Creating value from a commodity process: a case study of a call center

Creating value from a commodity process: a case study of a call center Purpose – The purpose of this paper is to conceptualize the unique value that can be created by performing a commodity process, in this case call handling at a call center, as a means of challenging the prevalent assumption that an organization should differentiate between the management of a core competence and a commodity process. Design/methodology/approach – An inductive case study is conducted to examine the strategic planning and management of a call center in one of the largest retailers headquartered in the UK. Semi‐structured interviews, informal dialogue, on‐site observation and documentation were the four data collection methods that we used. Findings – Based on the findings derived from the study, this study proposes the notion of a “differentiated commodity” to illustrate that a commodity process, such as handling customers' complaints and enquiries using standard call center technologies, can be significantly beneficial to the business, if differentiation was embedded into the architecture and management of the business process. Originality/value – The distinction between core competencies and commodity processes has become one of the key aspects in shaping a manager's decision making. The findings are vital not only in challenging such an assumption, but also in providing an explanation as to how strategic value can be generated by performing commodity processes, which is often under‐estimated. http://www.deepdyve.com/assets/images/DeepDyve-Logo-lg.png Journal of Enterprise Information Management Emerald Publishing

Creating value from a commodity process: a case study of a call center

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Publisher
Emerald Publishing
Copyright
Copyright © 2007 Emerald Group Publishing Limited. All rights reserved.
ISSN
1741-0398
DOI
10.1108/17410390710772687
Publisher site
See Article on Publisher Site

Abstract

Purpose – The purpose of this paper is to conceptualize the unique value that can be created by performing a commodity process, in this case call handling at a call center, as a means of challenging the prevalent assumption that an organization should differentiate between the management of a core competence and a commodity process. Design/methodology/approach – An inductive case study is conducted to examine the strategic planning and management of a call center in one of the largest retailers headquartered in the UK. Semi‐structured interviews, informal dialogue, on‐site observation and documentation were the four data collection methods that we used. Findings – Based on the findings derived from the study, this study proposes the notion of a “differentiated commodity” to illustrate that a commodity process, such as handling customers' complaints and enquiries using standard call center technologies, can be significantly beneficial to the business, if differentiation was embedded into the architecture and management of the business process. Originality/value – The distinction between core competencies and commodity processes has become one of the key aspects in shaping a manager's decision making. The findings are vital not only in challenging such an assumption, but also in providing an explanation as to how strategic value can be generated by performing commodity processes, which is often under‐estimated.

Journal

Journal of Enterprise Information ManagementEmerald Publishing

Published: Jul 31, 2007

Keywords: Competences; Call centres; Case studies; Value added; United Kingdom

References

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