Managing Digital Operations


With rapid advancement of time, various new technologies, tools and techniques are emerging within every business sector. Enterprise have now realised the significance of adopting digital operations in order to facilitate easier and smoothened operations within the organisational premises. The development as well as formulation of effective digital strategies shape the growth of business as well as ensure its sustainability in market for a long time (ÄŒuček, Klemeš, and Kravanja, 2012). This report is based upon Marks & Spencer which is a British multinational retailer dealing in luxury food products, home items and clothing line. This organisation is headquartered in London, United Kingdom.

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The report is divided into two assessments. The first assessment takes into account the corporate strategy of company as well as the digital strategy of enterprise. Also, it includes the applications and tools used by company along with digital performance of organisation. Further it takes into account the corporate digital responsibility and also the recommendations for this enterprise. The second part of the report is based on critique of the same company. This assessment highlights that this enterprise has largely been facing certain digital issues which led to the downfall of company in global market. This report includes the evolution of digital issues witnessed as well as the determination of opportunities and challenges associated with these issues. within this enterprise as well as the digital strategy and recommendations to deal with them.

Justification and rationale of the chosen topic

The topic chosen to conduct study is to analyse the impact of unwillingness or inability of Marks & Spencer to embrace digital transformation and enter e-commerce industry.

Digital techniques, tools and operations have an enormous impact upon the lives of people as well as the way in which businesses conduct its operations and functioning. Decades ago, the activities, processes and functions within an enterprise used to take place in accordance with the traditional models and tools but now with changing times, the face of every business sector has undergone massive transformation. Digital technologies and advancements have largely influenced the minds of managers of large scale companies in order to increase the scale of operations or to facilitate business expansion. These techniques have brought a massive change in the ways in which entity conducts business in today’s world (Hakansson, 2014). Earlier all the departments, units and functions of organisation were working as per traditional approaches but now organisations are willing to carry out all the processes and activities in a digitalised manner. This owes to the belief that through this they will be able to ensure sustainability of business as well as increment in profits attained by company. Further, digital operations have become necessary as these technologies are believed to be prerequisites for high profitability as well as enhanced productivity at workplace.

Marks & Spencer is a multinational corporation which is carrying out its operations across the globe. Over the passage of time, as other competitive businesses adopted digital tools and techniques to ensure effectiveness and efficiency, this enterprise failed to embrace digital transformation and did not enter e-commerce market until very late (Jones, 2013). This late realisation and embracement of digital technology paved the way to continuous and never ending losses for company as enterprise failed to take into account the facilitation of ease for customers so as to enhance its sales and profitability. Thus, the selected topic is significant as the failure to embrace digital strategy only led to the downfall of company and increased losses.

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Comprehensive review of the evolution and current state of these contemporary digital issues

According to the point of view of Laforet (2013), digital operations is the foundation step to the success and growth of an enterprise in global market. Digital operations comprise of areas or aspects such as social media, e-commerce, ad campaigns etc. In this regard, driven by convenience, low prices and broader selection of goods and services, online consumer spending has increased significantly well. This is owing to the fast pace of operations in which payment transfers by customers take place via online channels and media.

The key players within online retail sector are Amazon and eBay which have been successful in building a massive audience and increasing the scale of operations on the basis of e-commerce. For instance: Amazon attracts over 110 million new and unique visitors within a single month and recently reported the sales of North America to be $7.9 billion in Quarter 3 and up by 33% over the prior year (Epstein, 2018). However the emergence of e-commerce sector also largely reflects and demonstrates that the physical brick and mortar style stores of company are under attack which consequently means that those retail companies which are not able to maintain and sustain their in-store market share as the category shifts online largely face difficult times. A vast majority of product categories are now shifting towards online market at varying rates leading to creation of certain challenges for the companies that operate as multi-category retailers.

