The Management Information Systems Of Toyota Information Technology Essay

Toyota is one of the largest automobile and ancillary companies of the world. To date, it sold more than 8.5 million of its various transportation units across 5 continents. Apart from its main head technical branch in Aiichi, Japan; it has more than 6 research units all over Europe, 7 technical research units only in USA and three more in Asia. It has 52 manufacturing units spread out across the world.

Toyota was founded by Kichiro Toyoda in 1937 as a industrial vehicle manufacturing company. Today it has grown to be on huge Toyota group comprising of 13 companies dealing in automobile and ancillary sector.

Toyota is known for its “Toyota Way” of leadership and management. Its two strong principles are continuous improvement and respect for others. These principles enabled this organization to be flexible at both technological as well as managerial front. It adopted newer technology and always tried to outperform others in every aspect. Toyota was one of the first automobile organizations to utilize management information systems to address various IT related issues.

Management Information System is a planned system which collects, process, store and circulate data to managers assisting them in their decision making. It comprises of four main segments:

Enterprise Resource System; Supply Chain Management; Customer Relationship Management; and Knowledge Management.

What is Customer Relationship Management

It is widely applied strategy to manage customer relations, sales prospect and clientele. It mainly deals with automating and synchronizing processes like sales, marketing, service and technical support.

It includes Operational Marketing Information System which comprises of sales, advertising, sales promotion, pricing systems and up to a certain extent even warehousing system.

This system enables managers to make better decisions by providing them with processed, relevant, up to date information about various operational activities of the whole organization. To be effective, marketing information systems must be coordinated with other operation information systems and this is done so with the help of Enterprise Resource Product.

CRM and Toyota

Toyota Group, being so widely spread out all over the world, it uses multiple Management Information systems software. Few of which, dealing in sales and marketing, are:

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Oracle CRM on demand E-Business Suit consist of Oracle CRM on demand Sales Automation, Oracle CRM on demand Analytics, Oracle on demand Email Marketing, etc.(Used in India and Middle East)

SAP SD module (Used in North America)

EPICOR Saas ERP solution which consist of Express CRM(Used in Australia)

Sales Cloud 2 (Used in USA)

TLI CRM (Europe)

Each software have their own specializations but all these software have been customized to have one common web portal system through which data from one region and go to another without any compatibility issues.

Sales Life Cycle in Toyota

The various processes involved in sales of a particular product and how these processes are made very efficient and less expensive with the help of above mentioned software are:

Procurement of orders, processing of orders, following upon sales, completion of orders, micromarketing, calling customers and telemarketing, making reports, warehousing, etc.

The organization structure of Toyota needs to be understood to comprehend various other processes involved.

Each manufacturing industry of Toyota is connected to a set of distributors and warehouses through its sales and distribution department. It is only involved in the manufacture of various parts of a vehicle unit which are then sent to a warehouse where they are assembled to give a finished vehicle unit. This is based on the principle Just In Time which implies that only on the basis no. of orders procured, that many cars are manufactured. There is no inventory of cars and this is based on market demand.

Each country has one or more than one distributor. This distributor is connected to a set of dealers. These dealers can market only to a particular city, region within a city or a particular type of vehicle such as industry vehicles. Each dealer has his own database of customers, which are segregated on the basis of financial status, purchase (multiple times especially for Industry vehicles) and so on. This database is shared with the Toyota Administrative headquarters for that company through password protected web based portal system which cannot be accessed by any other dealer. This unique feature has been instrumental in fostering a strong relationship between the organization and the dealers.

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And thus the no. of dealers are only in India are around 500 and increasing (largest by a foreign automobile).This establishes a good supply chain.

Plus each dealer has access to the main Toyota India website where they can put in a query, check on car availability, configure various features as per customer demand and place an order. These features are available on Oracle based software. Its features are:

Vehicle Order Processing System: Tailor made website for each dealer. This website is present on a network only for dealers using Oracle Partners online. The website has many features such as a section for new products, campaigns to be launched by Toyota in coming month; estimate of no. of sales by other dealers; analysis column to analyze the sales; special feature to make sales report, calls report. Please refer to Fig.1 and 2

Dashboard: Oracle web comes with 7 Dashboards. Dashboards are designed in such a way that it displays real- time information in clear graphical formats. Dashboard is exported to a XML template this reduces traffic and maintains good flow of information. All real time information is retrieved from CRM using dot net application, this is done so using Oracle Partners Online web services, and this ensures continuous feed of data to XML template which converts into graphical format. This increases application speed and improves managerial decision making by providing them with relevant updated data. Additionally, all Dashboards have secured accesses and they will notify the manager immediately if any change is made in the routine tasks. This can be accessed from anywhere through a private Key number. So the manager is kept informed even when he is on the move. It saves a lot of time. Please refer to Fig. 3

Sales Force Automation systems: These systems are designed to increase productivity of salespeople. Different activities involved are identification of prospective customers, contacting them, making sales pitches, closing the sale, following up, and make customer call reports and travel expense reports. This facility is given to both salespeople of the Toyota India as well as dealers. This feature can also be used to display presentation to the customers, manage sale cycle. This also includes telemarketing but over here the customers are general and the main aim is to create awareness about the product rather than pitching sale. The messages are pre- recorded; the database is obtained from tele- support agencies such as Just Dial, Meru, etc. Sales Force Automation Systems have two main Subsystems- Prospect Information System and Contact Management System. The former one deals with locating potential customers and contributing this segregated data to the main electronic database present in the administrative headquarters. These online databases can be searched by Oracle Mapping Software. While the latter ones are used to develop sales history data for each customer, their preferences, number of sales per customer; this information is also used to evaluate work performance of each sales person. So ultimately it is used to generate contacts and conduct targeted marketing. Refer to 4 and 5.

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Delivery Tracking and Routing Systems: Customers like to receive their cars on time. So instead of calling a representative and asking him /her for the location of the car or at what stage of assembly it is, which is what usually happens in a manual system. In all the Toyota cars a GPS tracking system has been employed and there is a tracking software which monitors the status of the package and this reduces response time to customer’s query. And this helps strengthen customer relationship. This Tracking software is made compatible to the web services of Oracle and thus it is incorporated in the server.

Conclusion

If SWOT analysis is to be performed on Toyota then its information system would definitely be its strength. Despite Toyota Group being spread out all over the world, still a manager from USA Manufacturing unit communicates with a dealer in India. That exemplifies the importance of CRM and its pivotal role in coping with todays rapidly changing technological world.

Appendix

Fig. 1 Screenshot of CRM

Fig. 2 Vehicle Order Processing System

Fig. 2 Vehicle Order Processing System

Fig. 3 Dashboard

Fig. 4 Sales Force Automation System

Fig. 5 Sales Cycle

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