The usage of MIS applications to raise the efficiency and performance of the telecommunications services in the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia
There are different kinds of requirements on an information system. Of particular concern to this study are non-functional requirements (NFRs). These are aspects of a system. independent of any technical capabilities that it may have, which form a series of constraints on how a system will actually perform, and of which an organisation must take account in order to achieve success. This thesis studies non-functional requirements with particular reference to those that support an organisation in the process of structural change. Particular attention is paid to those non-functional requirements that will be constraints that hinder the performance and efficiency of any organisation if they are not fully understood and incorporated into the new information system. The way in which such non-functional requirements should be handled is illustrated by an extensive case study of the main provider of telecommunications services in Saudi Arabia. The researcher first took an interest in the Saudi telecommunications industry as a result of the recent moves to transform the country's telecommunications service from the traditional structure to a new system by the introduction of privatisation. The new modified system is called the Saudi Telecom Company (STC), though it is at present still under the effective control of the Saudi Ministry of Post, Telephone and Telegraph (MoPTT), the previous telecommunications service provider. The Saudi telecommunications service has been a monopoly managed through traditional public management systems, typically influenced by a dominant bureaucracy. The researcher's concern has been to study and describe the current management, structure, and operations (in particular the information systems) of the MoPTT in order to identifY key issues and potential areas for development which will help the MoPTT, as the STC, to offer a quality telecommunications service in the new competitive market. The researcher sets the telecommunications industry in Saudi Arabia in its national context by providing the political, cultural and economic background to the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia. This is of particular importance in view of the significance discovered by his study of non-technical environmental factors in the performance of the telecommunications service in the country. Using a combination of the qualitative and quantitative research approaches, the researcher examined the literature relevant to his topic and undertook a fieldtrip to Saudi Arabia, when he conferred extensively with MoPTI management and staff, observed MoPTI structures and operations, and consulted other experts in telecommunications. Reflection on the literature along with extensive fieldtrip consultation and observation reveal that a full account of the operations and potential of the Saudi telecommunications system cannot be provided by a consideration of its technical functions and processes alone. Due recognition must be given to the peculiarly Saudi setting of the service, and in particular attention must be paid to non-functional aspects, such requirements and constraints related to the environment in which the system has to operate. Culturally related non-functional requirements are of particular interest, and the case of Internet access in Saudi Arabia is examined, since it provides an especially good example of a non-functional requirement which is undergoing change, while still acting as a constraint on telecommunications usage. The case is related to a new conception of Saudisation, whereby Saudi personnel are no longer simply taking over and imitating western skills, but where they are providing Saudi solutions to Saudi questions. Using information gathered largely during his fieldtrip, the researcher provides a comprehensive description and discussion of the current MoPTT business areas, organisational structures, and information systems. Not only the commercial and technical features of these operations are examined, but also the extent to which they succeed in fulfilling or operating within the non-functional requirements and constraints, especially those of particularly Saudi origin, imposed upon them. Where appropriate, potential new approaches and directions for the MoPTI in relation to handling issues are indicated. Employing techniques developed by Dr. Michael Porter of Harvard University, an analysis has been provided of the of the MoPTI's enterprise strategy, since it is this which ultimately drives all the operations of the MoPTI, and upon which the MoPTI's telecommunications service will depend for commercial success in the new postprivatisation market. Based upon this analysis, the researcher has put forward explicit operational, managerial, and business proposals which should allow the MoPTT to seize the opportunities offered by privatisation, and to achieve success in both the domestic and the international telecommunications market. The researcher has felt able to identifY a number of specific factors within the MoPTr which might receive particular attention for revision and improvement, as they impact on all MoPTT operations and are of critical importance for its commercial success. These areas are strategic planning, marketing, training, customer relations, an integrated information system, and workforce management. As a result of his investigation into the operations of the MoPTT the researcher has been able to identify a new approach to the future of telecommunications in Saudi Arabia. He has designed an information architecture within which the MoPTT information systems might operate, and which takes full account of the role of non-functional aspects in the degree of success of such a complex operation. He offers a comprehensive description of the basis, operational details, and advantages of the implementation of this architecture for the MoPTT's information system operations. The particular benefits of Saudisation are stressed. It became clear during the research that the concept of Saudisation simply as the taking over and imitation of tasks previously carried out by non-Saudis (because they had the training and experience) was now inadequate. Saudisation has now to be understood as a cultural as well as a technical or business transformation, a dynamic concept relating both to enduring Saudi cultural values and to changing social attitudes and practices. Indeed this concept of Saudisation would repay further investigation as a suitable topic for future academic research, and the researcher makes this recommendation. He does so principally because the traditional understanding of the concept now seems inadequate and therefore a factor likely to inlnbit the truly indigenous development industry and services within Saudi Arabia.