No one denies that information technology (IT) has a great impact on human life since its introduction in the 20th century. Information technology (IT) is “the study, design, development, implementation, support or management of information systems” (Wikipedia contributors, 2010). It’s a general term that describes any technology that helps to produce, manipulate, store, communicate, and distribute information. Information Technology Management is concerned with exploring and understanding Information Technology as a corporate resource that determines both the strategic and operational capabilities of the firm in designing and developing products and services for maximum customer satisfaction, corporate productivity, profitability and competitiveness (Wikipedia contributors, 2010).
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In this report I am going to talk about Information Technology Management in my work organization: Etisalat. The reason for that is that Etisalat is applying information technology in every single part of its work which can help me to go in deep on how Etisalat is applying IT in its business. It will also give me the opportunity to increase my knowledge about IT management in my organization as a part of my carrier development.
Emirates Telecommunication Corporation (Etisalat) is one of the telecommunication service providers in the UAE since 1976. It is now a well known Telecommunication provider in almost 18 countries in both Asia and Africa continents with more than 100 million subscribers. It has built up a modern telecom infrastructure and established itself as an innovative and reliable operator. Financial Times ranked Etisalat as the 140th in the Top 500 corporations in the world in terms of market capitalization.
Etisalat is an international telecom provider covering 18 countries in the world based on investment, joint ventures and stack holding. Its business and administration is well defined and managed under the umbrella of “Etisalat Group”. Etisalat Telecommunication Corporation is one of the telecom service providers in the UAE. Etisalat UAE is headquartered in Abu Dhabi and includes three regional offices – Abu Dhabi, Dubai, and Northern Emirates. It has been divided into that in order to concentrate on it specialization.
The headquarter or what we call in Etisalat “Head Office” is specialized in planning, developing, marketing and managing all activities centrally. The regional office responsibility is to take care of normal operational work such as sales, finance, regional engineering and administrational work related to the region that was delegated to them by the head office.
(Wikipedia contributors, 2010)
Information Technology Management in Etisalat:
Etisalat is applying IT in every aspect of its work such as human resources, communications, finance, procurement, logistics, sales, telecommunication, etc. It was started to have a separate application for each section / service such as Ingress for sales, limited oracle system for finance, each telecommunication service like Internet, GSM, landlines, etc. has its own IT application. The output produced by each application are combined and audited by some analysts to create reports for the management and that is a time consuming and not accurate process. Currently, most of those applications are integrated together to provide a better and quick output for the management.
Corporate Billing & Customer Management (CBCM) is the main application used in Etisalat by the Commercial department, Accounts department, Marketing department, IT department, Engineering department, Fault/Complaint Reporting Center, and the Contact Center. It is a strategic new-generation system that effectively and efficiently integrates and manages all the business processes, services, and customers of Etisalat.
CBCM is a comprehensive suite of multiple inter-related self-serving applications or modules that offer advanced functionality for effective services management, customer management, billing, sales and order handling, and resource management. The CBCM system is designed and developed internally in Etisalat using the latest software development technologies and is based on the standards that are followed world-wide.
(CBCM Getting Started, 2005)
CBCM is a modular and open system, which means that the applications or modules that are part of the CBCM suite can be interfaced or detached whenever required without affecting the other modules.
The CBCM suite consists of the following modules:
Product and Services Management (PSM)
Customer Management System (CMS)
Sales and Order Handling (SOH)
Work Force Management (WFM)
Rating and Discounting (RAD)
Billing and Invoicing (BIL)
Payments and Adjustments (PAY)
Credit Control (CRC)
Complaint Management/Reporting System (CRS)
Mediation Device Interface (MDI)
Partnership Management System (PMS)
Each CBCM module is designed and developed to perform specialized tasks. However, the modules are inter-related to facilitate flow and sharing of information.
