AT&T is a world leader in providing consumers with a wide range of telecommunication services 85.1 million customers and serving 220 countries. Products and services include the new iPhone 4, next-generation TV services, sophisticated solutions for multi-national businesses, and provide IP-based communications services to businesses around the world. These high-quality products and services, including exceptional customer care and support have been available to consumers for more than 100 years. AT&T’s “mission is to connect people with their world, everywhere they live and work, and does it better than anyone else.” AT&T describes the company’s vision by developing creative solutions for consumers and businesses, by driving innovation in the communications and entertainment industry. They have expanded their video offerings by including next-generation television services such as their AT&T U-verse® TV and AT&T | DIRECTVSM. AT&T’s “three-screen” integration strategy is to deliver services across the three areas of technology people rely on most — the mobile device, the PC, and the TV. According to AT&T, they have the nation’s fastest mobile broadband network and the largest international coverage of any U.S. wireless carrier, offering the most phones that work in the most countries; the largest Wi-Fi network; and the largest number of high speed Internet access subscribers in the United States.
In this paper Team “B” will start off with a current technology assessment, sample the technology used at AT&T, and explain the challenges that technology has on management. The next step is to do a value chain analysis of AT&T including primary activities of the company, supply chain, operations, distributions, marketing, sales, and service. This will lead the paper into AT&T’s support activities such as infrastructure, HR management, and technology development. This paper will highlight innovative approaches such as the use of security and mobility while focusing on AT&T’s use of the Internet. The use of the Internet for AT&T consists of HR management, competitive analysis, collection of corporate data, and for customer service. Change is inevitable and managing it can be even more challenging, especially for a large organization such as AT&T. Because there are many reasons that exist for the change in technology, this paper will bring to light the responsibilities of each division at AT&T to who will implement such changes. Also the paper will elaborate on the knowledge of which training is necessary to make the changes possible. Next to last we will address AT&T’s social responsibilities, how they are addressed by technology relating them to individuals, identify ethical issues on emerging technology, and the function of HR using technology in meeting social and ethical responsibilities. Finally, in this paper we will provide information about global issues of integration with new technology, expanding globally, and explain cultural differences that can affect globalization.
Current Technology Assessment
AT& T’s innovations have helped improve the quality of human conditions throughout the world. With the establishment of AT&T’s research and development department, the organizations technological advancements continue to excel. Technology used at AT&T for their own business processes are also supplied to residential, small business, and enterprise communication systems as well.
Types of technology
AT&T supports one of the more advanced IP-based business communication services in the world. They provide enterprises with application networking solutions for Application management, Content delivery, Internet security, Mobile applications, Telepresence, and Utility computing. Furthermore, they offer enterprise networking solutions for video conferencing, Ethernet, hosting, VPN, and VoIP as well. The private and small businesses sectors benefit as well with 3G networking, wireless coverage, high speed Internet access, voice services, and television communications through U-verse and AT&T/DIRECTV brand services.
Support of Business Functions
The organizations IT support team facilitates system upgrades, software and hardware purchases, in addition to help desk support. For external communications, e-mail and video conferencing tools for worldwide infrastructures keep employees current with information about new products and technology. Therefore, these applications need to be working efficiently for communication across the United States and abroad. A critical business function incorporates the need for quality IT support that provides the smooth operation of business operations and expansion (Parsons, 2003).
Telecommunications receives a positive effect on workforce production and efficiency at AT&T. Employee’s who use this flexible work program see an increase the quality of life. Declaring more than 9,000 employees on this program with expansions predicted requires the support of IT personnel for existing and growing technologies in this field of interest. As stated by the AT&T (2009) website, “AT&T’s IT organization, one of the largest in the world, was recognized for its work in creating technology solutions that transform business processes and market offerings in ways that create value and have a positive impact for AT&T’s business, customers, and partners” (para. 1). As the “IT department of the year” for three years running, AT&T recognizes the importance of supporting business functions.
Challenges in Managing Technology
The communication services supplied by AT&T have hardware and software technologies associated with them. Updating these systems can become problematic when it involves a large customer database. Overstaffing IT personnel leads to additional overhead whereas reducing the support staff leads to excessive lead times for repair work or software updates. Balancing the right amount of IT support for existing technologies becomes a challenge for management. Added workloads also lead to increased stress levels and frustrated support team members.
