The Impact of Information Systems on the Strategy Formulation and Overall Firm Performance: A Case of Lenovo

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Abstract

The contemporary business environment has made the technological innovation a necessity rather than an option for business management. The international firms are striving hard to maximize their efficiency at the international stage by adopting a pro-innovation attitude. The technological advancement has resulted in the emergence of advanced information systems. The organizations are increasingly interested to update their IT infrastructure for keeping pace with changing the environment and satisfying the ever-changing customer needs. However, the information system (IS) integration is not a one-time decision, but its effectiveness depends on the management’s continuous commitment towards technological innovation embeddedness. The underlying research seeks to explore the Information System effectiveness and impact on different performance dimensions. The researcher has analysed how modern business organizations can formulate effective business strategies by exploiting the potential of Information System. The case-study research design was adopted and Lenovo was selected as a case-study organization. The researcher conducted the semi-structured interviews with five Lenovo executives and results highlighted the importance of ensuring IS integration and continuous upgradation for enhancing strategy formulation process and overall firm performance. The study also highlighted the influence of organizational structure, strategic alignment, adequate resource availability (financial and technical expertise), and top management support for enhancing the impact of IS on strategy formulation and firm performance. The in-depth analysis identified some key challenges associated with the IS integration, including the process complexity, changing technology needs difficulty in measuring the benefits, and compatibility with the existing IT infrastructure.
 
 
 
 
 
Table of Contents
Abstract ii
Chapter 1: Introduction. 1
1.1 Research Rationale. 1
1.1.1 Problem Statement 2
1.2 Research Purpose. 2
1.2.1 Research Aim and Objectives. 3
1.2.2 Research Questions. 3
1.3 Research Significance. 3
1.4 Research Study Structure. 4
Chapter2: Literature Review.. 5
2.1 IS adoption in the contemporary era. 5
2.2 Impact of IS adoption on the effective strategic formulation. 5
2.3 Impact of IS adoption on the operational performance. 6
2.4 Critical success factors for maximizing the IS potential 8
2.5 Conceptual Framework. 10
2.6 Lenovo- A Brief Overview.. 12
Chapter 3: Research Methodology. 14
3.1 Research Philosophy and Design. 14
3.2 Research Strategy. 14
3.3 Research Time Frame. 15
3.4 Research Approach. 15
3.4.1 Data Collection and Sampling. 16
3.4.2 Data Analysis and Overall Procedure. 16
3.4.3 Research Limitations. 17
3.5 Key Ethical Considerations. 17
3.6 Chapter Summary. 18
Chapter 4: Findings Presentation, Interpretation and Analysis. 19
4.1 Thematic Analysis. 19
4.1.1 Respondents’ Characteristics. 19
4.1.2 Management attitude towards integration of latest information systems. 20
4.1.3 Resource availability to integrate the latest IS and other challenges. 21
4.1.4 Organizational structure and IS upgradation. 22
4.1.5 IS management and Strategy Formulation. 23
4.1.6 Alignment between Business and IT strategy. 24
4.1.7 IS Management and Firm Performance. 25
4.2 Analysis and Discussion. 26
Chapter 5: Conclusion and Recommendations. 31
References. 34
Appendices. 38
Interview Outline. 38
Interview Transcript 1. 39
Interview Transcript 2. 41
Interview Transcript 3. 44
Interview Transcript 4. 46
Interview Transcript 5. 48
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 

Chapter 1: Introduction

This chapter will provide a brief overview of the research rationale. The researcher will state the research aim and objectives. Research significance will be stated to highlight the practical and theoretical implications. By the end, the researcher will provide a brief outline of the whole thesis to give an overview of whole research.

1.1 Research Rationale

Today, the integration of advanced information technology has become essential for modern business enterprises. The adoption of information systems has become a key factor for organizational success. Senior executives and strategic planners are struggling to refine their utilization and exploitation of information technology capabilities for getting a sustainable competitive advantage (Peppard & Ward, 2016). The modern organizational theories have emphasized the importance of innovation embeddedness and knowledge management, and both strategic objectives cannot be achieved without integrating the advanced technology, as the world has entered into information digitalization era (Prajogo & Olhager, 2012). Today, the technological integration cannot itself provide a basis for the competitive advantage as the technological resources are usually imitable, but it can help the firms to formulate effective business strategies, ensuing the long-term sustainability (Bughin, Byers & Chui, 2011).
The strategy formulation process can be enhanced by ensuring a high outside in knowledge flow and developing meaningful relations with the innovation providers that are usually stakeholders. The easy access to the useful strategic information improves the relationship with the stakeholders, enhances the managerial decision making process and strengthens the position in a highly competitive market (Farhanghi, Abbaspour & Ghassemi, 2013). However, it is also important to note that the ability to explore the potential of latest technology depends on various factors. The organizations’ strategic formulation and decision making process requires specialized skills to extract the meaningful information through advanced information systems. Moreover, the organizations must ensure an effective alignment between the technology adoption, managerial expertise and strategic objectives to gain the maximum advantage (Fishenden & Thompson, 2012).
The optimum use of advanced information systems depends on the experience and skills of the user. The management must analyse and understand the environmental complexities making the strategic formulation process challenging. To resolve the ambiguity and uncertainty, the only solution is to leverage the potential of information technology and craft an organizational environment that could support the adoption decision (Cakmak & Tas, 2012). The underlying research will analyse how the effective information systems adoption enhances the strategic formulation process and ultimately the operational performance.
Another rationale for choosing this research area is that currently, there is a disagreement between the researchers analysing the impact of IS adoption on firm performance. Some studies confirm the direct relationship between IS adoption and firm performance (e.g. Farhanghi, Abbaspour & Ghassemi, 2013; Battor and Battor, 2010), while others negate this claim and propose that IS adoption shares an indirect relation with the firm performance (e.g. Prajogo & Olhager, 2012). This research will empirically analyse the underlying phenomenon and make a substantial contribution to the existing research. The reason for choosing the Lenovo as case study organization is that the recent reports suggest that the market share of Lenovo is on the decline (BBC, 2016). Although the main reason for the decline has been reported as intensifying competition, some analysts have contended that the firm is also facing operational inefficiency issues (Lucas, 2017). This research will attempt to highlight the possible improvement areas. The findings will assist the Lenovo management in formulating effective business strategies and consequently improving the operational performance. To resolve this issue, the study has formulated following problem statement:

1.1.1 Problem Statement

The underlying research will explore whether the successful adoption and management of advanced information systems help the organizations in formulating effective business strategies, consequently improving the overall operational performance.

1.2 Research Purpose

The research purpose is to assess the role played by the information system adoption input factors in enhancing the strategy formulation process and overall firm performance. The purpose is to identify the possible improvement areas of Lenovo and make suggestions that can help the organization to sustain the position in a highly competitive market.

1.2.1 Research Aim and Objectives

The aim of this research study is to examine how strategies can be formulated using information systems and deliver a thorough analysis of how innovation and technology improve the firm’s operational performance. The objectives of this research are as follows:
  • To conduct a comprehensive review of the literature and extract important theoretical insights that could be based to conduct the empirical research.
  • To explore the impact of IS adoption on the management’s ability to formulate effective strategies that could enhance the competitive positioning, improve collaboration with the stakeholders and enable the management to make informed decisions.
  • To analyse the direct as well as the indirect impact of IS adoption on the firm performance, including the operational efficiency and employee productivity.
  • To offer useful recommendations to the Lenovo management regarding how to maximize the IS potential, based on theoretical and empirical research.

1.2.2 Research Questions

  • Does the successful adoption and management of information systems enable the management to formulate effective business strategies?
  • Does the successful adoption and management of information systems enable the management to enhance the operational performance?
  • What are the current challenges/improvement areas being faced by the Lenovo management in maximizing the potential of information systems?

1.3 Research Significance

The review of the literature has highlighted a disagreement between the researchers analysing the impact of IS adoption on firm performance. Some researchers confirm the direct relationship between IS adoption and firm performance (e.g. Farhanghi, Abbaspour & Ghassemi, 2013; Battor and Battor, 2010), while others negate this claim and propose that IS adoption shares an indirect relation with the firm performance (e.g. Prajogo & Olhager, 2012). This research will empirically analyse the underlying phenomenon and make a substantial contribution to the existing research. The findings will also assist the Lenovo management in formulating effective business strategies and consequently improving the operational performance.

1.4 Research Study Structure

The first chapter has provided a brief overview of research rationale. The second chapter will analyse the different research papers, scholarly articles, published dissertations and other credible scholarly resources to provide the theoretical foundation to underlying research. The third chapter will provide a methodology outline by discussing the important methodological choices. The fourth chapter will present the empirical results followed by a meaningful discussion considering the existing literature. The last chapter will conclude all findings and propose recommendations based on theoretical and empirical research.
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 

Chapter2: Literature Review

This chapter will analyse the different research papers, scholarly articles, published dissertations and other credible scholarly resources to provide the theoretical foundation to underlying research. Based on the theoretical insights, the researcher will identify the theoretical framework that will be used to conduct the empirical investigation.

