The paper 'Supply Chain Management at Wal-Mart " is a good example of a management case study. In the modern world, technology permeates business in many different ways but regardless of the technology used or the business where the technology is being applied, the primary motive for the application of technology is to improve the efficiency of the business and to make a company more effective than it is. Radio Frequency Identification (RFID) is one such technology since it is an automated system for identifying products, animals, or individuals who rely on data stored in RFID tags (Fitchard, 2005).
The business applications for RFID become obvious when we consider how it can be used in the retail industry to track products as they go from the producers to the consumers. In the retail industry itself, there is no company larger than Wal-Mart which is an international company founded by Sam Walton in 1962. It is the largest retailer and the second largest company behind Exxon Mobil. In 2005, the company had a net income of $11.2 billion and sales of $316 billion (Fortune, 2006).
Being the largest private employer in America and Mexico it is often in the crosshairs for its treatment of employees and other issues yet at the same time, it is admired by analysts for its business performance, tech-savvy and efficient operations. Internationally, Wal-Mart operates as ASDA in the UK and as The Seiyu in Japan. Overall the international sales account for a fifth of the company’ s total business (Wikipedia, 2006). Very recently, Wal-Mart has started using RFID to improve its business efficiency and this has been given mixed reviews by industry analysts.
While some suggest that Wal-Mart would certainly benefit from using RFID (Roberti, 2003), others think that this can not be as cost-effective as Wal-Mart is hoping it would be (Buckler, 2005). Embedding the RFID tags into products is often expensive for the suppliers and they find it difficult to comply with the Wal-Mart mandate. At the same time, there are others who are worried about how RFID information would be used and there are significant privacy concerns that must be addressed by the company (Pethokoukis, 2005).
Buckler, G. 2005, ‘Playing tag with Wal-Mart’, Computing Canada, vol. 31, no. 4, pp. 12-14.
Chau, F. 2004, ‘RFID unlocks the enterprise’, America's Network, vol. 108, no. 16, pp. 26-30.
Chen, C. 2004, ‘Wal-Mart drives a new tech boom’, Fortune, vol. 149, no. 13, pp. 202-202.
Dignan, L. 2003, ‘Wal-Mart's RFID Deadline: A Chunky Mess’, eWeek, [Online] Available at: http://www.eweek.com/article2/0,4149,1415875,00.asp
Dignan, L. 2006, ‘In Aisle 7, a tech scrum’, eWeek, vol. 23, no. 8. pp. 28-29.
Fitchard, K. 2005, ‘The RFID Revolution’, Telephony, vol. 246, no. 24, pp. 28-31.
Fortune, 2006, ‘Fortune Global 500’, Fortune Magazine, [Online] Available at: http://money.cnn.com/magazines/fortune/global500/2006/full_list/
McClenahen, J. 2005, ‘Wal-Mart’s big gamble’, Industry Week, vol. 254, no. 4, pp. 42-49.
Pethokoukis, J. 2005, ‘Big box meets big brother’, U.S. News & World Report, vol. 138, no. 3, pp. 46-47.
Pruitt, S. 2004, ‘Wal-Mart begins RFID trial’, Computer World, Available at: http://www.computerworld.com/mobiletopics/mobile/technology/story/0,10801,92806,00.html
Roberti, M. 2003, ‘Analysis: RFID - Wal-Mart's Network Effect’, CIO Insight, [Online] Available at: http://www.cioinsight.com/print_article/0,3668,a=61672,00.asp
Wikipedia, 2006, ‘Wal-Mart’, Wikipedia.org, [Online] Available at: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Walmart
Williams, D. 2004, ‘The Strategic Implications of Wal-Mart's RFID Mandate’, Directions Magazine, [Online] Available at: http://www.directionsmag.com/article.php?article_id=629&trv=1