IKEA's mixed bag of IT investments

Last evening I read an interesting Gartner case study (registration wall warning.) It tells how IKEA Components, a company that is part of the iconic retailer of flat pack furniture used Lawson Software products to make significant across the board process savings and improvements.

Last evening I read an interesting Gartner case study (registration wall warning.) It tells how IKEA Components, a company that is part of the iconic retailer of flat pack furniture used Lawson Software products to make significant across the board process savings and improvements. The business intelligence/process project makes great reading for those looking for serious bang per buck. Metrics achieved:

  • Product availability: improved 30%
  • Customer lead time: decreased 50%
  • Customer claims: decreased 85%
  • Inventory days: decreased 40%
  • Order-handling costs: decreased 30%

I was interested in success factors. Among those quoted:

Ensuring effective communication of the project between the IT organization, consultants, users and sponsors proved critical to the success of the project, because the BI/PM project was communicated several months ahead of time.

Ikea’s Anna
Effective communication is one of the big factors that helps prevent companies appearing on Mike Krigsman's Project Failures list. So who was the genius that thought it would be a good idea to add a helper program called Anna to the company's website. David Meerman Scott tells the story far better than I can. One of his gems:

Us: "Are you retarded?" Anna: "My on-board systems report that all my systems are working perfectly. What would you like to know about IKEA?." (The fact that Anna is programmed to answer this question indicates that we aren't the only people who think that she is, indeed, intellectually challenged.)

I asked the same question and got: "I understand that you may have doubts about the quality of my performance as an IKEA Online Assistant. Please test my knowledge of IKEA products and services by asking me an IKEA related question."

When I asked about beds and mattresses - the initial backdrop to David's story, I got the same answer as David but no link (see image.)

Isn't it a pity when companies that otherwise make great IT investments succeed in torpedoeing themselves by implementing something that is horribly flawed and detracts from the customer experience?

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