2.1 IS adoption in the contemporary era

In the contemporary era, the escalating competition, increasing environmental turbulence, information digitalization, technological advancement and mitigating global boundaries have intensified the need to embed innovation into organizational processes (Yoo, Henfridsson & Lyytinen, 2010). The changing environmental scenario has changed the game rules for businesses. The organizations are increasingly seeking to exploit the innovative knowledge for ensuring long-term survival (Oliveira & Martins, 2011). This is the major reason behind increasing adoption rate of information systems. The contemporary management is attempting the maximize the potential of IS to facilitate the internal coordination and external integration with the key stakeholders (Susanto, Almunawar & Tuan, 2011). The organizations are using different data communication tools and information systems software applications such as unified coding standards, electronic data interchange and internet based information systems (Kumar, 2014). This increased interest of practitioners towards the IS integration has also grabbed the attention of academicians. The researchers are exploring the link between the IS adoption and firm performance and reporting mixed results, suggesting the need to conduct further research.  This study will analyse the impact of IS on the strategic formulation and firm performance.

2.2 Impact of IS adoption on the effective strategic formulation

Cakmak and Tas (2012) attempted to explore the existing usage of IT and focused on the significance of the usage of information technology at the strategic level. Based on empirical research, the researchers proposed that technological adoption plays an effective role in giving firms a sustaining and a competitive advantage. The Chen and associates also contend that the adoption of innovative and advanced technological models becomes crucial for firms operating in the information technology sector (Chen et al. 2010). Within the IT industry, the innovation embeddedness and knowledge exploitation have become one of the fiercest driver (Fishenden & Thompson, 2012; Bhatt, Grover & Grover, 2005). The changing customer needs require a highly vigilant management strategy that can keep an eye on the changing industry trends and keep the pace with increasingly turbulent scenario (Cakmak and Tas, 2012).
Recently, University of Scranton (2017) commented that the ICT usage has become crucial for maximizing the operational efficiencies. It helps the manager to make more informed decisions that are worthwhile for achieving a sustainable competitive advantage over the competitors. Information systems adoption facilitates the external and internal communication, resulting in enhanced collaboration with the stakeholders. Today, the major focus of firms operating in highly competitive industries is to preserve their competitive positioning at the global stage and leveraging their core capabilities through integration of modern information system (Peppard & Ward, 2016). Hence, companies must invest in ERP softwares to integrate the various functional areas and give real-time data so that faster decisions could be made. The future of such systems leads to the reduction of costs, improve the productivity and help grow (The University of Scranton, 2017). Based on the study results, this research study will explore whether the adoption of the information system significantly influences the firms’ ability to formulate effective strategies, and if so, then how and in what ways the information system adoption enables the management to make informed strategic decisions.

2.3 Impact of IS adoption on the operational performance

The review of information technology literature has identified a number of studies that confirmed the direct impact of information system adoption on the firm’s operational and financial performance (e.g. Farhanghi, Abbaspour & Ghassemi, 2013; Battor and Battor, 2010), whereas, some studies have negated the claim and proposed that I adoption has no direct relationship with the operational and financial performance (e.g. Prajogo & Olhager, 2012).
Farhanghi, Abbaspour & Ghassemi (2013) conducted an empirical investigation and confirmed that the adoption of information systems assists the organizations to inculcate the flexibility and make more informed decisions. The organizational culture becomes more open towards embedding innovation (Farhanghi, Abbaspour & Ghassemi, 2013). The integration of latest technology also enables the managers to delegate the authority. Bughin, Byers & Chui (2011) propose that readiness of firm to integrate the latest technology significantly influences its competitive positioning. Many studies have confirmed the impact of CRM adoption on enhanced customer satisfaction (e.g. Battor and Battor, 2010, Becker, Greve & Albers, 2009). However, some researchers deny the impact and contend that the adoption of information systems directly affects the strategy formulation process, but it shares an indirect relationship with the firm performance. For example, Prajogo & Olhager (2012) empirically assessed the impact of IS adoption on the firm performance. Although the study confirmed that technological adoption resolved many operational issues, the researcher was unable to confirm the relationship with the profitability. 
A study conducted by Battor and Battor (2010) examined the impact of innovation and information system adoption on the firm performance. The researchers also analyzed how innovation mediates the relationship between CRM and firm performance. The structural equation modeling was used to report the results and findings confirmed the direct relationship between innovation, CRM and firm performance. The mediating role of innovation was also significant. The researchers proposed that the integration of information system software directly influences the firm’s operational and financial performance (Battor and Battor, 2010). The Olugbode, Elbeltagi, Simmons & Biss (2008) explored the impact of information systems on firm performance and profitability and proposed that the information system effective integration depends on multifaceted factors. The study results identified the statistically significant impact of all study variables (Olugbode, Elbeltagi, Simmons & Biss, 2008). The firm operational performance and profitability improves when the organization shows a proactive attitude towards information system adoption and provides a supportive environment by developing clear e-commerce strategies, opening formal and informal communication channels and ensuring alignment between the IS integration and strategic objectives (Becker, Greve & Albers, 2009). Considering the wide theoretical support, the empirical evidence proposed by past studies, this study will qualitatively explore how the effective business strategies as a result of information systems integration influence the firm operational performance.

2.4 Critical success factors for maximizing the IS potential

The review of the literature has identified many factors that affect the potential of IS to bring positive changes within the organization. The information system integration is a high impact infrastructure decision and an intricate technological task that obsoletes with time (Choi, Lee and Yoo, 2010). Hence, it is important to continuously review the factors affecting the IS output for fully leveraging its potential (Yoo, Henfridsson & Lyytinen, 2010). Many studies have identified the critical success factors for IS adoption (e.g. Yeoh & Koronios, 2010), however, the underlying research will determine the critical success factors for continuously leveraging the potential of the information system. The most commonly highlighted factor by the previous studies is a continuous commitment from top management to adopt and upgrade the latest information system soft wares (Hu, Dinev, Hart & Cooke, 2012).
Oliveira & Martins (2011) proposed that when management shows a proactive attitude towards adopting innovative data management techniques, it directly influences its ability to collaborate with stakeholders. Today, the information digitalization and mitigating global boundaries have increased the importance of effective knowledge management (Lindner & Wald, 2011). A few decades ago, the technological integration was an option, but in the contemporary era, it has become inevitable (Hu, Dinev, Hart & Cooke, 2012). Moreover, it is also important to note that mere adoption of latest technology is not sufficient. But, a continuous commitment to keep the pace with changing environment is also important ((Hu, Dinev, Hart & Cooke, 2012). Hence, this research study will analyse the importance of top management based on the perceptions to interviewees. The researcher will explore the possible influence of top management attitude towards a continuous adoption and upgradation of the existing information systems according to latest trends. The researcher will also analyse the consequent influence of top management’s pro-innovation attitude on the formulation of effective business strategies, and firm’s operational performance.
Researchers further contend that impact of information system integration maximizes when management focuses on the continuous upgradation of its human expertise (Laudon et al., 2012). There are many cases where the IS integration doesn’t result in significant benefits after some time. It is important to align the human expertise with the technological upgradation. It requires frequent sessions of training and development (Trkman, 2010). Organizations must equip their human resource with latest technological skills to make the best use of technology (Kim & Kankanhalli, 2009). Susanto, Almunawar & Tuan (2011) commented that when employees lack the necessary competencies to use the latest software, it significantly minimizes the potential of integrated software on firm’s operational performance. Hence, while analysing the impact of IS adoption on firm performance, it is necessary to consider the current human expertise level (Yusof et al., 2008). Based on these findings, this research study will analyse how the employees’ expertise level to use the latest information system results into the formulation of effective business strategies, and consequently enhances the firm’s operational performance.  
Another factor that directly affects the impact of IS on firm performance is resource availability (Trkman, 2010). When an organization has adequate resources, the management is in a better position to upgrade the information system and equip the graduates with latest skills to ensure an alignment (Ngai, Law & Wat, 2008). Particularly, the upgradation of human expertise requires sufficient resources to arrange the training and development sessions (Sung & Choi, 2014). The adequate resource availability is necessary for above two factors, that is, continuous upgradation of the information system, and continuous upgradation of skills (Peffers et al., 2007). Based on this information, the study will explore the possible influence of adequate resource availability (for upgradation of information system and human expertise) on the formulation of effective business strategies, and how the unconstrained financial and human resources enable the firm to enhance operational efficiency.
The impact of an information system on strategy formulation and operational performance enhances when management adopts the software according to the unique business needs (Rai, Patnayakuni & Seth, 2006). For example, when organization’s goal is to maximize the customer satisfaction by understanding their latent needs, then the adoption of CRM software is the best decision (Mascarenhas, Kesavan & Bernacchi, 2006). Whereas, when an organization intends to gain meaningful information from its relationship with suppliers, then a supplier integration software will best serve the purpose (Hsu et al., 2008). Many studies have proposed that organizations’ willingness to adopt the multiple information soft wares to meet diversified business needs enables them to formulate the effective business strategies, ensuring the sustainability (e.g. Choi, Lee and Yoo, 2010). Based on this information, the research study will analyse how the current state of latest information technology tools and techniques influence the formulation of effective business strategies.
Finally, the management cannot fully leverage the potential of information system until it ensures an alignment between the IS adoption decision and organizational structure, internal communication mechanisms, hierarchy and strategic objectives (Liang, Saraf, Hu & Xue, 2007). Many businesses fail to reap the benefits of information technology when their adoption decision doesn’t comply their strategic objectives and internal organizational structure (Law & Ngai, 2007). The impact of information system gets maximized when the structure supports the system. Otherwise, the misalignment reduces its impact on the business strategies, and consequently on the operational performance (Chan & Reich, 2007). Based on the interview results, the underlying research will explore how the alignment between the organizational structure and information systems adoption influences the formulation of effective business strategies.

