Zara: IT for Fast Fashion

What information does Zara need to operate its business model?
In your opinion, what are the most important aspects of Zara’s approach to information technology?
What current or potential weaknesses (if any) do you see in Zara’s IT infrastructure and IT strategy (Hint – the question asks for BOTH infrastructure AND strategy, so be sure to analyze both)?
How would you advise Salgado to proceed on the issue of upgrading Zara’s POS systems, namely should the company upgrade the POS terminal to a modern operating system?
What one concept from the lecture or the book did you find applicable to this case?

******Answer your questions using the MEAL format (Main idea, Evidence, Analysis, Link).  The first sentence of your answer should include the main idea, or thesis, for the question.  Next, provide evidence with a specific quote or a page number from the case.  Next, analyze the evidence.  Conclude by linking the evidence back to your thesis.9-604-081
R E V : S E P T E M B E R 6 , 2 0 0 7

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Professor Andrew McAfee, Executive Director of the HBS Europe Research Center Vincent Dessain, and Research Associate Anders Sjöman
prepared this case. HBS cases are developed solely as the basis for class discussion. Cases are not intended to serve as endorsements, sources of
primary data, or illustrations of effective or ineffective management.

Copyright © 2004, 2006, 2007 President and Fellows of Harvard College. To order copies or request permission to reproduce materials, call 1-800-
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A N D R E W M C A F E E

V I N C E N T D E S S A I N

A N D E R S S J Ö M A N

Zara: IT for Fast Fashion

On a beautiful August night in 2003, Xan Salgado Badás and Bruno Sánchez Ocampo settled into
seats at their favorite tapas bar in the Spanish city of La Coruña, ordered pulpo gallego (octopus
Galician style), and resumed their argument.

Salgado was the head of IT for Inditex, a multinational clothing retailer and manufacturer
headquartered in La Coruña (see Exhibit 1 for a map). He was Sánchez’s boss, although the two men
had worked together for so long that their formal reporting relationship mattered little. It certainly
did not keep Sánchez from disagreeing with every point Salgado made this evening as they discussed
the point-of-sale (POS) terminals used by Zara, Inditex’s largest chain of stores. Sánchez was the
technical lead for the POS system, so the matter was close to his heart.

“It’s time to upgrade them,” said Salgado.

“No, it’s not.”

“Yes, it is. It’s risky to let them get so far behind current technology.”

“No, it’s riskier to upgrade them just to ‘stay current.’ The software works fine now; we shouldn’t
touch it.”

“But it runs on DOS, which you know Microsoft doesn’t even support anymore.” 1

“And you know DOS hasn’t been supported for years now, and that hasn’t stopped us or hurt us,”
Sánchez replied. “We have the right to keep using the operating system—where’s the problem?”

“One problem is that the hardware vendor for our POS terminals could upgrade their machines,
or some peripheral for them, so that they’re not DOS-compatible anymore. Then where would we
be? We’d be explaining why Zara can’t open any new stores because we don’t have POS software
that works with our POS hardware. Do you want that job?”

1 All computers have an operating system (OS), which is a specialized program that “s




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