A Study of Consumer Behaviour in the Automotive Industry in the UK
Consumer behaviour is dependent on few factors that need to be considered in any industry. In the Automotive industry, there are several intertwining factors known. The Internet as one knows well has its importance in nearly every form of trade. Trade is directly dependent on communication, and these days the Internet is considered to be the most important and reliable means of communications for trade.
In view of the Internet being an important medium through which customers may be communicated with, customer behaviour becomes an important subject. Observing customer behaviour in the recent past, its observed that there is immense scope for expanding the automotive industry. This is because there appears to be a better response from customers through the Internet.
Purchases of parts are easily made and are believed to be considerably reliable. For purchasing vehicles, advertising through the Internet is the first step towards pulling in customers. Indeed, this step is believed to be effective as there are a number of individuals who first see adds online, and then decide to physically check a promotion out. With the Internet growing more and more common in the UK, it is expected that there will be much more activity on the part of consumers, which means that the automotive industry is going to do even better than it has in the past.
The world has reached a stage at which everything is close-knit. There are several bodies and structures that interact with each other that appear to be systematic. Globalization for instance is something has many countries, organizations and institutions operating together. Each of the components in the globalization process exists for its self and is self-driven, yet the system functions. In this regard, one might assert that markets of different types and sizes function in a similar manner. The motive industry is an example with its visible effects.
Consumers are actively participating in the industry activity, making it an increasingly viable one for people to invest in. The services and products are known to be quite reliable with an immense amount interesting them. In recent years this has been the case and in time to come it’s expected that there is going to be even more interest in the automotive industry.
This paper includes views of the automotive industry and the communication processes involved. It exposes each part in considerable detail in sections. In doing so, it has managed to cover several areas of interest that explain consumer behaviour. In order to also give on an idea of what strategies organizations employ to boost their profits, fictitious company has been included with figures that are relevant tithe automotive industry. In view of the strategies involved in this company (EXCEED) one can determine how important communication is in the automotive industry.
It is clear enough that the Internet is of tremendous value here, and it is for this reason that it is important to analyse its use. The weak as well as the strong points are exposed here, and one can match these up against the ones employed in EXCEED’s strategies. According to this, one can also assess how effective EXCEED’s strategies are and whether or not they are successful in the automotive industry. In considering the success of the strategies, it must also be asserted that it is believed that the strategies are successful considerably because of the success that automotive industry has had in recent times. It is also hoped that strategies will also go on to be further improved so that the industry does even better .
The world learns through experience, but living in an image-conscious world may prevent one from learning through his experiences. This is apparently a dilemma considering the fact that one lives in an age of post modernism; a stage during which signs mask reality, and one is often deceived through image-promoting strategies. This is true to say because of the fact that signs, logos and big names are now common, and people are often lured into believing the authenticity of different products because of the promotions they have.
Consumer behaviour is considerably dependent on promotion of products; the manner in which products are promoted directly influences customer behaviour. Each medium used for promotion has its own impact, and the one that is believed to have a tremendous impact is the Internet.
It is believed to boost promotions and sales greatly, and it helps customers in their first step before actually checking a car out. It is through the advertisements on line that they may be attracted and then move towards checking a vehicle out physically at a show room. It is this behaviour that has helped boost the automotive industry significantly. In fact it must be asserted that prior to globalization, consumer behaviour was observed as having a major effect on the development of nations. This is because it helps boost the economy internally as well as having its impact externally .
Prior to the 1940s and 1950s, there was no such aim because of the fact that there were many problems that the country was faced with internally. Socially there were different levels on which the UK had to bring the people together. And perhaps during that time no one had come up with such an idea to divert the attention of the people, which occurred during the 1950s .
From this era began to the shift towards an improved way of life that would take the country into an entirely different era. This era today is called globalization, a phenomenon that brought many parts of the world together through faster communication systems.
Globalization has in fact resulted due to the fact that communication systems have been boosted in recent years. This is also the reason why the present age that people live in is called ‘the age of communication’.
The expansion that has been witnessed today in organizational structures an effect of globalization too because they are spreading almost all over the world. As Organizations expand it is understood that they tend to face problems in efficiency. These problems need to be handled carefully in a logical manner so that smooth running of the organization can be restored to the way it was when it was located in its originating country. For this to be handled effectively, communication also needs to be of the highest level.
Problems in efficiency may emerge due to the lack of communication or the lack of skills with newer personnel employed in the firm. This is because they are not aware of exactly what the cultural atmosphere was at the original location of the firm. Since they have been newly employed they are bound to face problems such as these.
Strengthening the leadership of an organization automatically means that operations will be handled well, which in turn means that there will be financial gain at the end. In addition to this there won’t be a shortage of executives if organizations indulge in setting up proper training plans for their apt employees. These plans should be implemented both, at home and abroad too so that uniformity is maintained throughout the organization.
It is also essential that trainers do not get polarized in any one location geographically speaking. They should be allowed to exercise their skills and implement them wherever possible. This means that they will also gain maximum teaching experience which they can share with whoever the work with and teach. Three leadership techniques that have been found to increase the performance of an organization:
1) An efficient and lean organization;
2) A talent management plan that focuses on attracting and retaining high-performing individuals; and
3) A performance management program that “rewards employees who meet set goals” (Dorgan, & Dowdy, 2002)
From the above points one can see that the major problem that lies in organizations spreading into other cultures is the internal conflict, but aside from the internal conflicts the trend of marketing American products abroad is one that is patronized by the people of those cultures.
