, Research Paper
Case Study: The Snap-On Intranet
Snap-On is one of many companies that have embraced the Internet as a tool for management. Snap-On runs its own intranet for the exclusive use of Snap-On franchises and dealers. (Senn, 1998)
Snap-On’s intranet provides reams of valuable information that would be inconvenient to deliver any other way. The speed of change in today’s market has forced printed material into partial obsolescence. Before Snap-On developed its own intranet, merchandise catalogs and part listings would have to be in printed, bound matter. Anyone who has been to an auto parts store can vouch that each of those catalogs is huge, to say the least. A franchisee would have to carry several catalogs in his vehicle for reference purposes. These catalogs occupied space in the truck that could have been used for inventory, and searching through them would eat into valuable time. Additionally, Snap-On would have to reissue the catalogs or send appendices when there was a change in any of the information. With an intranet, Snap-On merely changes the information on their websites, and the new information is there when the franchisees access it. This means no more expensive mailing of heavy catalogs and no more wasted time spent flipping through the pages of a book, trying to find the entry he wants, only to find out after fifteen agonizing minutes that the page he needs has been ripped out. (Senn, 1998)
Were I a Snap-On franchisee, I would be enthused about the use of a company intranet for the delivery of sales- and product-related information. Timely information is vital to survival in business today. Snap-On’s intranet allows for speedy updates of information. This means I would not have to wait the six to eight weeks for an updated merchandise list, nor would I have to pay exorbitant sums to get the package express-mailed to me. All my questions could be answered almost immediately via research on the different pages, or through email. (Senn, 1998)
Snap-On was motivated by the many benefits of the Internet to use the intranet as a tool in developing a communications link to each dealer. Franchisees in far-flung places could easily be contacted and organized. Orders and inventories can be monitored from one location, decreasing the number of personnel and middle management. This flatter organizational structure provides for clearer communication between the field and office personnel. The Internet allows easy access for everyone with a PC, Internet connection, and the right passwords. The intranet keeps costs low. All modifications and developments to the websites are handled internally because Snap-On already owned the hardware and software to create the pages. Having an intranet as opposed to information on the public web allows for increased security. Developments and data Snap-On wants to keep secret from competitors can be hidden behind a “firewall,” that keeps unauthorized users from entering Snap-On’s corporate cyberspace, while Snap-On users can search anywhere on the Net that is not protected by a firewall. (Senn, 1998)
Senn, J. A. (1998) Information technology in business: Principles, practices, and Opportun ties. Englewood Cliffs, NJ: Prentice Hall.