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TOPIC : USING INFORMATION SYSTEMS TO ACHIEVE COMPETITIVE ADVANTAGE: AN INVESTIGATION
INTO THE USE OF IS BY Equity Bank Nigeria Plc.
Over the last
decade, the rise in the importance of information and
knowledge for business activity has become phenomenal
(Marji and Philip, 2005). Information is now critical
for the management and growth of business value. Knowledge
about competitors and customers is essential to understand
the future direction of business development.
can be defined as a set of interrelated components that
collect, process , store and distribute information
to support decision making , coordination and control
in an organisation.(Laudon, 2004)
(Bocij, 2003) have argued that information systems can
also be used as a source of competitive advantage to
increase turnover, and reduce operating cost of a business
and keep customers locked to a firm.
The banking sector
in Nigeria today is highly competitive and competition
is expected to intensify as new players enter the market.
As the competitive environment becomes more challenging
to operate, banks will need to maintain their competitive
edge through adoption of new technology (Bocij 2003).
Over the past
decades, banks in Nigeria have evolved from being institutions
that only engage in delivering services manually with
disconnected branches that have congested banking halls
to banks that can now compete favourably with their
counterparts anywhere in the world. Equatorial Trust
Bank epitomises this advancement. The advent of value
cards, Automated teller machines and mobile banking
attest to this assertion.
In the light
of the above, it is would be beneficial to analyse how
Equity bank made use of information systems to achieve
competitive edge in the face of stiff competition.
This study is
aimed at analysing the use of IS in the banking sector
in Nigeria. This is of particular importance to the
finance sector and also to the country as a whole.
The research questions addressed in this study is: What
are the benefits that organisations stand to gain from
using information systems as a tool in a competitive
environment – in a developing country context
I hope that a
study like this one will contribute to the discourse
on the importance of IS in the banking sector of Nigeria.
of this research will be:
To develop a framework for the use of IS in the finance
sector. In doing so, the study will address a host of
other relevant issues including;
1. Investigating how the use of IS has affected the
business processes and activities in EBN plc.
2. Investigating the impact of IS on the profitability
of EBN plc
3. Analysing IS in relation to customer patronage and
4. To identify the barriers faced in the use of IS in
To achieve the purpose of this dissertation, the case
study approach will be used. It is the critical analysis
of an event which gives the opportunity of testing a
theoretical proposition with the available data. (Rose
1993). It is also defined as an empirical enquiry that
investigates a contemporary issue or event within its
real –life context (Walshman 1995).
In using the
case study methodology, both qualitative and quantitative
approach will be used to proof the theoretical argument
that information systems can be used to achieve competitive
advantage, this will be done by analysing the bank performances
over the years otherwise known as the “pattern
will be used in the form of published reports by the
company, and from professional bodies like Chartered
Institute of Bankers of Nigeria (CIBN), internet, articles
and books to seek information on how information systems
have benefited the bank. Also questionnaires will be
administered to get the views of senior managers and
the employees who are at the operational level of the
bank on how they think the use of IS has helped them
in achieving competitive advantage.
of the case study approach is that it enables the capture
of reality in considerable greater detail than is possible
with any of the other methodologies; however its weaknesses
include the fact that its application is usually restricted
to a single event/organisation. (Galliers 1992).
extracted from annual reports and others supplied by
the bank will be used cautiously to draw inference when
considering their performance.
Information in this research will be mainly extracted
from the bank’s annual reports which were certified
by an independent auditing firm.
The scope of this study will be limited to the confines
of the case study company,EBN Plc.
Information System is a new phenomenon in Nigeria as
a whole and in the banking sector in particular, the
author feel that in order to achieve the purpose of
this dissertation it will be right to research into
the use of IS in a bank that is blazing the trail in
using IS to discharge services to its customers. It
is therefore worth researching how EBN Plc has been
able to use IS to gain a large market in the banking
The scope of
this research is defined into 3 areas
• Technology – information system
• Business environment- Equity Bank Nigeria Plc
• Geographical Area- Nigeria
BRIEF HISTORY OF EQUITY BANK PLC
EBN PLC now
a member of the intercontinental group was incorporated
in Nigeria as a private Limited Liability Company in
December of 1988 and commenced operation in January
1989 as Meridian Equity bank of Nigeria limited and
later became EBN Plc in May 25 , 1995.