It is the people that make this possible, as human beings are almost always ready for a change especially if it isn’t going to harm them. Accepting new trends that are already in vogue in other neighboring countries is something that further motivates people into welcoming UK products. However, this is not only the case with receiving UK products in Asian countries .
There is now more scope than there was ever before for products to be marketed. The marketing of goods across the globe is yet an extension of what took place in the 1950s. This may be said because of the fact that the effects of this process of globalization are almost the same as what was seen in the United States during the 1950s.
The process of people welcoming products that are brought nearer totem heralds the current trend in globalization. This is the same process that was seen during the 1950s when consumer behaviour was on the rise. This trend is extended to other places in the world today through globalization, which means that there are a whole lot more people aware of what is available around the world. This also means that there is a lot more stuff for people to be engrossed in, which would further help people to be relieved of stress in their everyday lives. But it also must be realized that there are other things to consider besides stress relief and extension of culture (Annesley,1998).
It must be realized here that there is an intense effort to control people economically through consumerism. During the 1950s this was seen as people bought what was advertised. Similarly, this is seen in many countries around the world that buy American products .
An Example of an Organization in the Automotive Industry
For this section, a fictitious organization has been named, but contains data that is relevant to the automotive industry and present-day values.
In contemporary times this may seem to be a problem, as one may not really know which product to trust and which will be dependable. As opposed to having to depend on particular advertising to learn about products, people have often used other customer experiences as their guides. This means that people without experience of a particular product have in fact waited for others to purchase it; the observers its back and observes the performance and customer satisfaction.
If a product happens to satisfy a customer, others will certainly be willing to use the same service providers. Hence, it can be seen here that reputation does matter to service providers and customers.
In addition to this, it must be noted that experience of customers can be used as a vital tool in promoting services. This overshadows the uncertainty of that advertising may often portray. Though advertising is an essential strategy in promoting a product, it must be realized that there are several people that are not easily convinced simply through product display and the like.
In view of this, customer testimonials are essential in proving authenticity of a product, as this proves how many customers have been satisfied and what customers have to say about. This is what many organizations are doing these days in order to boost their services. Indeed, EXCEED is one of them; EXCEED is a motoring supplier, and caters to a significant part of UK's market. In doing so, it needs to reassure its customers of its services and dedication them all.
EXCEED is believed to be a credible motoring product and services supplier because of its reputation; its reputation is one that has been gained through reliability that customers have experienced through time. In view of this, more and more customers have turned to EXCEED services, as they have been convinced by other customers' experiences through time.
However, it must be asserted that an organization that operates as one of the biggest in the UK, cannot simply rely on word of mouth for gaining more business or maintaining its position in the market. Thesis because of the fact that competition can easily overturn one’s reputation. In view of this, EXCEED has to go on promoting itself and has to do so in a positive manner by focusing on its strengths and either ameliorating or doing away with products and services that are not gaining headway.
Currently with the reputation EXCEED has, it is the leader in the Upmarket, attending to millions of customers. It has more than 12 million drivers depending on them, has around 3500 uniformed patrols on the job, and caters to 7.5 million calls every year. It is apparent that with this kind of healthy activity in their business that EXCEED is number one. However, like any other organization that provides services and products, EXCEED is not satisfied with what it is doing in the sense that it wants to enhance services that are viable and either do away with or improve the services and products that are less in demand.
In doing this, they have an understanding of the market and what their potentials are, and this lays the platform for EXCEED to construct strategy in terms of marketing and advertising; a strategy that they and the customers too would gain from.*EXCEED also has been on the risen terms of the customers that turn to them. this is a positive sign because the number that turn to their services and products each year. With selling more than 650,000 breakdown policies a year, something that they currently specialize in, there is even more scope for improvement (Breakdown Cover, 2005).
According to the figure below, one can easily observe that breakdown is apparently the primary source of income in EXCEED. There are other sources as well, but this is the most important one, and indeed one that they are promoting. The important point to realize here is that EXCEED knows its strengths well due to the fact that they have kept close watch on all the activity in the company.
They know their past well, they know what is going on at the moment, and they also know what their chances are in the market. In view of their potential being strongest as far as promoting breakdown services, EXCEED believes that its marketing and advertising strategies are of immense importance, as it is through these tools that they can manage to attain a wider segment of the market. In view of the current state of affairs in the market, the following are worth noting.
Product Holding: Volume
Breakdown (motoring): 2,300,000
Motor and home Insurance: 500, 000
Other Financial Services: 45, 000
Breakdown and Insurance: 600, 500
Breakdown and Financial Services: 50, 000
Insurance and Financial Services: 5, 500
Breakdown, Insurance and Financial: 32, 000
In developing further strategies in order to improve EXCEED's name and services, it is worth generally putting together some of the features around which the company could work. Below are few points that help paint a picture of EXCEED's functions
EXCEED is believed to offer more than just breakdown coverage; it offers:
• EXCEED UK Breakdown Cover
• EXCEED 5 Star European Breakdown Cover – Round the clock English telephone assistance.