(CBCM Basic Concepts, 2005)
Role of Information Systems in Etisalat:
As mentioned earlier, CBCM has a created a great information system interaction in Etisalat. It is started to interconnect all sections to use a common application while doing their work and developed the concept of e-Business in the organization. While interacting with the customers, Etisalat is applying both B2B and B2C to provide their services.
Business to business (B2B):
Business to business (B2B) describes commerce transactions between businesses, such as between a manufacturer, a bank and retailer (Wikipedia contributors, 2010). CBCM interacts with external entities, such as banks to obtain details of the payment that the customers make through the banks against their bills. These details contain such as the telephone/ Internet/ GSM numbers and the corresponding amount received from the Customer.
Major Business entities are having their B2B portal to interact with Etisalat from their premises. They can request new services, upgrade, modify or cease subscribed services. They can track their request online and do payment of their bills.
Another example of external entity that CBCM interacts with is the retailers. Some authorized retailers by Etisalat are having a privilege to sell services such as mobile numbers by having access to a special web portal to book the numbers, fill the request form, upload all the required documents and do the payment.
(B2B Solutions Guide, 2005)
Business to Customer (B2C):
Business to Customer (B2C) describes activities of businesses serving end users with products or services (Wikipedia contributors, 2010). The majority of the workload done in Etisalat is to serve the customers as they require more staff to serve them either in Etisalat business centers, Etisalat retailers in the shopping malls, etc. All Etisalat staff dealing with the customers has to have access to CBCM for better support provided to customers. Moreover, the contact center are also in need to use the same application in order to support the customers, and report their complains.
Etisalat also initiated an online portal few years ago to consumers to pay their bills as well as requesting for new services or reporting complains while they are online.
Information Systems in Etisalat:
Etisalat is using information systems in each part of its business. It is applying Transaction Processing System (TPS), Management Information System (MIS) and Knowledge Management (KM) in its work process.
Transaction Processing System (TPS):
A Transaction Processing System (TPS) is a type of information system that collects, stores, modifies and retrieves the data transactions of an enterprise (Transaction Processing Systems, 2010). The success of commercial enterprises depends on the reliable processing of transactions to ensure that customer orders are met on time, and that partners and suppliers are paid and can make payment. Transaction processing systems offer enterprises the means to rapidly process transactions to ensure the smooth flow of data. Typically, a TPS will exhibit the following characteristics:
Transactions Processing Qualifiers.
(Transaction Processing Systems, 2010)
The CBCM application was developed to insure that all of the above TPS characteristics are applied in order to have reliable and accurate transactions for Etisalat customers’ requests and services such as bills, products, services, etc. In the other hand, Etisalat have to have accurate transactions while dealing with its suppliers, vendors in order to have correct payments as an example.
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Management Information Systems (MIS):
Management Information Systems (MIS) is the process that provides information needed to manage organizations effectively. It is focused on the integration of computer systems with the objectives of an organization (What are Management Information Systems?, 2010). The development and management of information technology tools assists executives and the general workforce in performing any tasks related to the processing of information. MIS and business systems are useful in collection of data and production of reports to be used as tools for decision making.
Once all the transactions are done through CBCM, the process to gather the data and convert it into information that can be used to produce reports for the middle and higher management. It is the job of middle management and the analysts to produce the required reports as well as audit and manage the daily transactions and workflow. The availability for this information and reports has a great impact on management decision making and the target set by the management. It will provide the required information to know if the targets were reached as per the plans and how future plans has to be set based on the income, forecast, etc.
Knowledge Management (KM):
Knowledge management is about getting the right information to the right people at the right time. It is also a process that emphasizes generating, capturing and sharing information that is going to be integrated into business practices and help in decision making for greater organizational benefit (NHS Evidence – knowledge management, 2010).
Knowledge Management is a very important part that Etisalat is using in order to resolve its customers problems as well as providing them with the needed information for the services provided by the enterprise. It is used most of the times by sales staff as well as customer support staff. On the other hand the knowledge management is also available for all Etisalat employees in order to know what Etisalat is providing to its customers and all the information is available on Etisalat intranet website. The knowledge management is not limited to products and services information only, but it has also the required information to use Etisalat applications such as CBCM.
