For unlimited access to Study Guides, a Grade+ subscription is required.
Interactive Session: Management The Mobile Pocket Office
Can you run your company out of your pocket? Perhaps not entirely, but there are many business functions today that can be performed using an iPhone, iPad, or Android mobile handheld device. The smartphone has been called the âSwiss Army knife of the digital age.â A flick of the finger turns it into a web browser, a telephone, a camera, a music or video player, an e-mail and messaging machine, and, increasingly, a gateway into corporate systems. New software applications for document sharing, collaboration, sales, order processing, inventory management, and production monitoring make these devices even more versatile business tools. Mobile pocket offices that fit into a purse or coat pocket are helping to run companies large and small.
Sonic Automotive is one of the largest automotive retailers in the United States with more than 100 dealerships in 14 states. Every year Sonic sells 250,000 new and used cars from approximately 25 different automotive brands, and it also sells auto parts and maintenance, warranty, collision, and vehicle financing services. Sonic Automotive managers and employees do much of their work on the iPhone and iPad.
Sonic developed several custom iPhone and iPad applications to speed up sales and service. Virtual Lot, a dealer inventory app, lets sales associates quickly search for vehicles held in inventory by all Sonic dealerships. They have immediate access to vehicle information, pricing, trade-in values, interest rates, special promotions, financing, and what competitors are charging for identical vehicles. The associates can quickly find the best selection for each customer and often offer far more choices than the competition. Dealers are not limited to selling only their own inventory.
A mobile app called the Sonic Inventory Management System (SIMS) has speeded up and simplified trade-in appraisals and pricing. Sonic staff use their iPhones or iPads to take photos of a car, input the vehicle identification number (VIN) and mileage, and note any issues. The data are transmitted to corporate headquarters, which can quickly appraise the car. A Service Pad app simplifies the steps in repair and warranty work. In the past, customers with cars requiring repairs had to go inside the dealership and sit at a desk with a Sonic staff member who wrote up the repair order by hand. Now the Sonic staff members go outside to the customer's vehicle and enter the repair order on an iPad on the spot.
SKF is a global engineering company headquartered in Gothenburg, Sweden, with 140 manufacturing sites in 32 countries and 48,500 employees worldwide. SKF produces bearings, seals, lubrication systems, and services used in more than 40 industries, including mining, transportation, and manufacturing. SKF has developed more than 30 custom iPhone and iPad applications for streamlining workflows and accessing critical corporate data from anywhere in the world.
For example, a virtual reality app uses the iPhone or iPad camera to identify a factory machine and produce a 3-D overlay of the SKF parts it contains. A sensor-driven app called Shaft Align is used by SKF service teams and customers in the field. Shaft Align connects via wireless Bluetooth sensors to a piece of machinery such as a motor-driven fan to ensure that the drive shaft is running in proper alignment. If not, the app generates step-by-step instructions and a 3-D rendering to show how to manually align the motor. Then it checks the work and produces a report.
A mobile app called MOST enables factory operators to monitor some SKF factory production lines. MOST links to the back-end systems running the machinery and provides operators with key pieces of data. Operators using this mobile app are able to use secure instant messaging to communicate with managers and each other, update maintenance logs, and track products in real time as they move through the factory line.
SKF's Shelf mobile app allows sales engineers and customers to access on demand more than 5,000 pieces of product literature, catalogs, product specifications, and interactive marketing materials. Sales teams can use Shelf to create custom âshelvesâ to organize, annotate, and share materials with customers right from their iPhones or iPads. The iPhone, iPad, and Shelf app save company sales engineers as much as 25 minutes per day on processes and paperwork, freeing them up to spend more time in the field supporting customers. This increase in productivity is equivalent to putting 200 more sales engineers in the field.
SKF auditors perform about 60 audits per year, and each audit used to take more than a month to complete. With the SKF Data Collect app, auditors are able to use their iPads to collect data and present customers with detailed reports instantly.
SKF Seals offers specifications and information about SKF's machined and injection-molded seals and plastic parts, while the Seal Select app helps users select seals and accessories using several different input parameters to find the right solution for their needs.
Case Study Questions
1. What kinds of applications are described here? What business functions do they support? How do they improve operational efficiency and decision making?
