Life insurance: Meiji Life, K.K.: Sustaining long-term advantage through information technology

Rapp, William V.

This retail life insurance case together with other cases3 support an initial research hypothesis that leading software users in the US and Japan are very sophisticated in the ways they have integrated software into their management strategies and use it to institutionalize organizational strengths and capture tacit knowledge on an iterative basis. In Japan, this strategy has involved heavy reliance on customized and semi-customized software (Rapp 1995) but is changing toward a more selective use of packaged software managed via customized systems. This is seen in Meiji's adoption of Windows NT and Excel as the basis for their new laptop based field support system. In turn, US firms, such as Merck, who have often relied more on packaged software, are doing more customization, especially for systems needed to integrate software packages into something more closely linked with the firm's business strategies, markets, and organizational structure. Thus, coming from different directions, there appears to be some convergence in approach by these leading software users. The cases thus confirm what some other analysts have hypothesized; a coherent business strategy is a necessary condition for a successful information technology (IT) strategy (Wold and Shriver 1993). These strategic links for Meiji and the Japanese retail life insurance business are presented in the following case.

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Academic Units
Center on Japanese Economy and Business
Center on Japanese Economy and Business, Graduate School of Business, Columbia University
Center on Japanese Economy and Business Working Papers, 169
Published Here
February 10, 2011