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In this report I will be investigating a company and telling you how and why they use ICT within their company. Also I will tell you how using ICT benefits them and helps them get around their business smoothly. The company that I will investigate is the supermarket mega store Asda. The location of the store in which I investigated is Park Royal in London and I went on the 9th and 11th of January 2007. I interviewed Mr Andrew Davies, Customer Relations Manager.
Asda Stores Limited was founded by Laura Beth Murray as Associated Diaries and Farm Sores LTD in 1949 however it took much longer to decide on the formation of the name. Finally it was decided to use an abbreviation of ASquith and Dairies in 1965. The company went through a troubled period in the early 1990s, but was then revived under the leadership of Archie Norman, who later became a front bench Conservative MP. He was chairman of the company during the period 1996-99. ASDA, which then owned 229 stores, was purchased by Wal-Mart of the United States, on July 26, 1999.
Since the takeover ASDA has continued to maintain its headquarters at the then newly opened “ASDA House”. ASDA House was one of the first of the new large office blocks to open as part of the redevelopment of the huge area south of the River Aire from the city centre of Leeds, in the Holbeck district, West Yorkshire. Also, the mission statement for ASDA is
The international supermarket mega store made its name by just being a supermarket, solely based on food. However, Asda has expanded and now they provide services for:
* Computer Games
* Mobile Phones
* Credit Cards
* Car rental
* Contact lenses
* Satellite Navigation Systems
* MP3 Players
This shows how big this supermarket has become and has undergone a transitional period and has now became a multi purpose cooperate business. Now, Asda runs it own distribution service which delivers products to its stores which delivers products to its stores and to customers who shop online. Asda also has its own clothes designer label called George which is quite popular. Also, Asda has recently introduced 24/7 shopping which is very convenient for people who work late hours and also convenient at special occasions such as Christmas.
Asda employs 150,000 so I believe that Asda serves the community well because it provides so many jobs for people within the community. Moreover, Asda supplies a service for over 17 million people in one week in the UK alone. Lastly there are approximately 720 workers who work on the ICT network only.
As of January 2006 there were 21 Asda super centres, 243 Asda superstores, 37 Asda supermarkets, 5 Asda Living stores, 10 George clothing stores. In addition Asda announced plans to build a minimum of 18 stores across the whole UK and it is expected to create 2000 new jobs. Also, there are twenty four distribution centres and also a Head Office.
* To comprehensively be recognised as the best supermarket in the UK and also be known all around the world.
* To provide jobs and produce high quality goods to all people no matter what age, sex, religion and skin colour at affordable prices.
There are many challenges facing Asda and these include:
* To further their global buying and selling
* To create smaller Asda stores on high streets to provide people with more convenience
* To develop their advertisement to increase their customers
* To advertise for healthy eating
* To expand their other departments including: opticians, clothes, electronics, home appliances and 24/7 shopping
Moreover, Asda is trying to meet these aims by using ICT as a dominant figure.
Purposes for which ICT is used
* Asda uses ICT in order to ensure that all shelves are full in the store. The form of ICT in which they use is hand held terminals, frequently known as HHT’s and these work by members of staff typing in barcodes of products and see if they are in stock. If a product if off the shelves and there is in stock a message can be sent to re-stock it. Also if the product is out of stock, then you can make an order to re-stock that certain product.
* Sales can be recorded by using a device called the Electronic Point of Sale (EPOS) along with the prices of the product. This puts Asda at a huge advantage because this Asda knows what product is doing well and what products need further advertisement and promotion to boost its sales.
* ICT is used to contact head office in the form of e-mail for administrative and executive matters such as special offers, income and outcome and staff problems.
* Asda have a website where you can shop online and even purchase products which you can’t acquire in store and even at a cheaper price.
* Asda also offer jobs on their website.
* ASDA use videoconferencing to hold meetings with staff or people from other businesses who are unable to be where the meeting is supposed to be held. So they will be face to face over long distances and both rooms will be filled with several video camera’s microphones and television monitors or PC’s.
