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Enterprise Applications in Business: The Case of Customer Relationship Management Systems 


"We aspire to become the Most Inspiring Digital Organization by consistently providing the best customer experience in all aspects, through innovative products and services, customer touchpoints, and optimization of its network". Since it has been established in 1988, Celcom has been bridging communications and is advancing towards integrated multi-access, multimedia services and IoT solutions, in line with evolving technologies and consumer expectations in Malaysia (Celcom, 2020). Celcom is a part of a large corporation called Axiata Group Berhad, which is a regional champion serving 350 million customers across 11 countries. 

Celcom is the oldest mobile telecommunications company in Malaysia and is also the largest, with an unrivaled reputation for quality and reliability. Nevertheless, maintaining its competitive edge has been a struggle. In 2006 Celcom dropped to third place among Malaysian cellular providers. Since then, management has worked feverishly to turn the company around, and Celcom has regained the top spot in its market. This turnaround required new technology and business processes for managing the customer experience.

To become number one in the Malaysian market again, Celcom's senior management knew that the company had to build better networks and market more aggressively. But the real key to success lay in improving the customer experience. According to Suresh Sidhu, Celcom's chief corporate and operations officer, there will always be a competitor who can beat you on price or even out innovate you. But it's much harder for a competitor to disrupt a strong, positive relationship with customers. Celcom believes it's the market's best differentiator.

The Malaysia telecommunications market is quite mature, with few opportunities to acquire new customers. Customer retention is essential, as is luring customers away from competitors. Malaysia's customer base of 14 million is large and diverse, which requires multiple approaches to interacting with them. Older customers prefer in-person service from Celcom dealers or retail outlets, while sophisticated young urban users prefer to do business online. All want reliable mobile service.

Celcom was saddled with a siloed information technology architecture and business processes that could not provide a complete view of customers. For instance, customer data from one system such as billing were not easily available to other systems such as inventory. This is a common problem for mobile providers because carriers have traditionally counted customers by looking at SIM (Subscriber Identity Modules in mobile phones) IDs. However, many customers have multiple devices and SIMs for personal and work uses. Celcom needed systems that could identify and serve each customer rather than that person's SIMs. Otherwise, Celcom service representatives would waste valuable company and customer time making sense of a customer's multiple SIM IDs scattered among various records in the system. The company wanted to be able to see a customer as a specific person, not a SIM or a number. Celcom's solution involved changes to the company's technology, processes, and people. At the core is an Oracle-based business support system (BSS) that consolidated customer records, centralized inventory management, and sped up business processes. This system consolidates customer information into a single view of the customer to improve customer service across online, call center, and retail channels. The Oracle implementation included new customer portal sites and retail stores as well as an Oracle Siebel call center system and Oracle inventory management and Communications Order and Service Management applications.

The BSS project team asked approximately 700 Celcom employees in customer service, retail, marketing, and other divisions to list the top 10 experiences that users and dealers wanted, such as fast activation, less paperwork, and always having the most popular phones in stock. The BSS transformation team then developed technical and business process requirements based on these top 10 lists and compared offerings from several vendors. Celcom chose Oracle as the primary technology provider for the new customer experience management system. The company wanted the most complete suite of customer relationship management (CRM) tools that would support multichannel and cross-channel marketing efforts. Oracle seemed the best fit and had the most functionality built in without requiring additional modifications.

Celcom's transformation plan entailed retaining some of Celcom's existing systems, and the Celcom team liked Oracle Communications' modularity and interoperability as well as its cross-channel capabilities. Oracle Communications is a cross-channel product suite that provides a variety of services, including broadband data, wireless data, and mobile voice services. It helps communications services providers such as Celcom manage and integrate customer inter- actions across multiple channels to improve customer support, reduce problem resolution time, customize marketing to narrow market segments, and expedite time-to-market for new products and services. Celcom understood the importance of cross-channel customer experiences and wanted to make this differentiate the company among its competitors. Celcom's systems solution enables customer interactions to seamlessly traverse its retail shop, online shop, call center, and partner/dealer channels.

The BSS provides a single customer record, regardless of how many services (mobile, landline, and data) and devices a customer purchases; it is populated with data from various touchpoints. By consolidating customer data into a unified customer record, Celcom can offer tailored promotions offers in real time that fit a customer's individual history. Celcom's holistic view of a customer includes family relationships, which has special significance when marketing in Asia. The company is able to see every aspect of service each customer uses, which makes cross-marketing and up-selling more efficient.

Celcom completed the BSS implementation in just 18 months, replacing 17 separate systems with one seven-module Oracle system. Celcom officials explicitly tried to get employees invested in the new system to ensure it aligned with the business. The company enlisted project directors from both business and IT departments. Representatives from sales and marketing chaired the technology selection committees to ensure that people outside of IT were making the case for the project. Top management, including sales and marketing department heads and Celcom's CEO, are part of a steering committee for customer experience management that meets every two weeks. Celcom's integrated systems make it possible for call center representatives to respond much more rapidly to customer queries. In the past, customer agents needed to toggle between two to five screens to do their work. Now they work with just a single screen, which increases efficiency. Using fewer screens cuts average call-handling time by 15 to 20 percent. BSS includes a new tablet-based app for Celcom dealers that makes signing a customer up for a new mobile phone completely paperless. New phone activation time has been cut from two hours to two minutes. Fewer activations require manual follow-up. Celcom dealers and customers are happier. Inventory of mobile handsets at Celcom facilities and dealer stores is now centralized and man- aged using BSS. Dealers can see what Celcom has in stock, and Celcom inventory managers can monitor the stock on dealer shelves. More detailed inventory control helps Celcom move more products because it can ship fast-selling units to dealers before shortages occur or have marketers target promotions in regions where the company wants to move specific products. This would have been impossible before. Salespeople are beginning to use big data collected in BSS to better manage sales by region. Celcom is now much closer to achieving its brand vision: pleasing its customers and exceeding their expectations.







Case Study Questions


1.    Describe the main problem/ issue related to Information systems in this case?

2.     Among IS strategic objectives discussed in chapter one, which objectives the company is trying to achieve and enhance? Support your answer

3.    Describe the main management, organization, and technology dimensions/issues in this case? What solutions were made to address these dimensions

4.   Based on generic strategies in chapter three, what strategy does the company use to compete? Suggest a new strategy to this business in order to compete and become the no one in the industry

5.   Identify one main issue related to IT infrastructure, which contributed to the company problem         

6.   What benefits did such an enterprise system bring to the company?

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