Database is a shared collection of logically related data and a description of the data, designed to meet the information needs of the organisation. CBCM is mainly depends on ORACLE database, which is a relational database management system (RDBMS) produced and marketed by Oracle Corporation (Wikipedia contributors, 2010)..
Click and Mortar Company:
A click-and-mortar company is a type of business model that includes both online and offline operations, which typically include a website and a physical store (Click And Mortar, 2010). Etisalat is providing most of its services either offline by visiting its offices, outlets, etc or online over the web. Currently most of the people or companies prefer to use the internet to do their requests as it is simply requires few clicks on the keyboard and have your request done without moving to Etisalat offices.
Etisalat is considering its website as a major outlet for its services as all the major transactions can be done online without the need of human resources to interact with the customers and will save a lot of time for the enterprise and the customers. Customers can pay their bills over the net, subscribe for new services, raise complains, chat with support staff to resolve cases, read more information about its services, etc.
Etisalat website is easy to use and well organized. With few clicks customers can get the required information as it organized in flow, such as individual products, business products, at home, on move, etc. For the online services, each subscriber will have his own username and password to process his requests, so he can get full list of his accounts in one page and pay all the bills once or he can select the numbers and amount to pay. After that he will be forwarded to an Internet payment gateway webpage for credit card information and that is totally secured through 128bit encrypted transactions.
As companies are going bigger and bigger, the demand for having a strong relationship with the customers increased, who are the key of the business. The introduction of Customers Relations Management (CRM) was to keep the customers and increase their loyalty. With the introduction of the internet, websites became a new retail or store of companies, electronic CRM introduced for the same reason, but concentrating on customers using IT to deal with the company.
eCRM applications enable Etisalat to proactively communicate with its customers about new services, specific promotional campaigns or outstanding bills to a customer’s fax or e-mail, and SMS. Another initiative introduced by Etisalat to increase customers loyalty and that is totally managed by Information Technology is Etisalat More Rewards program. This program allows customers to subscribe and manage their account numbers through more website. On a monthly base, customers are going to be rewarded more points that allow them to pay their bills or get shopping vouchers to use it in Etisalat partners retails (Etisalat More Rewards Program, n.d.).
The introduction of CBCM allows Etisalat to manage their customers’ accounts properly, rather than using the old outdated IT systems. This application allows IT department to add some services that were sold to customers, but billed manually to the system. One of these services is the ehosting services, which was added this year to CBCM as auditors fund a loss of revenue due to manual billing.
Another challenge that is found while developing the CBCM is that each product is managed by its own IT application and in order to automate the subscription of the services, transactions has to come from CBCM and converted to another form that can be understood by the product provisioning system for activation. Sometimes, the transaction conversion failed, which will produce a delay in service activation for customers therefore loss in customers satisfaction.
Management has to concentrate on how to resolve the above issues and to work hard on best use of data and information that CBCM can provide in order to create reports and useful output for better decision making.
As IT become the main resource of information and main tool to handle the current business requirements and challenges. Enterprises and firms have to work hard to develop and operate IT infrastructure and applications in perfect manner. This is required in order to provide the best services to customers. Etisalat is working hard in developing it CBCM system for the best support to be provided to customers either face to face or over the internet.
Etisalat Management has to concentrate their effort development of Information Technology in the corporate. That is required in order to have a better operational process and better customer satisfaction. The following points are recommended:
To have better CBCM interface that easy to use.
To include all Etisalat products and services for accurate billing and invoicing.
To resolve transactions translation case by sending the right transaction understood by each system without the adding more translation systems in between or to change the receiver system software.
Keep developing CRM of Etisalat to have better loyalty of the customers.
More investment on IT solutions to add more online services for the customers such as requests tracking, value added services subscriptions, etc.
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