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Decision Making

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Decision making- Choosing a vendor for a large retail giant project

a) Abstract: We are presenting a real time example of one of our projects, where we faced a challenging decision making scenario.

b) Introduction: This project is for a Download Manager for a big retail company in Minneapolis. The project was a revamp of an existing product that the company was already offering, which enabled the users to download software’s and games through their Download Client. The new project would take care of the existing pain points which were hurting the company’s overall image which in turn led to financial losses. As a program manager we had to choose between various downloading clients whom would satisfy all the criteria’s that the company was looking for. This was the decision making problem which the team and the program manager faced.

c) Literature review: Define/ recognizing Problem: the mentioned company, based out of Minneapolis, Minnesota. Is the largest electronic retail giant in the country. There the companies prominent presence is threatened by the internet as every electronic consumer product can be purchased online today. The company faced tight competition from other online e-commerce company and this project was supposed to be a being major revenue from online sales. The specific sales that we are concentrating on are software and game titles which are also available in hard copy formats. This project would give the customer an option to choose between hardcopy that can be delivered

to the house or picked up from their local store or download the copy digitally to their laptop or PC’s. We would be concentration on the latter part where we faced decision making problems.

The retail giant already had a Downloader in place; however it had lot of negative reviews. This project was initiated to change the negative pain points. During the project initiation phase the program manager and the team had to evaluate between the available multiple options, to choose a appropriate Download manager/vendor based on the requirements/criteria given by the business.

d) Challenges faced: 1. Financial: Whenever a Download is initiated a ping goes to the server and the company is charged based on the download size and the number of Start/Stop’s initiated by the customer. This is an addition to the base charge that the client charges to the company for example base fee’s of approximately $1800 a month which gives approximately 50,000 download’s (based on size limitations) and anything over the stipulated amount is charged per download. This was the primary constraints as it eventually leads to profit/loss calculations of the company in each quarter also all titles have different conditions which limit the number of downloads or number of initiations (passcodes that are activated). 2. Company reputation: The three companies which were short-listed after multiple meetings were Akamai, Arvato and Verizon. Arvato was already working with the retail

joint when the previous version was launched. This was preferred vendor as it was already familiar with the company policies and architecture. The solution given by Verizon was one of the most intuitive and compiling solutions considering the problem definition also Verizon was renounced and reputed company, but unfortunately they were too expensive. Akamai was the new solution provider to this problem, but they are one of the largest download clients in the world and the experience that they have was vast for the current problem/ issue we were facing. The financial burden on the company was in-line with what the business was looking to spend. 3. Existing Architecture compatibility: Existing framework which was already in place wasn’t up to date and wasn’t compatible with all framework on the other vendors because of which the requirements had to be tailored specific to each vendor. Business was not comfortable with this approach as the requirements had to be changed for each vendor. Even though the framework was old Akamai architecture and servers supported the system to a greater extent when compared to other vendors. Also, solution given by Akamai needed very little modification to the existing retail giant. 4. Interface: Even though all the options demoed by all the vendors seem to be intuitive and match the requirements by the retail giant, the solution given by Akamai was simple and easy to use. This easy solution allowed company to make the download client available to a large array of end users. This was important as a large demographic of the consumers used old systems with lower system requirements and browser requirements. The solutions provided by other vendors needed higher ‘minimum’ system requirements that would restrict the number of people that could download the client and hence reduce the

number of people that could use the new service. Forward and backward compatibility is one of the important criteria to be considered during the selection process of the vendor. 5. Customer service: Because Akamai was one of the largest download clients in the world, they had a robust and solid customer service already in place. Other vendors were newer or just entering the market and hence had limited customer support. This was an important factor to consider as the retail giant was already getting a lot of negative reviews due to their previous download manager and any more additions to this would destroy the reputation of the company and people would lose faith in the services provided by the company to the consumers. After considering all the points and various pros and cons of all the vendors, and suitable vendor was selected- this was Akamai. The different RFP( request for proposals) were taken from all vendors and after many deliberations the solution was reached. This was to be chosen properly as the vendor would be in for the long haul and all future releases would have to be considered with modifications and change in requirements to be considered as and when they come.

D)Significant findings and learnings from the Literature review: Describe the knowledge that you have gained from the literature review and make any arguments and discussion. From the literature review the main part we learned is to pin point the exact problem and focus on finding solution accordingly. To overcome the negative aspects, literature review helped us to create certain set of search process before making a decision. They are   Finding the gaps Implement the research

 

Analyze Synthesize

Finding the gaps in the project or a design is very crucial because, it will create a huge impact while decision making. So we concentrated on this a lot before deciding the vendor. Implement the research - Before making the decision we narrowed down in all categories. Since the manager has to decide 1 among 3 vendors, we thought of each and every possibility. We implemented the research in three ways by theory, data, and method. Analyze – In this phase we analyzed all details of the short listed companies: Akamai, Arvato and Verizon. We questioned ourselves with in the group; does the company have experience with area? How are their connections with in the market? The methods and concepts that are used by those companies are up to date? Synthesize – Once we are done with analyzing based on all criteria, in this phase we combined all results and reviewed and mapped the correct company. Repeat the process from the beginning if there are any new gaps. Since the above steps helped us to overcome negative aspects of existing design, we decided to add these steps to our standards book, so in future if we/someone else want to take similar kind of decisions we can refer to our standard book. And we named it as literature search tree so it will be easy for a rookie to understand it from the scratch While doing above, our team focused on mainly one point. Where does your current research question sit? We asked this question to all of us. So we had so many discussions according to the type of question. In short we started with a narrow question and we expanded that discussion to a broad topic.