2.5 Conceptual Framework

Based on the extensive literature review, the underlying study has identified following conceptual framework. The study will qualitatively explore the impact of information systems on the strategy formulation, and consequently the firm performance. The factors affecting the information system output have been regarded as the key input factors. The researcher will firstly assess the relative importance of each input factor on the output, and later, the impact of information system output will be assessed on overall firm performance.
 
 
 
 
 
Here is the pictorial presentation of the identified conceptual framework:
IS-Adoption and Management
Management attitude towards integration of latest information systems
 
 
 
 

                                                                 Effective Strategic Formulation
Resource availability and management expertise to integrate the latest IS
 
 
 
 
Effective strategic formulation
 
 
 
 

                                                                                                                Firm Performance
Organizational structure supporting the integration of latest IS.
Firm Performance:
  • Operational efficiency
  • Employee productivity
  • Stakeholder satisfaction
 
 
 
 
 
 
 

                                                                                            
 
 
                                                                        Information system adoption outputs
 
 
 
 

Information system adoption inputs
 

2.5.1 Framework explanation

Based on this framework, the study will firstly assess which organizational factors are required for the effective integration of the information systems, resulting in a meaningful output. The impact of information system integration of strategic formulation and operational performance depends on various factors. The researcher has identified the factors used in the framework from review of the literature. In some cases, the information system integration doesn’t result in a substantial enhancement in any organizational area. Previous studies have highlighted the need to consider those factors while measuring the impact of IS integration on firm performance (e.g. Choi, Lee and Yoo, 2010; Yeoh & Koronios, 2010; Hu, Dinev, Hart & Cooke, 2012; Laudon et al., 2012; Yusof et al., 2008; Ngai, Law & Wat, 2008; Peffers et al., 2007; Mascarenhas, Kesavan & Bernacchi, 2006; Chan & Reich, 2007). Hence, the study will consider the important organizational factors. Firstly, the impact of factors facilitating the IS integration will be studied on the formulation of effective strategies. afterwards, the impact on the operational performance of firm will also be assessed empirically. As discussed earlier, the researcher has chosen the Lenovo as case study organization to conduct the research.

2.6 Lenovo- A Brief Overview

The above framework will be applied in the Lenovo context. Lenovo is the China based multinational firm operating within the IT industry. Currently, the firm has ensured strong presence at international stage due to its innovative capabilities (Qi, 2017). The organization was founded in 1984 by Liu Chuanzhi.  It is one of the top organizations within the PC market. In 2013, the organization become the leading smartphone company worldwide. Today, the firm has ensured its presence in more than 60 countries all over the world by exercising the operational control and is giving tough competition to other market players.  It sells its products to more than 160 countries of the world and is still enjoying a healthy return despite the shirking PC market (Qiao & Conyers, 2014). The reason for choosing the Lenovo for this research project is its innovative capabilities and positive attitude towards the system upgradation and collaborative innovation. Even though, recent reports suggest that the company is facing some issues and a few predictors are a loss of market share and declining sales (BBC, 2016; Lucas, 2017), the firm is expected to recover the loss based on the unique innovation management practices. The underlying research will consider the Lenovo as case study organization and will assess its attitude towards the technological innovation. The in-depth analysis will help the researcher understand how the information system adoption and upgradation enhances the strategy formulation and overall performance of Lenovo.
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 

Chapter 3: Research Methodology

The third chapter will provide a methodology outline by discussing the important methodological choices. The researcher will provide the justification for each methodological choice along with discussing the associated limitations. The key methodological elements discussed in this chapter include research philosophy, research design, research strategy, research time frame and overall research approach including the data collection, sampling, data analysis and overall procedure to complete the research. Finally, the important research limitations and key ethical considerations would be discussed and the whole chapter would be summarized to give a brief overview of research methodology.

3.1 Research Philosophy and Design

The research philosophy or paradigm offers the philosophical basis to the underlying research. Academic studies either employ positivist, pragmatic or interpretive philosophical paradigms to construct the foundation. In the underlying case, the researcher has adopted the interpretive research paradigm to provide the philosophical foundation for underlying research. This philosophical approach is chosen when researcher intends to view the reality without interpretive restrictions (Bryman and Bell, 2015). The interpretive studies are closer to the reality as researchers become the part of it during the investigation contrary to the independent and neutral stance of positivist researchers. The research design acts as the roadmap of whole research. The underlying research has employed the case study research design as Lenovo has been chosen as the case study organization.  This research design suits well when researcher intends to explore and analyse an underlying issue in a particular context. However, the proposed findings have specific implications for the chosen organization that weakens the reliability and generalizability element (Creswell, 2013).

3.2 Research Strategy

The academic research studies either choose the inductive or deductive research strategies to provide the theoretical guidance. Deductive studies focus on quantifying or proving the relationship between two or more under study variables. Whereas, the inductive studies allow the researchers to adopt a flow from specific to general, and explore the underlying phenomenon without methodological or interpretive restrictions. The underlying study has selected the inductive research strategy. With the help of inductive research strategy, the researcher has explored the research questions and reported the findings by employing the qualitative interviewing technique.  The researcher selected this strategy as research purpose was to collect the in-depth insights and explore the multiple dynamics within the informational system, strategy formulation and firm performance study area (Zikmund et al. 2013).

3.3 Research Time Frame

Two research timeframes are available to the academic researchers, cross-sectional timeframe and longitudinal timeframe. The longitudinal timeframe is employed when the researcher is interested in assessing the influence of time factor. These studies are considered to be more reliable due to time factor consideration. However, longitudinal investigations require extensive resources and time (Bryman and Bell, 2015). On another hand, cross-sectional timeframe allows the researchers to discuss the current trends. It doesn’t consider the time element and considerably less time and resource intensive than the longitudinal research. In the underlying case, the researcher has chosen the cross-sectional timeframe as research nature, purpose and objectives do not require time factor consideration. This timeframe will allow the researcher to share the latest (current) snapshot of the underlying phenomenon. Another justification for choosing this timeframe is that within the time and resource constraints, it was not possible to collect the data at two different periods (Zikmund et al. 2013).

3.4 Research Approach

The researcher has chosen the qualitative research approach for conducting the empirical investigation.  The reason for choosing the qualitative approach is that it enables the researcher to conduct an in-depth investigation and collect the detailed insights. The interpretive philosophical approach also supports the qualitative research technique as it does not limit the researchers’ ability. The unrestricted nature of interpretive philosophy and qualitative approach helped the researcher to analyse the influence of information systems on the strategy formulation and operational efficiency (Creswell, 2013). Researchers suggest employing the qualitative technique when the purpose is to get the detailed and informed insights from a limited set of audience (Bryman and Bell, 2015). However, one major limitation of this approach is that researcher cannot collect data from large sample size and subjective interpretation increases the chances of biased reporting. The researcher will overcome this limitation by conducting interviews from Lenovo executives and managers, and interpretation the findings by adopting an unbiased attitude.
After discussing the chosen research approach, the researcher will discuss the data collection, sampling and data analysis techniques by describing the overall procedure.

3.4.1 Data Collection and Sampling

The interpretive philosophical approach will guide the researcher to adopt the qualitative data collection and analysis strategies. Within the realm of qualitative research, the most common data collection approach is the interviewing strategy (Zikmund et al. 2013). In the underlying case, the researcher selected the semi-structured interviewing strategy. The justification for choosing this technique is that it allows the in-depth exploration of underlying phenomenon, besides maintaining the overall structure. The qualitative data has been collected through Skype or telephonic interviews to speed up the process and ensure access to the target participants. In the underlying case, the primary research audience is the Lenovo management. The researcher collected the data from five middle management and senior executives in relevant departments. Moreover, a purposive sampling technique is used to conduct the research. This sampling strategy is selected when researcher intends to collect the insights from a specific audience. For example, to explore the effectiveness and influence of information system on the strategy formulation, the researcher selected the Lenovo executives with at least four years’ experience to give the informed insights. Another criterion was that selected participant must have up-to-date knowledge and some influence on the strategy formulation process. Hence, 2 respondents were at the supervisory level, one was team lead and two were at managerial level.   

