ICT and e.Total Relationship Management (e.TRM)
Mosad Zineldin
Professor in Strategic Marketing and Management
School of Management and Economics, Växjö University, Sweden
Valiantsina Vasicheva
Minsk State Linguistic University, Belarus
Keywords Cybernization, Cyber world, physical world, Total relationship management, Technologicalship,
Management, Relationship, Organisation, Technology, IT.
Abstract This paper offers suggestions to integrate computer-based technology (CBT) including information and
communication technology (ICT) and inter and intra- organizational functions and relationships from a
holistic e.TRM paradigm embedding the physical and cyber worlds. It is a conceptual study based on the
recent developments of ICT, inter-firm relations: economic (transaction costs economics), socio-
psychological (social exchange; inter-organization; and industrial network) as well as relationship
management and marketing theories and concepts with application in practice. A new concept and model of
Cybernization has been developed and discussed. Some general propositions are presented and some
synergy effects of utilizing the e.TRM are highlighted. The paper suggests how these approaches can add
impetus to successful management issues, as a powerful competitive weapon in connecting the physical
world with the cyber space. This paper provides a model for Cybernity that accommodates the major
manifestations of cybernization of an organization and could potentially provide the means to link diverse
literature that is available in this area.
A company that does not learn and adapt to
changing technology can face painful competition
and may fall victim to competitors that switched
their strategies to the more technologically-based
relationships. Douglas C. North (1993), one of the
Nobel Prize winners in the economic sciences,
argues that learning from each other, from past
experience, and from new innovations, enables
organizations to find a common, probably
unexpected, pattern or network of relationships that
works for them. Such learning leads to emergent
Although the benefits and impacts of the internet
fostered “e-transformation”, “dis-intermediation”
“reintermediation”, and e. commerce have been
widely discussed within the generic literature, a total
integration and combination of the technology and
Total relationship management has received little
attention. To that end, this paper provides a holistic
perspective of technologization or cybernization of
different organizational relationships.
This paper is part of a long-term research effort,
the ultimate objective of which is to offer
suggestions to integrate computer-based technology
(CBT) including information and communication
technology (ICT) and inter and intra- organizational
functions and relationships from a holistic e.TRM
paradigm embedding the physical and cyber worlds.
It is a conceptual study based on the recent
developments of ICT, inter-firm relations: economic
(transaction costs economics), socio-psychological
(social exchange; inter-organization; and industrial
network) as well as relationship management and
marketing theories and concepts with application in
practice. It emphasizes the inherent a
multidimensionalities of cybernization of the
organization and its various internal and external
Zineldin M. and Vasicheva V. (2008).
A CYBER ORGANIZATION IN THE CYBER WORLD - ICT and e.Total Relationship Management (e.TRM).
In Proceedings of the Tenth International Conference on Enterprise Information Systems - HCI, pages 118-123
DOI: 10.5220/0001670301180123
activities and relationships.
A new concept and a model of Cybernization
have also developed and discussed. Some general
propositions are presented and some synergy effects
of utilizing the e.TRM are highlighted. The paper
suggests how these approaches can add impetus to
successful management issues.
A Total Relationship Management (TRM) approach
and philosophy was created and developed by
Zineldin (1998, 2000). TRM is viewed as a strategy
and a philosophy. It is ´total´, because it considers
and coordinates ‘all’ activities- including internal
and external relationships, networks, interactions
and co-operation as well as all activities involved in
getting, keeping, enhancing and satisfying customers
throughout quality. It is a strategy because it
emphasizes maintaining high products/services,
internal and external relationships quality, and trying
to keep customers in the long run.
Holm (2006) verified that TRM is a Philosophy
by quoting the following:
Zineldin (2000) argues that total relationship
management, is a philosophy that emphasizes the
communication of the organization’s overall
thinking, as well as specific messages about its
products, services or corporate identity.