Departments in ASDA
* Sales & Marketing – This involves the sale or distribution of the goods or service provided by ASDA and advertising for sales
* Purchasing – This involves buying the goods or service required by ASDA
* Finance – The finance department controls all the business regarding money, including cash transactions, budget and cash flow.
* Operations – Carrying out the main business of ASDA
* Production – This involves designing and producing products from raw materials or semi finished products.
ICT Peripheral Used in Asda’s Sales and Marketing Department:
* Electronic Point of Sale
* Machine for Self Serving
* Digital Camera
* Fax Machine
* Online Shopping
* Hand Held Terminals
* Barcode Reader
Software’s used by the Sales and Marketing Department:
* Microsoft Word
* Microsoft Excel
* Microsoft Access
* Sage Sales Order Processing System
The impact of using the ICT
Electronic Point of Sale: This can sometimes be referred to as a till or electronic cash register system and this is where transactions happen at Asda and at all other supermarkets and shops. There are many forms of purchase at Asda including cash money, credit card, debit card and even Asda cards where you can get special discounts and lastly you can use vouchers to get money off. It is safe to use credit cards in Asda because all you have to do is swipe your card and enter a 4 digit pin number which only the customer knows. This has increased sales because it is more convenient for customers as it allows customers to pay in all forms of possible payments. So, a result of using debit and credit card is that it increases sales because it is user friendly as customer don’t have to have cash money to purchase things in Asda
CCTV: Asda uses CCTV cameras in their sales department by installing the cameras on the shop floor which monitor the shop floor. So by having these cameras it stops people from stealing from Asda as it scares of thief’s. Also if people actually steal from Asda then they will most probably be caught and prosecuted because CCTV will show their faces minimising the chances of further robberies. So therefore CCTV helps ASDA because it saves them money as less people would consider attempting to rob it.
Computers: ASDA’s sale department uses computers for several reasons. The most obvious reason why ASDA uses computers is to use databases to store information of customers and sales. The main advantage of using Microsoft Access for this is that you can compile quieries, sort and filters. This saves a lot of time
Machine for Self Serving: This was introduced in ASDA earlier this year and has been a massive success. Firstly, I will explain what a self serving machine is. You place the barcodes of your items on to the barcode reader and the cost of this appears on the screen and you can pay by inserting cash into the cash machine or credit or debit cards into the appropriate machines and change is distributed as fits. This saves a lot of money for ASDA as it does the job of an employee without having to pay their wages. However, initially it costs more because the machine is quite expensive and the purchasing department makes this order. It will also take quite long for ASDA to make a profit but it will and it will be an enormous profit. Also, maybe in the future no human workers will be necessary and then there will just be self serving machines to serve customers.
Digital Camera: Digital cameras are used mainly in ASDA’s sales department for advertising purposes and are related to ASDA’s sales department because it helps to increase sales and therefore strengthen the sales department. This happens because the advertisement, done online and in-store to make customers aware of special offers such as ‘3 for the price of 2’ or ‘buy one get one free’. For example, cameras are used to take pictures of the product which ASDA are advertising such as clothes or food or drink. So advertisements are used to get customers to buy a certain product in the store and then attract the customer by helping them save money but really if ASDA sell as much as they hope by the advertisement then they will most probably make a profit altogether although it will take quite long to do so.
Scanner: A category of scanner which ASDA use’s is digital camera scanners which are based on the concept of reprographic cameras. Due to the increasing resolution and new features such as anti-shake, digital cameras become an attractive alternative to regular scanners. While still containing disadvantages compared to traditional scanners, digital cameras offer unmatched advantages in speed and portability. This once again isn’t really a peripheral used in ASDA’s sales department but hugely contributes to the sales department because as explained earlier it is used for advertisement which helps to boost the sales department’s actual sales because it encourages customers to buy a certain product.