3.4.2 Data Analysis and Overall Procedure

As mentioned above, the researcher employed the qualitative, and semi-structured interviewing technique to collect the data. The overall procedure started by inviting the target participants for participating in interviews. When interview invitation was accepted, the researcher explained the research purpose and questions that were asked during the interview. The interview time and date was set according to the respondents’ convenience. All interviews were virtual, 2 were conducted over Skype and 3 were conducted over the telephone. The researcher took the notes and after taking the permission, important parts were recorded, that were later transcribed by converting the voice to text. After completing the transcription process, the researcher employed the manual thematic approach to report the key qualitative findings. Firstly, the data was sorted and synthesized. After synthesizing the qualitative findings, the researcher completed the categorization process. In-depth analysis of identified categories enabled the researcher to transform key themes. Finally, the emerged qualitative themes were analysed considering the existing literature.
After explaining the key methodological elements, the researcher would discuss research limitations and key ethical considerations followed by a brief chapter summary.

3.4.3 Research Limitations

This research study has some key limitations. Firstly, the researcher selected the qualitative research technique to collect and analyse the data, and explore the underlying phenomenon. The unrestricted, subjective interpretation, on one hand, enables the researcher to collect in-depth insights, and on another hand, weakens the reliability element due to lack of valid statistical evidence. Another key research limitation is that researcher selected the case-study approach, which means that the reported findings will have specific implications for the Lenovo management. Case study nature weakens the generalizability element of research. Lastly, the time and resource constraints hinder the researcher’s ability to collect insights from a large set of audience Onley 5 interviews have been conducted to report the findings and explore the underlying phenomenon. 

3.5 Key Ethical Considerations

The academic researchers are increasingly recognizing the importance of research ethics during last few decades. The research study’ reliability heavily depends on its creditworthiness and extent to which the researcher has fulfilled the relevant ethical standards. In the underlying case, the researcher fully recognizes the importance of taking ethical standards in serious consideration. For example, the researcher fully explained the research purpose and objective to the research participants. The respondents gave the free consent and were not induced to take part in the investigation. Moreover, the researcher takes the prior consent before taking the interview notes. The study ensured the respondents’ anonymity by avoiding disclosure of private information (such as names). During data collection and analysis, the researcher avoided the biased and subjective interpretation of facts and adopted an unbiased attitude while reporting the results. The collected data has only been used for the clearly communicated objective, and will not be used for any other purpose in future.

3.6 Chapter Summary

The researcher has adopted the interpretive research paradigm to provide the philosophical foundation for underlying research. With the help of inductive research strategy, the researcher explored the formulated research questions by using a qualitative approach. The interview strategy has been used to conduct the analysis. The data has been collected through Skype or telephonic interviews. The primary research audience is the Lenovo management. The researcher collected the data from middle management and senior executives in relevant departments. Purposive sampling technique is used to conduct the research. The researcher has collected the data from at least 5 managers and executives employed in different organizational units to collect the meaningful insights. Hence, the focus has been on the qualitative side. Manual thematic analysis has been conducted for answering the research questions. and present the empirical results.
 
 
 
 

Chapter 4: Findings Presentation, Interpretation and Analysis

This chapter will present the empirical results followed by a meaningful discussion considering the existing literature. The researcher has adopted the manual thematic approach to report, present and analyse the important qualitative findings. The results will be discussed in the form of different broader themes. Each theme will comprise a set of related categories that will offer useful insights upon in-depth analysis. The thematic analysis will be followed by a comprehensive discussion considering the existing literature

4.1 Thematic Analysis

4.1.1 Respondents’ Characteristics

Before discussing the key qualitative insights, the researcher will provide a brief introduction of interview respondents.  The researcher conducted the 5 semi-structured interviews with Lenovo management. Out of 5, one was female and other were males. 2 interviews were conducted by telephone and 3 on skype. Transcript of each interview is attached in the Appendix. Almost, all respondents had on average 4 years’ experience at Lenovo. Out of five study respondents, 2 were assistant managers, 2 were executives and 1 was a senior executive. 2 out of 5 respondents were from IT department, 2 from research and development and one from customer relationship management department. Overall, the respondents were well-informed and shared useful insights that helped the researcher in broadening the understanding of the underlying phenomenon. The enriched insights from different departments enabled the researcher to conduct a detailed comparison and clarify the direct and indirect relationship of Information System management and firm performance.
The respondents’ characteristics are shared in the tabular form:
Respondents Number of Years Gender Designation/Department
Respondent A 4.5 years Male Assistant Manager (CRM)
Respondent B 3.75 years Female  Market Research executive
Respondent C 4 years Male Executive (IT)
Respondent D 5 years Male Senior Executive (IT)
Respondent E 4 years Male Assistant Manager (Research)
 

4.1.2 Management attitude towards integration of latest information systems

During the coding and categorization process, the “top management commitment and attitude towards the latest IS integration” was among the identified themes that represented different categories. The analysis highlights the importance of top management commitment and positive attitude towards technological innovation for successful IS adoption and continuous upgradation. Almost all respondents contended that the Lenovo’s top management is highly supportive in this regard. Some commented that without top management support, it is almost impossible for IT management to upgrade the system. The respondents further highlighted that management has a clear vision towards technological innovation, and such vision clarity motivates the managerial staff to adopt a pro-innovation attitude.
The respondents were also asked to show whether the top management is committed to enhancing the firm performance through technological innovation. Although all respondents agreed that top management is supportive, and its support is crucial for the innovation management, a mixed response was received regarding the relationship between innovation and tangible firm performance in the short run. For example, respondent A commented:
“Top management shows full support; however, it is difficult to create a direct linkage between the innovation and tangible firm performance in the short run”- (Personal Communication, 2017).
The detailed discussion of “relationship between IS upgradation and firm performance” would be given in a separate theme. Highlighting the importance of top management support, Respondent B commented:
“Without top management support, it is almost impossible to position an organization as a creative and pro-innovative firm” -(Personal Communication, 2017).
Other respondents also confirmed the importance by contending that the “Innovation is in our DNA” (respondent C) and that with top management support, “the firm has been highly proactive in integrating and upgrading it’s IS system to handle the environmental complexities”. (Respondent D). Overall, the analysis suggests that the alignment between the business and IT strategy is crucial for top management commitment and this commitment is consequently crucial for the successful innovation management.

4.1.3 Resource availability to integrate the latest IS and other challenges

The respondents were also asked whether they face by financial constraints or human expertise issues while integrating or upgrading the system, the results confirmed the inevitable importance of resource availability. Without sufficient resource allocation, it is almost impossible to keep the pace with changing technology. While discussing the challenges, the respondents mentioned the continuous software upgradation, particularly where the adoption or upgradation decision involves considerable human effort and financial investment. However, in the context of Lenovo, the respondents confirmed that due to pro-active attitude towards innovation, they don’t face resource constraint issues. The management allocates the sufficient resources and arranges frequent training sessions to align the human expertise with business’ changing technological needs.
For example, respondent B commented that “Lenovo places high importance towards integration and upgradation of its information system. For this purpose, a substantial budget is allocated and frequent training sessions are arranged to equip the employees with required skills”. Contending on the same note, Respondent C mentioned that top management ensures its support by ensuring adequate resource allocation, even though it is not directly involved in system upgradation decision unless there is a major shift, and has authorized IT staff to take the decisions. The respondents also highlighted some other challenges faced by them during the adoption or upgradation of IS. For example, respondent A mentioned that “despite the full support from top management, sometimes managerial staff faces difficulty in realizing the true potential of the information system. Another key challenge is the restricted ability to ensure a timely implementation of system strategy”.  Contending on the same note, respondent C mentioned that “the continuous system upgradation is itself a complex process that involves various multi-faceted factors”.
 
The analysis identified a sub-theme within this category:

Complexity and compatibility challenges

Complexity and compatibility are the common challenges that IT management faces while considering the integration decision. In the underlying case, the researcher has found that innovative organizations like Lenovo do not consider the complexity factor, and adopt a pro-risk attitude while testing new innovative technological systems. However, the compatibility is a serious concern. For example, Respondent A mentioned that “we do consider the compatibility, but rarely consider the complexity factor as we completely trust on our IT infrastructure and human expertise”. Respondent C agreed by commenting that adoption decision is only influenced when new system doesn’t compliment’s organization’s IT requirements. Whereas, respondent E mentioned that:
“These issues (complexity and compatibility) don’t play an important role when perceived benefits are higher than the perceived challenges. The Lenovo management is motivated to enhance the customers’ experience. It’s pro-risk attitude drives the management to ensure continuous up gradation despite the associated complexity and compatibility”- (Personal Communication, 2017).
Overall, the results suggest that complexity issue is considerably less influencing than the compatibility while considering the IS adoption and upgradation decision. The management faces various technical and management related challenges, however, the adequate financial and technical human expertise assists the continuous IS upgradation.