It is very obvious that nowadays organizations
and people will find it difficult to separate a
relationship from information technology and other
technological advances. Therefore, Zineldin (2000)
has invented the terminology and management
paradigm shift approach, called Technologicalship
relationship”, emphasizes the inseparability of
modern technologies and all kinds of behaviour,
attitudes and relationships.
A technologicalship partnership is a type of
relationship which offers a natural linkage between
the internal environment and the interaction process
because it emphasizes how ICT, people and
organizations are a function of win-win interaction
(Zineldin 2000).
@total relationship management (@TRM)
highlights the interrelationship between the
efficiency and effectiveness, the productivity as well
as the profitability of the organization’s operations
and activities. @TRM philosophy, if it results in
greater people satisfaction (partners, employees,
customers, investors and other stakeholders), is seen
as a way of improving the profitability of the
organization’s operations.
A key way to build a strong competitive position is
through @ TRM management (we refer to @ TRM
as total relationship management which is based on
IT and the Internet), IT and “product/service quality
and differentiation” which creates a clear image of
the an organization and its products/services in the
eyes and minds of people and can lead to distinctive
positioning in the global environment. Building
barriers to competitive action can develop strong
competitive positions by various means (Zineldin
Yet information technology (IT) and without
information partnership and information sharing
(relationship based on information), Tom Peters
emphasizes,”… all other aspects of partnership
remain stuck at the stage of lip service or less”
(Konsynski and McFarlan, 1990). Venktraman
(1997) states the following:
”How to best extract value from
information technology (IT) resources is a
major challenge facing both business and IT
managers, particularly as they turn their
focus from searching for the competitive
benefits of strategic information systems and
striving for benefits beyond process
Computer-based technology (CBT) including
ICT is fundamentally concerned with digital
approaches to representing and processing
knowledge of various types and in various
gradations. For descriptive knowledge the
gradations – raw data to structured information
to problem solutions for decisions – mirror the
evolution of CBT from data processing systems
to management information systems to decision
support systems. All of these systems have
dramatically changed the way knowledge work
is done in organizations, releasing tremendous
human resources, enabling organizational growth
(and necessitating organizational restructuring),
and facilitating improved performance
The Intranet serves as an easily accessible
repository for corporate information; anything from
strategic targets to health plans (Frost and Strauss,
A CYBER ORGANIZATION IN THE CYBER WORLD - ICT and e.Total Relationship Management (e.TRM)
1997). One of the most significant changes in ICT in
recent years has been the emergence of Electronic
Data Interchange (EDI). Quick-response (QR)
logistics and inventory systems use EDI applications
to automatically replenish stock as it is sold. By
operating on the real-time transmissions of sales and
other logistics data between the channel parties
operating at different levels in distribution systems,
JIT eliminates the need for excess inventory.
e.TRM is about a systematic and efficient
coordination and communication between for
example an individual human's ability to process his
own considerable tacit knowledge and a computer
system's ability to process collectively constructed
explicit knowledge. Organizations can use e. TRM
to capture and reproduce tacit knowledge of their
workers, to be reused at different times, in different
locations, through different media, to create business
solutions more efficiently. This allows more time for
individuals to use their intuitive strengths, defining
and solving problems more creatively.
1940, A, Azimov, started in his story “Robbie”
about Robots to explore the ideas of how the
synthetic mind “or machines” (ICT tody) created to
serve human beings, evolved and take over the
world of men. His vision of 1940 is now true and
not imagination any longer. Computers and
technology already took over the mind of human
Technology is constantly changing. The advent
of the CBT and ICT, of course, has revolutionized
just about every facet of business and non-business
life, whilst the merging of telecommunications and
computer technology is causing a fundamental
reappraisal of a whole host of industries, with new
ones springing up to replace those that do not keep
abreast of changing technology. However, it can
fairly be said that management today faces a greater
number of challenges of a more complex nature and
from a wider number of sources. As Shown in figure
1, the cyber world requires new theory and moving
from relationship management to e.total relationship
management, e.TRM.
Figure 1: Inseparable nature of Cyber and physical space
e.TRM connecting Physical and Cyber world.
