Perisher Blue Company started its operations in 1995 and offers a number of key tourism attraction facilities including Perisher Valley and Smiggin Holes. The other facilities that are only unique to the site are Mt. Blue cow and Guthega which together make the center the leading skiing resort in the entire region based on high terrains, a great number of lifts and its reliability to visitors. The company is committed to offering services expected from a mountain resort from visiting tourists in accordance to international standards and on the basis of an ecological eco-system that can be sustained throughout the years.
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The vision of Perisher Blue Company commits the resort towards encompassing a number of significant elements and objectives. This significantly re-models the position of Australian ski resorts in the contemporary market into being a competitive attractive centre while at the same time, considering other important environmental developmental factors. The vision therefore aims at creating a ski resort where nature and experience interact and offer fulfilling and adventurous encounters for all visitors on holiday. This fulfilling atmosphere is sufficient to appeal the client to have them spend at least a day and a night at the facility regardless of where they would be visiting from.
The re-modeling of the resort is supported by the current pressure from the market to integrate modern technology in such centers so as to assure the customers’ convenience and comfort during their stay. The management, therefore, has been in the forefront in providing extra facilities for amenities that are fully harmonious with the natural features available in the alpine resort. The efforts have re-positioned the centre not only for the Australian visitors but also more significantly for the international market with the growth anticipated to hit a million skiers.
The days when the failure to have smaller mountains having sharp and long gradients was inhibiting the resort to achieve its full potential are long gone. With technological advancement, it is possible to level the playing spots around the ski parts and ensure that the geographical landscape does not dictate the skier’s adventure.
The vision for the Blue Perisher alpine resort is therefore providing a chance where the interests for those skiing, visiting, local residence and more significantly the interests of the environment are taken good care of (Hogg, 1997). Execution of such kind of vision to realize the expected results calls for competency, patience and strong faith in the strategy (Kennedy, 1993). The leadership must therefore focus beyond the perceptions of conventional wisdom to the goals of the strategic plan that many could not see (Ohmae, 1982).
In recent years, the living standard of many people especially in the developed economies across Europe, the USA as well as Australia has been rising steadily. This has increased the number of people seeking for serene environment for holidays where they can rest and recuperate. This has made many tourists destination points around the world design competitive offers to attract the bulging market. Modern technologies have become the primary tools being used to link such destinations to holidaymakers. Australia which is both a tourist source and destination has not been left behind in putting down competitive strategies in its holiday campsites. Perisher Blue Company of Australia runs a leading tourists destination popular to skiers that have served thousands of holidaymakers since its inception.
This paper examines an overview of Perisher Blue Company and evaluates IS/IT opportunities brought about by current business processes and also includes an IT action plan.
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The paper therefore discusses the purpose for the IS strategy of the company and presents the overview of the general business strategy through a critical analysis that identifies the strong and weak points. The business process and information requirements have also been discussed before giving an IT action plan and the proposed recommendations.
Purpose for IS Strategy
In the modern globalized world information systems (IS) have become an important factor in driving organizational goals and objectives towards full realization. Well development IS and IT infrastructures gives any organization a competitive advantage over the competitors and it makes the customers comfortable within the premises for they can be in touch with the world while within the compound that is well connected. For this reason Perisher Blue Company has carried out intense laying out of fibre opting cable all around the entire resort to ensure reliability and efficiency in communication for those visiting the facility. The fibre optic cable is not only useful in assisting the visitors but it also provides the necessary IT facilities for transmitting important data within the facility.
This IS strategy identifies the overall objectives for Perisher Blue and outlines a comprehensive plan through which they can be achieved. The rationale of the paper is based on getting into the daily business operations to determine the general direction of the business and its immediate priorities. Taking decision to embrace new IS/IT technologies involve accepting and retaining the associated risks. With the growth and expansion of the company partly brought about by the resort mergers, a wider range of data on the business operations is available and requires more innovative Strategies.
The IS infrastructure has made it possible to automate the snow making data, scan ticketing data as well as support telephoning and weather forecast services. The fibre optic cabling connects all the strategic centres within the resort and provides a “ring feed” cabling as an alternative communication path in case of any fault in the internal link that connects together Mt. Perisher, Perisher Valley, Smiggin holes, blue cow and Guthega. In the execution of the IS strategy, care was taken to ensure that the project was carried out in accordance to the general objectives in ensuring that the environment was protected (Perisher, 2002). The table below shows the details of the measures carried out to ensure that the environment was protected.