Technological advances accompany new challenges as well. Failure to test a product adequately before implementation not only leads to dissatisfaction but also reduces customer loyalty and trust. AT&T’s 3G network has come under fire for a lack of connectivity and other quality issues but promises to upgrade the service to provide higher broadband speeds (Hiner, 2009).
Managers must have the correct mix of personnel to create an effective project. Failure to have the right personnel leads to unforeseen problems resulting in products reaching the market that are problematic. Furthermore, emerging technologies need adequate support staff and experienced help desk support for trouble shooting issues.
Skills for Development
AT&T’s philosophy holds their management team accountable for taking the lead in developing diversity in the workplace. Employee development and training are key areas that influence customer service and shareholders directly. Managers develop skills and talents through Leadership Development Programs in order that align with AT&T’s company directives. Additional programs include the Accelerated Development Program (ADP) for potential and mid-level managers who care to enhance further leadership training.
Impact of technology on management
Technology affects everyone’s job from lower-level positions to management. The ability to plan, organize, lead, and control technological changes reduces the pressures and problems that may occur if not properly managed. For example, technology has driven management to develop ways to communicate during natural disasters. Formed by AT&T, the Network Disaster Recovery (NDR) response team deploys more than 300 technology support trailer to areas where disasters occur. As noted by AT&T (2010), “A critical element of AT&T’s efforts to maximize network reliability is its ability to respond swiftly when disaster strikes, made possible by extensive preparations” (para. 3). AT&T uses their technological expertise to lead by example, using technology to benefit others.
New Functions of Technology
Although staffing has been an important facet of management, a change in technology adds more emphasis on experienced personnel in the correct job position. Staffing the appropriate personnel leads to an increase in work performance. With the introduction of new technology, the need for training and staying current becomes more significant. According to IBM Global Servies (n.d.), “One of the key functions of IT is to create, enhance and maintain technology solutions throughout the organization” (Provide an Enterprise IT Management System, para. 1). Organizational improvement through technology requires a knowledgeable IT manager who understands the business process.
Value Chain Analysis
Looking at every step a business goes through to deliver at the least cost possible is the Value Chain Analysis. AT&T uses this technique to identify ways to produce without reducing the quality of performance. AT&T’s concerned is creating and delivering products through its primary activities. These activities consist of supply chain, operation, and distribution. As one of the telecommunication services in the U.S, AT&T supplies consumers with different products like telecom equipment, voice, data, video, and integration services. Along with these AT&T supplies network access, directory and networking services, and application management. Evolving from phone to data and managed networks AT&T has added value their communication transactions.
AT&T manages its operations with wireline, wireless, and directory. The company operates primarily in the United States, but the company has begun to expand operations in Asian and Middle East countries. The goal of AT&T is to enhance operational processes to reduce costs and improve the experience of using products and services of the consumers. AT&T works to move away from landlines because the networks are expensive. With wireline services it continues to work during power outages and is compatible with other equipment. One of the unique features is E911. This service provides the exact location and phone number and dispatched to emergency services. Top- Selling Cell Phones, New Devices, Wireless Quick Links (keeping the same number). With a commitment to customers with disabilities, the Advisory Panel helps with accessibility solutions and provides alternate billing. The Rollover Minutes service allows customers to keep unused minutes and any unused minutes are available the nest month. Searching for directory assistance does not mean thumbing through a book.
AT&T offers YELLOWPAGES.com to provide a more rapidly connection for consumers and businesses. This feature provides enhanced search functionality, comprehensive content, and city guides. This is the well- known feature “walking fingers.” With Content Delivery Network services AT&T helps to limit the need to buy and build broad and work to deliver media services to customers. This helps customers manage, and distribute video and multi-media web content. to computer, television, and mobile computing devices. AT&T Content Distribution services offer this to end-users. Sales and Marketing is the focus of AT&T to identify the needs of customers. For consumers the focus is services for the home and wireless. For businesses AT&T offers one rate pricing and there are secure networks as an outsourcing product. AT&T also offers a one stop shopping option. “Services are the discrete cipher through which product development, market focus, and business metrics create the measure of success” (Levy, Mitchell & Cormia, 2006). The market focus is the consumer. Focusing on the home, AT&T offers consumers local and long distance, voicemail, and message forwarding services. With AT&T’s product development the vision is to provide businesses with voice, data, and application services.