• EXCEED Motor Insurance – 8% discount on line.
• EXCEED Home Insurance – They fish out a panel of insurers for their customers.
• EXCEED Car Data Check – Recovers hidden history of a used car in case you want to purchase it
• EXCEED Vehicle Inspection
• EXCEED Travel Bookshop – 18% off on line from the UK's largest provider of travel guides.
• EXCEED Driving School – Nation-wide EXCEED approved instructors
Database Strategy through the Internet:
Considering the fact that EXCEED has been allotted around 14 million Pounds to promote their services, it appears that an appropriate promotion can be created. Generally, for this first step, around 40percent of the fund may be used. This is because a database has to be established if any current one cannot be used for the proposed plan here.
In addition to this and appropriate interface has to go along with it, combined with special features that only allow input on the part of customers. In view of the services that are already being provided, EXCEED needs to search into customer needs. This search would have tube conducted through getting their feedback. It is obvious that asking each and every customer about what they would like EXCEED to provide them would not be feasible; it would be better for the customers to have access to EXCEED. This could be done through allowing customers to have access to an interface through which they could feed in their comments and recommendations online (Fill, 1999, 53-59).
They would not need to have passwords and things to that effect, as the feed in process could be made plain and simple for them. This could be carried out through creating some sort of forum where customers can view other customers’ views as well, and thereby give them even better ideas to suggest. In addition to this, the service could have a feature that provides one access to feed in their views, but after entering them, they cannot be deleted. In other words the program manager would only delete whatever is posted in the forum. In this way, comments posted would be safe (Yandi, 2001, 15-21).
In addition to an online provision, at outlets where EXCEED services are provided, the company could maintain on hand comment leaflets or even registers for comments.
The leaflets would provide customers with the opportunity of filling in their comments while they are free. The registers would have to be filled in on the spot. The data from these registers could enter into another portion of the online database for comments and views. The leaflets when filled when the customers have time could be dropped off at any EXCEED outlet of services.
The data from these could also be accumulated and fed into the database as well (Tapp, 2000, 22-34).
In addition to customers posting their comments, it is also advisable for EXCEED to develop a means through which employees such as the patrolman could give their views and comments as well. With this type of feedback EXCEED would be able to determine to what extent each side’s comments are practical. While the customers want services to improve according to their convenience, EXCEED also has to look at the possible changes from the employee's angle. This would help the management come up with ideas that would satisfy the customers as well the employees in terms of easing their services to the customers (Tapp,2000, 22-34).
In view of the management receiving all the comments through the database, the data needs to be sorted appropriately. Since it has all been collected under employee views and customer views, there is basically no real need to segregate the comments even further. However, there’s need for better arrangement in the presentation of the collected comments. This refers to the placement of services throughout the country and where the comments have been received. This also means that in each comment entry, a customer has to state which part of the country s/he is in.
Depending on whether there is sufficient services in particular areas or not, EXCEED can enhance its services. In addition to this, they can set to work on the requested services. Since it is the Breakdown services that EXCEED wishes to focus on according to the potential in the business, they need to construct the feedback system according to what has been described above. In view of such a database interface being constructed and implemented, it also facilitates customer comments after improvements in services have been made (Smith, 1998, 25-41).
In view of the use of database, it must be asserted that the major cost of it is only in the initial stage. This is because once the databases setup; it only has to be maintained and monitored.
Direct Marketing Customers Program for existing customers:
In the direct marketing step, it must be asserted that at least another 3.5 million – 5 million might have to be invested out of the budget. This is because of the fact that EXCEED needs a stronger approach to its current customers; EXCEED requires a more comprehensive set up with more communication employees in order to realize its goal. Assuming the amount is invested, the following course of action can be taken in order to develop direct marketing.
Though EXCEED recognizes the fact that it has tremendous scope for improving the grip it has on the market and would certainly want more customers, they are wise in the sense that they acknowledge the value of their present customers; they know that if they satisfy their customers their reputation will remain as it was if not improve. In addition to this, it must be asserted that a company has better chances of maintaining stability in all forms when it focuses on the market it has already captured. Maintaining current customers is essential in terms of financial stability as well as customer loyalty.
This is because the customers get to know that the company cares about them through the services that it provides them with. EXCEED knows its products and its customers too, but they need to remain in touch with them in order to make adjustments that the customers need. In view of this concern, the customers feel that the company cares about them; EXCEED needs to make the customers feel this way in order to make sure that the customers don't feel abandoned or stuck with a product. Hence, there is a need to make sure that each and every customer is aware of the fact that they can communicate with EXCEED directly (Evans et al,2004, 43-44).
In view of the direct communication that is a major part of promotional strategy today, it must be asserted that EXCEED needs to communicate with its customers today as much as possible. In order to communicate with them they can have in place customer relation
These officers are in charge of remaining in touch with current customers. Indeed, there are many of these officers employed because of the fact that there are also many customers that have to be dealt with. It is not an easy process but certainly is one that is necessary (Pickton, 2001, 64-67).
