AXTON CARPETS PLC: a Report on Information System and Internet Technologies Management
Technology Management: the case of AXTON CARPETS PLC
In the continuing culture of modernization together with the process of globalization, everything goes digital or technology-based. Perhaps, the rapid growth of technological advancement in the society has brought people so much ease in all the things they do. Undeniably, everything is credited in the apparent advantage of human knowledge and technology. Technology refers to the equipment and techniques that are being used in managing and processing relevant information the most effective way possible (1991). It is important for various institutions in the society like the government itself, economy and businesses – whether small-scale or large-scale, academe and its related fields, and individuals to keep themselves updated to the latest trends so as to keep the competitive value of their products and services as well as their skills in the global market. Technology has always been a major means for creating new physical and human environments. It is possible to ask today whether technology will also destroy the global civilization that human beings have created (2000).
Among the numerous and obvious trends that depicts the utilization of technology is the involvement of its use in improving the traditional operations and machineries of most organizations and at the same time the technical skills of every individuals. These technological advancements have brought people especially those in the business world to utilize a strategy that would be helpful in enhancing the business value of any organization (2001). The intricacies of achieving business achievement through increased efficiency, effectiveness and competitiveness, combined with innovative applications of information technology (IT) has heightened the awareness of both IT and business managers towards more strategically oriented approaches for planning and management (1993).
In the dawn of various phenomena such as globalization, industrialization and technological advancement, the international marketplace including the particular areas and systems is overly affected. Among the observable impacts of such emerging conditions in the business world is competition indicated by various strategies used by business. Competition among the various industries in every given economy is rapid and stiff. It is as if ‘survival of the fittest, extinction of the weakest’ trend. Today, as various industries are aiming for competitive advantage and sustainable development among its management and operations, there are numerous actions that are being implemented and are directed to the eventual success and growth of the company’s assets. In competition, there is motivation in every business to improve and develop their objectives. For an enterprise to succeed in global competition, hence, there is a continuous plan to develop marketing techniques such as effective information management and appropriate technological innovation and application aside from maintaining products with higher quality than its competitors.
The increasing competition worldwide, the growing demands made by customers, and the rapid pace of change in technology are forcing companies to review the way they do business, what kinds of products and services they offer, and the speed with which they release products to market. Similarly, it tender significant challenges to an organization’s capability to keep up their competitiveness ( 1995; 1998). In a micro economic sense, competitiveness is defined as sustainable development in productivity motivated by the quality of business strategy and operations, the quality of business and environment and the prevalent macro economic environment (2001). In a macro economic point of view, competitiveness is the degree to which a country can under free and fair market conditions, produce goods and services which meet the test of international market, while simultaneously maintaining and expending the real incomes of its people over a long term (2002). This is evidently projected in the case of Axton Carpets plc. The challenges of global competition and technological advancement triggered or contributed to its potentialities in economic tragedy or possible loss of business.
The marketing concept states that the nature of the marketing orientated organization, whether product or service based, profit or non profit based, is the identification and genuine satisfaction of customers needs and wants, more effectively and efficiently than the competition (1994). The marketing concept has been consistently evolved into more contemporary and sophisticated ways. Among these is the existence of new technologies that covers the overall process of marketing. However, the tools that is normally used has also adapted to the changing times. It proved to be very flexible considering that marketing techniques has been employing the use of modern technology to enhance their efficiency as well as their capacity to provide the needs of the consuming public. Now, in order to address the problem and possibly eliminate business threats, there is a need to implement changes in the information systems as well as the application of Internet technologies or e-commerce.
MAIN FINDINGS AND ANALYSIS
ON INFORMATION SYSTEMS
The modern age of digital electronics made it possible for businesses and corporate organizations to keep up with the demands of their industries. At present, most business organizations are equipped with the latest information technology (IT) systems that enable them to function fully and effectively in the delivery of their products and services. Businesses have evolved since the emergence of this convenient and useful company resource. Communications, information, and knowledge are the blood stream of every company on which every staff, employee, and supervisor must work on to be able to meet the demands of the clients and customers of the business. This is the reason why there should be proper management flow within the organization. Managing the communications, information, and knowledge that the company uses in its daily operations is crucial in any business organization especially in its decision making.
These computer-based information systems used within an organization consist of the network of all paths of communication within an organization which assists management in collecting, manipulating, and analyzing data or information for decision-making as well as in terms of production. Its operations include input of data, processing of data, storage of data and information from raw input, and the creation of management outputs such as reports and business analysis (1999). Apparently, the production efforts that were employed by global companies during the recent years are directed to better increase manufacturing capacity and efficiency. This is the type of commitment to continuously improved efficiency and effectiveness that has spurred the company and made it possible for them to become competitive on a global scale.