The mission of the EBN plc is “to add value to
our customer through innovative product and services
by deploying a highly professional work force and cutting
edge technology while being socially responsible”.
The paid up capital
was increased from 200,000,000(£800,000) in 1999
to 800,000,000 (£320,000) in 2004 (EBN Annual
The new management that came on board re-organised and
restructured the whole activities of the bank and employed
new staff with technology orientation. As at this time
the total number of customer is about 2000. This performance
is appalling considering the capacity of economy that
is estimated at £25billion and with population
of about 120 million prospective customers.
The aim of the
management was to map out a strategy of increasing their
customer base, the figure on their balance sheet and
to also increase their profit.
They emphasised the need to create technology driven
product and services to attract and retain their customer
as well as work towards cost reduction and increase
revenue generation for their share holder in the face
of intense competition in the banking industry. In order
to achieve this aim, they sought the share holders’
approval to use part of the paid up capital to fund
this technology initiative and was approved at the annual
general of 1999.
The aim of the
management of EBN plc was to use technology as competitive
tool to win customer by introducing
innovative ways of doing banking business which has
never been used in the industry thereby becoming the
In order to explore the benefit of technology the management
of the bank, set up a committee of five senior management
staff to consult banks in the developed economies on
the best information systems to be deployed in the bank,
they visited financial institutions in South Africa,
United kingdom U.S.A and India. They finally agreed
to use 2 packages known as FINACLE (financial oracle)
developed by infosys, inc. India and “EQUINOX”
with V-SAT communication link to the entire branches
given by the team that went abroad to choose the package
was that they chose the package because of its ability
to reach customers through additional channel of internet
and mobile communication. After three years of the launch
of the technological solution the Managing Director
of EBN plc Mr Akin Ajayi was quoted as saying “it
was clear to us that in order to put banking services
at your fingertips, our technology has to be cutting
edge, at inception it was not possible to justify the
huge capital outlay on the basis of short term return.
However, we took
a long term view of our investment in the acquisition
of appropriate technology consistent with our mission.
This has paid off; today Equity bank is one of the few
banks in Nigeria that offers real-time online transaction”.
The technology packages that other banks in the country
were using at that time did not have the capabilities
for internet and mobile communication to reach their
The whole package was launched by the vice president
of Nigeria Alh. Atiku Abubakar
of the Dissertation
study is organized into five chapters and each chapter
handles different area of discussion
This is the introductory
chapter, it introduces the dissertation topic, and also
it throws more light on the history of the case study
company, the research objectives, the research questions,
and the methodology that will be used in achieving the
objective of the dissertation
is a review of relevant literatures. It takes an in-depth
look at the theoretical framework of competitive advantage
and the contributions of various authors on how organisations
can create one to edge their competitors .The literature
review also treats the commonly mixed terms of information
systems and information technology. It then concludes
by looking at the IS driven products and services of
explores the theory of methodology, methodology adopted
for this dissertation and the reason for using the method.
addressed the analysis of data collected from the bank’s
annual report and the questionnaires administered. Indicators
like profitability, balance sheet and customer size
were analysed to ascertain the level of improvement
recorded in these areas over the years under consideration
pointing out variations and similarities with the understanding
of the subject in general. The chapter also contains
self-constructed diagrams, tables and figures.
This is the chapter
that summarises all the findings from the dissertation,
it then concludes by considering the theoretical argument
of IS as a competitive advantage with systematic confirmation
of increase in EBN plc performances as an evidence and
the noticed reduction in the operating cost of the transactions
initiated through internet and mobile communication.
Recommendations were also made for better implementation
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