The impact of technology business and non-business
relationships is one of the most serious challenges.
Cyber organization (CO) is not a virtual
organization (VO). Virtual organization has been as
“a temporary network of independent companies”,
or as opportunistic alliance of core competencies”
and as an “organization in which workers are not
physically but electronically connected”.VO is also
defined as imaginary organization (IO) which exist
in your mind. On the other hand, A Cyber
Organization is any organization efficiently utilizing
the ICT and other technologies to pool resources,
communicate, facilitate, coordinate and integrate
different business, political, social and financial
activities in both physical world and cyberspace
outside its boundary or environment to foster,
improve and enhance relationships with its
The level or degree (individual, project,
organization, internal, external or meta level) and
context of utilization of the ICT and other
technological advances is determine factor of the
degree of the cybernization of the organizational
activities. Cybernization in the context of
organizations can be viewed either as just a
technology-facilitated phenomenon or as a strategic
tool. The degree of Cybernization (DoC) by using
of e.TRM of an organization is largely a measure of
the technological phenomenon of cybernity. Only
when the outcomes (value creation, flexibility,
growth, customization, better quality life, higher
trust, commitment, satisfaction and loyalty, etc.) are
analyzed to see whether e.TRM and cybernization
has resulted in the intended objectives do they
provide insights into whether cybernity has indeed
been used as a strategic tool, providing thereby a
measure of cyber organizational maturity.
e.TRM Managers have to look to the
marketspace to create added-value. They have to
integrate the activities of the physical world with
those of the marketspace (virtual world) in order to
create and extract value in the most efficient and
effective manner. We employ the term
technologicalship relationship to show the
inseparable nature and impact of ICT on all kinds of
Virtual world
Physical world
ICEIS 2008 - International Conference on Enterprise Information Systems
markets and relationships. Therefore, efficient
e.TRM should tightly connecting Physical and
Cyber world.
Finally, e.TRM is an unforgiving and very
demanding process. One weak link and the whole
effort can be wasted. If the stockholders can be
integrated into the product/service development
process, through cooperation and collaboration in
real time, an intense relationship can begin.
Through efficient e.technologicalship management,
human resources and skills, and the use of the
relationship marketing mechanisms of mutual
benefits, respect, confidence, trust, trusting
behaviour, commitment and adaptations, a company
can establish, enhance and sustain ongoing business
relationships with its different customers.
When creating and analyzing the relationship
strategies, managers should consider nine primary
candidates for such a technologicalship (Figure 2):
5.1 Workforce Technologicalship
Management (WFTM)
This is one of the areas in which e.TRM appears to
have more controversial implications, in particular,
in terms of the changes in the role of shop floor
employees and intermediate managers as a
consequence of increased levels of automation.
e.TRM should facilitated team working because of
better communications and reduced physical
presence in meetings (e.g. e-mail).
5.2 Employee Attitudes and Behaviour
Within a e.TRM organization, a new organizational
restructure is implied. The common argument that
IT applications will lead to a reduction in the
number of employees as its protagonists (e.g.
Brynjolfsson et al., 1994). Some resistance of
employees to this change is expected and that may
reduce autonomy and commitment to company goals
and objectives as well as the motivation.
5.3 Product design Process
Technologicalship Management
Implementing effective e.TRM should lead to
increasing the innovation capability and capacity
because the computer-aided design (CAD)
technologies are a fundamental aid in the design
process because of faster response to consumer
needs and greater innovation. An effective new
product design and development process requires
coordination and effective flow and disseminating of
information between different departments
(production, marketing and R&D) and ICT. ICT is
also useful in design of experiments, failure mode
and effects analysis (FMEA) as well as quality
function deployment (QFD).
5.4 Process Flow Technologicalship
Management (PFTM)
e.TRM is also useful in effective implementation of
the process flow management. Well planned
automation reduces process variance, because
machines usually demonstrate less variability than
workers and results in increased speed of production
processes with a significant quality enhancement
(Freund et al., 1997). Automated machines require
components and raw materials of high quality.
