Within the scope of this research, we will discuss the issues of data analysis in warranty and product management. As the technologies of computers and other forms of electronic communication continue to converge, and it is more common for people to have computers at workplace and at their homes, our interaction with one another likewise has undergone a change, people will continue to interact in new and different ways.

Global competitive pressures and continuous innovations are forcing many organization to rethink the manner in which they do business and re-engineer themselves, by taking an interest in data analysis, the management and use of their intellectual assets and corporate memory. They are looking at how to analyze information and eventually benefit from it.

While technology is important for development of such a system in warranty and product management, it has been found that the cultural obstacles are the key factor for such a system in becoming successful. For example, there can be a reluctance to participate if the act of sharing intellectual assets is seen as a means of giving the users of the assets a competitive edge over the contributor or alternatively might be seen as freeloading.

Data analysis requires certain capabilities from an organization. Those are:

(1) people’s skills – skills and knowledge “embodied” in the employees of the organization;
(2) knowledge embedded in physical systems – “portion of knowledge and skills”, which is granted by “proprietary and protected form.” It could be patents or other types of intangible assets or it could be contained in software, hardware and accepted procedures of the organization.
(3) managerial systems that support and reinforce the growth of knowledge trough carefully designed education and incentives and
(4) values that serve to screen and encourage or discourage the accumulation of different kinds of knowledge.

Different investigators define GroupWare needed for data analysis in different ways, some including network file servers, some including database software, some including electronic mail, and some including none of these. More than a way of coding or building applications, GroupWare is a way to define, structure, and link applications, data and the people who use them.

GroupWare is a sort of the “class of applications.” These applications may or may not specifically support cooperation. GroupWare is applied to small groups and organizations and arises from technological progress in information and communication technology.

Introduction of any data analysis system should look into adapting the technology to the organization. The system should reflect specific needs and requirements of the organization. The researchers recognize the difficulty of designing and developing real-time GroupWare on a system level. They explain the difficulty of developing such a system by “social and organizational effects”.

Developers of data analysis systems face certain challenges. Five of the challenges relate to implementation rather then building of the software, which is important to data analysis studies. These are: Disparity in Work Benefit. Where there are differences in contribution leading to differences in cost and benefit in using the collaboration tool. As such where the cost are too high and benefit remote the collaboration is not likely to succeed.

Critical Mass and the Prisoner’s Dilemma problems. Meaning collaboration will not succeed until there is a critical mass of people using the toll. Also if people do not use the tool, then the tool will fail. Sharing will work only if there is sufficiently large pool of items to use. It will also only work if people don’t just use item but they contribute as well.

Disruption of social processes. Sharing can go against an organization culture, if for example knowledge is power. The adoption process. Data analysis system careful implementation to succeed. More consideration as to how it will impact its users is required than for traditional systems.

People working cooperatively, supported by technology is commonly called Computer Supported Cooperative Work (CSCW). CSCW looks at how groups work and seeks to discover how technology (especially computers) can help them work. Electronic mail is one of the earliest CSCW application and since then many application have appeared, covering support of meetings, decision support, group authoring, organization memory etc.

One possible outcome of converging electronic communication and other systems is the electronic workspace – an organization-wide system that integrates information processing and communication activities. The study of such systems is part of a new multi-disciplinary field: Computer Supported Cooperative Work (CSCW).

Drawing on the expertise and collaboration of many specialists, including social scientists and computer scientists, CSCW looks at how groups work and seeks to discover how technology (especially computers) can help them work. Commercial CSCW products, such as The CoordinatorTM and other PC-based software, are often referred to as examples of GroupWare.

The CSCW field addresses more than just the technical issues of designing and developing software to support people working together. Some issues that are addressed are: Articulating cooperative work i.e., supporting the interrelated and coordinating secondary tasks around cooperation; Sharing an information space; Adapting the technology to the organization and vice versa; Information, which is not neutral, and individuals who use it are motivated by individual interest which can result in misrepresentation.

There are many ways in which people can interact with one another and pool resources together to derive benefit from it. Some of these are: Message Systems: The most common example of this is the e-mail. The proliferation of such systems has led to information overload phenomenon. Some recent Message System has intelligence added to the message delivery system, for example Information Lens lets users specify rules that automatically file or re-route incoming messages based on content.

Computer conferencing: The computer serves as a communications medium in a variety of ways.

In particular it has provided three new approaches
a) Real Time Computer Conferencing: allows groups of users, who are either gathered in an electronic meeting room or physically dispersed to interact synchronously through their work-station or terminals.
b) Computer Tele-conferencing: Telecommunication supports for group interaction is referred to as Tele-conferencing.
c) Desktop Conferencing: Tele-conferencing does not let participant share text and graphics. Desktop Conferencing combines the advantages of Tele-conferencing and real time conferencing while mitigating their drawbacks.