Since Axton Carpets plc is a company that operates among European nations and a number of geographically separated facilities, there is a need to effectively manage the flow of information and knowledge as well as the communications necessary to its production. In spite of that given instance, the information flow within the global firm is centralized as effected by their goal to have all transactions processed electronically or online.
Data is engendered in all processes inside and outside the organization. Determining the possible information value of these processes and creating a system for its effective use requires specialized skills. It means that there is a need to combine in-depth business knowledge with in-depth system/process knowledge. Eventually, when the information value is close to the procedure, e.g. obtaining direct process competence, this link can often be made by the organization. This can be very difficult when information value is business-logically separated from the information source. Recognizing strategic processing strengths in one department and using them commercially in another could be an issue.
Axton Carpets plc facilitates information and knowledge flow by using their system which is consists of a central PC responsible to maintain the customer database, stock records and other elements of the sales order processing file and software. This done mostly by linking the business strategies they come up with to the firm’s performance. In business intelligence, the group acquire information that are relevant to the firm’s fields such as customer’s needs, their decision-making process, information on their competition (current and potential), industry and market conditions, and in general all the areas surrounding the business that can lead to either an advance or a setback. It also includes the economic, political, and technological trends that concern any aspect of its field. The goal of these systems is derived from the organization’s vision or mission, and could either be short term or long term in effect (1994).
Similar to Management Information System (MIS) techniques of other companies, wherein a firm will strive to gain a competitive edge by backing up selected core competencies and focus the decisions of management to bring these out, Axton Carpets plc should capitalize on product quality, fast delivery, and complete product support. Core competencies are those areas of the business which have been chosen to drive its operations, so there is more concentration to improve these above the others. The MIS focuses on improving business performance by aligning their activities and employees towards these objectives, with information on these areas made readily available so that management can make quick decisions and coordinate the increase of productivity and sales. With a worldwide business base, production housed in several countries, and the pressure of delivering promptly with high quality products, Axton Carpets plc’s MIS tries to employ a variety of tools to visibility keep tract of what is happening on all levels of the organization. This includes facilitating all dimensions of the organization so that every expectation can be met.
This level of coordination is made possible by a fluid communication path, enabled by MIS, across the organization, making it possible for management to align the workforce’s efforts. Intel’s environment is primarily on the web, making it necessary for MIS to keep a structured approach to its processes that monitors and plots out activities through this medium. Being web-based also allows management to collaborate on-line to share data and keep track of developments as they happen. This ensures that management is updated regularly, making for fast solutions and instantaneous execution of decisions through their global operations.
Being EU based industry leader in supplying high quality woven carpets, Axton Carpets plc web-based environment allows it to maximize communications in its business performance. Everyday transactions supply pertinent data, such as customer orders, customer specifications, customer feedbacks, production data, marketing analysis, sales reports, supplier information and such from all over the globe. Its information system should help to improve performance in data and information handling in such as way that it increases productivity, improves sales, and saves costs. This could be done through an effective measuring system that keeps tabs of the organization’s activities, on all levels like what was mentioned before. Thus, the venture on Internet technologies through e-commerce must put into action.
ON INTERNET TECHNOLOGIES (E-COMMERCE)
The term e-commerce is simply defined as transacting through electronic means. Gathering, relaying and exchanging information electronically are all covered by e-commerce. Electronic media used for e-commerce can be through the internet, telephone or fax machines (2002). At present, these e-commerce methodologies are very significant in the business field, thus, the interchangeable term, e-business, was introduced. The scope of e-business covers various business and marketing processes that are performed through networks mediated by computer systems.
The use of electronic business processes allowed organizations to carry out more efficient activities, including buying and selling processes, production and management. The basis of e-business is on the processing and transmission of digitized information such as sound, text and images from one computer to another electronic instrument or device (2001). According to the Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development ( 1999), businesses have various reasons for introducing e-commerce into their operations. One of these reasons is the ability of e-commerce to reduce the costs incurred from business transactions. The inexpensive cost of internet application allows small and medium sized companies to avail to e-commerce’s many benefits. The ability of e-commerce to improve the quality of both product and customer services also encourages companies to use this business trend. Conducting transactions through e-commerce channels allows faster delivery of services, which in turn leads to higher levels of customer satisfaction. Finally, businesses engage themselves to e-commerce in order to cope with competition. As more and more businesses are recognizing the role of e-commerce to successful business operation, other businesses would have to integrate this trend as well into their respective operations so as to adapt and maintain their businesses afloat.