AT& T has support activities to increase effectiveness and efficiency. The activities include infrastructure, human resources management, and technology development. AT&T provides a dedicated network infrastructure and already begun to offer valued added network and specialized premium services. The key is bundling, voice communication, and the growth of wireless access. With an effective human resources management team, AT&T continues to attract, retain and motivate their employees to make sure they are efficient when dealing with consumers. Human Resources also provide constant training and development of their staff to increase effectiveness. With human resources management the goal is recruitment, selection, and socialization. This means HR works hard to attract, retain, and motivate their employees. New technologies to streamline interaction with customers and the integration of off-the-shelf products are a part of AT&T’s technology development.
AT&T has taken innovative approaches of Integrated Security and Integrated Mobile toward business functions. In 2004, AT&T received the “Best Technology Foresight” award for its Internet Protect Product. This service is to benefit end-users to send alerts on attacks (viruses). Pollution prevention has become another focus of AT&T. One of the work plants, in Columbus has eliminated a harmful chemical (Perchloroethylene-PCE) from their manufacturing process. This method was done in an effort to reduce greenhouse gas emissions.
Use of Internet for Human Resources Management
With the use of the Internet, there is readily available information about HR Management, which allows consumers to research the company, financial statement reports, corporate information, collection of corporate data, new product development, and complete outsourcing. For customer service and marketing the use of information technology is there to increase responsiveness and effectiveness. AT&T is an Internet- driven force who continues to replace communication tools for that next generation experience.
Change in any organization can be difficult, especially when it involves training, managing, and implementing new policies and procedures for employees and customers. As AT&T continues to progress and advance in the area of technology, it is important to develop a strategic and realistic plan to review the present operations within the company; create a technological advancement plan with key individuals and management; assess any potential problems or issues with the implementation of the new technologies; develop a training for all employees who will be effected by the transition; and provide public awareness and support to the customers on the new developments of the company.
Technological Support Training
Managing people is not an easy task. Employees operate with a level of comfort when they are familiar with the operations of their job. In order for AT&T to improve service and efficiency in the services offered, they must develop a plan that outlines how the implementation of the new technology will take place, as well as identify the resources needed to make this transition effective. The company must work closely with the IT division to make sure adequate support is available to implement the change, as well as identify key individuals to provide technical support to the employees and customers. Learning new technology can be a difficult task for anyone in the company including technical support. AT&T should provide specialized training for the employees working in engineering and technical support to educate them on new technologies and programs. This team would develop a handbook or policy to provide support for this advancement.
Business managers, Human Resources, and Technology managers have very different roles within an organization. Business managers must determine the most cost efficient manner to provide the services needed to customers at an affordable and economic price for the company. Human Resources must determine if the support is present at the company or if the transition will require any services to be outsourced. This process may require a business plan and bidding process. The Technology Manager will provide to services to all involved in determining the proper software needed to meet the needs of the company and customers. Managing change and implementing new procedures can be a difficult task when opposition is present. There are key factors that should be considered when implementing change: productivity, communication, and support. In order for AT &T to be successful in making the transition to upgrading technology and services, they must communicate with all parties involved and develop a plan that is efficient and provide technical support to all through the transition.
AT&T’s viewpoint toward social responsibility support an obligation to serving the customers, stockholders, employees, suppliers and communities with consideration to quality care and value. AT&T’s major focus is supporting education, support communities, and improve lives. AT&T goal is to construct a more productive and satisfied personnel and a strong friendly community in which to perform business.
AT&T social responsibilities are addressed by technology and related to individual’s social, economic and environmental opportunities in various communities place of work and marketplace. A Website called AT&T Cares provides activities to support employees who desire to make a difference in the community. AT&T Cares website encourages employees to join individual, group and company-wide volunteer programs. Employees can go to the companies “AT&T /Your Cause.com” online website to create their own personal cause awareness and contributions Web page.
