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Management Information Systems

The importance of quality information in making quality decisions cannot be overemphasized. Quality decision making demands the availability of timely, accurate, and timely information (Ajayi & Fadekemi, 2007, p. 109; Shanteau, 2001, p. 913; Post & Anderson, 2005). Information can either be descriptive, diagnostic, predictive, or prescriptive (Harsh, 2005). As organizational structures become more complex, so does the need to improve the coordination between departments.

In the highly volatile, dynamic, and competitive 21st century business environment, the success of any company largely depends on the managers’ ability to utilize information in making decisions concerning new products, suppliers, customers, business opportunities, markets, and technological developments (de Alwis & Higgins, 2001). Management Information Systems (MIS) coordinates the collection, processing, storage, and transmission of information used to support management operations. Since decision making is a core administrative function, its success is partly dependent on the availability of quality information (Ajayi & Fadekemi, 2007, p. 109).

MIS as well as the information generated by such systems are an essentiality in prudent and reasonable organizational decisions. In every organization, the development and maintenance of management information systems is governed by clearly defined guidelines, policies, procedures, and standards. Again, since MIS links almost all levels of management, it

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must support the long term strategic goals of the organization or company. However, the success of any MIS depends on the timeliness, accuracy, consistency, completeness, and relevance of information (CCANB, 1995; Oz, 2008).

Over the past decade, the global market place has become highly dynamic and volatile. With increasing globalization and internationalization, technological advancements, increased brand promiscuity, media fragmentation of customers, and the persistent quest for added value and competitive advantages; companies have been forced to integrate management information systems into their operations so as to provide reliable information to facilitate the resolution of both structured and unstructured problems.

Since sound decision making is central to superior organizational performance, the processes through which the facilitative information is generated must be secured and controlled (Post & Anderson, 2005). Some authors have wittingly referred to the 21st century as “Asia-Pacific century”. More than ever, the region has emerged as a key economic player in global economics. More importantly, Asian managers are encouraged to espouse creative and innovative management options to maintain their competitive edge.

As such managers must strive to make decisions that appreciate the constant changes in information concerning benchmark data, market trends, productivity indicators, and key performance indicators (de Alwis & Higgins, 2001). Due to the paucity of research into the nature of the interplay between MIS and decision making in Kuwaiti companies, this study attempts not only to bridge this knowledge gap but also highlight the need for transformative change in Kuwaiti companies.

For instance, a majority of Kuwaiti companies operate within organizational structures that are characterized by inertia, hardness, and non responsiveness to changing economic, social, and technological developments. It can be argued that the information base utilized by most Kuwaiti companies is redundant, irrelevant or unappreciative to the changes in global market place. For this reason, the study draws the attention of Kuwaiti managers to the benefits of having a management information system which supports critical strategic and operational decision making on real time basis.

Zain Telecommunications is one Kuwaiti company that has since recognized the value of MIS in decision making. Currently, Zain Telecommunications is in the process of organizational restructuring to exploit the gains in competitive advantage. This study examines these changes and the subsequent decision making benefits accruing from the implementation of large scale highly integrated management information systems.

1. 2. The Context of the Research Zain Telecommunications is an important case study of the influence of MIS on decision making. Zain was established as Mobile Telecommunications Co. (MTC) in Kuwait in 1983. Currently, Zain group has a market capitalization of more than USD 7. 5 billion has its headquarters in Bahrain. Currently, Zain has over 70 million active subscribers in 26 Middle Eastern and African countries.

The Group’s Chief Information Officer together with top executives has been instrumental in the implementation of cordin8 TenStep/Program Management Office (PPMO) as a way of transforming the global operations of the conglomerate. The integration of PPMO into the corporate technological infrastructure is in line with the ambitions of the 3x3x3 vision; a 2003 initiated strategy directing the transformation of Kuwaiti Mobile Telecommunications Company over a nine year old period (Cordin8 Technologies, 2008).

While the first and second phases involved partnerships, acquisitions, and green field opportunities to drive regional and global expansion which culminated into the establishment of Zain operations in over 22 countries by 2008, the last phase of the vision is objectively guided towards positioning Zain as one of the largest telecommunication companies in the world by 2011.

In preparation for the last three years of the vision, Zain led the establishment of a Group Information Technology Program Management Office (PMO) aimed at rapidly integrating acquired companies, operating companies (OpCos), and partners into a single corporate knowledge base. It is this desire that led to the choice of cordin8 which is a web 2.0 based collaborative platform instrumental in building solutions. One of the most important solutions under cordin8 is the PPMO in which the TenStep Project Management process is incorporated. PPMO is congruent to the Project Management Body of Knowledge Guide (PMBOK Guide) developed by the Project Management Institute (PMI) (Cordin8 Technologies, 2008).

From the first implementation of this MIS in the data center in Bahrain: Zain’s headquarters, the company is gradually rolling out the processes to partner corporate groups and operating companies in several countries. Due to the ability of cordin8 TenStep/PPMO to integrate most of the Group’s IT programs including the ERP Program Zain ME, Omnix NAMS, Business Intelligence/Date Warehouse Programs, and Zain Group’s IT Operational Program, the importance of the MIS cannot be overemphasized (Cordin8 Technologies, 2008).

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