This method still uses the workstation as the conference interface, but it also runs application shared by the participants. Not all participants in an electronic meeting are people. Intelligence agents are responsible for a specific set of tasks and the user interface makes their actions resemble those of other users. The Intelligent Agent participation means that a set of rules become active, these rules monitor session activity and result suggesting changes of content or form.

The main objective of creating and maintaining data analysis in product and warranty management is to replace the individual memories that were lost in the mass market. Following example of a face-to-face business presents the aspect clearly.

The 19th century shopkeeper had a personal memory. He knew you and your family, and you shared a common heritage and history. But, of course, he could only maintain this information for a limited number of customers. As his business grew, his ability to keep track of this information for all customers diminished.

Nowadays, when organizations have to deal with hundreds of thousands of customers spread out in a worldwide scale, it is hard to maintain such an amount of knowledge in one’s head. That knowledge should be lodged into the “corporate memory” from all the individual memories or other available sources. The questions to answer before creating such a “memory” is to find out what information do we want to gather and maintain about our customers, and how will that information be delivered and used by the organization.

According to our definition corporate memory means capturing more of the documents and artifacts of the organization in a way that they can be effectively recalled and reinterpreted. The growth of network computers for all phases of information work promises to provide the “nervous system” that would support this increased capture and reuse.

Many data are entered (recorded), but this is not what is missing from corporate memory, what is missing is the context (i.e. the sense or rationale) that lay behind these documents when they were created. In other words, organizations fail to capture any record of the process behind the artifacts. That is why data analysis is suffering from the missing links.

This artifact-oriented paradigm is slowly giving way to a new process-oriented paradigm. Organizations are finding the artifact-oriented way of capturing work to be too impoverished a model to support the complexity of work in the information age. They are turning to a richer, more complete view, which embraces the messy and sometimes chaotic nature of process.

A technology that will provide acceptable capture and recall cost for data analysis systems is that which embraces hypertext, GroupWare (or computer-supported cooperative work) and a rhetorical method. In addition, we learnt that technology is not enough – the organization itself must embrace the technology adoption process as part of a larger shift in the corporate culture.

The first element of the computer technology is hypertext, because the nature of process-oriented approach is essentially non-linear. So, the representation for capturing and organizing it must also be that rich. Moreover, as time goes by and organizational record grows more convoluted and complex, the unlimited flexibility of hypertext as a representational medium is essential for on-going restructuring and summarization.

The second element is GroupWare, which provides the medium for organizational dialogues that occur via the computer, create a computable report semi-structured documents. The ability then exists to manipulate, distribute or share this information and intelligence throughout the organization or team, effectively and continuously creating a memory and learning tool.

The third element of the technology for capturing corporate memory is the use of a rhetorical method, or conversational model, or structuring the conversations occurring with the technology. The reason for this is twofold. A simple rhetorical method provides a structure for discussion of complex problems, which can immediately improve the quality of the dialogue process.

The Issue-Based Information System (IBIS) method provides this kind of process improvement. Secondly, such a model provides a basis for structuring the conversational report, which is not simply chronological (as in an e-mail or bulletin board type system). This provides a content-based indexing structure within which the cumulative record of the organizational process is preserved and organized.

When an organization has a complex decision to make or a problem to solve it often turns to data analysis experts for advice. These experts have specific knowledge and experience in the problem areas. They are aware of alternative solutions, chances of success and costs that the organization may occur if the problem is not solved.

The more unstructured the situation the more specialized and expensive is the advice. Expert System are an attempt to mimic human Experts. The objective of an expert system is to transfer the expertise and knowledge from an expert to a computer and then to other personnel (non-experts). This process involves four activities: Knowledge acquisition (from experts or other sources) Knowledge representation (in the computer) is acquired knowledge which is organized in one of several possible configuration and stored electronically in a knowledge base Knowledge inferencing Knowledge transfer to the user Benefit of an Expert System.

The scarcity of expert becomes evident in situations where there are not enough experts for a task, either the expert is retired or is required over a broad geographic location eg. a country requiring an eye doctor, can diagnose a patient by looking up on a program which is rule based and runs on a microcomputer, which can be operated by a physician’s assistant or nurse.

ES enhances problem solving by allowing the integration of top expert’s judgment into analysis. Problem solving is also enhanced by the integration of expertise of several experts. Limitations of Expert Systems: Knowledge to be captured is not always readily available. Expertise is hard to extract from humans. The approach of each expert to a situation may be different, yet correct. It is hard, even for a highly skilled expert to abstract good situational assessment when he is under time pressure. Users have natural cognitive limits, do they may not use the benefits of the system to the fullest extent. ES work well only in narrow domain.

Help in building an ES is frequently required from Knowledge Engineers who are rare and expensive – a fact that would make ES construction rather expensive. Lack of trust by user may be a barrier to ES use. Knowledge transfer is subject to several perceptual and judgmental biases. Nevertheless, the approach for data analysis by development of knowledge-based systems appears to be one of the most efficient solutions in warranty and product management.


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