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Integrated Solutions for Customers - Essay Example

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Provision of integrated solutions to promote operational efficiency and enhance customer value has been a challenge for business organizations since the early 1990s. Integrated solutions refers to variety of high value added services which primarily includes the distribution, finance, maintenance and a host of other "intangible knowledge based" activities aside from the commodities offered by firms…
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Integrated Solutions for Customers
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Integrated Solutions for s Provision of integrated solutions to promote operational efficiency and enhance value has been a challenge for business organizations since the early 1990s. Integrated solutions refers to variety of high value added services which primarily includes the distribution, finance, maintenance and a host of other "intangible knowledge based" activities aside from the commodities offered by firms. The article recognized that there has been a shift away from the focus of merely supplying equipments and software into specifying, designing, integrating and delivering a fully functioning system and going beyond these added services by providing services such as finance and maintenance to fully satisfy customers.
The article primarily dealt with an in depth analysis of the five international suppliers of CoPS such as Alstrom Transport, Ericsson Mobile Systems, Thales Training and Simulation, WS Atkins, and Cable and Wireless Global Markets. The case study showed that these firms are engaged in the provision of integrated solutions which somehow became a key competitive advantage in their operations. From these companies, we draw the main features of integrated business solutions which includes value migration, integrated solution business models which are comprised of: "embedded services - using software to embed downstream services, such as maintenance or fault reporting, in the physical system; comprehensive services - to finance, operate and maintain a product during its life cycle; distribution control of profitable channel to market activities; and the provision of products and services together as integrated solutions that address a customer's needs," bundling which goes beyond lumping standardized components, and more focus on customers.

The article also identified two analytical tools in order to understand and act on "solutions imperative. The first one, the value stream capabilities framework model is utilized to analyze, plot, and compare the strategies of firms moving into integrated solutions. The case study highlighted that firms are moving into integrated solutions either upstream or downstream contrary to the notion that provision of integrated solutions means simply going downstream into services. Product based firms like Alstom, Ericsson and Thales, which are considered in the study are shifting from the traditional focus on manufacturing to the provision of services while service based business organizations like WS, Atkins, and C&W are integrating to offer services which are originally carried out by their customers. Provision of integrated solutions requires a strong foothold of the channel of the market in order to develop harmonious relationship with customers. A firm then faces the problem of deciding whether to focus in a particular activity or offer integrated solutions. Aside from these vertical strategies, horizontal moves can also be considered. Business organization can also opt to provide single or multi-vendor solutions.
Provision of integrated solutions is still a challenge among business organizations. It is imperative that firms are sensitive to customers' needs. They should be able to provide additional services which will enhance the satisfaction of clients. Keys in employing integrated solutions includes avoiding moving extremely downstream, show that buyer firms gain confidence in the suppliers, the capability of developing the required technology and organization to piece together the factors which greatly contribute to the establishment of an integrated solution business model. Read More
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