Pathfinder

Individual Assignement

This tool is designed to help managers understand their own organization’s response to technology. Ideally you should do it with a group of managers in your own firm, but for the purpose of the assignment you should attempt it individually.
Read the following description of the five types of organizational responses to Information and Communication Technology (ICT).
The three ‘in fit’ types
Type 1: Pathfinder
a) Strategic orientation
• These organizations are constantly seeking to gain competitive advantage by detecting or sensing emerging ICT trends and possibilities
• The organization develops unique approaches to creating ICT-based solutions for customers and the consumer marketplace. A first and successful mover in ICT application to the business — others follow
b) Characteristics
• These organizations have a culture of risk-taking and the incubation of promising ideas, experimenting with emerging technologies and ICT applications via pilots, strategic alliances and joint ventures to develop a pipeline of potential ICT applications to the business
• The culture of experimentation allows these organizations to develop processes for quickly categorizing projects into ‘implement’, ‘hold’, and ‘reject’ categories. They do not become fixated on one-size-fits-all solutions
• As these organizations are often opportunistic, growth and business success from ICT applications is often episodic rather than linear.

Type 2: Protector
a) Strategic orientation
• These organizations work in domains where core ICT-based technologies are universally available and are easily replicable
• ICT for these organizations is exploited for cost efficiencies and for more effective internal and external communication processes, rather than primarily for market creation
b) Characteristics
• ICT investments for these organizations are carefully scrutinized and evaluated. Turn-key solutions are often sufficient and are used as a means of defending margins and containing costs
• Risk management is a key feature of this organization, and the culture is strongly control oriented and task-focused
• It is not common for this organization to radically change its business model in the face of emerging ICT technologies and applications. Its response to technological change is that of very careful adjustment, but often involving very substantial ICT investment.

Type 3: Adapter
a) Strategic orientation
• This organization plays in two business domains: One relatively traditional and relational, being concerned with internal controls. The other where ICT plays an increasingly important role in linking the organization to its customers, or to the consumer marketplace
• This ‘split’ characteristic is typical in business domains where differential rates of technological uptake are applicable, and adaptability rather than uniform solutions are applicable, even within the one business.
b) Characteristics
• This organization is regarded as a quick second mover in ICT — often learning from the mistakes of Type 1, and the lower level of innovation of Type 2 — with an ability to fi nd the middle ground in creating value
• The organization carefully monitors the actions of major competitors, with its second-mover approach in ICT often yielding more cost-efficient solutions
• Emphasis is often on modifying rather than fundamentally re-configuring existing systems and applications.

The two ‘out of fit’ types
Type 4: Reactor
a) Strategic orientation
• These organizations significantly lag others in ICT introduction. Technology and ICT applications are often introduced toward the end of a technology life cycle and often only when forced to do so by sheer environmental and competitor pressure
• Technology is not seen as being in any way strategic, with ICT platforms often appearing to be very weak or obsolescent. The risk is that the organization could quickly become non-competitive through lack of capacity to match emerging customer needs or to address the need for productivity improvements and internal efficiencies
b) Characteristics
• The structure of the organization is predominantly traditional and hierarchical. Risk-taking tends to be episodic or random rather than planned and/or continuous
• There is little linkage in this organization between strategy, structure and process with the results that ICT applications and processes are often viewed internally as stand-alone, rather than being a vital linkage in the process of strategy implementation.

Type 5: Heatseeker
a) Strategic orientation
• This organization perceives a changing environment in relation to its ICT positioning. However, rather than responding effectively it frenetically searches for solutions and ‘fixes’ — following fads and fashions rather than strategically analyzing ‘best fi t’ ICT for its own purposes
• This organization is prone to frequent ‘initiatives’ regarding ICT spends and subsequent partial reversals/ divestments under pressure when intended benefits are not realized quickly
b) Characteristics
• This organization moves from one approach to the next in a rolling series of alliances or projects to create new ‘engines of growth’ or platforms for cost-containment. It often has the image of being progressive, but without delivering sustained performance and results
• Structures are often in total flux, almost as though re-structuring, busyness with task forces, and evidence of ICT-activity will metamorphose into a business solution. In fact, standing back, it could be assessed as being engaged in a hyper form of reactivity.

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Part 1
Now pick any firm that you are familiar with. Consider how this firm currently responds to ICT? Rate each dimension on a scale of 1 to 5 by putting a “X” (10%)
Current orientation 1 (Very low) 2 3 4 5 (Very high)
Pathfinder
Protector
Adapter
Reactor
Heatseeker

How do you think this orientation should change in the future? Rate each dimension on a scale of 1 to 5 by putting a “X” (10%)
Future orientation 1 (Very low) 2 3 4 5 (Very high)
Pathfinder
Protector
Adapter
Reactor
Heatseeker

Try plotting the values in the radar chart below (Not evaluated). You can change the values on the chart by double clicking on it or by clicking on the charts option tab on the menu.

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Part 2
1. Using specific examples from this organization you are familiar with, justify your reasoning for the organization’s current orientation towards ICT and why it should change/ not change? (40%, 500 words)

2. There is a risk of adopting new technology and there is a risk of not adopting new technology! Using any information technology discussed in class or from your own experience; discuss how it might be a source of competitive advantage for the organization (in the future) or may turn into a strategic mistake. (40%, 500 words)

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