Products and Services
AT&T provides services to customers around the globe, worldwide, national, regional businesses, and government customers. AT&T also delivers incomparable portfolio of traditional and IP-based voice, broadband Internet, data transport, wireless and video services through it subsidiaries and partners.
Codes of Ethics
AT&T ethical issues for the organization and individuals are policies and practices. These procedures consist of providing a good environment, health and safety to the employees and company contacts. AT&T’s has an unusual code of ethics policy. Every year employees have to sign an agreement indicating they comprehend and will continue to adhere to the code of ethics, both in correspondence, and in character. AT&T’s code of ethics gives directors, officers and employees guidelines pertaining to the company’s standards and expectations. The policy and procedures propose in the code are to encourage honesty and ethical conduct, including conflicts of interest.
AT&T develops new technologies and practices regardless of its pioneering efforts in other areas of the company, such as diversity, customer service, and human resources. AT&T goals are to design and create a new global network that processes and service platforms that maximize automation. For example, the first telephone amplifier to assist people with hearing impaired, AT&T created the natural voice is a text-to-speech engine used in the Freedom Box Internet, an online service that provides access to the Internet and allowing disable individuals to operate the computer using only voice commands.
AT&T continues to lead to improve social, economic and environment opportunity to AT&T communities. These community consists of providing broadband Internet and IP-base services to rural communities where broadband is unavailable. Also video services were made available to low-income households.
Community Engagement, Volunteerism & Philanthropy
AT&T Foundation supports development that creates opportunities and addresses community requirements. Improving existing programs and develops innovative plans and programs in areas of the business are important to the community.
Based on the AT&T Foundation & the AT&T pioneers, they provide both financial assistance and volunteer efforts to supplement the quality of life in the communities it provides assistance. Some of the areas AT&T provides are:
- Address vital community needs
- Disaster relief
- Enhancing unique culture assets
- Diversity n the community
- Support troops
In 1940, World War II, AT&T started an extensive program to create and operate the telephone calling center at military facilities. Since then, 2003 to present, AT&T is providing the latest technology working with Freedom Calls Foundation; to connecting troops servicing Iraq with members of their families to talk via video online-chat session as well as the troops is to see their families.
Workforce Inclusion consists of:
- Commitment to the employees
- Supplier diversity
- Supporting Diverse enterprises
- Women business enterprises (WBE)
- Make a difference in the marketplace
- Multicultural Outreach
Integration of New Technology
Most underdeveloped rarely foster research on new technologies; it will therefore be difficult for the globally expanding corporations to find new knowledge in these nations and reception of the same may also be rather slow. Firms may also find it difficult to integrate new technology because policies in developing nations may be deliberate to encourage internal development. Government could impose tariffs and taxes on international corporations (Regan and O’Connor, 2002). They could also concentrate on exporting programs over importation of these technologies and it would make it difficult to integrate.
Access to Technology
Underdeveloped nations by their very nature are made-up to consume technology rather than create it for themselves. In so doing, these countries tend to have technologies, which are privately business and their accessibility is thus severely limited. Because these technologies are brought in, then cost implications may be a serious limitation on their use. Many developing or underdeveloped nations have poor citizens who may not afford purchasing non-essential items. To them, technology is a luxury that they can only dream about but never own. This may make integration a very difficult challenge.
Technology from western states may not sometimes be compatible with the environment within target nations. Usually, these technologies are highly specific and need not consider needs of poorer countries. Additionally, some of the technologies require immense resource utilization and this may severely restrict poor countries that do not have these resources at hand.
Issues of Global Expansion
For an international company to grow globally, companies need to think about all issues that can make them gain from it directly. First, they should take advantage of being first movers as this provides them with a unique position to gain market dominance. Companies need to cross subsidize certain products that could be scarce in the target country and easily available in the parent one. Diversification of risks should also be an important part of global growth. In other words, companies should stay away from nations that have more of the same labor issues or those that have related highly business cycles (Tausch & Herrmann, 2002).