4.1.4 Organizational structure and IS upgradation

The researcher also analysed the role played by the organizational structure as input to successful information system management. 3 out of 5 respondents agreed that the Lenovo’s organizational structure supports the technological innovation embeddedness. For example, respondent A commented that Lenovo’s organizational structure fully supports the upgradation and integration of latest information system tools. Respondent B agreed by commenting that, the structural resistance has never been strong that it could hinder the system upgradation process. Rest two respondents were somehow neutral. Respondent D contended that “organizational structure creates some resistance when the integration involves substantial resource investment. Despite top management support, sometimes, the decision gets delay due to the involvement of multiple factors”. Overall, the results suggest that supportive organizational culture is an important input to IS management. Lenovo’s flexible and pro-innovative structure played an important role in successful innovation integration

4.1.5 IS management and Strategy Formulation

The empirical results have revealed many important insights while exploring the relationship between information system management and strategy formulation. The respondents contended that successful IS management influences many business areas. The most common theme observed from the in-depth review of responses was stakeholder collaboration. The respondents also shared that the IS helps the management in understanding customers’ explicit and implicit needs, and make timely and informed decisions. For example, respondent A mentioned that the IS management requires
“Lenovo management to open multiple communication channels and ensure a high outside in knowledge flow by employing a stakeholder collaboration approach. The up-to-date knowledge with advanced technological support assists in quick and informed decision making process” (Personal Communication, 2017).
The respondent B highlighted that IS management enhances the managerial decision making process, improves the relationships with suppliers and customers, enhances the management’s understanding of customers’ implicit expectations and sharpens the problem-solving capabilities. Respondent C shared that the most visible influence is on understanding the customers’ insights and resolving the operational inefficiency issues through better problem solving abilities. Lastly, the respondent E discussed the influence on the strategic formulation process as multidimensional. The respondent highlighted the need to develop a strong cooperation between top management and IT department.
“Such close cooperation and communication significantly influence various business areas. It considerably increases the employee productivity by bringing the job clarity, and simplifying business processes, resulting in enhanced operational efficiency” (Personal Communication, 2017).
Overall, the theme has generated many important insights. The respondents highlighted many strategy formulation areas that derive a direct influence by the IS management and upgradation. The important and commonly discussed strategy formulation aspects include   quick and informed decision making process, enhanced relationships with suppliers and customers, improved problem-solving capabilities, job clarity, simplified business processes and enhanced operational efficiency.

4.1.6 Alignment between Business and IT strategy

The analysis of the interview transcripts identified another important theme, “alignment between business and IT strategy”. Almost all respondents highlighted the need to align the business and IT strategy to maximize the influence on the strategy formulation process. Based on the interview results, the study confirms that when business strategy is not aligned with the IT strategy, the chances of getting adequate top management support decline significantly. To ensure the positive influence on the strategy formulation and firm performance, there must be closer collaboration between IT and other business departments. Commenting on the same note, two respondents said that the Lenovo management faces some challenges while ensuring alignment between IT and business strategy. For example, Respondent A said that:
“It is the common problem of organizations regardless of the firm size and positioning within the market. The alignment between the IT and organizational strategy is not an easy task in increasingly turbulent scenario” (Personal Communication, 2017).
While three said that management has ensured an adequate alignment and business strategy fully supports the strategies formulated by the IT department. For example, respondent B mentioned that lack of alignment can result in failure of a highly efficient system. The respondent further commented that
“In Lenovo’s case, the organizational strategy is to maintain the position through collaborative innovation, and IT strategy is to ensure continuous upgradation for ensuring smooth knowledge flow. This knowledge flow provides the basis for collaborative innovation” (Personal Communication, 2017).
Overall, the discussion has confirmed the significant impact of alignment between business and IT strategy on IS effectiveness. 

4.1.7 IS Management and Firm Performance

The final theme emerged during the review of interview findings is the relationship between IS management and overall firm performance. A mixed response was received, where, some respondents contended that the IS adoption directly affects the firm performance, and some said the influence is intangible and indirect in nature. However, all respondents agreed that the organization could face loss upon poor IS management. For example, respondent A commented that although innovation management doesn’t directly influence the tangible aspects of organizational performance, the IS upgradation has a direct impact on the organizations’ strategy formulation process. Respondent B shared that:
“Technological innovation in inevitable for improving both (tangible and intangible) aspects of performance. In Lenovo’s case, the IS innovative management helped the organization in stakeholder management and maximizing the operational efficiency” (Personal Communication, 2017).
Respondent C, D and E also confirmed the influence of IS management on different aspects of firm performance. For example, respondent C said that the IS shares a direct relationship with the firm performance. Effective IS integration and management directly influences the firm’s operational performance. It enhances the employees’ productivity by simplifying their job descriptions, enhances the decision-making process, improves the business’ relations with stakeholders and all these aspects are the direct constructs of firm performance.  Respondent D agreed by stating that the IS management is directly linked to the strategy formulation process, and strategy formulation process is a direct predictor of firm performance. It implies that the respondent regarded the strategy formulation effectiveness as mediating variable that mediates the relationship between IS management and firm performance. The respondent D also commented that besides sharing an indirect relationship:
“It (IS management) also shares a direct relationship by reducing the errors, enhancing the operational efficiency and ensuring close collaboration with key stakeholders”. (Personal Communication, 2017).
The respondent E commented:
“The technological innovation is not a choice, but a necessity for ensuring the survival and preserving position in a highly competitive market. So, as per my understanding, the continuous innovation management and system upgradation share a direct relationship with the long-term firm performance” (Personal Communication, 2017).
Overall, the review reveals that the IS management and continuous upgradation helps the management to improve various intangible aspects of organizational performance. However, the tangible effect becomes visible in the long-run. The commonly discussed firm performance dimensions were employee productivity, stakeholder satisfaction and operational efficiency.

