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This report has been produced to examine the current challenges faced by Scicom with regard to Cost increases, Increased downtime and breaking down frequencies, Slow response time and repairing cycle.
Faced with mounting and significant annual losses the organisation is now looking at ways to restructure to reduce costs moving from the current organisational structure to a more efficient structure. An investigation was commissioned and undertaken to find out the root reasons behind the issues.
The investigation uncovered a range of problem areas and the root reasons behind the problems.
Analysis of the investigation has enabled grouping of these problems into two distinct areas: IT architecture & infrastructure and knowledge management. Recommended actions to correct the identified issues are provided, together with an implementation plan including timeframes which is expected to begin on 1 June 2012 after getting the company’s approval.
These recommendations are:
l Algorithmic efficiency
l Computer virtualization
l Social networking (SN) construction
Table of contents
Report to Leo Ariyanayakam (Chief Executive Officer) 3
1. Part one: Introduction 3
1.1 Background info of Scicom (MSC) Berhad 3
1.2 Corporate mission and business strategy 3
1.3 Major business processes 3
2. Part two: IT infrastructure 4
2.1 The company’s current IT infrastructure 4
2.2 Difficulties and challenges in the current IT infrastructure management 4
2.2.1 Cost increases 4
2.2.2 Increased downtime and breaking down frequencies 4
2.2.3 Slow response time and repairing cycle 5
2.3 Green computing strategy 5
2.3.1 Concept of green computing 5
2.3.2 Planned green computing strategy statement 5
188.8.131.52 Algorithmic efficiency 5
184.108.40.206 Computer virtualization 6
220.127.116.11 Telecommuting 6
2.3.3 Importance of the green computing strategy 6
18.104.22.168 Lower cost and higher performance 6
22.214.171.124 Greater adaptability in the changeable environment 7
126.96.36.199 Enhanced corporate social responsibility performance 7
3. Part three: The social networking (SN) 7
3.1 Summary to the CEO and other senior managers 7
3.1.1 Concept of social networking (SN) 7
3.1.2 How businesses are using social networking (SN) 8
188.8.131.52 Social networks as advertising tool 8
184.108.40.206 Social networking (SN) and social influence 8
220.127.116.11 Social networking (SN) and social control 8
3.1.3 Advantages and disadvantage of using social networking (SN) 9
18.104.22.168 Advantages: Social networking (SN) and information dissemination 9
22.214.171.124 Advantages: Social networking (SN) and the provision of social support 9
126.96.36.199 Disadvantage: Social networking (SN) and social undermining 9
3.1.4 The prospect of social networking (SN) 9
3.2 Recommended strategy in social networking (SN) 10
3.2.1 Necessity to invest in social networking (SN) 10
3.2.2 Business fields under the influences of social networking (SN) 10
3.2.3 Relevant risks 10
3.2.4 Needed supporting tools, solutions and skills 10
3.2.5 Measuring the performance and success of social networking (SN) efforts 11
3.2.6 The governing body of social networking (SN) 11
4. Part four: Conclusions of findings and advices 11
4.1 Findings 11
4.2 Recommendations 12
List of Reference 13
Appendix 1.0 The 10 edicts guidelines 14
Appendix 2.0 Journal that records the activities and progress related to completing this assignment 15
Management of IT in Scicom (MSC) Berhad
– Report to Leo Ariyanayakam (Chief Executive Officer)
1. Part one: Introduction
1.1 Background info of Scicom (MSC) Berhad
Scicom (MSC) Berhad (Home page: http://www.scicom-intl.com) is a global CRM Consulting, Technology services, Education and Outsourcing company based on Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia. As the one of the top industrial leaders in the customer service outsourcing industry, the company has abundant experiences, comprehensive competencies and also performing talents in almost all major industries and business sector. As a CRM Consulting, Technology services and Education and Outsourcing expert, IT management could be of critical significance to the company which will be elaborated in detail in contents of the following parts.
