AS/400 gets One 2 One connected

The UK mobile phone market has seen massive growth in the last few years.

The UK mobile phone market has seen massive growth in the last few years.

With 4.25 million customers in this country alone, there was a pressing need for One 2 One, now owned by Deutsche Telekom, to improve the efficiency and effectiveness of its business processes, especially in the supply chain. To this end, One 2 One singled out order taking and delivery of handsets as an area for improvement, so it turned to mid range software specialist JBA, and the AS/400, to speed up its logistics.

The e-business option chosen by One 2 One uses JBA's e-supply product and the company's own AS/400s to create a process called Internet Stock Order Processing (ISOP). Annu Uberoi, system 21 development manager at One 2 One explains: 'We used JBA's products that were then bespoke to make ISOP. The AS/400 was responsible for 90 per cent of the project because security-wise, it is a very safe platform indeed.'

One 2 One had been working with JBA since 1991, with the company running all its back office systems on the system 21 integrated ERP product. Richard Copeland, distribution and projects manager at One 2 One explains: 'We had built our business on JBA systems, so it was our first port of call when we looked for software to support the new e-business system. But more importantly, JBA has anticipated the requirements of its customers for automated sales processing, and already had the e-commerce software that we needed.'

Copeland believes that one of the major plus points of the JBA e-supply product is that it slots straight into One 2 One's existing systems. This was particularly relevant to the crucial turnaround time for phone delivery. Basically, One 2 One puts an onus on the dealers themselves to order products as and when they were required, therefore cutting out manual processes at head office.

Uberoi claims that One 2 One originally wanted to move towards a 22-hour a day ordering and fulfilment model although the company has now reached this target. She says: 'We are exceeding those goals because customer demand is increasing. We have reduced the backup time to the minimum, and it is now up and running 23 and a half hours a day, seven days a week.'

The end result is the ISOP web based electronic ordering and tracking service for One 2 One's dealers, which was implemented in early 1999. ISOP gives dealers controlled access to stock availability by using the System 21 product. Uberoi explains: 'We identified a small group of six dealers who would be willing to co-operate on the pilot, a number that was soon extended to eight. They all needed to have the basic PC and modem equipment to connect to ISOP, and to be willing to give us feedback on the way the system worked.' The pilot project was finished in July 1999, with the rollout beginning in August of last year.

According to the telecommunications giant, the structure of ISOP was relatively easy to develop. By using System 21 to check on stock, dealers can then enter orders on their own PCs. Orders arrive at One 2 One over the internet, and are then fed automatically into its sales ordering system. Stock availability and order confirmation are then sent back automatically to the dealer, and the order is passed onto the warehouse for processing and delivery.

Users can only log onto ISOP using a secure user name and password. They are then led through a series of options in four sections, including services, products, order enquiry and order entry. The system also displays an order confirmation screen, which details the order and delivery address. According to One 2 One, when orders are completed all the user needs to do is click on 'submit' and the order is then automatically sent off for processing. The system also includes a page called 'Connect' where new products and promotions are published, an important feature in the fast moving mobile phone market.

Uberoi comments: 'The feedback from dealers involved in testing the pilot system was highly favourable.' She continues: 'They found it easy to use, and judged it fast and accurate. We made some amendments as a result of the pilot, such as allowing dealers to give products their own part numbers.'

Since the project's rollout last year there are now 116 dealers online, although the company's target is at least 250 by the end of the year. Uberoi says: 'The project has been very successful and it was also delivered a month ahead of schedule. We actually turned it round in six months from start to finish, and that's very good for an e-commerce project. It worked so well because there was total commitment to the project from the start' For his part, Copeland expects to see a quick return on investment in the ISOP. He predicts that up to 60 per cent of the orders will be taken over the internet in the first quarter of 2000, which represents a growth of 59 per cent on pre-ISOP internet orders. l

This was last published in April 2000

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