Considering the means of communications used, e-mail, telephone, fax,etc. are the commonly used ones. Postal mail is also used as a means of contact. However, emailing and telephone contact are most commonly used. Similar to the communication process that communication officers use to stay in touch with current customers, it also must be asserted that customers use the same means as well.
In fact, they may even be familiar with the communication officers who deal with them. This gives one an idea of how the direct communication process works and how effective it is. Certainly, if a customer becomes familiar enough to know a communication officer's name, it is obvious that the communication process used is effective enough to get desired messages through (Smith, 1998, 25-41).
In view of the effectiveness of the communication proves, it is clear that product promotion can be enhanced. All the communication officers have to do is follow the instructions of the product and tell the customer about it. In addition to this, they can supply them with ways and means of getting hold of the products. Regarding the communication process being simple, it certainly is, but when one has to focus of the breakdown of it all, it gets a little tedious. This is because of the fact that one needs to know the market well, and see who is interested more in the products and services that EXCEED provides.
In view of this, there are few factors that have to be taken into consideration. These include: age, gender, one's occupation, lifestyle,etc. Though most people who use EXCEED's services would want to know more about the products and services the company has to offer it must be asserted that research into the current customer behaviour reveals that there are particular groups that are more volatile and more viable to work with.
This is why communication officers may work more with some customers and less with others. This is not seen as being prejudiced in any way, but it is true to say that the process takes into consideration customer behaviour, and since EXCEED is dealing with millions of customers they need to focus on the ones that they need to build and maintain relationship with. This is precisely what boosts customer loyalty. As far as the customers that are not communicated regularly with, it must be asserted that they are also important customers but they are ones that are easily satisfied with the services they get.
In view of the particular factors that are taken into consideration, it must be asserted that in the UK, both men and women are users of EXCEED services, especially breakdown services. While men are still more likely to be customers, younger age groups are almost even. Older men are more likely than older women to travel long distances, while older women are still likely to be drive and use EXCEED services.
As far as one’s occupation is concerned, both men and women are likely to be service holders of EXCEED because of the fact that they are compelled to drive around. Lifestyle is another thing that is taken into consideration. Again men and women are both likely to use EXCEED services, but the younger they are the less likely they are to have EXCEED services.
In view of some people not having EXCEED services, they can be targeted through the marketing strategy; current customers could be used to spread the word around. However, the more important point to focus on
includes the need to market EXCEED more to people that have already used EXCEED services. If they have not been using the services recently, they can be contacted and reminded of their expired membership. In view of communication methods that need to be used, email and telephone is most commonly used.
Almost all people have an answering machine on at home and a message would be easy to leave for the. Those that have cell phones could either be called or a message or mail could be sent to them. Emailing is common, and for those that use Internet facilities commonly can be easily contacted through it. In view of each customer’s profile, various ways of getting in touch with him or her need to be mentioned(Brierly, 2002, 27-29).
Customers may be asked on order forms how they might be contacted; these details are noted down in order to make sure the more appropriate means of contacting a customer may be used. In addition to the communication means mentioned above, EXCEED could also promote its products and services through alternative means. This would include promoting products through magazines, television, periodicals, radio, and the Internet.
This strictly refers to advertisements that are not personal, as they are opposed to emailing or telephoning a person. Though advertising in the ways mentioned here is quite effective, it must be asserted that it is not the kind that would stimulate the customer’s emotions.
Customers need to be contacted directly when they are or have been regular customers of EXCEED or any other company; it makes them feel valued, and again here it must be emphasized that the value of these feelings are crucial to maintain EXCEED services as they currently are offering incentives is important whether communication officers use direct contact of advertising strategies (Percy et al, 2001, 18-28).The difference is that when customers are contacted directly and told about the promotion they feel more valued.
What EXCEED could do is circulate information about a new product among their current customers; they could tell them all the important details about it. At a later date, the product information could be revealed to the general public through advertising in magazines, one the Internet, etc.
Since the regular customers would have already gotten the information first, they would feel more appreciated and valued. These are the kinds of techniques that could be used current customers as opposed to potential customers because it is the current customer that comes first. This is because of the fact that EXCEED needs to make sure its reputation and business stand as it is and not be lowered.
Acquisition Strategy for new Customers:
For this part of the promotional plan, EXCEED is left with a minimum of 3million Pounds. This means that funds might still fall short because television and radio promotion in addition to other forms will have to be used here. However, since television and radio communications might be used in the previous step, promoting products for newer customers could also be included. This would help save great deal of the funding, thereby allowing the whole promotional plant be implemented. The following includes how EXCEED might implement their plan to include new customers with the funds in hand.
Since EXCEED has already discovered the market and are aware of the immense potential that lies ahead, they can implement a strategy that would cater to potential customers regarding Motoring Services, Financial Services and Travel Services. Random marketing strategies could be easily employed. It must be asserted that advertising through the Internet, magazines, radio and television are all appropriate means. In view of the cost factor here, moderate advertising through television could be implemented in order to fit the budget given. Advertising through the print media is considered to be more feasible.
This is because EXCEED could have their advertisements placed in periodicals or magazines that are associated with motor companies(Yandi, 2001, 15-21). So when customers purchase cars or go through magazines that have information on particular cars, it is most likely that they would come across the advertisement. As far as motoring services are concerned, this is an appropriate means to advertise.