1.2 Corporate mission and business strategy
In term of the partnership with our clients from various industries, the company adopts the strategy of “Customer Focused Business” to assist the clients company to increase their revenue and expand the customer based by offering professional expertise in consulting, technology, education and outsourcing in term of innovative and integrated solutions to a number of issues. And in term of corporate mission, by delivering unrivalled customer care and technical support every time the company has set its corporate mission as to help the clients to get to know their customers better, the company has set 10 edicts as a guidance to achieve the corporate mission (sees appendix 1.0) (scicom-intl.com 2012).
1.3 Major business processes
The company’s major and core business is its call center outsourcing services. By engaging more than 40 languages in term of customer interactions serving more than 40 million customers in more than 89 countries and areas, the company has been an industrial leader in the call center outsourcing industry not only in Malaysia but also in the world wide scale. It is major clients include the famous Air Asia, SingTel (Singapore Telecommunications) and Nokia and so on. In order to provide the world class professional customer service to the clients, the company also engages in a number of relevant business processes such as training, consulting, quality management and certification services in securing the company’s quality service delivery in all the times.
2. Part two: IT infrastructure
2.1 The company’s current IT infrastructure
Jesse Cameron Bockstedt (2008, p. 27) argues that the understanding of the changes of information technology over time requests for an integrated view over the innovation process. Therefore it comes the concept of IT Infrastructure Ecosystem, below we will examine the company’s current IT infrastructure using the framework.
|Internet Platforms||Microsoft IIS|
|Computer Hardware Platforms||HP; Lenovo|
|Operating System Platforms||Microsoft Windows Operation System (XP)|
|Enterprise Software Applications||Apache OpenOffice; Icon; Microsoft office;|
|Networking/Telecommunications||Microsoft Windows Server|
|Consultants and System Integrators||IBM|
|Data Management and Storage||SQL Server|
|IT Infrastructure Ecosystem Component||Descriptions|
Table 1 2.1 The company’s current IT infrastructure
2.2 Difficulties and challenges in the current IT infrastructure management
The IT management aims at maintaining the listed IT infrastructure components for effective utilization in order to support the normal business operations in a company. Below we will discuss some challenges identified in the current IT infrastructure management in Scicom (MSC) Berhad.
2.2.1 Cost increases
There are several factors contributing to the cost increase relevant to IT infrastructure. First of all, by using the Microsoft Windows Server, the upgrading fee and maintaining charge is increasing though it is increasing slowly. It has been a disadvantage compared to some competitors that use the open sourced Linux Server; secondly, because it is industrial practice that the call center agents would not have their own fixed physical sitting, employees usually would not be responsible for any breaking down of any hardware such as the mouse or keyboard;
2.2.2 Increased downtime and breaking down frequencies
Ensuring the minimum downtime is a key target of the IT infrastructure management. But recently, there has been increased and prolonged system downtime in the company’s software systems jointly developed by the company and the respective clients to be compatible with and connected with the clients’ data system. The involved systems are the two major and most used systems: Fly speed and Icon. The Fly speed is a program designed by the company and its client Air Asia for the customer service agent to extract, create and change the ticket information; and the Icon is a webpage based JAVA program designed by the company and its client SingTel (Singapore Telecommunications) with the same initiatives to extract and change the telecommunication service users’ profiles and create and record the relevant transactions such as onsite service installation and billing address changes. These two mentioned software systems have been criticized for their frequent breakdown. As of today (24th May 2012), the most recent system down happened on 3rd May 2012 when the Icon system was down for about 7 hours and all agents have to answer the calls and tell the customers that the system had been down and the time of recovery was unknown. The frequent system down and long time of recovery has definitely impacted the normal business operations and procedures.
