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Strong and soft technology is differentiated as two strategic paradigms in terms of the company's operation target. The distinction between soft and hard technology is blurring as a result of rapid technological development and economic growth. On the one hand, soft technology implies organizations without physical presence and articulated processes (intangible aspects), while hard technology implies corporate institutions with physical existence (tangible aspects) where activities are carried out (Jin, 2002).
Based on this evidence, soft and hard technology for Wal-domestic Mart's and global ecosystems can be established. For Survival, Wal-Mart will not only be required to adjust its products and structure of technology but also to focus on factors regarding purchasing, cooperation, foreign investments, and acquisition to maintain its competitive relevance. The manner in which all these factors can be achieved efficiently is what is known as soft technology. In domestic (the US), the company’s soft technology is primarily “management”, wellbeing and safety of its workers, as well as standardization. These soft technologies are also found in global market (China). The hard technology for Wal-Mart, both in domestic and global settings, is its committed and dedicated workforce who steer the success of the company.
Some of the technology barriers the company has faced include high turnover rates (5% per month) due to its low wages and now it is under pressure to increase its wages (Lutz, 2015). The high turnover rate also increased the number of complaints on customer service. In global market such as China, Wal-Mart is facing high level of distrust among consumers (Wiseman & D’Innocenzio, 2016). This high level of distrust implies that the company’s hard technology (committed and dedicated workers) is difficult to build up. Wal-Mart’s strategy to protect technology is through its business model, which is characterized by a wide merchandise mix, high in-stock position, quality customer service, and employee rewarding stem for reduced pilferage (Gupta, & Govindarajan, 2002).
However, the company can reduce the effect of these technology barriers by increasing minimum wage for its workers to increase retention rates. Such a move would also improve employee satisfaction and consequently, quality of customer service. In global environment, the company can build trust with customers through cultural integration of its workforce.
Gupta, A. K. & Govindarajan, V. (2002). Taking Wal-Mart Global: Lessons From Retailing's Giant. Global Perspective, Booz & Company. Accessed from http://www.strategy-business.com/article/13866?gko=e19cb
Jin, Z. (2002). Soft technology: the essential of innovation. Futures Research Quarterly, 18(2), 1-24.
Lutz, A. (2015). Walmart's entire business model is crumbling. Business Insider. Accessed from http://www.businessinsider.com/challenges-to-walmarts-business-model-2015-10
Wiseman, P. & D’Innocenzio, A. (2016). Wal-Mart seeks overseas success by going native in China. Accessed from http://www.bigstory.ap.org/article/48fd7bce864941da8e9267b31d78c05b/wal-mart-seeks-overseas-success-going-native-china
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