IT systems as a tool to improve business or …

Yesterday was an eventful day for me. In one day I had two interesting experiences: one with representatives of foreign bank based in Jakarta and the other one was at dinner at a local restaurant. These experiences made me re-think about the benefits of IT systems.

10:30 am, I received a call from a telemarketer of a foreign bank that offered or rather “forced” me to ‘upgrade’ my credit card for free so that I can get a wide range of additional facilities. I politely declined the interesting offer because I thought I did not need these facilities.

15:30 I received another call from the same bank, but with different people. Before I could say “no”, the sales staff across the phone immediately spoke at length to explain the same upgrade program offered earlier in the morning.

Actually for the past few months during my breakfast and afternoon snack, I had received calls from the same bank, offering the same program, from different sales staff. Despite my “no” reply and “beg” for not offering any product, the bank and its representatives were very persistent trying to “seduce” or “force” me to take the program.

A co-worker explained that the bank must have a very sophisticated Call Center System and IT systems that suggest potential prospects and are smart enough to show the prospect’s data on the screen of any idle telemarketer. It’s so easy because telemarketer does not need to search for prospects and their corresponding data. All they need to do is just read the information displayed on their monitors once the line is connected. I started to agree with this explanation which answered my curiosity on why the calls were made around the same time of the day.

The question is if they do this every day, can their persistent change my mind and accept the offer? On the contrary, I decided to close my credit card and promised myself not to deal with this sophisticated bank. Why? Because the so-called advanced systems really disturbed me. And by canceling my card, I hoped my personal data was not on the prospect list, hence no more calls.

19:30, I had dinner with some old colleagues. I was looking forward to meet them and have casual chat. Excited by the conversation, we accidentally over ordered the rice. We told the waiter to cancel one order of the rice, however to my amazement, he said “It can not be canceled because it was entered into the SYSTEM”. Wow amazing, this not-too-fancy restaurant apparently already used sophisticated systems to the point that we could not undo what we ordered even before the food was served at our table.

These two experiences make us, as consultant, rethink whether we are actually using the system for the betterment of the business or perhaps the opposite? In my case, I was disappointed with it. Sophisticated system is just a tool. We need well-trained users, good processes and policies in order to harness the system. IT should support the business objectives, not the other way around.

I hope the above can be a good lesson for us in implementing ERP system for our clients.