2.2.3 Slow response time and repairing cycle
With the increased trend of multi task as well as the upgrading of the operating and more and more third party applications needed to be used during the daily work, the current computers and servers seem to be incapable to handle the many tasks at the same time. For example, the majority of the current computers are running Windows XP and are equipped with Intel CPU (1.6ghz to 2.0 ghz), 1 GB RAM, many of these computers are too old to handle all the required tasks at the same time. It greatly influences the average time of handling the customers by the agents.
2.3 Green computing strategy
2.3.1 Concept of green computing
The term green computing refers to the study of using computing resources efficiently. And the major objective of such a program is to reduce the usage the hazardous material as well as enhancing the energy efficiency during the relevant computing machines’ lifetime (Hevner & Chatterjee 2010, p. 266). Below are the components of the planned green computing strategy statement designed by us to create a green computing strategy for Scicom (MSC) Berhad.
2.3.2 Planned green computing strategy statement
188.8.131.52 Algorithmic efficiency
Algorithmic efficiency can be understand as analogous to engineering productivity for a repeating or continuous process, where the goal is to reduce resource consumption, including time to completion, to some acceptable, optimal level (Ross 2009). The algorithmic efficiency is an important content in the area of green computing strategy. For example, it is important to create more efficient code, which means we are doing what the codes needs to do with least strain on the processor because sometimes it is more important for codes to be written for clarity rather than efficiency only. In the case of Scicom (MSC) Berhad, currently it may probably refer to the task of rewriting its original software and systems to make the systems more algorithmically efficient and hence reduce the response time and possibility of system down.
184.108.40.206 Computer virtualization
Virtualization in computing often refers to the abstraction of some physical component into a logical object. By virtualizing the computers, we will be able to obtain the greater measure of utility from the resource the computers provide (Portnoy 2010, p. 2). The computer virtualization usually happens in the server, the server virtualization will allow the IT organizations to achieve higher densities, in other words, the servers per rack than possible before (Buytaert, Dittner & Rule 2007, p. 912). As mentioned above, the slow response of the computer and server is the root reason for some operating issues such as the reduced average handling time of the executive customer service (call center agents), hence, the computer virtualization especially the server virtualization will be a possible way out of some of the current issues.
Telecommuting refers to replacing the daily commute with communication to the office (Offstein & Morwick 2009). Teleconferencing and telepresence technology are usually adopted in the strategy of green computing. In term of the teleconferencing, by holding conference in front of the computer by the relevant parties using the high speed internet connection, it would save a lot of time and money spent in the travelling and relevant activities. And in term of the telepresence, though it may not be realistic in a short period of time such as allowing the employees to work at home rather than taking bus and other public transportations to the work would be a future trend for the call center industry. It will worth trying by the company as part of the green computing strategy.
2.3.3 Importance of the green computing strategy
The green computing strategy (some of the strategy’s components are mentioned above) is an important strategy to be adopted by Scicom (MSC) Berhad for a number of reasons and some of which will be elaborated as following.
220.127.116.11 Lower cost and higher performance
The more efficient using of computing resources will hopefully lead to lower cost as well as higher performance for the company. It is for sure that the green computing strategy will come together with necessary investment, the point here that the green computing strategy implementation would lead to lower cost has two meanings: on one hand, it will take a period of time for the lower cost advantage to be reflected which means that in the long run the lower cost would financially be reflected in the accounting categories; on the other hand, the lower cost could also be seen in term form of higher productivity rather than absolute lower total cost. In another word, this means that the per-unit cost would be reduced because the operating efficiency is enhanced because of the green computing strategy.
18.104.22.168 Greater adaptability in the changeable environment
The IT infrastructure should not be build only base on today’s needs but also the changes coming in the future. To cope with the future changes not only in the business environment, engineering, computer science but also in people’s changes of thinking, the IT infrastructure must have the necessary adaptability to the changing environment. Components such as computer virtualization and algorithmic efficiency will enable the company to be more open and adaptable to the future changes.
