Question: A major retail store recently spent 24 million dollars on

A major retail store recently spent $24 million dollars on a large private satellite communication system that provides state-of-the-art voice, data, and video transmission between stores and regional headquarters. When an item gets sold, the scanner software updates the inventory system in real time. As a result, store transactions are passed on to regional and national headquarters instantly, which keeps inventory records up to date. One of the store's major competitors has an older system in which transactions are uploaded at the end of a business day. The first company feels that its method of instant communication and feedback allows it to react more quickly to changes in the market, giving the company a competitive advantage. For example, if an early winter snowstorm causes stores across the upper Midwest to start selling high-end (and high-profit) snow throwers quite quickly, the company's nearest warehouse can prepare next-day shipments to maintain a good inventory balance, while the competitor may not move quite as quickly and thus lose out on such quick inventory turnover.

1. Do you think a $24 million investment in a private satellite communication system could be justified by a cost-benefit analysis? Could this be done with a standard communication line (with encryption)?
2. How might the competitor attempt to close the "information gap" in this example?

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  • CreatedMarch 13, 2013
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