CLASS NOTES ARE LOCATED WHERE IT SAYS CLASS NOTES!
During the early 1700s, a sailing ship is wrecked on an uninhabited island in the Caribbean Sea. The passengers and crew survive but lose all their possessions. There is no source of fresh water on the island, but coconut palm trees are fairly abundant, and the survivors are able to drink milk harvested from coconuts. There are no mammals living on the island, but many birds roost there, and these become a source of meat. There are a number of mango trees that provide fruit. A long, tough form of sawgrass grows in a number of different places on the island. This grass can be woven into knee-length sleeveless shirts, which are the basic type of clothing for people of both genders. The people on this island have developed a simple system of direct market exchange. Currently, two mangos trade for five coconuts, six coconuts trade for a pound of meat, and three pounds of meat trade for four shirts.
1. Use a formula that was stated in class, and in my notes, to calculate the total number of distinct relative prices in the islandâs economy. Note that when this formula is used to count relative prices, any given pair of goods is considered to have only one relative price. For example, if we count the price of a pound of meat in mangos as one relative price, then we donât count the price of mangos in pounds of meat as a second relative price.
(Class Notes: In a barter economy with markets, each good should have a market price, per unit, in terms of each of the other goods: baskets of fish per bushel of apples, bags of coconuts per bushel of apples, etc. A price of this type â units of one good per unit of the other good â is called a relative price (alternatively, a barter price). If there are different goods traded in an economy, then there turn out to be relative prices for a merchant to keep track of, in each market he visits. Each of the n goods has unit prices: one for each of the other goods. We divide by two to avoid counting reciprocal duplicates: if it costs 2 bags of coconuts to buy a bushel of apples, then it costs 1/2 bushel of apples to buy a bag of coconuts, and so on. )
2. Use the price information you are given to calculate all the distinct relative prices. Remember that the prices we are interested in are unit prices. A unit price is the price of a single unit of one good in units of another good. For each pair of goods, use the order that produces the highest unit price. In the case of coconuts and shirts, for example, if the price of a shirt in coconuts is higher than the price of a coconut in shirts, then report the first price but not the second one. Note: In calculating unit prices, donât worry about issues of divisibility. Assume that any good can be divided in any way, so that fractions or decimals can be components of unit prices.
3. For each relative price you just calculated, calculate the relative price if the order of the two items is switched. (In the scenario above, for example, you would now calculate the price of a coconut in shirts.) What very simple formula can you use to do this? Explain briefly.
4. Now suppose the people on this island start using mangos as money. The relative prices on the island do not change, and the absolute prices are consistent with them. a. Use a formula stated in class, and in my notes, to calculate the total number of absolute prices in the islandâs economy. b. Report these absolute prices.
Class Notes: ( In a monetary economy, in contrast, each good has a single absolute price (alternatively, a money price), which is its unit price in terms of money: dollars per bushel of apples, etc. If we assume that one of the n goods is used as money, then a merchant only needs to keep track of absolute prices. As long as there are more than two different goods ( ), it turns out that , and the difference between these two numbers gets very big as n gets large. Even if there are only 10 different goods, then there are 45 relative prices and only 9 absolute prices. And if there are 100 different goods, which is a more realistic number, then there are 99 absolute prices but almost 5000 relative prices.)
5. Comment briefly on the potential advantages and disadvantages of using mangos as money, using our list of the desirable properties of money as a guide.
6. Suppose you are a merchant on this island, where mangos are used as money in the market (see Item 4 above). A competing merchant who dislikes using money in transactions is willing to trade coconuts for shirts (or vice-versa) directly, at a rate of five coconuts per shirt. Explain, carefully and completely, how you could use this merchantâs willingness to trade these two goods, at this rate, in order to make a profit of one unit of money for yourself by (1) using money to buy units of a good in the market, (2) trading those units of the good to this merchant, in exchange for units of another good, and (3) selling those units in the market for money. Identify the items traded and the quantities, and verify the amount of the profit. Finally, explain what you would need to do in order to make a larger profit (double, for example).
List the economic benefits of, and problems with, subsidized college education. Examine subsidized college education by considering answers to the three basic economic questions:
What to produce with limited resources?
How to produce the goods and services we select?
For whom are the goods and services produced