Actually it is a web site where IBM customers (provided of a user-id and a password) can find information on:
- the contract they have with IBM (on their terms & conditions and status)
- the invoices/credit notes status
calendar of technical specialists’ availability for on site support.
- What does the technology do which is different from other similar technologies? This technology compared to the previous (customer call centre) offers an online response, a 24/h a day availability, a greater interaction with customer and printable documentations.
- How does it do it? It’s simply based on web technology, easy to use and completely widespread among IBM customers.
- What constraint does using the technology place on the operation? Since it’s quite simple and user friendly it’s quite hard to find constraints.
- What skills will be required from the operations staff in order to install, operate and maintain the technology? The web site was created through IBM consultants (several customers were contacted in order to discover the most suitable view), IT architect and web designer. It’s maintained by 5 IT specialists in Italy that also answer to the tool free for customers’ technical assistance requirements.
What is the expected useful lifetime of the technology? It’s going to be kept and maintained. Several investments have been performed in order to reduce the “manual data entering”: this tool now is connected with all the already existing tools within IBM administration.
Dealing both with a new service and with a new product this picture highlight its process/product life cycle:
(Picture 1: product/process life cycle.
Source: "Operations Strategy", Warwick Business School, Lesson 5)
This process technology may be defined as an indirect (or supporting) one: it looks like the appliance of science to a process that supports the infrastructure of other processes which directly contribute to the production/delivery of products/services.
The main impacts of this technology on the market (customers) I mostly recognize is an increase in customers’ satisfaction and loyalty. Also a decrease in the skews information and in poor communication is evident.
The market impact is described in picture 2:
(Picture 2 market impact)
- Quality: being directly connected to other administrative tools errors are infrequent; as any web site it’s available all day long and for all the information required by a specific customer.
- Speed: the waiting time that characterize call centre (previous technology) has been eliminated.
- Dependability & Flexibility: working by their own customers can decide what kind of information, which level of detail and in which moment of the day receive them (there’s also a personalized news letter the customer may decide to receive)
- Cost: cost related to web site maintenance cannot be compared to those related to the call centre one.
The resource base analysis is described in picture 3:
(Picture 3 resource based analysis)
- Slack, Nigel and Lewis, Michael (2008), "Operations Strategy", Prentice Hall, Great Britain
- University of Warwick (2008), "The Warwick MBA: Operations Strategy, Lesson 5", Warwick Business School.