|Dust||Watering of the ground done before excavation works||Site and environment manager||Throughout the project|
|Rehabilitation of the dislodged vegetation covers||Site and environment manager||When trenching is completed|
|Noise||Due diligence observed to minimize noise||Site and environment manager||Throughout the project|
|Machinery used were maintained in accordance to the manufacturer’s specifications||Site and environment manager||Throughout the project|
|Waste||Littering around the centre was avoided at all costs||Site and environment manager||Throughout the project|
|Excessive soil was taken away from the centre||Site and environment manager||Throughout the project|
|Clearing of tools and equipment from the centre immediately after completion of works||Site and environment manager||When trenching is completed|
|Heritage||Whenever any form of material of aboriginal origin is discovered notification to NPWS will be done immediately||Site and environment manager||Throughout the project|
|Hazardous materials||Care was taken to ensure that no dangerous chemicals were kept within the site during the work||Site and environment manager||Throughout the project|
|Vegetation||Weed free bales of dry vegetation materials shall serve as temporary fence to mark the extent beyond which vehicles are not allowed.||Site and environment manager||Throughout the project|
|Vegetation in the protected areas shall remain undisturbed.||Site and environment manager||Throughout the project|
|Maximum care shall be taken not to harm vegetation cover when moving equipments||Site and environment manager||Throughout the project|
|The disturbed vegetation cover shall be rehabilitated immediately.||Site and environment manager||Throughout the project|
|Sediments, Erosion & storm water||Hay bales that have been set free from weed acts as barrier for area linking the trench works to Perisher Creek and should be monitored frequently.||Site and environment manager||Before the start of excavation & Throughout the project|
|Excavated soil shall always be heaped on the up slope side away from Perisher creek.||Site and environment manager||During trenching|
|Trench works shall be done in stages and backfilling done before proceeding to other stages||Site and environment manager||During trenching|
|Trenches shall never be left unattended||Site and environment manager||During trenching|
|Public Safety||Proper signs shall be placed at all working places when the excavation work is in progress to notify the public of the looming danger.||Site and environment manager||Before the start of excavation & Throughout the project|
Overview of Business Strategy
As a leading Alpine resort, Perisher Blue has integrated resources and facilities of five stations as part of its business strategy. The following are the areas that work together to constitute the linked business operations of the resort.
This is an important component of the larger Perisher Blue business operations and it started in the early years when the valley was being used by graziers during summer. Though the origin of the name of the valley that has become an important business name is not well established, it is believed to have originated from the graziers who rescued their cattle ensnared in the high country. The glaziers who were muffled by the deadly gap, could refer to the valley as a true “Perisher” (Perisher, 2010).
This is another important business centre that was developed by trampling of livestock from the glaziers that used to gather to consume rock salt. The holes caused by the cattle were later filled with water and were referred to as “Smiggin Holes”. The feature was established as significant business destination as the skiers started frequenting it back in the year 1939 and a cafe was established there to serve the skiers who were visiting on their way to Mt. Kosciuszko and Charlotte Pass.
Initially travelling to Smiggin Holes was through sleighs pulled by horses but as the number of the skiers increased the means of accessing the facility were improved. In 1953 over-snow travelling commenced in the valley and in 1958 a sophisticated rope tow was installed and later improved to a chairlift. This was an important business feature for it opened up the area to many skiers and its the business potential of the area was visible (Perisher, 2010).
Mt. Blue Cow
This is a facility that was developed in the 1970s after NPWS realized that the demand for skiing at Mt. Blue cow was tremendously increasing. The service expanded the facility to accommodate the rising need and in 1987 the facility was opened amidst challenges in transportation that were initiated by delay in completion of Skitube alpine railway (Perisher, 2010).
This station started operations in 1950’s together at the time when accessibility to the Perisher Mountain had been enhanced through the work supported by the work of a great number of migrants who were coming in the area with a great interest in skiing. However due to its location this facility was isolated for some years having very limited resources for the visiting skiers. With the installation of chairlift in 1982, the resort became more famous especially to the day visitors and in 1991 the management of the resort was merged with that of the Blue Cow. This made it possible to access the facility through the Ski-tube alpine railway a fact that made it more appealing to visitors (Perisher, 2002).
Ski-tube Alpine Railway
This was a strategic facility whose design was initially intended to improve the access of Perisher fields during winter. This was because of the challenges encountered by use of the limited entry points by road that are usually covered by ice and snow during that time of the year. Ski-tube was therefore a timely idea that was considered environmentally acceptable to deal with the challenge of the time. The ski-tube is the longest of its kind in Australia and it is the only reliable access to Mt. Cow resort. The construction of the Swiss designed ski lift was a significant business strategy that has fully transformed Perisher resort and the neighbourhood. The ski lift has offered services to more than 4 million visitors since it was launched in 1987 and has maintained good state of comfort and safety.
