Q1) Within the elevator industry what is the role played by IT in the services and product space? Is it the same? Why and why not?
IT had a major impact on various industries since the flood gates opened for electronically operated devices. It has revolutionized the way different processes in the industry were handled. Starting from optimizing manufacturing processes to the customer relationship management, IT has its footprint. Elevator industry is no different from other industries on this front.
The shift in elevator technology from electromechanical to microprocessor based gave the first opening to IT in this industry. In the product space, Production optimization and inventory control were the key roles played by IT initially. Labor cost was reduced through optimized production planning and scheduling. Quality control was made easier through efficient monitoring of manufacturing processes. Inventories were managed by demand data of customers that reduced the cost of holding inventories.
Later on, features like automatic maintenance billing and accounting were made easier through IT. Accounting software made the billing and maintenance of records easier and organized. The marketing process was enhanced with the features like organized data for negotiating, price estimation of new products and maintenance of new customer records for future services.
In the elevator industry, services part is the core revenue generator. IT facilitated the establishment of centralized customer service department through databases. Responsiveness to callbacks, the major factor determining the customer satisfaction, was greatly increased by streamlining the customer service process. Reduction of callbacks has a great influence on operating efficiency of the companies. Calls were also prioritized based on their importance through automation.
The centralized databases helped in tracking the service requests and chronic complaints were notified for better understanding and prediction of problems. The centralized databases enabled sharing of the information on chronic malfunctioning components and other recurring problems globally. Building information was used to recognize addresses through multiple processes and thus increasing the efficiency of identifying and dispatching the mechanic available. Route management software enabled the optimization of routes travelled by the service mechanics. The contracts were tracked and based on the expiry date, prospective lists were sent to service sales representative.
Service dispatching process was made efficient through proper distribution of tasks among the dispatchers. Dispatcher availability was determined through telephone system statistics which enabled the performance evaluation of the dispatchers. In-car phones in elevators allowed passengers trapped in elevators to directly contact dispatchers. Remote elevator monitoring systems allowed companies to remotely monitor the control system and the performance. This was used to predict and dispatch service mechanics before an elevator went out of service.
The role IT plays is not very different in the product and service space. It enables easy organization and analysis of data. The differentiation comes in the fact that services are an extension of products. The IT services is aimed at increasing the production efficiency by minimizing the efforts in product space. On the other hand, in service space, IT aimed at enhancing the customer satisfaction, employee performance evaluation and increase of sales.
Q2) How will the implementation of OTISLINE affect OTIS? What aspects of the organization will undergo a change and why?
OTISLINE was a proprietary software platform which was developed when they felt the need of enhancing the responsiveness to customer callback request. With the information from OTISLINE, engineering management was able to focus on the key problem areas as well as optimize the process and capture market share.
OTISLINE had the following impact on the organisation:
OTIS had SMS (Service Management System), an integrated database management system which contained the customer master file and other information that was used to monitor and control the service business. This OTISLINE application enabled the OTISLINE dispatchers to respond to the customers in a very short timeframe. Because of this nature of OTISLINE application, a large portion of information service budget was earmarked.
OTISLINE dispatchers were given training for effective handling of customer complaints and processing. They updated the database regularly for quicker future reference. OTISLINE service centre was organized in such a way that each dispatcher is assigned to one specific task to promote dispatchers efficiency.
Dispatching & Controller Service Mechanism:
Before the introduction of OTISLINE, OTIS was using answering services during non-prime hours, and service mechanics were asked to write a manual report of callbacks and with this a summary report was prepared. These were time consuming and not providing quality information for OTIS. But with the introduction of OTISLINE, the company was able to capture critical information which helped in reducing the number of callbacks and recognizing pattern & inventory management of components which resulted in increasing profits.
Marketing – New Equipment Sales
NES, a database management system which was designed to automate the production of sales status reports. It also captured the 3 major components negotiation, estimation and disposition. This was accessed by the OTIS sales representatives for regular follow up till the sale is done.
Marketing – Service
OTISLINE was able to fulfil all the six philosophy of service: responsiveness, reliability, innovation, communication, teamwork and customer satisfaction. This ultimately improved the service quality and compete successfully with other low priced independent service providers and capture market share.