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Utilizing E-business at Ocean King Transportation Co., Ltd.

Background

By the early years of the 21st century, the Internet had become a useful technological tool for businesses. Many companies exploited Internet to advertise and to communicate information about their products and services to customers on a global scale. Even late in the 1990s, many companies now used the Internet to build interactive relationships with customers and suppliers in order to deliver new products and services at a very low cost (Ghosh, 1998).

This project was designed to help Ocean King Transportation Co., Ltd. realize the benefits of using e-business for their small business. Moreover, as was explained by the company’s CEO, this project enabled the company to understand how e-business could help the company to compete in the global marketplace, giving this small company the opportunity to improve its competitiveness against larger competitors (Kitiwattanabumrung , personal communication, March 20, 2011).

Ocean King Transportation Co., Ltd. was established in 1967. According to the CEO, the company’s initial operations included unloading imported cargo from abroad by Vessel at Koh Srichang and delivering it to many ports and warehouses. The company served most domestic water routes, as well as all the Chaopraya Rivers in the Northern and Southern parts of Thailand. The company used barges, which had a capacity of 1200-2000 tons, for delivering cargo. The company delivered cargo such as rice, flour, corn, sugar, fertilize, coal, mineral, and cement from ports or warehouses to a vessel (Kitiwattanabumrung , personal communication, March 20, 2011).

The company had more than 30 years experience in the cargo shipping industry and served customers in China, Australia, and the United States. The business transactions had been conducted over the phone, with data in paper records entered manually. The process was manual, slow, and inefficient. Every time the employees performed a series of tasks or encountered problems, they had to call their managers and wait for the guidance or feedback (Kitiwattanabumrung , personal communication, March 20, 2011).

The company continued to operate this way for ten years. To date, the company had not exploited any major technological innovations that would have improved business functionality, except limited software programs to help manage their finances. Despite lacking technological knowledge, the company will have to redesign its business processes, and reinvent itself to better address the challenges created by demographic changes and a more competitive and rapidly changing industry (Kitiwattanabumrung , personal communication, March 20, 2011).

The Reason for Selecting This Topic

Ocean King Transportation Co., Ltd. is owned by the author’s father, thus, it was the author’s desire to bring the knowledge from the Technology Management Program to improve the operational aspects of her father’s company. Utilizing e-business concepts, as well as introducing time-tested technological innovations into the company, potentially could improve operational efficiency and profit margins. Examples of case studies of four container shipping companies (presented in more detail in the Literature Review section of this report), indicate that e-business could dramatically improve the company’s internal and external communication network ( Penaloza, Brooks, and Marche , 2007). Thus, the hypothesis of this report is that understanding potential e-business applications could improve the company’s competitive position in the global business ecosystem. In short, the author desired to take advantage of e-business capabilities to help Ocean King Transportation Co., Ltd. profitably meet the needs of international markets.

Problem Statement

Ocean King Transportation Co., Ltd. had more than 30 years experience with many customers in Thailand, China, and Australia. Initially, the company managed shipping processes through voice and fax telephonic technologies, as well as postal mail. Indeed, every time the employees finished one task or had some problems with their shipping, they called managers and then received feedback. They used paper-based style sheets and limited software programs to manage finance-related tasks (the EASY-ACC software). These business processes existed in the company for ten years.

Ocean King Transportation Co., Ltd. did not have a computerized system to keep track of shipping processes, records, and the reporting system. All transactions and communications were made manually. This system, constrained by required human interaction and intervention, was fraught with delays in receiving raw information , and in analyzing that data, and transmitting the analysis to appropriate locations, whether in-company or customers.

According to the company CEO, Witoon Kitiwattanabumrung, the main issue that faced the company in the initial stage of the company’s history was “unprecedented quick growth” (Kitiwattanabumrung , personal communication, March 20, 2011). “At the present time,” Kitiwattanaburung said, “we have more requests from customers to provide several services [beyond our current means].” These and other problems cost the company excess labor hours that could have been saved in an automated e-commerce system. More importantly, this problem resulted in missed opportunities for growth because the company’s business systems could not keep up with customer demand for services (Kitiwattanabumrung , personal communication, March 20, 2011).

As a result, the problem statement for this project can be defined as two key questions:

  • What e-business solutions are most appropriate for Ocean King Transportation Co., Ltd.?
  • What implementation plan can be generated to integrate those e-business solutions with the company’s existing infrastructure?