This paper will describe how Barnes & Noble (B&N) uses an operating system and software applications to help the company reach its objectives (see appendix A). This paper will also describe the functions of computer hardware components used in the organization and how they aid B&N in achieving its goals. Barnes & Noble’s objective is to be the “World’s Largest Bookstore,” and it is. B&N’s operating systems and software applications have also helped Barnes & Noble “offer the largest in-stock selection of in-print book titles with access to approximately one million titles for immediate delivery” (Barnes & Noble, Inc., 2012). In addition, Barnes & Noble has the world’s largest eBookstore which has partnered with Microsoft to offer a wide selection of college textbooks.
Almost every organization or business benefits from a reliable database. “Databases are a comprehensive collection of related data organized for convenient access generally in a computer” (Dictionary.com, 2014). Until 2004, Barnes & Noble used an Oracle operating system. The Oracle System database was able to hold all of the inventory statistics B&N needed, but the information was difficult to input and extract. In order to access sales data and inventory, the stores had to suspend all business operations and shut down once a week for four hours. Information Technology professionals or programmers were required to produce reports, which created additional and unnecessary personnel costs. Barnes & Noble needed a new database system to store and keep track of essential data; and, a new database management system to make the data useful. In 2005, Barnes & Noble participated in a joint project with Microsoft to create a new data warehouse.
They used the Microsoft Windows Server 2003 Enterprise Edition operating system to run the Microsoft SQL Server 2000. Barnes & Noble’s databases include customer information, such as book genre likes/dislikes, purchase history, and personal information, such as methods of payment and contact information. Another function of B&N’s database is to maintain inventory statistics, a record of best-selling books, prices, and order information. A third aspect of B&N’s database is to record employee and payroll data like, salary per hour, hours worked, sick days/vacation, and overtime. Databases are imperative for the success of Barnes & Noble, but the raw data in the databases is not very useful on its own. Therefore, B&N uses a database management system (DBMS). “A DBMS is a program used to create, process, and administer a database” (Kroenke, 2013, p. 113). Barnes & Noble needed a DBMS that could easily create reports, so executives had fast access to sales statistics, inventory, and membership information.
They could then use this readily available information to target customer demographics or promote seasonal sales events. Due to its participation with Microsoft, Barnes & Noble uses a DBMS called, “Microsoft SQL Server 2005 Integration Services” (Microsoft, 2005). “Structured Query Language (SQL) is an international standard language for processing a database” (Kroenke, 2013, p. 114) that all of the most common DBMS’s use. Microsoft’s SQL Server enables B&N to manage critical information and run applications that may be too complex for other programs. SQL Server also provides tools, features, and functionality to construct classic and innovative extraction, transformation, and loading (ETL) applications that are used to relay millions of rows of data. This DBMS includes database administration that can be used to set up a security system involving user accounts, passwords, permissions, and limits for processing the database.
Online Analytical Processing Cubes (OLAP) is one of the database applications that Barnes & Noble can use. The program is simple enough for most people to learn, and it is a relatively easy means of creating reports and viewing data based on varying criteria without having to hire programmers for help. Another database application is ‘Litespeed’ by Quest Software. Barnes & Noble uses Litespeed for the backup and recovery of data, which is something every database needs. Although Microsoft’s SQL Server is costly and can have limited compatibility, almost anyone in the company can learn how to use it. There are also security enhancements, embedded reporting and data analysis tools that allow B&N to gain greater insight from its business information and achieve faster results for a competitive advantage. In conjunction with its need of databases, Barnes & Noble extensively uses hardware components for data input, output, and storage. Input hardware is any device used to supply information into a computer such as a keyboard, mouse, barcode scanner, or display. “Barnes & Noble, Inc. is a bookselling company.
The company is a content, commerce and technology company that provides customers access to books, magazines, newspapers and other content across its multi-channel distribution platform” (Barnes & Noble, Inc., 2012). Barnes & Noble operates more than 1,350 bookstores across the entire United States, and close to 700 bookstores on college campuses. Input devices at each location allow employees to enter customer information into an individual terminal that is then sent to a central server for storage. “Hardware for the project was a 64-bit HP Integrity Superdome Server equipped with 20 1.6-gigahertz Intel Itanium 2 processors and 84 gigabytes of RAM” (Microsoft, 2005). “Output hardware is an electronic or electromechanical equipment connected to a computer and used to transfer data out of the computer in the form of text, images, sounds, or other media” (Dictionary.com, 2014). One example of output hardware used at Barnes & Noble is a printer for producing reports. Executives at the company often need “Current sales data as well as historical information, which could be used to understand trends, such as in seasonal or regional sales.
That kind of information could be used to shape promotions and marketing campaigns” (Microsoft, 2005). Another important output device from Barnes & Noble is an eReader, named ‘Nook,’ that allows customers to purchase and download publications from B&N’s library via WiFi. B&N’s eCommerce division offers The Nook in several models and with varying features, but was primarily designed to give customers an alternative to traditional forms of written media. Customers can choose from millions of digital books, periodicals, movies, and music. The Nook is also environmentally friendly because it saves space and reduces paper waste.
In addition, Barnes & Noble’s eReader offers a backlit display that claims to have “resolved the number-one problem couples have in bed – having their sleep interrupted, or being prevented from falling asleep, when their partner reads with the light on” (Barnes & Noble, Inc., 2012). In conclusion, this paper described how Barnes & Noble uses the Microsoft Windows Server 2003 Enterprise Edition operating system to run the Microsoft SQL Server 2000.
The HP Integrity Superdome Server is a more effective and efficient mode of storage, and information from databases is easier to access. Now, “Because of the rapid extraction and loading of sales and inventory data, company employees and managers no longer have to wait to get information that can help them make business decisions” (Microsoft, 2005). The database administration security system also effectively uses account controls to allow customers access to the database of digital publications, which has greatly increased Barnes & Noble’s eCommerce division.
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Kroenke, D. (2013). MIS Essentials 3rd ed. Upper Saddle River, NJ: Prentice Hall Microsoft Case Studies (November 11, 2005). Bookseller gains business insights across sales channels with new data warehouse. Retrieved on June 16, 2014 from the World Wide Web. www.microsoft.com/casestudies Microsoft Corporation. (2005, October). Microsoft SQL Server 2005 Customer Solution Case Study. Retrieved from http://download.microsoft.com/…/barnes_noble.pdf.