Academic journal article SAM Advanced Management Journal

Mobile Technology and the Employee-Customer-Profit Chain

Academic journal article SAM Advanced Management Journal

Mobile Technology and the Employee-Customer-Profit Chain

Article excerpt

Rapid changes associated with mobile technology are disrupting previous ways of accessing information, conducting e-commerce, and driving business strategy with the monetization of digital assets. This shift has increased the need for top management to understand and drive technology decisions such as mobile, data management, cloud computing, and online collaborations (Chief Executive Net, 2014). This paper presents a conceptual model and uses regression analysis to predict the likelihood of digital technology investments from CEOs and other C-level executives' understanding of the employee-customerprofit (ECP) chain.

We define "understanding the ECP chain" (hereafter, "uECP") as being able to comprehend and judge the following: (1) the content and structural form of the organization's interconnected relationships and processes, which influence positive exchanges between employees and customers for revenue generation, and (2) the value of digital technology for improving financial performance and creating value for competitive advantage. Our research addresses a gap in the literature using the uECP definition to assess this understanding among C-level executives. Existing studies focus mainly on applications of the ECP chain for improving operational excellence in various retail-service organizations or improving the customer-value proposition with IT capabilities. In addition, the literature reveals a need to create new research instruments and refresh older ones to address new work processes and adjust for terminologies and cultural appropriateness (Morris, Gullekson, Morse, and Popovich, 2009; ay Celik, 2010).

The purpose of this quantitative research study was to determine the degree to which under standing the ECP chain affects C-level (CEO, CIO, and CTO) perceptions of investing in digital technology initiatives for improving competitive advantage at U.S. retail trade firms. The study provided unique opportunity to explore the perceptions and focus of C-level executives --specifically CEOs, CIOs, CTOs, and designations, such as owner or president--through the lens of the ECP chain and how those perceptions influence use of mobile technology and investments in digital initiatives (e.g., hiring technical talent, employee training programs, hardware and software purchases, etc.). This study builds upon the initial findings of the Sears U.S. retail chain (Rucci, Kirn, and Quinn, 1998) and connects it with latter studies such as Brown and Lam (2007), Chi and Gursoy (2009), Mithas, Ramasubbu, and Samabamurthy (2011), DeBoer, Bothma, and Olwagen (2012), and Mazidi, Amini, and Latifi (2014) to place it in the context of the digital age.

This study's findings should be of much interest to C-level executives and academic leaders. Having an ECP chain focus may be the most fundamental part of understanding how disruptive technologies such as mobile wallet applications, crypto-currencies, cloud and distributed computing, and data analytics can help realize strategic objectives, stimulate innovated synergies, and drive competitive advantage. Mobile technology changes both internal and external processes using SMART phones and tablets, for example, mobile applications for faster and more personalized customer-order processing and cloud and distributed computing for better collaboration with suppliers to improve internal controls for inventory management. Not engaging employees and customers in this way could mean missed opportunity for harnessing competitive advantage via increased productivity, cost savings, and/or revenue growth.

Theoretical Framework

The research of Rucci et al. (1998) focused on the Sears retail giant during the early to mid-1990s and was able to show strong correlations between employee attitudes about the job or the company and other related drivers of employee behaviors, which resulted in Sears' ability to predict improvement in revenue growth. Total performance indicators were identified and measured to determine drivers of Sears' future financial performance using causal pathway modeling. …

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