Therefore e. TRM with components and raw
materials suppliers is crucial.
5.5 Supplier Technologicalship
Management (STM)
ICT systems improve communication links with
suppliers through EDI systems. EDI can be used to
place orders, send product specifications, design
details, etc., along with confirmation of invoices and
paying for suppliers (Teague et al. (1997).
Companies can access the inventory systems of their
suppliers and place orders automatically and there
can also be access to production scheduling systems.
5.6 Customer Technologicalship
Management (CRM)
e. TRM emphasizes the speed and extent of the shift
to electronic commerce conducted between
businesses, homes and countries and starts to put
into place the means of controlling such invisible
processes. The development of ICT improves
relationships with customers in several ways. ICT
A CYBER ORGANIZATION IN THE CYBER WORLD - ICT and e.Total Relationship Management (e.TRM)
Figure 2: Zinekdin’s Model of e.TRM & Cybernization.
leads to direct companies-customers relationships,
enabling the interchange of information. ICT
enables organizations to reach customers who are
geographically remote.
5.7 Distributor Technologicalship
Management (DTM)
In most industrial and service sectors, old-line
channel structures have been weakened by the
introduction and rapid growth of the cyber world
tools such as Internet and other third-party
information service providers such as CompuServe,
Prodigy and America Online. Late twentieth century
retailers are now able to quickly gain accurate
information regarding items which are or are not
popular with their customers. IT is making change
the only constant in channel
5.8 Technologicalship TQM (TTQM)
e.TRM provides autonomy and ease the accesses
and capabilities of the entire employees of different
department and function to implement the principle
of TQM. The work of the TQM can be made easier
because ICT and the management enable better
ability to coordinate the different web of activities
and relationships, collect, analyze, transfer and
disseminate the information within and outside the
organization. e. TRM, therefore, facilitates TQM
implementation and dissemination.
5.9 Others: Facilitators (Stockholders)
Technologicalship (OSTM)
It is not unusual for facilitators outside the firm’s
boundary or market environment to foster
relationships. Actions by government and academic
institutions influence a firm’s activities. Politicians
can play key roles in helping organizations secure
foreign markets. In addition, many government
agencies are large existing and potential buyers, and
creating a long-term relationship with them can be a
competitive force for a company. e.TRM or cyber
organizations need to create and maintain good
cyber relationships with political parties and other
regulatory agencies.
Finally, the examples outlined above, however,
provide us with an insight of how creating value
with e.TRM and its technologicalship relationships
can be conducted faster, better, and less expensively
than treating ICT as a mere supporting activity.
ICEIS 2008 - International Conference on Enterprise Information Systems
It is obvious that nowadays organizations and
people will have difficulties in separating a
relationship from ICT. In this article, the e.TRM,
cybernization and the technologicalship concepts are
introduced to indicate the close and almost
inseparable partnership between the physical and
cyber worlds. In short, such a cybernization of the
organization and people minds can be considered as
a new paradigm. This paper emphasizes the inherent
a multidimensionalities of cybernization of the
organization and its various internal and external
activities and relationships. Thus, we argue, in this
paper that technologicalship relationship and e.TRM
should incorporate both physical and cyber worlds.
We integrate these two worlds to show the
inseparable nature and impact of the ICT on all
kinds of relationships.
A cyber organization is a type of offers, via the
e.TRM a natural linkage between the internal and
external environments and the interaction processes
because it emphasizes how technologies, people
(including consumers and other stakeholders) and
other organizations are a function of a win-win
interaction. This combined perspective yields
comprehensive insight into the impact of the
technologies on relationship management of toady’s
cyber world.
By failing to utilize e.TRM and
technologicalship philosophy, organizations risk
being isolated, while successful organizations move
ahead together toward the rest of the 21
with its borderless or virtual reality.
Finally, the issue of the cybernization of the
organization and its relationships deserves more
comprehensive theoretical and empirical research.
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A CYBER ORGANIZATION IN THE CYBER WORLD - ICT and e.Total Relationship Management (e.TRM)