22.214.171.124 Enhanced corporate social responsibility performance
Maignan and Ferrel (2004, p. 5) create a comprehensive model of corporate social responsibility from a stakeholder perspective, they define the term corporate social responsibility as the “duty (motivated by both instrumental and moral arguments) to meet or exceed stakeholder norms dictating desirable organizational behaviors. As we know high energy consumption has been criticized widely in the society because the over usage of energy has come together with a lot of environmental impacts that will have further impacts over the development of the society. By approaching the green computing strategy using techniques such as telecommuting and also using computing resources efficiently, it will enhance the company’s image as one of the best performers in term of corporate social responsibility behaviors.
3. Part three: The social networking (SN)
3.1 Summary to the CEO and other senior managers
3.1.1 Concept of social networking (SN)
Social networks refer to the set of social connections between people, and these networks can be characterized as to their size, the qualities of the ties between members and features of the members (Levy & Sidel 2006). Social networks have become increasingly popular in many countries especially those developed economies. Below we will discuss about how business are using the social networks.
3.1.2 How businesses are using social networking (SN)
126.96.36.199 Social networks as advertising tool
The world of advertising and brand promotion is going through enormous changes with the development of the modem technology, especially with the raise of the recent search engine, smart mobile phone and social networks. For example, in the website of Facebook.com alone, there are currently over 800 million people where they connect and share using the website. So that we can see with more people using the various social network platforms, there is no doubt that the social networks will become a new battle field where business companies reach their potential and existing customers.
188.8.131.52 Social networking (SN) and social influence
Social networking (SN) has become a very important channel of social influence. The social influence functions largely because of the effect of social learning. At its most basic, social learning refers to acquiring information from other individuals. A narrower definition of social learning refers to “situations in which one individual comes to behave similarly to others” (Boesch & Tomasello 1998). With a large number of people sharing their knowledge and experiences (e.g. shopping and user experience) in the various social network platforms, more and more people learn new things and knowledge over the social networks; therefore it would be important that business entities could be part of such influence and learning processes.
184.108.40.206 Social networking (SN) and social control
Though it is generally believed that social control could be referred as the social mechanisms that regulate individual and group behavior, leading to conformity and compliances to the rules of a given society, as more and more people become the regular users of the social networks and spend many of their leisure time in the various social networking platforms, the social control issues have become more and more popular since the internet is less controlled than what happen in the real life. With this understanding, more and more government and even the organizations are trying to impose the social control in the field of internet and thus again ensure the implementation of the conformity or compliance to the rules that had been well set. It would be important the companies could participate in this social control process and exert its influence.
3.1.3 Advantages and disadvantage of using social networking (SN)
220.127.116.11 Advantages: Social networking (SN) and information dissemination
For long, companies disseminate their voices and news through traditional media such as press conference, new paper or the company websites, but we do notice that these ways of information dissemination has a limited coverage of the target audience. The social networks provide chances that the company would be able to release their information and communications to those who are following the company’s updates and they tend to have high interests over the company’s business operations. Also this form of information dissemination has two major benefits, it comes with lower cost and also it can be done each time there is a necessity and also people that are following the company’s update around the world receive the updates within several seconds.
18.104.22.168 Advantages: Social networking (SN) and the provision of social support
Social support refers to the availability of others for social contact, activities, and help and availability of others to supportively listen to one’s troubles (Cohen & Hoberman 1983). The function of Social networking (SN) in term of the provision of social support is one of the main reasons why the social networks could become as popular as they are witnessed as today. People share their stories, happy or sad, over the social networks and they obtain supports from other people. It would be large business opportunities to exert the business influence and provide social support in the various social networks to the potential customers and business partners.
22.214.171.124 Disadvantage: Social networking (SN) and social undermining
Social undermining involves behaviors that erode relationships and reputations, and social support concerns behaviors that enhance interpersonal relations (Mobley, Wang & Li 2009, p. 18). As we know, users that have signed up in the various social network platforms could express their views freely; therefore it is hard to exert the social control over these expressions. Social undermining could be done if there should be lack of necessary control over the detrimental views expression.