Fax Machine: Essentially, a fax machine is a telecommunication technology used to transfer copies of documents to other people or other businesses to discuss things or to advertise. In the case of ASDA’s sales department, they use fax machines to contact customers for special offers or to sell a lot of their stock. Also, when their stock is approaching the end of their season ASDA want to offload this stock and can sell them to other companies by telling them of the offer by faxing them.
Online Shopping: Online Shopping is the process in which customers can shop without having to go to the shop in person. Customers use the internet and pay by Credit, Visa or Debit cards and the goods they purchase are delivered by ASDA to the address of the customer. Online shopping is beneficiary to ASDA’s sales department because it increases sales as more people shop online as it is very convenient for customers. Also, there are many people who are disabled and can not travel to ASDA for some reason online shopping allows them to get their shopping without having to travel to the store itself and this makes more money for ASDA because they are gaining more customers than usual with online shopping.
Hand Held Terminals: These smart devices are extremely useful in ASDA and help them because they are very time efficient. This is because ASDA workers can type in the barcode of some products and then the machine tells you how many of the products are in stock. This saves time for the ASDA sales department because it takes them seconds to decide whether an order needs to be placed for more stock of the product to meet customer needs quickly and efficiently. This in turn benefits ASDA’s sales departments because ASDA customers can rely and can trust ASDA to provide a good service for them.
Barcode Reader: A barcode reader is used in ASDA’s sales department to scan the barcode on the surface of products in the checkout to determine the price of the product and then the computer adds all the prices of the products together and calculates a total for the customer. The barcode reader is useful to ASDA’s sales departments because it is quick and time efficient and the customers spend minimal time in the checkout queue.
The impact of using the Software:
Microsoft Word: The ASDA sales department uses Microsoft Word to produce documents, for example and if necessary send e-mails, memos, agendas and mail merge to benefit the department and to save time. ASDA also uses Microsoft Word to compile a financial report which needs to be produced every financial year. This financial report is produced by the companies accountants and makes sure that the annual incomes and expenses are all correct and so therefore the net profit is also. Companies only use Microsoft Word to make sure that the report looks professional and has no mistakes.
Microsoft Excel: This software is vital to ASDA as you can use it to produce graphs and tables based on the finances of ASDA. For example, you can produce a graph on the increase of income over the past five years. This is important to ASDA as it literally gives them a picture of how there finances are going. Also, ASDA can produce charts on what products of theirs are selling well and which are not and so therefore which need to be advertised and priced lower if necessary to increase sales.
Sage Sales Order Processing System: This computerized system handles sales, purchasing, stock control and accounts. Every time ASDA receives a order the details such as what product has been ordered, the quantity and the invoice number of the order. This system will automatically check if there are enough of the of the required items in stock to fill the order. Then the invoice is printed out and the quantity in stock is automatically adjusted to show how many of each item is left. Also this system allows ASDA to keep track of who its customers and suppliers, how much customers owe, hoe much the customer owes to its suppliers and so on.
ASDA’s Finance Department:
The finance department compiles preparation for budgets of new, ongoing and future projects, appropriation of accounts, re-appropriations and savings. The finance department also needs to stay in control of expenditure and not let in spiral out of control. Moreover, ASDA’s finance department has to administrate taxes, for example sale tax, entertainment tax or luxury tax amongst many others. Also, the department has to deal with the following pieces of business:
* Suppliers payment
* Credit control
ICT Peripheral Used in ASDA’s Finance Department:
* Fax Machine
* Debit and Credit Card Machine (ATM)
* Digital Telephone
Software’s Used by ASDA’s Finance Department:
* Microsoft Word
* Microsoft Access
* Microsoft Excel
* Sage Accounting Package
The impact of using the ICT:
Computers: ASDA’s finance department use computers for numerous reasons and without it simply couldn’t operate without it. The first reason why computers are used by the finance department is the internet and this enables them to communicate free, quick and easy in the form of e-mail. The finance department uses e-mail to contact accountants, other departments and also customers. Also ASDA uses the internet facility to forecast future sales and managers need to plan carefully the direction that the business will take in years to come. However, forecasting can be a difficult job and so doing this job is aided by the internet and information from it. Once a sales forecast is made, a budget can be drawn up for the new project. This will show what the costs are and how much profit the company can expect to make if they charge a particular price. This is what the finance department is all about; forecasting and budgeting.
