Scanning Multimedia Business Environments

Scanning Multimedia Business Environments

Sören W. Scholz (Bielefeld University, Germany) and Ralf Wagner (University of Kassel, Germany)
DOI: 10.4018/978-1-60566-014-1.ch170
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Abstract

The term environmental scanning (ES) refers to the way in which managers study their relevant business environment. More precisely, we define ES as both looking for and looking at information available in the business environment. These activities embrace all domains of gathering facts from external sources like competitive intelligence (CI) and market research, but take a more holistic, integrative perspective by considering consumers, competitors, and the technological developments in same industry and different industries as well (Scholz & Wagner, 2006). Choo, Detlor, and Turnbull (2001) give an overview of ES and empirical findings supporting the importance of ES activities in business organizations. ES helps managers foresee favorable as well as unfavorable influences and initiate strategies that enable their organizations to adapt to their business environments. This article: • outlines three perspectives on the challenges for environmental scanning arising from information dissemination by multimedia, • discusses opportunities for ES on the World Wide Web (WWW), and • exemplarily describes two software solutions for ES in multimedia. The remainder of the article is organized as follows: the next section discusses challenges for ES arising from the increase of multimedia technologies in the business environment. Then, we discuss the impact of the WWW on ES. Subsequently, we present the state of the art in ES practice as well as the supporting software. The article concludes with a brief outline of future challenges in the field of ES.
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Introduction

The term environmental scanning (ES) refers to the way in which managers study their relevant business environment. More precisely, we define ES as both looking for and looking at information available in the business environment. These activities embrace all domains of gathering facts from external sources like competitive intelligence (CI) and market research, but take a more holistic, integrative perspective by considering consumers, competitors, and the technological developments in same industry and different industries as well (Scholz & Wagner, 2006). Choo, Detlor, and Turnbull (2001) give an overview of ES and empirical findings supporting the importance of ES activities in business organizations. ES helps managers foresee favorable as well as unfavorable influences and initiate strategies that enable their organizations to adapt to their business environments.

This article:

  • outlines three perspectives on the challenges for environmental scanning arising from information dissemination by multimedia,

  • discusses opportunities for ES on the World Wide Web (WWW), and

  • exemplarily describes two software solutions for ES in multimedia.

The remainder of the article is organized as follows: the next section discusses challenges for ES arising from the increase of multimedia technologies in the business environment. Then, we discuss the impact of the WWW on ES. Subsequently, we present the state of the art in ES practice as well as the supporting software. The article concludes with a brief outline of future challenges in the field of ES.

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Es In Multimedia: Craftsmanship, Art, Or Science?

Craftsmanship

Referring to Jauch and Glueck (1988), the external environment consists of the following six areas: (1) customers, (2) suppliers, (3) competition, (4) socioeconomic, (5) technological, and (6) governmental. As depicted in Figure 1, these sectors make up the firmament of an organization’s information environment.

Figure 1.

Arenas of an organization’s environmental scanning activities

In the figure, the sectors are ordered with respect to their affinity to the industry environment on the left-hand side and the global business environment on the right-hand side. On the bottom plate, the internal information sectors are illustrated. The relevant internal business environment comprises research and development, market research, basic engineering, cost controls, financial management, and controlling departments (Garg, Walters, & Priem, 2003). Major aims are cost control and operational efficiency, but information fragments may be found in all internal media, particularly in the intranet, in-house presentations and protocols of all kinds of meetings. All tasks appear to be well ordered and, thus, sophisticated ES activities should be a good piece of artisanship. However, the artisan has to cope with two problems: the wide array of relevant topics and the diversity of information sources. Consequently, there is constant competition for the manager’s limited attention among different topics, information sources, and fragments. Accordingly, scanning is a challenging task because a broad range of internal and external sources have to be exploited, data in different (often ill-specified) formats have to be combined, and the topics as well as the information sources of interest cannot be exhaustively described, a priori, but rather emerge during the scanning activities.

Key Terms in this Chapter

Round Trip Time (RTT): The time period that is necessary for sending a packet from the sender to the receiver and for sending it from the receiver to the sender back.

Time-to-Live (TTL): It is a field in the IP packet header. Its value is the allowed hop-count, the number of routers, which can forward the packet before delivery or dropping out.

Multicast: One-to-many and many-to-many communication way among computers (hosts).

Port Handling: From the network the processes running in a computer can be addressed with an integer number between 0...65535 is called port. Some port numbers called well-known ports are mapped steadily to important applications. For example, the Web server typically uses the port number 80.

Reliability: The improved quality of data transmission; different types of reliability exist, including data accuracy or real-time delivery.

Transmission Control Protocol (TCP): It is widely used for bulk data transmission. It is suitable for file transfer, but not for streaming media transmission.

IP-Multicast: Network-level multicast technology, which uses the special class-D IP-address range. It requires multicast routing protocols in the network routers. Its other name: network-level multicast (NLM).

Data Stream Applications: The class of large receiver set, low bandwidth real-time data applications.

Goodput: The bandwidth of the useful packets at the receiver side, which is also called the effective receiving rate.

Unicast: The one-to-one communication way, where only one host transfers data with another host. In the Internet the unicast is typical.

Congestion Control: It is a mechanism that can be built into a protocol. Its main goal is to help the data transmission to avoid the overflow in the buffers of the routers inside the network.

Transport Layer: This is an abstraction; the protocol in the transport layer is responsible for the port handling and sometimes the improved reliability of the transmission.

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