4.2 Analysis and Discussion

After reporting the key interview findings, the researcher will conduct a comprehensive analysis considering the existing literature. The thematic analysis will be analysed by comparing the themes with key literature insights.
The empirical results have confirmed the multi-dimensional influence of technological innovation on the strategy formulation and firm performance. As the study was qualitative in nature, the researcher supported the key insights with important interview quotes instead of statistical evidence. Overall, the researcher found the agreement about important research areas, whereas, in some areas, the disagreement was also visible. Many empirical insights proposed by this research have confirmed the previous results. For example, the most important current research finding that was commonly highlighted by all respondents was the significant influence of IS on the strategy formulation process. The literature review has also highlighted many studies that confirmed the relationship between both variables. Cakmak and Tas (2012) empirically proved the impact of IS on strategy formulation. The researcher revealed that continuous IS upgradation is inevitable for constructing the basis for a sustainable competitive advantage. The respondent B and C have made the similar comments by suggesting that the technological integration is not a choice, but has become a necessity for preserving the Lenovo’s performance within the highly competitive market.  Chen et al (2010) argued that the necessity to adopt the technological models is considerably higher for organizations functioning within the IT sector.
The interview findings have proposed mixed insights with regards to the direct relationship between IS management and tangible firm performance. It implies that within the short run, the influence of the successful IS management on the tangible firm performance is reflected through enhancement in the strategies. However, in the long-run, the effect becomes clearly visible. Within the IT industry, the innovation embeddedness and knowledge exploitation have become one of the fiercest driver (Fishenden & Thompson, 2012; Bhatt, Grover & Grover, 2005). The changing customer needs require a highly vigilant management strategy that can keep an eye on the changing industry trends and keep the pace with increasingly turbulent scenario (Cakmak and Tas, 2012). The literature review has also mentioned studies that theoretically or empirically analysed the relationship between IS and firm performance (such as Farhanghi, Abbaspour & Ghassemi, 2013; Battor and Battor, 2010). However, some studies have negated the possibility of any such direct relationship. For example, Prajogo & Olhager (2012) proposed that no direct relationship exists between information system adoption with the operational and financial performance. The researchers further proposed that although the technological adoption resolves many operational issues, there is weak statistical evidence confirming the causation between IS adoption and firm profitability.  The underlying study has also shared the similar views.
The analysis reveals that the respondents commonly highlighted some performance aspects that derive the major influence from the IS adoption. The respondents suggested that when organization ensures the IS adoption and timely integration, it has a direct impact on the employee productivity. The enhanced knowledge flow brings the role clarity and assists the employees in efficient fulfilment of their job responsibilities. Moreover, it also helps the managerial decision making process. The quick decisions are made, based on the up-to-date information. The IS integration also lessens the errors, consequently improving the operational efficiency. Another common area highlighted by multiple respondents was stakeholder collaboration. The respondents contended that the IS adoption and successful management plays a critical role in the overall strategy formulation process of Lenovo.
The positive attitude towards collaborative innovation and continuous IS upgradation results into high outside-in information flow. This information is used to develop the close relationships with key stakeholders, particularly, the customers. The analysis further revealed that extracted information enables the firm to offer products that could satisfy explicit and implicit customer needs. The literature review supports these findings by confirming the multidimensional impact of IS adoption on firm performance. Becker, Greve & Albers (2009) empirically confirmed the statistically significant impact of IS on the customer satisfaction, Susanto, Almunawar & Tuan, (2011) analysed the possible causation between IS and stakeholder collaboration and proposed that IS enhances firms’ relations with stakeholders. Farhanghi, Abbaspour & Ghassemi (2013) explored the benefits offered by IS adoption and revealed that the proactive attitude towards IS adoption and upgradation enhances the decision-making process.
The researchers also highlighted the importance of top management support. It was contended that top management support is inevitable for ensuring the continuous upgradation of the information system. The Lenovo is recognized for its unique and creative practices at the international stage. The respondents defined the top management support as openness to the innovative ideas. It was shared that Lenovo employees can share innovative and creative ideas. They are always encouraged to share innovative opinions without the fear of any punishment upon failure, and such culture cannot be fostered without adequate support from top management. The review of the literature has also emphasized the importance of top management commitment to keeping pace with the technological innovation. Oliveira & Martins (2011) contended that when management fosters an open environment where ideas are freely shared, discussed and implemented, it directly influences the employees’ productivity and consequently, overall stakeholder satisfaction. The interviews’ analysis further reveals that prevailing environmental complexities induce the organizations to ensure continues upgradation, which is a highly challenging task. Hu et al (2012) also comment that mere one-time adoption of an advanced information system is not sufficient. The contemporary business environment requires a continuous commitment towards innovation (Hu, Dinev, Hart & Cooke, 2012).
The analysis further revealed that IS adoption is not without challenges. Despite the strong positioning within the market, the highly successful firm Lenovo also faces various challenges while ensuring the continuous upgradation. The respondents regarded the upgradation process as a challenging task, particularly, when the integration or upgradation decision involves complexity and compatibility factor. Based on the interview responses, the underlying study confirms that successful innovative organizations integrate the structural flexibility that enables them to handle the complexity issues. However, the compatibility challenge influences the adoption decision when it involves substantial investment and major changes within the IT infrastructure. Overall, the key challenges associated with the IS adoption, identified through the review of interview findings include difficulty in realizing the true potential of information system, restricted ability to ensure a timely implementation of system strategy, difficulty in creating an alignment between business and system strategy, ensuring a smooth flow, responding ever-changing information needs, technical difficulties, upgradation of previous systems and difficulty in measuring the benefits.
The respondents mentioned the importance of organizational structure while considering the integration decision. Almost all respondents contended that structural support is necessary for ensuring an alignment between IT and business strategy. The Lenovo’s structural flexibility allows the IT staff to make the integration decisions on their own without relying on the approval of the top management unless the decision involves some major transformation. The literature also confirms that strict and inflexible organizational structure creates a hindrance, and affects the innovation integration and management (Farhanghi, Abbaspour & Ghassemi, 2013). Liang et al. (2007) commented that lack of structural support hinders the management’s ability to maximize the IS potential. The structural resistance is one of the biggest challenges faced by firms considering the adoption decision. Law and Ngai (2007) stated that organization fail to realize the true potential of information technology as their structure lacks the alignment with IT objectives. Finally, Chan and Reich (2007) mentioned that flexible and well-aligned structure maximizes the benefits offered by advanced IS integration. The researchers further commented that IS adoption, supported by organizational structure creates a positive influence on the firm operational performance. The discussion confirms that structure plays very important role in determining the impact of IS on strategy formulation and firm performance.
Overall, the underlying study intended to explore the relationship between IS and firm performance. The first research question was to analyse whether the successful adoption and management of information systems enable the management to formulate effective business strategies? The study also intended to analyse the influence of successful IS adoption on the firm operational performance. The empirical analysis confirmed that IS enhances the strategy formulation process by enabling the management to make quick and informed decisions, minimize the data handling errors and better understand the stakeholders’ expectations. The analysis further confirmed the direct and indirect relationship between IS and firm operational performance. The third research question was to assess the current challenges/improvement areas being faced by the Lenovo management in maximizing the potential of information systems. The empirical analysis considering the existing literature highlighted key challenges that firms commonly face while considering the integration decision, including creating an alignment between business and system strategy, responding ever-changing information needs, upgradation of previous systems and difficulty in measuring the benefits.
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 

Chapter 5: Conclusion and Recommendations

 After conducting the comprehensive discussion considering the existing literature, the last chapter will conclude the analysis. The researcher will propose some useful recommendations to Lenovo management. Moreover, key study limitations will also be discussed along with highlighting the possible future research areas.
Based on the interview and literature findings, the study concludes that a proactive attitude towards the technological innovation has become a necessity of modern organizations, particularly operating within the IT sector. The pro-innovation attitude exerts a strong influence on various dimensions of firm performance. The analysis confirms the direct as well as the indirect relationship between information system upgradation and firm operational performance.  In Lenovo context, the organization demonstrates a positive attitude towards innovation. The drive to integrate the collaborative innovation motivates the Lenovo management to upgrade its information system and get in-depth insights to satisfy the stakeholders. The open organizational culture along with adequate structural support sets the basis for sustainable competitive advantage. The analysis suggests that firm will successfully handle the current issues through its collaborative innovation approach.
The study concludes that continuous upgradation of information system enhances management’s decision making ability, that ultimately results into the formulation of effective business strategies. The enhanced strategic formulation process than acts as the mediator between the information system and firm operational performance. Understanding the direct relationship between IS and firm performance is a little vague due to the involvement of various factors. This research confirms that without structural support, the benefits offered by IS couldn’t be realized fully.  The alignment between the organization and IT strategy is crucial for the successful IS adoption. Moreover, the adoption of an information system is not a one-time decision. It loses its effectiveness when management is unable to ensure a continuous upgradation.
The analysis further suggests that IS adoption involves various challenges. The management must adopt a holistic view and broaden its understanding of prevailing context to ensure the successful integration. The common challenges faced by the firm while seeking to upgrade its information system are creating an alignment between business and system strategy, responding ever-changing information needs, upgradation of previous systems and difficulty in measuring the benefits. Despite being one of the largest firms, Lenovo management also faces management related challenges, however, the adequate resource availability and an alignment between IT and other business strategies minimize the influence of these challenges on the IS adoption decision. 
The research also reveals that the innovative organizations like Lenovo do not consider the complexity factor while making the integration decision. One major reason behind it is adequate resource availability and management expertise to handle the complex processes and technical difficulties. However, the compatibility factor is given considerable importance. The adoption of IS exerts a positive influence on different aspects of firm performance when it complements the existing information technology infrastructure. If compatibility doesn’t exist, then management faces various serious challenges and impact on the strategy formulation and operational performance declines significantly.
The Lenovo sets an example for other IT firms about how to ensure the innovation embeddedness despite the environmental complexity. The innovative organization seek to collaborate with their key stakeholders and ensure a high outside-in information flow. They attempt to make the best use of available information supported by advanced technology. The highly innovative and supportive culture than fosters an environment where management can fully exploit the potential of advanced information technology. The Lenovo management has fostered an organizational culture that encourages the employees to share innovative ideas without the fear of failure.
Based on the conceptual model, the study confirms the interlinkages between the information system inputs and information system output. The empirical analysis confirms the relationship between IS adoption, strategy formulation and firm performance. The factors influencing the IS effectiveness include the associated challenges, perceived complexity and compatibility, organizational structure, resource availability and alignment between business and IT strategy. The impact of effective IS on most visible strategy formulation areas are stakeholder collaboration, decision making process and role clarity. Whereas, the most influenced performance dimensions are employee productivity, stakeholder satisfaction and operational efficiency.
The underlying study suggests the Lenovo management to enhance the collaboration between IT and other business departments. The enhanced inter-departmental communication will minimize the possible structural resistance, and further enhance the innovation embeddedness. The management must consider the importance of top management support and strategic alignment while seeking to accomplish the innovation objectives. This research employed the case-study approach, due to which the proposed recommendations have specific implications for the Lenovo management. The future researchers can further explore the underlying phenomenon by adopting a multiple-case study approach. The inter-organization or inter-industry comparison will offer useful insights that were not explored by the current research. Moreover, the study only relied on the qualitative approach that hindered the researcher’s ability from approaching a large set of audience. The future studies can adopt the mixed method approach by supporting the qualitative insights with valid statistical evidence. It will greatly enhance the study’s generalizability and reliability.
 