Fax Machine: This is essentially much like the use of e-mail as it is a communication decice. However it is actually a telecommunication device and is used by the finance department to contact other departments, stock holders and also suppliers to make orders for items and products. Fax machines are useful for ASDA’s finance department because there are some important documents that cannot be sent by e-mail. An example of such documents are contracts, supplier payments and also forecasts and budgets
Scanners: The finance department uses scanners to insert photographs or other types of images such as graphs and tables into a document. An example of a sort of document which scanners will be used for is a forcast. The finance department will scan graphs of predicted sales into the forecast to show what will have to be done to achieve the aim of the project. Also previous sale trends will be inserted into the document. Now the forcast is done the finance department will produce a budget where yet again, a scanner will be used to insert some images into the document. An example of this could be a table where the company can expect to make a certain amount of money if they charge a particular price for an item.
Debit and Credit Card Machine (ATM): These pieces of ICT are used in the finance department so that ASDA can pay suppliers and also pay their creditors (who they owe mony to) and basically clear their debts. ASDA also use these machines to pay people, including their employes and suppliers. So these machines are very useful to the finance department because it allows them to go about their business quickly and very efficently.
Digital Telephone: Although digital telephones are being used less and less frequently due to the revoultionary expansion of the use of e-mail and less so the fax machine. However, telephones are still renowned as the quickest way to communicate because with e-mail it is not certain that a person will be on their computer or checking their e-mails when one arrives. Also, e-mails don’t make a noise when one is received, and obviously telephones ring so it is still the quickest way to communicate. The finance department will use a digital telephone to talk to the same people as fax machines and e-mail; suppliers, other departments and also even customers.
The Impact of Using the Software:
Microsoft Word: The finance department of ASDA uses this software to produce the yearly financial report which takes away the profit the company has made from the expenditure to create the net profit of the year. ASDA uses Microsoft Word for this task as it makes the document look more professional ad the spell check tool allows ASDA’s finance department to save a lot of time. Also, the finance department uses Misrosoft Word to compile pay slips for their employees. Pay silps are essential as they show how much the worker ahs made and how much tax has been taken away from the worker. Once again the reason why Microsoft Word is used for this task is to make it look more professional and also save ime because the finance department probably have a template of a pay silp and just have to alter it to match the correct information for each worker.
Microsoft Access: The finance department use this software to create databases for many reasons. One is to keep track of their creditors and keep records of wheather they have paid them back or how much they still have to pay back. Also, databases are used by the finance department to keep records of each financial report of the year and see if the net profit of the company is increasing or getting worse. Moreover, Access is mainly used because of the advantages it possess. These are being able to filter, sort and make quieries which saves time.
Microsoft Excel: ASDA’s finance department uses Excel to produce graphs and tables for several purposes. One of these purposes is to use graphs to accompany forecasts and budgets. They are used in budgets to show how much money is to be spent on each project. More importantly it is in forcasts to validate their prediction by producing graphs of previous trends to show why they think the company will go in the direction they think.
Sage Accounting Package: This is special software used by businesses such as ASDA and especially their finance department. It is specially prepared to help the finance business do what they do.