Generally speaking, e-commerce using the internet as the main infrastructure enhances sales activity and revenue generation (2002). This is due to the fact that the internet uses a single-button-click process that leads to the appearance of various data in a significantly brief time allocation. Speed may be considered as one of internet’s feature in the e-commerce. Through the speed, it enables business to automate many operations and create worldwide products, 24-hours per day at low cost (2002). Meanwhile, the increasing competition worldwide, demands made by customers, and rapid pace of change in technology force companies to review the way they do business, kinds of products and services they offer, and speed with which they release products to market (2002; 1994). E-commerce empowers customers to conduct business from corner to corner of the globe and enhances their array of product choices and preferences and information about prices. Internet is also dynamic and decentralized. This technology brought shopping to consumers with innovative types of market for information. In click of a button, consumers will have a wide choice of products to purchase. It provides very satisfactory global marketing application ( 2000). E-commerce facilitates wide market coverage for products and services. In international business operations, the presence of websites allows the potentialities of marketing across geographical borders.
Using e-commerce technology such as the internet, the promotion of products and services of Axton Carpets pcl is more cost and time efficient. For instance, in the marketing communications mechanisms like advertising, management hope to create consistent brand images worldwide, spend less marketing resources in producing unified appeals, and use only one or a few international agencies to handle the company’s entire advertising (1994; 1991; 1994). Today, internet advertising is among the most popular means of marketing promotion. Internet advertising or sometimes called web advertising is a type of advertising in which a person can control or customize the information according to his/her interest with the use of internet ( 2001). It provides instant interaction and connection to the consumers since the buyers or the audiences are the one who decides on what advertisement to view favourable to the field of their interest. The consumers are given the power to control the opportunity in establishing an on-line participation through the use of internet (1997;2001). In Europe, Internet advertising revenues in the year 2000 reached an estimated amount of US$ 180 million in the UK and US0 million in France ( 2001). With this innovation, internet advertising have gained significance in promoting the company’s products and services and have considered that the medium have been successful in providing the company to have instant interaction with the consumers which marked opportunity for the company to save time and money. E-commerce enthusiasts are aware of the technical and financial advantages of using the internet as the infrastructure ( 2002). Internet-based commercial activities offers opening up of markets, improving information provisions about products, including non-corporate information ( 2003; 1998; 2002). The Internet allows consumers much greater access to information, opening up the market and undermining monopolies. For international businesses and their marketing strategies, it is expected that e-commerce makes marketing procedures to be fast, cost saving, convenient and simple for consumers. With the presence of existing technology today, it allows consumers to focus their resources and make decisions through a series of self-interaction with the internet.
In general reference to international businesses, e-commerce provides competitive advantages ranging from cost and time effective mechanisms, expansion of market coverage, and integrated product and services promotions. However, there are some criticisms on e-commerce dealings ( 2000). Inge (1999) noted that most non-buyers criticize the internet’s lack of human contact, personal privacy and credit card security, and cite a need for more time to make a decision. Another barrier on effective implementation of e-commerce is the consumers’ concern on online access and cost ( 1996). In some nations, internet access is only limited to business sites and schools. In some cases, the lack of appropriate training or education on using various e-commerce channels tend to be one of the barriers encountered by consumers.
Generally, there are numerous advantages of e-commerce and its related technologies (like the internet) to international business operations. The implementation of e-commerce to international businesses as well needs appropriate strategy and managerial research and development efforts. According to (2004), appropriate strategy must reflect a company’s customer type, product type, geographic scope, procurement and distribution channels, and so forth. He added that the consideration of timing and speed of entry into the e-commerce environment is important. Most importantly, businesses must know how to provide differentiation in the marketplace, since strategy is about being different. Thus, the international business environment worldwide departs with the traces of traditional marketing. Today, they engage in contemporary marketing experiences that include e-commerce and internet-based economic activities. For there are uncertain trends that emerge in the business internal and external setting, global firms like hotel bunnies use e-commerce as a marketing strategy to go along with the challenges of the more competitive and diverse global market.
Based on the discussions above, it is found out that there is a need for Axton Carpets plc to undergo change in terms of its information systems and Internet technologies (e-commerce). This can serve as strategy that the management can take to build-up its competitive edge. The ability of a business to stay in significant period of time in the industry where it belongs is one measure of its success. This means that being able to survive is a necessity and survival translates to the ability of a business to compete. Since the 1980s, strategies have played key roles in planning to overcome challenges. It is believed that this line of thinking will continue to direct the activities of business into the 21st century (1999). Every business is subject to several factors that affect its function as a whole. These factors are the ones attributed for the success or even the failure of a business ( 1997). Thus, it is accepted to confirm that they are essential in every business endeavour. The discussion above revealed that benefits that Axton Carpets plc will gain in case its management chooses to implement such mechanisms. Through effective and efficient strategic planning and management, these systems together with the organisation’s resources and administrators can add value to the services delivered to customers, reduce risks in the organisation’s business, lessen the costs of business development and service delivery, and encourage improvement in internal business processes and external service implementation.