3.1.4 The prospect of social networking (SN)
There are two major trends that will be strengthened and continue in the coming future. First of all, with more and more people including those from the developing economies, social networks have become a new market for business competition. Influence is the core of such competition; secondly, investment in the various social networks will increase substantially and such investment would influence the future business success largely.
3.2 Recommended strategy in social networking (SN)
3.2.1 Necessity to invest in social networking (SN)
There are three major reasons why the company needs to invest in the social networking. First of all, as mentioned above, the company adopts the strategy of “Customer Focused Business” to assist the clients company to increase their revenue and expand the customer based, the company could usage the social networks to communicate the company business operations and activities to the clients or potential clients to arouse their attentions; secondly, the investment in the various social networks could actually enhance the communication between the peers and between employees and the management, this if used appropriately will help the company to build up a caring corporate culture; thirdly, potential job seekers would be able to obtain useful information and vision the future work life in the company by keeping an eye over the company’s updates in the social network.
3.2.2 Business fields under the influences of social networking (SN)
Two major areas of the company’s business would be under the influences of social networking (SN): knowledge management and communications. In term of knowledge management, as mentioned above social networks act as an important channel through which people learn from each other, hence, the social network could become an important way for employees to get to learn the new knowledge and experiences from other peers or managers; and in term of communication, information could be disseminated using the social networks.
3.2.3 Relevant risks
Even in Scicom (MSC) Berhad, there had been recorded a situation in which an employee scolded the management of the company in Facebook.com which caused significant impacts over the company’s reputation. Hence there are risks together with benefits and business opportunities over the business. This situation is one of the major kinds of social undermining, and the happening of such cases could bring counterproductive effects over the employees’ performance and damage the employee morale.
3.2.4 Needed supporting tools, solutions and skills
Besides the financial investment needed to build up the social network presence for the company, there are also supporting efforts and skills needed in the continual management of the social networks. First of all, the company needs to enact the policy guidelines over the usage of the social networks. For example, employees are not allowed to disclose and company’s stated sensitive and classified information. Secondly, the company needs to have the skills and competencies of media management to manage the social responses and expectations; thirdly, the skills of customer service should also be provided for those employees who are in charge of the update in the social networks. Timely reply to address enquires from the social networks would be of great importance.
3.2.5 Measuring the performance and success of social networking (SN) efforts
The performance and success of social networking (SN) efforts could be measured and evaluated using three major indicators. The first indicator is the daily, weekly or monthly visiting as well as the number of fans following the companies in the various social networks. The frequent and large visiting to the company’s homepages in the different social networks are the most direct reflection of the success of the social networking (SN) efforts; the second measurement is the penetration rate of the company’s social networks over the current employees, as mentioned above, employees’ participation will come with a number of benefits such as the social learning effect and enhanced employee morale; the third measurement is the reflections from the clients regarding how useful these social networks are in helping them to obtain the necessary information.
3.2.6 The governing body of social networking (SN)
The governing body of the social networking (SN) should consist of management and staffs from different functional department as well as from different level of the company’s hierarchy. First of all, the governing body could be led by one of the vice presidents or the CEO of the company to make the social network has the presentation of the highest level of management; secondly, different functional departments’ talents such as talents from marketing department, human resource department, technical department as well as other functional departments should have the presence in the various social networks; thirdly, the members of the government body should change from time to time and let the majority of the employees and managers have the chance to manage the social networks through which they could express their views on behalf of the company.
4. Part four: Conclusions of findings and advices
Through the review of the concepts and contents of several topics such as IT infrastructure, green computing and social networks as well as the review of the company’s mission and values, we manage to come to several conclusions. First of all, the company currently has faced challenges in term of the IT infrastructure management such as the cost increases, increased downtime and breaking down frequencies and slow response time and repairing cycle; secondly, social network with various functions such as social influence and acting as advertising tool is raising and business entities should invest timely in the social networks.