 
 
 
 
 
 

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Appendices

Interview Outline

Open-Ended Questionnaire Outline (it is a general interview guide. During the interview, the researcher slightly amended these questions and followed a semi-structured approach to align with the underlying context).
Question 1: How will you define Lenovo environment with regards to innovation and creativity? Does the top management show a positive attitude towards latest technology and innovation embeddedness for enhancing performance?
Question 2: Does the Lenovo faces any resource constraints (financial and human resource expertise) while integrating and updating the information system management and latest technological tools? Do you consider the complexity and compatibility factors while integrating technological innovation?
Question 3: Does the Lenovo’s organizational structure supports the technological innovation embeddedness and upgradation and integration of latest information system tools?
Question 4: How and in what ways the Lenovo’s policy towards the innovation influences its strategy formulation process?
Question 5: Do you think the current organization environment can fully leverage the benefits offered by the advanced information system?  Do the current information systems help the managers in building strong relations with stakeholders?
Question 6: Does the current information systems help in creating an alignment between business and innovation strategy? Does your IT strategy is aligned with the organizational strategy?
Question 7: Has the Lenovo’s performance improved over the last few years? Is Lenovo management in a position to maximize the operational efficiency besides ensuring stakeholder satisfaction?
 
Important Note:
Due to privacy and confidentiality issues, the names of the respondents will not be revealed. Instead, the respondents will be coded as respondent A, respondent B and so on.

Interview Transcript 1

Interviewer: Hello Sir, Good Noon. Firstly, thanks a lot for accepting the interview invitation and giving consent to participate in this research project.
Interviewee A: My Pleasure.
Interviewer: Please introduce yourself about when you joined the Lenovo and what is your current role?
Interviewee A: Well, its’ been around 4.5 years since I joined Lenovo as CRM executive, and currently I am working as the assistant manager within customer relationship department.
Interviewer: Sir, as I discussed earlier, my project is to assess the influence of information systems on the strategy formulation and firm performance in Lenovo context. How will you define Lenovo environment with regards to innovation and creativity?
Interviewee A: Lenovo is fostering the collaborative innovation and a highly pro-active attitude towards the innovation embeddedness characterizes its environment. Being one of the world’ largest firm, the innovation is deeply embedded in our roots.
Interviewer: So, the top management is highly supportive and committed to enhancing firm performance through innovation?
Interviewee A: Well, I will disagree with the second part of your statement. Top management shows full support; however, it is difficult to create a direct linkage between the innovation and tangible firm performance in the short run.
Interviewer: Does the Lenovo faces any resource constraints (financial and human resource expertise) while integrating the IS?
Interviewee A: No, but there are some other challenges that Lenovo management faces in this regard. Such as, despite the full support from top management, sometimes managerial staff faces difficulty in realizing the true potential of the information system. Another key challenge is the restricted ability to ensure a timely implementation of system strategy.
Interviewer: Do you consider the complexity and compatibility factors while integrating technological innovation?
Interviewee A: We do consider the compatibility, but rarely consider the complexity factor as we completely trust on our IT infrastructure and human expertise. 
Interviewer: Okay. How will you define the structural support? Does the Lenovo’s organizational structure support the technological innovation embeddedness?
Interviewee A: As I mentioned before, the Lenovo’s organizational structure fully supports the upgradation and integration of latest information system tools. To ensure the continuous support and quick response to changing customers’ needs, the organization has recently made some major structural changes.
Interviewer: How and in what ways the Lenovo’s policy towards the innovation influences its strategy formulation process?
Interviewee A: The innovation embeddedness requires Lenovo management to open multiple communication channels and ensure a high inside out and high outside in knowledge flow by employing a stakeholder collaboration approach. The up-to-date knowledge and advanced technological support assists in quick and informed decision making process. The information system management plays a critical role in the overall strategy formulation process of Lenovo.
Interviewer: That’s great. So, can we safely say the current organization environment can fully leverage the benefits offered by the advanced information system? 
Interviewee A: It’s an open sky and there is always a room for improvement.  There are some issues that are currently hindering the Lenovo from exploiting the full potential offered by IT. One common challenge is difficulty in creating an alignment between business and system strategy. The user requirements change quickly with changing the environment, and sometimes, keeping pace with the changing requirements becomes a challenging task, especially when the issues of compatibility are involved.
Interviewer: So, the Lenovo struggles to create an alignment between business and innovation strategy?
Interviewee A:  To some extent, it is the common problem of organizations regardless of the firm size and positioning within the market. The alignment between the IT and organizational strategy is not an easy task in the increasingly turbulent scenario.
Interviewer: Last question, how the IS strategy is helping Lenovo in improving its financial performance, operational efficiency and stakeholder satisfaction?
Interviewee A: The attitude towards collaborative innovation and advanced IS system played important role in dealing with the environmental complexities. It helped management in developing close relationships with stakeholders. However, we are still working to extend the positive influence on tangible aspects of performance.
Interviewer: Thank you so much for your time and support.
Interviewee A: Welcome.
 

Interview Transcript 2

Interviewer: Good Morning Ma’am. How are you?
Interviewee B: I am fine. How about you?
Interviewer: I am fine Ma’am thank-you for asking. Can you please share your experience at Lenovo and current designation?
Interviewee B: I am working at Lenovo since 2014 as market research executive and currently working on the same post.
Interviewer: How will you define Lenovo environment with regards to innovation and creativity?
Interviewee B: In a highly complex and competitive environment, Lenovo has gained tremendous success based on its positive attitude towards innovation and creativity. It is difficult to measure the extent to which Lenovo is innovative as innovation is an abstract term. Today, innovation is not an option, but a necessity for big organizations like Lenovo.
Interviewer: Is the top management supportive while fostering a pro-innovation environment?
Interviewee B: Without top management support, it is almost impossible to position an organization as a creative and pro-innovative firm. The world has recognized the unique and creative practices of Lenovo at the international stage. The employees in Lenovo are never punished for offering innovative and creative ideas. We are always encouraged to share innovative opinions without the fear of any punishment upon failure.
Interviewer: Are there any possible resource constraints? Such as lack of adequate financial or human expertise?
Interviewee B: Being a research executive, I can confirm that Lenovo places high importance towards integration and upgradation of its information system. For this purpose, a substantial budget is allocated and frequent training sessions are arranged to equip the employees with required skills.
Interviewer: Can you mention some other challenges (if any) that Lenovo management faces during system upgradation?
Interviewee B: A continuous upgradation of the system is never easy and involve a lot of complexities. Ensuring a smooth flow is the biggest challenge
Interviewer: You mean ensuring the system compatibility?
Interviewee B: Exactly, you have to take a holistic view to ensure whether the new or upgraded system compliments the infrastructure and organizational technical needs.
Interviewer: How do the system and process complexity influence the adoption decision?
Interviewee B: Complexity is considerably less influential while making the adoption decision. The management’s first priority is the value addition and second is system compatibility with IT infrastructure.
Interviewer: Does the innovation embeddedness and system upgradation is hindered by the organizational structure?
Interviewee B: You mean the organizational hierarchy?
Interviewer: Yes Ma’am.
Interviewee B: Based on my experience at Lenovo, the structural resistance has never been strong that it could hinder the system upgradation process. However, there are other innovation areas, where, the management struggles to minimizes the structural resistance. But in information system context, the current organizational structure instead supports the adoption of the new system as long as compatibility issue is not raised.
Interviewer: Okay. So, the Lenovo’s structure aligns with management’s innovation preferences?
Interviewee B: Yeah, you can say.
Interviewer: Ma’am can you explain how and in what ways the Lenovo’s policy towards the innovation influences its strategy formulation process?
Interviewee B: The innovative system upgradation enhances the managerial decision making process, improves the relationships with suppliers and customers, enhances the management’s understanding of customers’ implicit expectations and sharpens the problem-solving capabilities. The management employed collaborative innovation approach that requires efficient knowledge flow and up-to-date supportive information technology.
Interviewer: Does your IT strategy is aligned with the organizational strategy?
Interviewee B: A highly efficient and innovative system fails if it lacks the alignment to structure and organizational strategy. In Lenovo’s case, the organizational strategy is to maintain the position through collaborative innovation, and IT strategy is to ensure continuous upgradation for ensuring smooth knowledge flow. This knowledge flow provides the basis for collaborative innovation.
Interviewer: Here’s the last question, what role IS plays in improving the tangible and intangible performance of Lenovo?
Interviewee B: Technological innovation in inevitable for improving both aspects of performance. In Lenovo’s case, the IS innovative management helped the organization in stakeholder management and maximizing the operational efficiency.
Interviewer: Thank you for participating in this research project.
Interviewee B: You are welcome.
 