However, as far as financial services are concerned, it would not work. EXCEED needs to target its potential market, regarding financial services, through a means that would create more chances of potential customers viewing the advertisement. When it comes to financial services, it is better to place ads on television and radio along with other products of EXCEED. In addition to this, it also must be asserted that advertisements for financial services must be places in magazines where financial services are offered for related products.
This is believed
to boost the chances of a company's product getting a response (Brierly, 2002, 27-29).
Concerning Travel services, it must be noted that EXCEED could advertise through television and radio along with its other products. This would save them spending excess funds on separate advertisements. However, the main advertising for travel services would have to be done through travel guides. Just like other agencies and organizations advertise EXCEED too can do the same. the advantage is that EXCEED would probably be recognized through its name from other services and products it provides. In view of this, it must be asserted that there is also the reputation of EXCEED that can be taken into consideration(Brierly, 2002, 27-29).
It must be considered that EXCEED is a company that already has many customers that it looks after and remains in contact with. Through this contact as well, services and products can be enhanced. This is a process that could indeed save some of the funds put towards promotional strategies. However, it is also worth considering whether it would actually be suitable to advertise through customers that are regular.
This is because of the fact that some customers might feel that they are really being used to promote a company free of cost. Others might be more than pleased to promote EXCEED's products and services. In view of this consideration, promoting EXCEED's products through regular customers could be handled through email. For example, when customers are emailed, they could be presented with a link through which they could forward a particular new product's description to friends, family members, and other contacts. It is assumed that most regular customers would then be able to exercise their free will instead of a sales person or communication’s officer telling them to forward product details to
In view of EXCEED's reputation in the market, and the fact that they want to maintain their relationship with their current customers, makes them a company that stimulates customer loyalty and really does make an effort to enhance services. If it were not the kind of company that cared about its customers and the services it provides, EXCEED would not go through such lengths for promoting itself and invest a great deal of time and money in doing so.
It is important to note that the reputation of an organization such as EXCEED in the automotive market counts a great deal. Also, the promotion that the company has along with its reputation makes it winner. However, this does not in anyway mean that competitors would not stand a chance.
Considering an organizational strategy and how it expects to catch customer’s attention and read customer behaviour, the following section deals with management processes. It also provides insight to the strategies used.
The Business Ethics Process:
This is a management process fit for all organizations in the automotive industry. It is comprised of programs, practices and systems designed to motivate, measure and monitor an organization’s ethical performance. Elements include, but are not limited to, codes of conduct, mission statements, training and awareness programs, upward communications systems such as town meetings, and an ethics office network.
An effective business ethics process is one of the first and most important lines of defines against unethical or illegal activities. The first step in establishing a good business ethics process is to access and diagnose four key factors: ethical climate, performance incentives, communications, and compliance.
Ethical climate is an organization’s culture, environment, motives, and pressures. It is the role of senior executives to establish and reinforce ethical climate throughout an organization. (Krantz 1997)
Performance incentives are methods employed by the organization to motivate and direct employee behaviour in order to meet the company’s goals.
Communications are the messages employees receive about acceptable and unacceptable behaviour and the priority of these messages.
Compliance refers to the organization’s business practices, corporate policies and procedure, laws, rules, and regulations
A few examples of breach of ethics follow:
Recently, Digital Equipment Corp. filed a lawsuit against microchip giant Intel alleging Intel’s “wilful infringement” a ten Digital patents in building the Pentium series. And the suggested punishment: damages that could run into the billions and an injunction against these of Digital technology. If Digital’s allegations are true, then thesis a clear case of unethical behaviour on part of Intel.
The marketing methods employed by the tobacco companies are perhaps the biggest example of unethical practices by an industry. For years, the tobacco industry misled the public through their expensive and lavish media campaigns. Now, what they had sent around has come around.
Making business more transparent is the bottom-line behind the new catch-phrase: ethical investment, which awards bucks to those companies which have sound environmental policies and avoid black-listed activities, and shuns those that pass the buck.
Most of us know in our bones what constitutes good and bad behaviour. We have agreed, if only by default, on a set of moral or ethical principles. We call benevolent actions ethical because they accord with these rules.
When it comes to commercial transactions, buying and selling, lending and borrowing, letting and renting, dealing in currency, investing and seeking investors, the ground rules change fundamentally. Theft is theft when you are a burglar or shoplifter but not when you are shopkeeper taking a 300% mark-up for no other reason than you have found people will pay such prices. Then you are simply being a good businessman, operating in a seller's market. You are let off the ethical hook because mug public doesn't know any better .
If one is a professional liar who has found corporations will pay you handsome amount per hour to put a favourable spin on facts that have regrettably become public, you go for it. Astonishingly, you will find yourself congratulated by envious former colleagues, who have been paid quarter of that hourly rate to dig out the facts requiring the public relations fence-mending exercise in the first place.
All this is fair enough once we have decided we are going to have market-driven economy. The benefits for society as a whole of letting the market set the running instead of social-engineering bureaucrats bent on making everything conform to a Plan are too obvious to need restating. Nevertheless, we should not try to pretend that things are other than the way they are. We should not kid ourselves that rapacity and greed are ethical simply because they are legal .
