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Information technology at IBM.

The IBM network in Pakistan consists of three processors which are installed at IBM locations in Karachi, Islamabad and Lahore. These three systems can communicate with each other using leased Pakistan Telecommunication Corp. lines. Every employee in IBM Pakistan has either a PS/2 or a terminal at his desk, which is connected to one of these three systems. Using the PS/2 or terminal, one can access the vast amount of information available in IBM and at the same time communicate with other IBM colleagues worldwide. The system is operational 24 hours a day, 365 days a year.

IBM Pakistan makes extensive use of global communication network to increase its employees productivity. Marketing, Engineering and Accounting information is stored in large number of databases spread on different processors. There are over 4250 processors in the network and over 300,000 displays attached to them.

One of the key requirements to make a business successful is information which must be timely and accurate. At the same time information must be accessible to each and every individual in an organization on a need-to-know basis.

To come to grips with a very large amount of information available in IBM stored all over the world, IBM in Pakistan and worldwide make extensive use of computers, communication equipment, software, and networks. The computers installed at IBM locations around the world are linked together through communication networks. The IBM network and the number of computers linked to each other is one of the largest in the world, comprising of approximately 4250 processors and over 300,000 displays attached to them. Most of the processors installed in the network are based on S/370 and ES/9000 Architecture.

The IBM network in Pakistan consists of three processors which are installed at IBM locations in Karachi, Islamabad and Lahore. These three systems can communicate with each other using leased Pakistan Telecommunication Corp. lines. Every employee in IBM Pakistan has either a PS/2 or a terminal at his desk, which is connected to one of these three systems. Using the PS/2 or terminal, one can access the vast amount of information available in IBM and at the same time communicate with other IBM colleagues worldwide. The system is operational 24 hours a day, 365 days a year.

The vast computer network supports all areas of IBM business. The major areas are:

1. Customer Support and Service 2. IBM Internal Application 3. Research and Development 4. Product Design and Manufacturing

Retain

The key application in Customer Support and Services is the Remote Technical Assistance Information Network, more commonly known as RETAIN. RETAIN is a system which helps solve problems that customers experience in IBM products, both in hardware and software. By using RETAIN, IBM engineers at Branch offices, support centres, and manufacturing plants, can gain access to the database of service history of IBM machines, programs that run them and customers who use them. The RETAIN database consists of all known machine errors and its fixes. On encountering a problem an engineer can search the database for the particular error and the fix to it. If a problem is reported for the first time, it is entered into the database and followed up till it is resolved. In such situation specialist sitting at support centres and manufacturing plants can look at the problem and help resolve it as fast as possible.

The RETAIN database is a productivity tool which helps IBM provide fast response to the problems encountered at customer locations. The size of the RETAIN database is 78 gigabytes or equivalent to 3200 sets of Encyclopaedia Britannica.

Electronic Customer Support

Another application in Customer Support and Service is the Electronic Customer Support or ECS. ECS provides IBM customers an on-line link to IBM databases and specialists. A number of IBM AS/400 customers are linked to AS/400 processor installed at our Karachi office. Customers have access to a Question and Answer database in which they can enter the problems they encounter. IBM Specialists sitting in Karachi are continually monitoring the data base and answering the questions entered by customers. If required our specialist sitting at IBM office can access customers system directly and make changes to software and micro-code if required.

Hands on Network Environment

IBM's internal applications like 'Hands On Network Environment' (HONE), the Corporate Consolidated Data Network (CCDN) and European Mutual Logistics Systems (EMLS) are back-bone of IBM's internal communication and for dissemination of vast amount of company information.

The HONE application provides access to a number of different databases such as 'Sales Manual On Line', Announcement Letters, Question and Answer database, System Engineer Communication, Configurators and Others. In addition to above there are general databases, like information on Application packages available, abstracts of manuals etc. Complete manuals which are of common use are also available on-line, and can be retrieved and printed locally. Another database of interest is education database which gives information of all courses run by IBM, and if required, one can enroll students in these courses using on-line enrollment system. The system is also used as a notice board to broadcast general information, such as announcement of new products, local offices practice and procedures etc. 'Sales Manual On Line' is a key database for marketing which contains complete and latest information of all products announced by IBM, both hardware and software. Any time IBM announces a product, this database is updated simultaneously enabling all IBMers worldwide to access the latest information and provide it to customers. Information contained in these databases is the key to providing efficient service to customers and increase productivity of IBM employees.

Office Vision

Electronic Mail, or Office Vision as it is known in IBM, gives us the ability to send and receive mail, notes, and files electronically to and from any IBM office around the world. The communication is on-line. The benefits of using Office Vision are many, such as automatically receiving receiver is on vacation, receiving acknowledgement when the person sees the mail, re-routing to another person if the back a message when a person is not available, copying mail to a number of persons, forwarding mail to others etc. Using Office Vision we have been able to communicate in hours what would otherwise have taken weeks and months.

Office Vision also provides the facility of Calendar and Diary for an individual's work. A person can maintain his diary and authorize others to look at it, if required. This facility is of great value when making appointments with others as one can view the other person's diary before deciding on a meeting schedule.

Communication between IBM, its partners and vendors is also done through electronic mail.

Research & Manufacturing

Computers are also extensively used in research, design, development and manufacturing of IBM products. The techniques used are the current ones of Computer Aided Design (CAD) and Computer Integrated Manufacturing (CIM) with use of Robotics. Continuous flow manufacturing is also used where parts are re-ordered automatically via an electronic message from assembly line. 60% of material supplied by vendors reach product line directly. The use of computers in all areas of business has increased productivity of each and every IBM employee as well as responsiveness to customer needs and expectations.
COPYRIGHT 1993 Economic and Industrial Publications
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Title Annotation:International Business Machines Corp.
Publication:Economic Review
Date:Jan 1, 1993
Words:1205
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