Internal/External Analysis of Business Objectives
Perisher Blue just like any other business ensures that factors that are significant in influencing its operations both internally and externally are well taken care of. An analysis done on its business operations using the Porter’s five force model revealed the following;
Bargaining power of suppliers
Perisher Blue is a service industry which relies mainly on the visiting skiers to do business. For that reason the company does not depend exclusively on suppliers to be able to undertake its operations. However, the suppliers for the resort are those offering materials for IT infrastructure, food commodities in the recreation facilities, stationeries and other day to day utilities needed for the normal operations of the resort.
The materials supplied for direct use by the visitors require meeting high quality standards and only few suppliers meet qualification criteria. For this reason, the qualified suppliers may have greater bargaining power and influence the price of the commodities supplied. The bargaining power of Perisher suppliers is influenced if the supplier is offering commodities that can not easily be supplied in the same quality by another supplier.
The suppliers who have also won the company’s and visitors trust in quality of their products, seems also to have higher bargaining power than the new suppliers whose commodities are not well known by the visiting skiers. Hiking of prices by the suppliers can negatively affect the operations of the business within the resort centre and therefore the management strives to ensure that a compromise is stricken between the loyalty of suppliers and the prices of the supplied commodities (Porter, 2008).
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Threat of New Entrants
Perisher Blue is a leading Alpine result in Australia but any entry of a stiff competitor can bring about significant reduction in its operations. However, starting such kind of facility is not easy for it requires not only large sums of money in investments but also conducive and attractive natural features that can bring in visitors. The geographical landscape within Perisher is endowed with unique natural features that have been maintained all these years in all the five integrated stations. With the large base of integrated stations that are working as a unit it is easier for Perisher Blue to acquire products and services cheaply while at the same time offering integrated services to visitors at reduced prices. This makes it difficult for new entrants who would wish to start in the business (Porter, 2008).
Bargaining Power of Clients
In the case of Perisher Blue, clients are the visiting skiers who visit the facility. Whenever there are other facilities that can over same services, clients would have greater bargaining power than when the company is enjoying monopoly. Clients who visit as organized large groups several times in a year also have immense power in influencing the prices for which they pay for the services offered. Perisher Blue has strived to fix the prices for the services offered in the basis of these dynamics so that it’s planning are not affected significantly by the visitors with immense power in influencing prices (Porter, 2008).
Threat of Substitute services and Rivalry among Competitors
Perisher Alpine resort has strived to ensure that her services remain unique despite the stiff competition especially from Mt. Kosciuszko and Charlotte Pass. Substitute services can get attention of loyal clients from the company in case they get dissatisfied with the services of wherever the prices are higher than expected. To offer value for money Perisher resort has ensured that it offers competitive options to visitors to have fulfilling and adventures time during their stay in the facility. The social amenities are maintained at high international standards and all the operations are conducted in a way that is friendly to the environment (Porter, 2008).
In developing a workable strategic plan for any organization it is important to conduct a SWOT analysis to establish the position of the organisation in terms of its strengths, weaknesses and opportunities as well as threats that are poised by the external factors. A SWOT analysis of Perisher Blue shows that the organisation still has enormous potential to maintain its leading position in the resort management (Perisher, 2010).
The following are some of the internal factors that have given Perisher Blue a competitive advantage over the rivals in the industry;
One of the Perisher’s pillars is the fact that it has been able to build trust with a great number of visitors that are bound to visit each year giving it an almost predictable source of income. This helps the organization to draw strategic plans based on the number of expected visitors.
Perisher blue has managed to build and manage a culture of environmental conservancy that many of its visitors have come to adore. Climate change and global warming are issues that the lovers of skiing take very seriously and the fact that Perisher has managed to ensure nothing environmental is taken for granted; it has been able to attract many more visitors.
The entire Perisher resort is well fed with access routes, chair lifts and most importantly the all weather Ski-tube alpine railway line. The place has also been connected with IT infrastructure, with a modern optic cable interconnecting the major centres within the resort. Efficiency and reliable means of transport and communication is an important factor in success of any business enterprise and Perisher resort has a big competitive advantage in this respect.
Initially the Alpine skiing centres at Perisher were operating independently. However the resorts have since been merged to one major resort under one management. This gives the management an advantage for they are able to offer a variety of options to visitors under one central place. The visitors therefore do not need to buy different tickets or to deal with different management teams to access the varieties offered among the Perisher ranges. This fact has worked for the better of the organisation.
The major weakness of Perisher Blue is the fact that the business is not high through out the year but only peaks during winter. This limits the earning of the resort considering that some of the expenses and overheads have to be met throughout the year.
Perisher Blue has a number of external factors that it can take advantage of and achieve greater competitive advantage over its rivals.