ASDA’s Purchasing Department:
The main functions of the purchasing department is to buy raw materials, semi finished products and fully finished products. Each department works hand in hand with the other ones, for example the purchasing department gets it money from finance, buys the products for production and then it goes on to the sales department. Another one of the main functions of the purchasing department is to order new stock and also to also take a stock count to make sure that the order is complete. They will need to order things needed for the smooth running of the office, such as stationary and computer equipment, and services such as insurance or hotel rooms if staff have to travel. A clerk in the purchasing department will enter the details of a purchase order and send it to the supplier. They in turn will receive the goods or services and an invoice will be passed on to the Finance Department. The finance department has to take responsibility of stock control and make sure that everything is in order.
The purchasing department uses the three main software’s to help them to run their business:
* Microsoft Word: The purchasing department uses this to write letters to suppliers to contact them regarding their stock. They also use this software to save time by mail merging and creating memos.
* Microsoft Excel: This is used to create graphs, charts and spreadsheets based on suppliers and the products which the purchasing department has bought.
* Microsoft Access: This is used for simple reasons, keeping data of suppliers into databases. Also the sort, filter and quires tools are very useful as it saves time when you are looking for a particular person or product.
ASDA’s Production Department:
The whole purpose of ASDA’s production department is to produce the products for ASDA’s sale’s department from three states; raw material, semi finished products and finished products which just need to be packaged. However, ASDA’s production department has many methods in achieving this which I will now tell you about.
ICT Peripheral Used in ASDA’s Production Department:
ICT Peripheral Used in ASDA’s Finance Department:
* Computer Aided Design (CAD)
* Computer Aided Manufacturing (CAM))
The impact of using the ICT:
Robots: These hi-tech pieces of ICT come in all different shapes and sizes yet all have the same components which are:
1. Sensors: Capture information from the environment.
2. A Microprocessor: Processes the information
3. Actuators: Produce movement or alter the environment in some way, for example by turning an electronic switch on or off.
Robots are used because they can work in environments which are too dangerous for humans to work in. Such environments where ASDA use robots are radioactive environments or deep underwater. Moreover robots can perform horrid and dull tasks, carry heavy objects and also reach long distances. Further advantages of ASDA using robots are that the quality of work is always consistent unlike humans who can have lapses in concentration and therefore make mistakes. Robots can work twenty-four seven and even work harder than humans. Lastly, ASDA do not have to pay their robots basic weekly wages, however, robots are expensive to buy and to install.
Computers: Computers are used for several reasons in ASDA’s production department such as computer control. Here computers are used to control hundreds of processes both in industry and elsewhere. All of the robots and other devices have computer chips which control their operation. In ASDA’s production department, computers are used to schedule production processes so that machinery is maximally utilized. Also, at ASDA, some workers are paid by ‘piece-work’ which means that the computer calculates how much work a employee has done and how many products produced. It is then inserted into the system.
The impact of using the software:
Computer Aided Design (CAD): These systems allow ASDA’s production department to create designs on screen for many of their products. This piece of software lets users create 3-D models with features like volume, weight and centre of gravity. The image can be rotated and viewed from any angle. The advantages of using this piece of software are that images can be scaled and resized without distortion. Also the drawings are device-independent e.g. a drawing can be transferred to a different screen of a different resolution, yet with no distortion. The files which are created by the software are generally smaller than for equivalently sized bitmapped images. Lastly, some of the drawings can be made with an immaculate scale of accuracy.
Computer Aided Manufacturing (CAM): As we know ASDA produce some of their products from raw materials and this piece of software allows them to do so. This software works when the design is completed; the specifications are input directly into a program that controls the manufacturing of products. The advantages of using this software for ASDA’s production department are that this system is very versatile and flexible. For example individual items can be manufactured to a customer’s exact specification.
In conclusion, all departments use ICT and software’s to help them get about their business and without it couldn’t simply operate. Also, I have learnt that all the departments go hand in hand. For example, the finance department gives the purchasing department money and then the purchasing department buys raw materials, semi finished and finished goods and gives it to the production department who makes the products and then gives it to the sales department who obviously sell it for profit. So ICT is essential in all the departments to allow for the easy running of ASDA efficiently and quickly.