To employ these processes, there is the need to consider the risks, opportunities, ability of the employees to handle and use new knowledge, and the effectiveness in the organisational setting. Intensive preparation and study should be conducted in order to ensure that these systems are successful and are able to perform its planned functions. The new information acquired from organisational activities will have value and increases insight into organisational needs and the way the business is looked at. Adding more and more advantages to the whole organisation and solving the problems as they occur will eventually lead to success and growth as mentioned. Having an experienced strategist in helping the management utilizes its resources, economic progression and corporate growth and success is promising.
The emergence of digitalisation and globalisation in all operating global industries paved way to the further improvements related to marketing and management techniques. Regardless of the unprecedented drawbacks of such ideas when being used, every organisation and its management must administer and control them in the most beneficial ways possible. Every decision made by the management must be directed to the welfare of the whole industry. With the right strategy and strategic planning plus constant organisational learning, eventual growth, market superiority, competitive edge, and success are not really far at hand.
These systems, focusing on every area’s performance, should enable measurement throughout all business aspects, from customer satisfaction, process effectiveness, and employee output and development.
To be further effective the MIS should be linked to the organizational strategy (on another level it should also be hooked to departmental strategies to form a cohesive outline). To completely evaluate the information management of the organization, it is advisable to adopt the devised decision making model (1999). The model consists of the following steps:
identify and define the problem;
identify the desired goal or condition;
consider obstacles to the goal or condition;
choose the best alternative ;
evaluate the actions.
The use of the quantities in decision-making model helps authorities to minimize mistakes. Aside from the steps above, it is also recognized to list all the alternatives, identify future events that may occur, and construct a pay-off table in making effective decisions. Information and knowledge gathered should be employed through the organization and its departments, and then implemented, and after some time has passed and evaluated the results of their implementations. To effectively bring about the organization and departmental goals of increased performance, the mentioned data trends should be gathered immediately and handed to management in real time and immediately.
In short, Axton Carpets plc needed a way to monitor performance (on all levels) in real time, making it possible to trace the progress of strategic developments and change them if necessary. The problem was in finding the correct system to supply the solution to their business needs such as: providing performance visibility so that productivity and savings can be maximized, linking management systems to the over-all organizational performance objectives, and coordinating the workforce efforts to promote one set of organizational goals.
In relation to knowledge management, executives may choose to adopt any one of the following approaches or combine several approaches that are applicable for their company. These three general approaches that stand out ( 2002) and used by organizations and companies of today are: sharing existing knowledge – the thrust of many early knowledge initiatives; creating and converting new knowledge – the innovation thrust; and a growing external focus on the approach – leading to an upsurge in the interest in customer relationship management systems and interest in knowledge markets.
In terms of internal and external decision-making and taking, authorities must execute wise manipulation of information and knowledge as well as the suitable communications medium to be used. The collaboration of in-depth study results, marketing methods, strategic plans, and business trends will eventually create a boom in the company’s performance and success.
Finally, Axton Carpets plc must consider their ability to undergo continuous improvement (See Appendix A). (1996) believe that modern organizations passed by the guild structures and as organisations grew larger, skills become increasingly fragmented and specialised and positions become more functionally differentiated. Organisational change is part of and a result of struggles between contradictory forces, also change management practice is related with endeavouring to manage their competing demands. To fully understand why and how to change organisations due to new market trends, it is elementary and necessary to know their present structures, management and behaviours. This is possible through studying the overall conditions of the organisation and considering the corporate strategy (See Appendix B).
It is said that organisational change is one of the critical determinants in organisational success and failure (1998). Further, Appelbaum and colleagues stated that the focus of successful organisations is on customers and their needs, which includes investing in ways to improve sales and provide superior service to clients, and they do not forget that their customers and their customers’ needs underlie their organisation’s existence. In addition, adapting factors crucial to the success of certain missions and the implementation of solutions to problems are common traits of a successful organisation ( 1998). The lack of such initiatives can throw an organisation into confusion, being stuck in traditional practices that cannot solve or handle the current problems faced. Thus, the lack of such factors stresses the need for a strategic organisational change. It is basically a flexible strategic planning process as opposed to a static form.
The Model of Continuous Improvement provides similar and relevant processes and concepts related to business organisations. It recognises the primary role of culture, communication, and commitment. Also, the model indicates the interconnectedness of teams, tools, and systems. The focal point of the model is the consumers and suppliers, which are the key players of an economic endeavour. The model also involves the existence of various changes and in order to cope up, continuous development must be ensured.
Thus, to fully cope up with the emerging changes in the globalized international market, organisations are advised to continuously study the potential areas that need improvements or alterations. In doing so, the organisation is not left behind in terms of emerging market trends that are innovative and technology-based in applications.