The recovery of global financial crisis and the repositioning of baby boomers in the Europe and USA provide good opportunities as it will certainly see many people seeking for ideal resorts to rest and recuperate. With Perisher ranges being known worldwide tapping some of these emerging opportunities is easy and can propel the organisation to greater heights. As the economy in the east (especially in China and India) improves the number of holiday makers is increasing and it is a good opportunity for Perisher.
Improvement of infrastructures
The government is committed to improving the infrastructure around the area and in the rest of the parts of the country. This is an opportunity that can be utilized by ensuring that both local and international visitors use the improved road network to access the resort centre.
Australia has been enjoying peace and cohesion within its regions, people and international partners. This means that no travel advisories have been issued for countries not to travel to the country. As such the management can take advantage of this and ensure that the visiting guests are entertained enough to become frequent visitors in the resort and also become advertising agents.
Globalization and E-commerce Technologies
With advancements in technology and rise in globalization, new techniques for doing business have emerged in the world market. E-commerce is becoming more and more famous where many business to business (B2B) and business to customer (B2C) communication and transactions are done online. Most of the potential customers are shopping for leading resorts online from their homes, it is therefore important to ensure that online presence is developed and improved to capture the world market (Morrisey, 1996).
Perisher Blue alpine ski resort is highly dependent on international clients from oversees. Anything that may disrupt relationship between Australia and the major source countries can greatly affect the operations of the resort for visitors would not be expected to come in such circumstances. The management of the resort can do very little to control or mitigate the occurrence of such risks. The resort is also faced by stiff competitors who may influence the visitors and keep away from Perisher Blue.
Critical Success Factors
In order to achieve the vision laid down for Perisher Blue, there are some Critical Success Factors (CSFs) that must fulfilled during its operations. It is important that these factors are taken into consideration to ensure that the goals and objectives are obtainable (Moore, 1992. The following factors have been prioritized as CSFs for the resort.
- Maintenance of the laid down optic cable to support IT network within the resort and ensure efficient data exchange between the merged resort stations.
- Maintenance of the transport infrastructure and especially removal of ice and snow on major routes connecting the various merged stations.
- Ensure comfort, fun, functioning and predictability of chairlifts positioned at various steep gradients to ensure that the visitors do not have to climb up steep gradients or are not inconvenienced by the lifts.
- Exchange of real data between the four merged resorts requires upgradable software that can allow for exchange of real time reports to ensure that data about the booked clients is processed accurately at the same time among all the stations.
- Well functioning modern IT infrastructure will cut down on money and time spent on coordination and processing of information that is supposed to be exchanged between the four merged resort centres.
Business Process and Information Requirements
The impact changes on existing business processes
The adoption of new technologies comes with big changes that an organization must be ready to bear with (Birnbaum, 1990). New technologies like that initiated through the optic cabling and other IT infrastructures being used by Perisher Blue resorts, means that some work that needed a bigger manpower may now require one or two persons to operate. The systems also require faster and more regular time to respond and give real time feedback on business processes. The new technologies also comes with new demands for training for both the operators and the top management teams that may in turn train the rest of the staff members on the importance and the usability of the new systems (Gumpert, 1990).
With the new technology, the full online interaction between the customer and Perisher Blue, can be done more effectively and faster from the time the customer makes the initial intent call for service to the billing of the amount required for the full stay at the resort centre.
The following figure shows how this business process interaction between the customer and the company is executed.
Argument for new IS/IT opportunities
In the modern global market, technology has changed the way in which market processes were transacted a few years ago. With the upcoming of online marketing, buyers and sellers are now meeting more over the web where most of the transactions are finalized. There is more dependency on new technologies in todays businesses that any organization can ignore whether dealing with services or physical goods.
The time when geographical boundaries and language used to be barriers to businesses are long gone. As an old player in the resort management businesses Perisher Blue must decide to put away some of the models that are not compatible with the current IT/IS infrastructure and adopt the new approaches where new technology shall provide a competitive advantage over the rivals. With its advantage as a leading player in the market, Perisher is ain a position to access the leading consultants to over refresher training courses to the staff and ensure that they are always kept updated on the rising technologies that is relevant in their nature of business (Schwartz, 1991).
The company has overseen the laying down of optic cables around the resort which has connected with the major IT structure that constitutes of Windows & Office 2007, SQL database and pulse survey program. The company has also been connected via LAN to allow real time data transfers as well as report tools that is to assist in reducing the time used in administrative and managerial tasks. With intensive development and utilization of e-commerce and other online marketing platforms, Perisher Blue is expected to greatly raise its client base and improve the returns on investments (SSMP, 2002).
|To allow for real data sharing between Perisher Valley, