Group Collaborative Systems

Group Collaborative Systems - these include systems such as GroupWare, Intranet and extranet. It involves the company or a department as a whole rather than one individual.  GroupWare is software that is used to provide functions for a group. This will usually include schedulers, address books, journals and to do lists. All this information is available instantly from the desktop. However when information is shared it generally is more valuable to the business and is just as accessible for example:

E-mail- this is a system in which messages are communicated by electronic means rather than paper based communication. This means that there is considerable time saving, and documents can be attached such as a letter or spreadsheet. This can be very effective for businesses when they need answers quickly or are awaiting a document or spreadsheet, which if posted would take a few days, instead it, can be sent immediately through e-mail. Group scheduling can also be used so that colleagues will know when meetings that they should attend (such as team briefs) are scheduled. 

Tele-conferencing and Video-conferencing - these systems allow numerous people to be simultaneously connected so that discussion can take place without having to meet. This is important in the Banking industry as often large clients can be based overseas, and the bank will want to keep in constant contact with these so that they can keep their custom. Also it means that they can communicate with their branches overseas without having the expense of travelling there. This means that costs can be kept to a minimum. Barclays Bank have recently begun the installation of video conferencing equipment, and although expensive they believe they would have saved more by reducing the need for managers and employees to travel.

Public Folders - this ensures that information is available to all employees who have access to it. This is important when a person is absent, as the information can still be viewed whereas if it was on their computer and not in a public folder then this could cause problems as other people would be unable to access it.

Intranet

This is an internal system, which uses Internet technology but is available only to the company and so unauthorised users cannot enter. This usually has information such as company policies, newsletters, announcements, and details on pay, remuneration and holiday and other information that employees should be aware of. Barclays Bank find this important in providing all employees with up to date news on the market, which is constantly changing and also on their products and services as these are usually altered in line with legislation. There are many benefits of this such as it is very easy to update and messages can be available to all employees at the same time.

Extranet

This is the same as an Intranet except it is available to authorised external users. They are still secure but offer the added benefit of being able to exchange information with business partners. Businesses often have a systems that is either designed especially for their business (bespoke system) or one which was purchased according to the needs of the business (off the shelf purchase used by more than one company). These systems are used to produce specific data which a business feel is important and relevant to their decision making. They often integrate text, spreadsheet and database information.

Bespoke systems are expensive and can take time however they are generally more suited to the business as they are made specifically for the businesses needs. Off the shelf purchases are less expensive and can be tailored to a business to a certain extent. These systems are not designed for one business but are used by many. 

ERP (Enterprise Resource Planning)

ERP is a software package/solution most often used within the manufacturing environment. ERP is a business tool that management uses to operate the business day-in and day-out. There is only one database that is used by all departments, such as Sales, Production, Finance and Accounting, Maintenance, and Engineering, Purchasing etc. ERP contains several modules but they are totally integrated. It makes use of databases, spreadsheet and text information and often only requires some changes to fit the requirements of the business process. This systems is useful in that it provides detailed reports of the business with data from all departments included. It gives higher level management information on the overall running of the business.

PIMS (Profit Impact of Marketing Strategies) 

This is a large database system which holds useful information and experiences of some 3,000 businesses, for example figures relating to market shares, research and development spending, advertising costs etc. Other businesses use this database for such things as testing and planning strategies, solving various problems and generally getting a better understanding of their environment. It can help organisations to understand how customers make buying decisions, obtain an up to date picture of their markets, and monitor trends and new market segments.

In addition PIMS can aid decisions relating to product lines sold, customer segments to target, channels of distribution, product and pricing strategies and overall effective marketing plans. As mentioned before external information is just as vital if not more to the businesses survival as internal information. A business should constantly be aware of the environment they operate in.

The banking industry, as any other will make use of these packages to assist in the running of their businesses. Depending on size each bank will usually have its own system whether unique or adjusted to suit them. RPM (Relationship Profitability Model) is a tool designed to help banks identify and manage profitability of their customers. This is used by a number of banks, Barclays have a systems which they use which I will discuss later.

In our society computers are being used more and more. They can be used to process information on which to base decisions as well as storage systems making information readily available. It is reasonable to say that without the power of computer systems, today's modern business world could not function. If profiles of working populations in the developed world are examined, they show that the largest proportion of workers are now engaged in some form of information handling work.

The Banking industry is one which has undergone significant changes in the face of new technology over the last decade in order to stay competative. 

As an example of changes taken place, the following is a timeline through the history of Barclays to show the changes it has undergone over the years and how technology has shaped its business: Often because of the investment required and the mutual benefit competitors collaborate over technology. For example the banks exchange clearing information in compatible form which allows other bank's customers to use their cashpoint machines.

There has been a significant change over the last 10 years in the way that people can make transactions and view their accounts, all without having to visit the branch. Customers are choosing to access banking services in alternative ways. Banks such as Barclays have responded to the technological advances in the last decade by developing telephone, internet and TV banking. Currently 15 million of the 94 million accounts held in the UK are accessible by phone. HSBC and Abbey National are introducing full interactive TV banking services via Sky's Open Shopping channel. Also with the introduction of Automated Cash Machines (ATM's) people are now able to access money from their accounts when the banks are closed.

Average transaction costs in the UK for telephone and internet are much lower than that of branch transaction costs and so with more customers using these services, the lower the costs are for banks.