First of all, we recommend that the company to adopt a green computing strategy to address the mentioned IT infrastructure management issues and also enhance the company’s performance in the social responsibility behaviors; secondly, we recommend that the company invest in the social networks to increase its influence and presence in the popular social media which is necessary to the company because of the benefits and opportunities that may come in the future.
List of Reference
Boesch, C. & Tomasello, M. 1998. Chimpanzee and human culture. Current Anthropology, 39, 591 – 604
Bockstedt, J. C. 2008, Understanding Technology Ecosystems: Tools and Methodologies for Analyzing the Information Technology Landscape. New York: ProQuest, p. 27
Buytaert, K., Dittner, R. & Rule, D. 2007, The Best Damn Server Virtualization Book Period. Burlington, MA: Syngress Publishing, Inc. p. 912
Cohen, S. & Hoberman, H. 1983. Positive events and social supporters as buffers of life change stress. Journal of applied social psychology, 13, 99-125
Hevner, A. & Chatterjee, S. 2010. Design Research in Information Systems: Theory and Practice. Germany: Springer. p. 266
Levy, B. S. & Sidel, V. W. 2006. Social Injustice And Public Health. Oxford: Oxford University Press.
Mobley, W. H., Wang, Y. & Li, M. 2009, Advances in Global Leadership. Bingley: Emerald Group Publishing Limited. p. 18
Offstein, E. H. & Morwick, J. M. 2009. Making Telework Work: Leading People and Leveraging Technologies for High-Impact Results. London: Nicholas Brealey Publishing.
Portnoy, M. 2010, Virtualization Essentials. New Jersey: John Wiley & Sons. p. 2
Ross, S. M. 2009. Introduction to Probability Models. 12th edition, Amsterdam: Elsevier.
scicom-intl.com 2012. About Scicom, accessed on 24 May 2012 [online] available: http://www.scicom-intl.com/Corporate_Governance.html
Appendix 1.0 The 10 edicts guidelines
Appendix 2.0 Journal that records the activities and progress related to completing this assignment
Date of research activity/discussion/meeting
This research started on 1 May 2012 and it finally ended on 25 May 2012. There are a number of activities that we had done during before the final writing of this assignment.
From 1 May to 5 May, during these five day time we had performed a careful literature review over the two major topics: IT infrastructure management and social networking (SN). During this literature review, we had managed to identify some important definition and also the views of points that some authors or websites may hold. Such reading is meaningful to gear us up before we can actually look into the case of Scicom and discuss the topic with employees from the company. Also from the reading of the books, company financial report, official websites and other online resources, we had actually written down our framework that we will follow to finish this paper;
From 6 May to 10 May, we think about how the research could be carried out. Discussion with friends and classmates made us more clear about how the theories could be transformed into questions that we can use to obtain information from the staffs in the companies. At the same time we also use our relationship to get access to the management and staffs working in the company.
From 11 May to 15 May, we had actually visited the company quite frequently and did the observation in the company to get to know the IT infrastructure of the company. Obviously, we had obtained the grant from the management of the company to do this research for the purpose of academic research only. On 14 May 2012, we managed to have to chance to interview the operation manager of the company from which we managed to get a lot of useful information to write this report.
From 15 May to 20 May, again we have careful discussion with different parties such as friends over the findings from the observation and interview before we finally defined how the paper could be written.
Topic researched or discussed
There is no doubt that our research is mainly about two topics as just mentioned: IT infrastructure management and social networking (SN), but during the research we have actually found out that the IT infrastructure management actually is also linked with the topic of corporate social responsibility (CSR).
The whole research period from the beginning book reading to the final finishing is from 1 May 2012 to the final ending on 25 May 2012. Below is the record of the major events involved in different periods of time.
|1 May to 5 May||Literature review|
|6 May to 10 May||Discussion|
|11 May to 15 May||Interview and observation|
|15 May to 20 May||Second discussion|
|21 May to 25 May||Writing|