Some of the arguments that we made are like why we need to choose company A? Why not B? Or C?. That is just a simple question, based on this we discussed all pros and cons of all the three and came to final decision point after the synthesize phase and submitted our result to Manager to review and make the final decision. e)Summary and potential topics for future research: The literature reviewed thus far suggests five general conclusions about the relationship between interest and learning. The first conclusion is that qualitatively different kinds of interest exist. Personal interest is stable, is based on previous experience, and is topicspecific. Situational interest is short-lived, context-dependent, and easier to manipulate. Both personal and situational interest are related to reading comprehension (Hidi, 1990;42 Schraw and Lehman Schiefele, 1999). Situational interest has been shown to have a strong, positive relationship to comprehension, an effect due in part to the close re-lationship between personal interest and prior knowledge (Alexander and Jetton, 1996; Tobias, 1994). The relationship between situational interest and text comprehension is not as straightforward, however. Many studies report that higher interest is related to more learning (Alexander and Jetton, 1996;Hidi and Baird, 1988; Hidi, 1990; Schraw, 1997; Schraw et al., 1995; Wade and Adams, 1990; Wade et al., 1995). However, several studies suggest that seductive details may have a detrimental effect on learning (Garner et al.,1989, 1991; Harp and Mayer, 1998). A second conclusion is that one can distinguish among different typesof situational interest. The present review focused on the distinction among text, task, and knowledge-based interest. Previous research indicates that each of these dimensions is related to learning. Salient textbased factors include coherence, ease of comprehension, and vividness. Text-based fac-

tors, especially coherence, generally increase interest and learning, even though highly interesting segments such as seductive details may interfere with learning. Task-based factors fall into two categories, including encoding task and change-of-text manipulations. Both influence situational interest, indicating that interest may change due to internal or external manipula-tion (cf. Dewey, 1913). Knowledge-based factors also are related to inter-est. Domain knowledge appears to be related to interest and learning in a linear fashion, although currently there is no empirical study designed to address this question. Topic knowledge frequently is unrelated to interest (Alexander and Jetton, 1996).A third conclusion is that a number of variables besides knowledge are related to situational interest. These include topic shift (Hidi, 1990),suspense (Jose and Brewer, 1984), the unexpectedness of main events (Iran-Nejad, 1987), the inclusion of emotionally charged or provocative informa-tion (Kintsch, 1980, Schank, 1979), text coherence (Schraw et al., 1995; Wade,1992), character identification (Anderson et al., 1987), the degree to which text information engages the reader (Mitchell, 1993), and the relevance of information to the reader’s goals (Schraw and Dennison, 1994; Shirey, 1992). However, with the exception of Schraw et al. (1995), there has been no at-tempt to examine the contribution of multiple factors on situational interest.Similarly, with the exception of Mitchell (1993), there have been no attempts to examine whether factors that evoke situational interest also enable stu-dents to maintain their interest. A fourth conclusion is that situational interest in a text is related pos-itively to learning. Virtually all studies reveal that higher levels of situa-tional interest are related to better learning, including propositional recall(Schraw et al., 1995; Wade et al., 1993) and the construction of a holistic text interpretation (i.e., an integrated understanding of the text’s main themes) Situational Interest43(Schraw, 1997). There are no studies that we know of that report a negative correlation for story interest and memory of text information.

However, several studies have reported a negative relationship between seductive details and recall. Garner et al. (1991) and Harp and Mayer (1997, 1998) reported that seductive text segments interfered with understanding less-seductive, but important, main ideas. In contrast, Wade et al. (1993) and Schraw (1998) reported no negative effects for seductive details. Future research is needed to resolve whether seductive details facilitate or interfere with text learning. A fifth conclusion is that situational interest is related to more, and often deeper, text processing. All studies in the present review indicated that higher levels of interest were related to better recall of main ideas (see Wade, Alexander, Schraw, and Kulikowich, 1995, and Tobias, 1994, for re- cent reviews). More recently, Schraw (1997) found that situational interest was not related to college students’ performance on a multiple choice test of main ideas after reading a highly symbolic narrative text, yet it was related to the sophistication of one’s holistic text interpretation as well as to a wide variety of cognitive (e.g., constructing thematic inferences) and personal re-actions (e.g., empathy with characters and events in the text). Specifically,high-situational interest readers generated more than twice the number of thematic inferences than low-situational interest readers. In addition, situ-ational interest was correlated positively with the sophistication of holistic text interpretations even when other variables such as generation of thematic inferences was controlled statistically.

DIRECTIONS FOR FUTURE RESEARCH This section addresses six directions for future research that fall within two broad categories; unresolved issues in need of additional research, and new directions that have not been explored previously. Unresolved issues include the role of relevance and importance in interest, the extent to which interest is related to reading time, and whether interest is a linear or curvi-linear phenomenon. New directions include the transition from situational to personal interest, selfregulation of interest-increasing strategies, and the relationship among variables that affect text, task, and knowledge-based interest.

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