An excellent example of this is the big store mass merchandisers. For example, the category named consumer electronics now sees a proportion of sales completed via online channels and media while consumer packaged products lag with not more than some 1% of sales occurring via e-commerce market (Niskanen, 2017). This indicates that it is particularly essential for multi-channel retailers to constantly monitor the trends prevalent in market so as render categories which clearly take into account the nature of rival online threats. This rapid and constant shift of channel towards online media has put a lot of pressure upon price of products and services owing to the fact that Internet in today's dynamic and highly competitive world allows the vast population to easily reach out to the lowest prices available for a product and consequently make a purchase. This tends to create a wide variety of competitive challenges for the manufacturers as well as retailers since the power to decide the price is now in the hands of customers all across the globe.

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Critical evaluation on challenges and opportunities of these contemporary digital issues (20%)

Digital operations tends to be a boon for modern businesses and assist them to largely carry out growth of business and facilitate expansion of operations across various geographical borders. In this regard, e-commerce is a vast concept which is an important part of digital operations. E-commerce has its own opportunities and challenges as is identified by various academicians, authors and professionals. In this regard, it has been identified that e-commerce have some major challenges which need to be taken into account by organisations in order to make sure that organisation do not have to suffer from the ill effects associated with these challenges. Such challenges are briefly described below:-

Lack of privacy and security: E-commerce security is ascertained to be one of the most critical challenges that have been continuously resulting in negative impacts upon the overall growth and improvisation of this sector. This is one of the most crucial factors that need to be considered in association with e-commerce. It has been found out that many people do not engage in e-commerce purchase as they are largely concerned about the uncertainties associated with privacy as well security issues of transactions. Another security issue is majority of web applications incorporate third party services within their system. This pose challenges related to e-commerce security and safety.

Web spoofing: It is a form of electronic deception that takes place when an attacker setup a fake website so as to grab customers to give their credit card as well as personal details (Schöder, Ding and Campos, 2016). This can take place with just a change of letter or symbol and may pose serious harm to the sensitive information of clients. Consumers lose confidence within the capabilities of electronic commerce system to be able to protect personal and sensitive data such as details of credit card. Owing to this, customers are less willing to buy online.

Owing to this there is a need for companies who are engaged in e-commerce trade or are willing to enter into this segment such as Marks & Spencer, Amazon etc. to take into account these issues and give an assurance to customers regarding security of their personal data.      

Conclusion and Recommendations for organisations

As per the above discussion in the report, it has been concluded that formulation of a new and unique technology is often beneficial for any enterprise as it tends to improve its existing level of productivity and the profitability of organisation as well. Also, it has been evaluated that use of latest and advanced technologies has certain considerations that need to be taken into account by the managers of the enterprise to ensure that there is no negative impact associated with its implementation across the organisational premises. It has been analysed that digital technology such as social media, creative advertising etc. assist an enterprise in gaining the attention of a large number of people yet organisations fail to realise that it has certain drawbacks too which should be considered.

Digital technologies leads to smoother functioning as this is intended towards building a healthy and effective relationship with clients so as to captivate their attention and retain them for a long time period in future context. Adoption of advanced technologies requires huge investment of time, efforts and money to make sure that the implementation takes place successfully within the organisation. Further, it has been observed that the need for adoption of digital operations emerges owing to the inefficient productivity of enterprise as well as the enormous competition prevailing within retail sector.

On the basis of analysis and evaluation of above discussion, it has been recommended that companies should adopt a new technology, strategy or technique to implement digital operations only after taking into consideration that it has been formulated under regulatory check. Although the utilisation of new and emerging technology simplifies the work of staff as well as smoother the operations of enterprise, a slight variance in the desired and actual outcome can be adverse or harmful for the entity. Thus, it is recommended that an entity should render adequate training and equip employees with the skills and knowledge to make use of the new technologies appropriately and effectively. Besides this, the constraints of time and money should be taken into consideration while devising and formulating a new strategy or technique. Additionally, company is also suggested to make sure that during the formulation of digital strategy, they do not engage in any unethical or illegal activity or any such act which is not in public interest (Camisón and Villar-López, 2014). 

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