Benefits of the Internet
Technology can create immense opportunities for its recipients. Their quality of life can significantly improve because of a numerous factors. First, people can be able to access information conveniently and in the comfort of their homes. In so doing, they can benefit from being highly knowledgeable and also access better health-care and education. Furthermore, consumers have convenient ways of transacting and accessing products that they desire. Information technology through the Internet can also create avenues for economic growth through its effect on productivity at work. Information diffusion can therefore allow authentic value creation between workers because individuals can focus on what they do uniquely. In addition, the Internet can contribute toward better resource utilization by allowing information exchanges among respective groups. It can also facilitate reengineering processes because of access to best practices in any industry. This would make firms perform better and hence boost their productivity. Companies that expand globally may also benefit by creating job opportunities for members who can then give back to the organization through more working hours and through telecommuting. Companies can also grow from the availability of previously unavailable groups such as the disabled. It can also benefit from the ability to assess consumer tastes through Internet surveys or through customization of products.
Culture differences Affecting Globalization
When target countries speak different languages from a parent country, then this may prove to be a challenge as members need to either learn the new language or look for very effective translators. The process of learning these languages may be a difficult one that may take longer for some than others. Also some aspects of language cannot be understood outside of the said cultural context. Finally, software applications or other pieces of expertise developed inside the parent company will need to be available in different languages just so that the group can cope (Regan & O’Connor, 2002).
Different Time Zones
Communication may prove to be quite challenging between members of an organization especially when real-time interactions are desirable. This could slow down the pace at which supplies reach consumer and the process rates of orders. More often, members may be reluctant to sacrifice convenient working hours for business opportunities in international organizations. Countries with highly variant time zones may not be good choices for business destinations.
Business cultures are quite different in various parts of the world. Consequently, multinationals must watch out for those countries that promote industriousness. However, local strategies can adapt to overcome such inefficiencies or expectations should be affirmed upon arrival. Global companies may also need to watch out for differences in communication especially with regard to the nonverbal and verbal cues. For instance, one may have to know what is choice have been made in terms of humor, eye contact, gender preferences, and tone of voice.
Information technology is one of the powerful tenets of the business of AT & T. Communicative technology is well developed in AT & T and the company boasts one of the most expansive and state of the art communication networks and this has been one of the factors that have made them a global company. However, the current state of IT implementation with the organization cannot be regarded as sufficient with regards to an organization that relies heavily on information technology. Also the integration technology is minimal in order aspects of the business as well, a prominent example is in the HR department where the records and performance evaluations are carried out manually and the role of technology is limited to writing and printing records (Bouwman and van de Wijngaert, 2005).
In these departments the training of people is done before the actual integration of technology in order to allow for a smooth transference of technology. Also the concerns and fears of the people regarding job security and organizational policies is dispelled. These initiatives enable the company to reap the benefits of technological integration at the earliest as the employees becomes aware of the functions and benefits of technology. The organizational infrastructure remains unaffected; rather the interdepartmental communication is improved significantly with the integration of technology. Altercations in infrastructure are among the prime concerns for the organizations integrating technology, in case of pharmaceutical organizations; effectively no altercations in infrastructure take place (Linthicum, 2004).
The company management is specifically expected to understand what to control in the process of making sure that the procedures of IT creation are specifically followed by those individuals concerned. It is realized that somehow, the knowledge of the IT manager about the specific issues that are concerned in the plan being pursued for the project would actually assist in making the entire system work for the approach of development being established for the organization. In the case of AT & T decision, the IT management is in dire need of meeting the values of customer and competitors as well as that of the connection that they should establish. The new thoughts of IT manager as presented through the diagram herein could actually help in the process of identifying what is most valuable for the sake of the progress and the development of the project being imposed (Linthicum, 2004).
From this diagram below, the manager could actually be considered to have the chance to see through the situations that are to be involved in the project through using the nine particular elements of successful IT operation. Through good governance guided by the principles of ethics, the manager would be able to balance out his vision towards his position and his responsibilities in the process of responding to the needs and the expectations of the stakeholders of the company.
Thus, the integration of technology is aimed at improving the performance of the organization, more importantly; it allows the organization to save costs. Saving these costs allows the organization to expand further in to the market.
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