Interview Transcript 3

Interviewer: Hello Sir. Hope you will be fine. I am thankful that you accepted my interview invitation.
Interviewee C: Yeah, I am fine and you’re welcome.
Interviewer: Please share how long you are working at Lenovo and what is your current designation?
Interviewee C: I started my career from Lenovo and it’s been 4 years. I am currently working as IT executive.
Interviewer: As an IT executive at Lenovo, can you define the Lenovo culture with regards to creativity and innovation?
Interviewee C: Innovation is an inevitable reality of contemporary era. Talking about Lenovo, innovation is in its DNA, which means, whatever position the Lenovo has gained, it because of its innovative attitude towards technology.
Interviewer: Sir, as I told earlier, my research purpose is to assess the influence of information systems on the strategy formulation and firm performance within the Lenovo. Can you explain the top management’s support towards IS advancement?
Interviewee C: The IS upgradation and advancement is mostly done the by middle management. however, the top management has clearly communicated to not make any compromise when a better opportunity is available. Currently, the management has arranged a training session for employees after a major system upgradation. Obviously, it cannot be done without top management support, though, it is not directly involved in such decisions.
Interviewer: What are the key challenges faced during system upgradation and management? and how does the compatibility and complexity influence the IS adoption decision?
Interviewee C: There are numerous challenges that management faces, technical challenges, human resource challenges, management issues and other problems. The continuous system upgradation is itself a complex process that involves various multi-faceted factors. With regards to the compatibility and complexity, both factors matter. However, adoption decision is only influenced when new system doesn’t compliment’s organization’s IT requirements.  
Interviewer: How the structure supports the IS adoption and upgradation process?
Interviewee C: To foster the innovation, the Lenovo has integrated the structural flexibility that enables the IT management to quickly make the decisions. Within the highly competitive world, we don’t have the margin to delay the process due to the involvement of multiple hierarchal levels.
Interviewer: How and in what ways the Lenovo’s policy towards the innovation influences its strategy formulation process?
Interviewee C: The most visible influence is on understanding the customers’ insights and resolving the operational inefficiency issues through better problem solving abilities.
Interviewer: Do the current information systems help the managers in building strong relations with stakeholders?
Interviewee C: Of course, the enhanced ability to understand the insights of customers and other key stakeholders enables the firm to offer products that could satisfy explicit and implicit customer needs. It also helps the management to develop healthy professional relationships with key suppliers and other business partners.  
Interviewer: So, you think that the positive influence of the IT innovation and continuous upgradation of the information system on strategy formulation process ultimately improves the business performance?
Interviewee C: It does have a direct impact on the firm performance. The IS direct influences the firm’s operational performance. It enhances the employees’ productivity by simplifying their job descriptions. It enhances the decision-making process. It improves the business’ relations with stakeholders. All these are the direct constructs of firm performance. 
Interviewer: Sir, thank-you so much for your co-operation. It meant a lot.
Interviewee C: You are welcome. It is nice talking you.
Interviewer: Same here sir, have a good day.
Interviewee C: Take care.

 

Interview Transcript 4

Interviewer: Good Noon Sir. How are you?
Interviewee D: I am fine and Good Noon.
Interviewer: Sir, firstly thank-you for accepting my interview invitation.
Interviewee D: That’s my pleasure.
Interviewer: Sir can you please share your experience at Lenovo and current designation?
Interviewee D: It’s been 5 years since I joined Lenovo, and currently I am working as senior IT executive.
Interviewer: Okay sir. I am seeking to explore the influence of information system adoption and upgradation on the strategy formulation and firm performance. Being an IT executive, how will you define the Lenovo’s attitude towards innovation?
Interviewee D: It is an interesting topic. Considering your research context, I will rate the Lenovo’s attitude towards technological innovation integration 90 out of 100. The firm has been highly proactive in integrating and upgrading it’s IS system to handle the environmental complexities.
Interviewer: Do you face any resource constraints (financial and human resource expertise) while integrating and updating the information system management? Do you consider the complexity and compatibility factors while integrating technological innovation?
Interviewee D: Resource constraint issues do limit the firm’s ability to integrate and update the information system management. In case of Lenovo, these issues are negligible as firm’s top priority is to integrate the technological changes that have potential to improve firm performance. 
Interviewer: Do you face any structural issues while integrating or upgrading the information system?
Interviewee D: To some extent, it is true. Particularly when the integration involves substantial resource investment. Despite top management support, sometimes, the decision gets delay due to the involvement of multiple factors.
Interviewer: How and in what ways the Lenovo’s policy towards the innovation influences its strategy formulation process?
Interviewee D: You asked an interesting question. The advanced information system has resolved many issues traditionally faced by the business organizations. For example, the CRM has helped organizations to build the healthy and close relationships with customers having complex needs. The supplier partnership IS software has also resolved many issues that affected operational efficiency. The IS integration has influenced many business areas and plays a highly important role within the strategic formulation process.
Interviewer: Do you think the current organization environment can fully leverage the benefits offered by the advanced information system?  Do the current information systems help the managers in building strong relations with stakeholders?
Interviewee D: Answering your first question, the flexible organizational structure, a pro-risk attitude and management’s drive to ensure the collaborative innovation enables us to fully leverage the benefits offered by the advanced information system. Coming to the second part, the IS enhances the information flow. The innovative knowledge extracted through efficient system usage enables the firm to strengthen the stakeholder collaboration, resulting into enhanced stakeholder satisfaction and overall firm performance.
Interviewer: One last question sir, do you think the IS integration and upgradation shares a direct as well as the indirect relationship with the overall firm performance?
Interviewee D: Without any doubt, yes. It shares a direct and an indirect relationship with the firm performance. With regards to an indirect relationship, it enhances the managerial strategic formulation process, which is crucial for the efficient firm performance. Moreover, it also shares a direct relationship by reducing the errors, enhancing the operational efficiency and ensuring close collaboration with key stakeholders. 
Interviewer: Sir, thank-you so much for giving detailed answers. Your contribution is highly valuable for this project.
Interviewee D: Its pleasure for me. Do you have any other question?
Interviewer: No Sir, thank-you so much.
Interviewee D: You’re welcome.

 

Interview Transcript 5

Interviewer: Hello sir, how are you? Hope you would be having a good day.
Interviewee E: I am good. Thanks for asking. How about you?
Interviewer: I am also fine Sir. Thank-you for accepting my interview invitation despite your busy schedule.
Interviewee E: That’s alright.  
Interviewer: Before we start the discussion, please share your experience with Lenovo. How long you have been working and what is your current designation?
Interviewee E: I have been working at Lenovo for last 4 years. I joined the organization as research executive, and my current designation is assistant research manager.
Interviewer: Sir I am assessing the role of IS on strategy formulation and firm performance. Considering this research context, how will you define the Lenovo organizational culture?
Interviewee E: The organization is seeking to innovate with customers and other key stakeholders by adopting the collaborative philosophy. Its culture is highly innovative and supportive towards the technological integration. The management has fostered an organizational culture that encourages the employees to share innovative ideas without the fear of failure.
Interviewer: What are the key challenges faced by Lenovo management while upgrading information system?
Interviewee E: Multifaceted challenges are involved in IS upgradation, including ever-changing information needs, technical difficulties, upgradation of previous systems and difficulty in measuring the benefits.
Interviewer: What role do the complexity and compatibility play while making the IS integration system?
Interviewee E: These issues don’t play an important role when perceived benefits are higher than the perceived challenges. The Lenovo management is motivated to enhance the customers’ experience. It’s pro-risk attitude drives the management to ensure continuous up gradation despite associated complexity and compatibility.
Interviewer: How does the management handle the structural resistance while ensuring the continuous system upgradation?
Interviewee E: The Lenovo has maintained its position despite the escalating competition and shrinking PC market based on its innovative culture and an efficient alignment between culture and structure. Lenovo’s structure doesn’t resist but actually, supports the innovation embeddedness process. The IT department is authorized to take the important decisions for quick implementation.
Interviewer: How and in what ways the Lenovo’s policy towards the innovation influences its strategy formulation process?
Interviewee E: In the context of the information system, the policy towards the digital innovation assists the management in achieving their collaborative innovation objectives. The effectiveness of advanced information system depends on the strong cooperation between top management and IT department. Such close cooperation and communication significantly influence various business areas. It considerably increases the employee productivity by bringing the job clarity, and simplifying business processes, resulting in enhanced operational efficiency.
The most visible influence is on understanding the customers’ insights and resolving the operational inefficiency issues through better problem solving abilities.
Interviewer: Does the cultural and structural alignment enables the Lenovo management to fully leverage the benefits offered by the advanced information system? 
Interviewee E: This alignment is highly critical for maximizing the IS effectiveness. When structure doesn’t support the culture, the consequent resistance hinders the innovation effectiveness. The unique structural support of Lenovo assists the management in the optimal exploitation of digital innovation and IS upgradation.
Interviewer: One more question, do you think the IS integration and upgradation shares a direct as well as the indirect relationship with the overall firm performance?
Interviewee E: The technological innovation is not a choice, but a necessity for ensuring the survival and preserving position in a highly competitive market. So, as per my understanding, the continuous innovation management and system upgradation share a direct relationship with the long-term firm performance.
Interviewer: Thank-you sir for your cooperation.
Interviewee E: Welcome and best of luck for your research project.