Technological change and globalization is bringing companies into contact with other countries that do business by different rules. Pressures from internal and external forces are forcing the firms to treat their staff in ways that are different from traditional practices. With the communications revolution ethical issues has become part of every manager' s job. (Defamation 1984)
Companies realized that they had to conform to public values to survive. Shell, in 1995 suffered two blows to its reputation: one from its attempted disposal of the Brent Spar oil rig in the North Sea, and the other over the company's failure to oppose the Nigerian government’s execution of Ken Saro-Wiwa, a human-rights activist in a part of Nigeria where Shell had extensive operations. Since then, Shell has rewritten its business principles, created an elaborate mechanism to implement them, and worked harder to improve its relations with NGOs. (Krantz, 1997)
There are two reasons why ethics are vital for the businesses. One is when bad behaviour stirs up public debate legislation will arise that companies will find more irksome than self-restraint. The other distrust. A company that is not trusted by its employees, partners and customers will suffer. In an electronic world, where businesses are geographically far from their customers, a reputation for trust may become even more important.
Ultimately, though, companies may have to accept that virtue is sometimes its own reward. One of the eternal truths of morality has-been that the bad do not always do badly and the good do not always dowel. (Smolowe, 1997)
The problems that one faces with Internet transactions by and large have everything to do with the interference that one receives from files such as Internet cookies and hacking software, and these are the kinds of things that can damage the confidence with which consumers, retailers, etc. conduct day to day business. These are files that are able to interfere or extract personal information from any computer that it enters. This can take place at any time when we are surfing the net or opening up any important website.
What these Internet cookies actually do is they enter a user’s Personal Computer when it is on, and then settle itself into it. When the user switches on the P.C. again, these files are activated, and send information back to the site that it came from. Thus it helps to maintain a record of the patterns that a particular Internet surfer uses. In doing so, these Internet cookies can use these patterns to keep sending the user information, available schemes, attractive offered. from different companies that are relevant to the kind of sites that s/he downloads. This is sometimes seen as an advantage because of the good schemes that might come up with the use of Internet cookies, but aside from this there may be serious implications.
There could be very personal information that could be leaked out at the same time of using these cookies. This is essentially a problem for business organizations because there may be some very sensitive information that could be leaked out due to these cookies, and therefore, jeopardize the business.
Further, this is such an acute problem that could eventually affect the reliability with which we are presently trading locally and internationally, and could very well destroy the whole concept of globalization. Along with the Internet cookies are the software hackers that are seemingly more inclined towards executives’ computers than governmental ones. It seems that they have lost interest in the heavily protected security systems in places like banks, perhaps because the risk is far too high. They are becoming better and better at entering the personal accounts of executives for the simple reason that they are easy targets and the rewards are fruitful. For this reason there is constant quest to develop software that is able to track the entry of hacker. Even so, it appears that this protection is not enough, as its said that there is no software that can give one hundred percentsecurity (Boulton, C. 2001).
Where the Problem Lies:
To begin with there is a very good phrase that could be aptly applied here, and it says, ‘when in doubt, don’t’. We have been, for quite some time now, debating over the effectiveness, the danger and the benefits of the Internet cookie. The truth of the matter is that there is very little that we really do know, and indeed very little that one can be sure of regarding the same. One cannot really be sure about the way that the Internet cookie works. It can be responsible for destroying lives, indeed millions of lives.
Critics on the other hand, argue that there is nothing to be worried about, as these Internet cookies are harmless text files that extract only information of search patterns. They say that it does not retrieve personal information, such as e-mail addresses. In response to this, we cannot really say whether the capability of the Internet cookie is related to this alone. If its capable of tracing and recording search patterns, it could be capable of extracting more than just this. This is the reason why, mania time, one can come across, especially after a particular website has-been down loaded, un-requested mail seeps into ones account.
Surely, this is no coincidence, but purely a result of the Internet cookie picking up one’s personal information. If this had been a case that occurred rarely, it would be unfair to blame it on the cookie. However, it happens much too often. Also, there may be more serious security concerns; national security concerns.
There is no reason why there can be only one type of Internet cookie. There may a wide range of them, or even ones that are in disguise. The fact is that we don’t really know whether or not they do exist in other forms as well. Most of the explanations put forward regard them as harmless and incapable of leaking out personal information, unless its voluntarily given to them. But people seem to be taking these assumptions to be the Gospel truth. It is only when they face a real threat or a real breach in security that they might wake up with start.
These Internet cookies are ones that should be taken as seriously as hacker software. This is because one does not really know whether or not these Internet cookies are used to first retrieve the valuable or sensitive information, and then use it to hack someone’s financial transactions. For all that we know they could be going hand in glove, working in tandem to get their job done (Slover, P. 1998).
