This paper will focus on the Minnesota Mining and Manufacturing Company, more commonly known as 3M, and how it improved its customer service and reduced cost by improving its management information system. Sources consulted included business journals and websites with facts and case studies on 3M.II. Company Description3M, internationally established in 1951, is a $16 billion multinational company with its headquarters in Minnesota, U.S.A., with operations in more than 60 countries, and products sold in nearly 200 countries. (About 3M and MIS Quarterly) 3M offers products and services to the transportation, graphics and safety, healthcare, industrial, consumer and office, electro and communications, and specialty markets. (IBM Case Study on 3M)3M, a company known for its innovation, constantly encourages employees to create new products. Thirty percent of sales must come, each year, from products less than 4 years old and scientists must spend 15% of their time trying to develop new ideas of their own. In 2001, 3M spent over $1 billion dollars alone on research and development (3M 2001 annual report). 3M's corporate culture revolves around creativity, initiative, innovation, and entrepreneurship. This unique and innovative culture is largely responsible for 3M's success. (MIS Quarterly)In accordance with having a strong need to stimulate innovation and creativity, 3M has a very decentralized corporate structure. It maintains over 40 business units that develop and market various 3M products and services. Each department operates as an individual company with its own processes systems and brands. This structure has afforded the different divisions the autonomy to conduct jobs in their own way using their initiative in a responsible manner. (Harvard Business Review and MIS Quarterly)III. The ProblemAlthough 3Ms decentralized structure was good for innovation, it was an obstacle for the customers. Customers were seeing the 3M business units as a set of individual business instead of one unified company. Each business unit recorded its sales and product and customer information in its own database. There was no system in place among the business units to access each other's databases. As a result, 3M did not know how much business it did with a specific customer. Therefore, 3M could not take advantage of cross selling opportunities through "comparing same-customer purchase information" or "analysing buying patterns across product categories". (IBM Case Study) The importance of...

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