The kind of software that is available to deal with these kinds of problems is ‘Authentication and Encryption Software’ . These are the kinds of software that is capable of dealing with foreign data sneaking in undetected. What it does is it does not allow anything to enter the software that it is protecting, unless it bears a particular code. This code is like an identification code. (Authentication and Encryption software, 2002)
Rights of Privacy:
Security of personal information is a subject that is considered very serious. Using, copying, etc. any one’s personal information or organizational information is considered a serious offence. This is the reason why there are so many laws made for the same. There are very strict laws that have been made because of the misuse of information. An example of a law or policy that a company might establish and stick to is the use of Internet cookies. The laws that are made, stand chance of being broken, and this is not just a risk for the people who use Internet facilitated companies, but is also one for the company that is providing services using the Internet and holding people’s personal information.
This is because they too stand a chance of being deceived in the same way that a user of the same does. Along with this, there may be other kinds of software interference too that could cause personal information to be leaked out. This is not limited to software being used for this but also means that people within a company might decide to misuse the information directly. If this is the case then customers will lose their faith in these organizations. This is especially the case where there is a use of wireless laptop computers. However, the company cannot give any excuse for the same, and is still likely to face legal action for it. This is the reason why they have tube extremely vigilant over their software protection and ensure that their client’s personal information is not misused and does not get into the wrong hands. (Slover, P.1998).
A company might want to use an Internet cookie to track a user’s surfing patterns. But this should be stated in the policy. If this is not stated, then the user can take legal action against any company for not informing him about the use of the Internet cookie (Martinez, M.2002). Usually an organization should not mind if there is a presence of these cookies in their systems because this helps a person to search and obtain quicker results, though, most people don’t like the idea, and prefer to be informed prior to their personal information being used.
This is especially the case as far as organizations are concerned because this is something that could affect their trade relations. People would not want to do business with them if they found that there was no security in their means of financial transactions. They certainly do not want any interference with their transactions and don’t want to allow any company to send files that will track their browsing patterns on the Internet. By the use of these files other competitors can get in touch with their sensitive information, and result in total chaos. This is where these organizations can implement software programs such as Kerberos, MD5, MIME Object Security Services(MOSS), OPIE, PGP, RIPEM, Skey and SSH.
Security and Information Systems:
An example of the misuse of personal information that may occur and result in possible loss is when the name and e-mail address of a personas recorded by certain software in one scheme on the Internet and issued by another related site. This can take place when an individual Oran organization punches in information such as date of birth or e-mail contact for the simple purpose of receiving information. It is this information that should be kept secret and not shared with any other sites. Sadly, this is the common scenario. And, this is especially the case when one opens up unauthentic sites. Their very appearance seems to be so highly designed that one can be easily deceived. And, then later, these are the same sites that are responsible for leaking out an individual’s personal information .
What actually happens is, these Internet cookies extract this information, and share it with other related sites that are similar tithe one that has been accessed. This is something that is most objectionable on the part of the user, as it takes away his or her the right of privacy. In addition to this, the issue arises because the company that has just taken the information might or might not be aware that they have Internet cookies using the information that their customers have been sending them. In the long run, this could affect the business of the same. Examples of this are seen when one downloads site, for example, a site on airline tickets.
At that very moment one will get a whole lot of ads popping up that are related to cheap airline fares. This is actually a result of the way that the Internet cookies have used the information that the user has sent to get the airline ticket fares. This happens because there are so many of these Internet cookies that are floating in cyber space, waiting for an opportunity to get hold of anyone with the search patterns for airline tickets and fares. Another way is that the Internet cookies have already got into the system that the user is browsing. From here, it can easily get into the user’s PC and extract the required information.
This is something, as said before, that the airline might not be aware of. But it is something that is actually their responsibility to deal with. They are the ones that are taking the user’s personal information and processing the same, so they are the ones who are directly responsible for ensuring safety to the same of the user. If security, in this respect, is going to become a problem for the user, then there will be many people who will be afraid to use the services provided by the airline. This, in fact, applies to all the trading companies all over the world. There will be very few people who will truly trust the Internet as a reliable means of financial transactions, etc.
The reason for this is that there are so many financial transactions that are made every day that are potentially at risk because of these cookies and software hackers. So, for the same not to occur there must be a way of preventing these cookies from entering airline hardware, and this is directly the responsibility of the company that takes hold of a user’s personal information (Furger, R. 1998) (Slover, P. 1998).
By using programs such as Kerberos, MD5, MIME, etc. an organization canals prevent any one reading their data. With the use of certain software organizations can have the data coded. In this way, no one can read the data unless the key is also presented. This is the best form of protection. But in order to do this, an organization has to have proper budget for their security. If an organization cannot come forthwith one then it means that there is no guarantee that it can provide security of personal information and financial transactions.
This has all resulted from the gravity of the situation, and should give everyone a clue of what breaches in security can take place. This is essential for the business organizations because they are the ones that are dealing with finance through the Internet. The reason why these are so risky is that they can be tapped into and the finance removed if any outsider gets hold of the personal or confidential information of the company (Glass, B.2000).
There may be a lot of argument put up in this respect, and software houses may even sound convincing that there is nothing to fear about Internet cookies, but the fact remains that these little seemingly harmless text files can get themselves into a computer system purely by accident and are able to extract sensitive information and send it out to the server that it originated from. It is very hard to believe anyone who defends their effectiveness, especially after getting to know or suspect what their capabilities are. We find us asking ourselves one a very important question, and that is, “Are we ready to trust thousands of dollars in an electronic account and know that it cannot be harmed by the presence of things that we are really not sure about?” The obvious answer would be “no”. This is the most sensible answer that indeed most organizations might give. But what if all the organizations who are aware of the same give the same answer, and surely they will, what happens to the pace of trade? Does it slow down or altogether come to a standstill? (Glass, B. 2000).
The fear is that there will be total chaos as a result of the realization of the situation. This is because there will be a fear in most of the people who use the Internet for these transactions. There will also be some who do not want to give up this means of transactions, and it is for this reason that there will also be many breaks in the trade relations between many organizations, locally and internationally. When this occurs the overall trade of many countries will be affected in different ways. This will reflect in the economic instability of countries, which could possibly lead to more competition taking place between the top currencies of the world.
But why does everyone have to go through all the hassle? Why doesn’t everyone simply upgrade their software with something that can free them from these cyber pests? The answer is plain and simple. There is software that is available that can detect and delete these Internet cookies and other sneaky software, but the only hitch is that they have to be constantly monitored just like the software viruses are dealt with.
It is basically because of the fact that people do not take these Internet cookies so seriously that they don’t even consider implementing software that is required to combat their entry. This is because of the cost of it all. They feel that it is an unnecessary expense to do the same. The fact is that in order to guarantee almost one hundred present protection against any sort of software threat, an organization needs to create a budget so that they can afford and the implement one that is feasible for their work (Glass, B. 2000).
Direct payments too, can also be affected due to the interference of hackers on line. This is the reason why it is extremely risky for a person to send his or her passwords or credit card number while they are chatting on the Internet. This is another very risky means of communicating because during this process sensitive information can very easily be picked up. It is one of the easiest software to hack. Organizations that don’t have any offices in various parts of the world have gone through a lot of hard ship in this respect. Their only means of communicating with their clients is through programs such as these. If these have to be abandoned then it could mean that a whole lot of people might suffer as a result of the same (Glass, B. 2000).
In addition to the transactions and the flow of information that are made through the Internet on a modem or a cable, we can also say that the wireless method of communication is by no means a safe mode of carrying out business these days, in fact, it is more vulnerable than the one that makes use of the cable or modem. The use of the wireless means of conducting business is supposed to be the most efficient and cost effective means of dealing with customers . But this also means that there are numerous outlets at which hackers can have access to the same. According to the latest information, these hackers go about their mischief just by sitting on Park benches or in their cars. They can detect the flow of any valuable information in cyber space and latch onto it in no time.
If people were to give up this means of communicating and dealing with their customers then we would experience a sharp decrease in the business taking place. This is a relatively new way that people all over the world are doing business. As it is very easy for them to download anything from anywhere using their laptops. But again, if we have to start using software to combat these security risks, the user of the laptop would have to know how to apply the software, and even then they would not be 100 hundred per cent protected. Another reason why taint hacker software is not a hundred present effective is because there are a large number of technically ignorant people also using the Internet and downloading sensitive information. These people are not technically aware of the features of software such as the ‘firewall’, thus making them less effective (Boulton, C. 2001) (Glass, B. 2000).
In truth, there is very little that can be done for the purpose of Internet security at present. This is because the anti-hacker and software protection that is developed at the moment is always behind the software that the hackers keep on developing. There seems to be no end to the way that they relentlessly develop the same. No matter what software is developed to combat it all, there is never a one hundredpercent protection against the same. Hackers have all the options and all the angles to aim at different software, and this is the reason for them being able to develop the kind of software that they do and always keep ahead of the anti-hacker software developers. The only real form of protection that an organization can look to is developing a budget. With this, the organization can decide what kind of software protection it can implement. Along with this, the organization also needs to ensure that it keeps on updating this form of Internet security so that the protection that they attain is as close as possible to the 100percent mark (Expert Recommends Protection Against Internet Hackers,2001).
Though there are risks while constantly searching and accessing information from the Internet, it is obvious that there are ways to avoid trouble and thereby freely carry out one’s interests. Certainly, the interests mentioned here refer to the consumer behaviour and the management strategies within the automotive industry.
The study of a fictitious company in this paper is also helpful in determining what types of strategies are employed and how beneficial they are or might be for the future.
Having also seen the ways in which the privacy of a person or an organization can be devastatingly affected, it is always better to play it safe and make it tough for the hackers and Internet cookies to get passed ones security system. Simple virus protections are all seen as mandatory in this age of electronic financial transaction.
One would surely be ready to conduct any kind of program that would save the world from a war that could emerge due to the onset of no privacy as far as electronic financial transaction is concerned.
Having said this all, one should not think twice, and do whatever is possible to even salvage the near to 100 % of protection that can help save a lot of lives being affected. In doing so, an organization can be an example to others so that they realize the gravity of the situation and therefore, follow in the same footsteps. It should also be very clear to Internet providers that it is their duty to ensure their customers of the safety and security of personal and sensitive information. It is a law like this that will ensure the tightness of ante against any breach in security. If this is not done, then in the long run we will surely find that there will be a lot of people losing their faith in the Internet, and this will directly affect the pace of business, which will in turn affect the rest of the world.
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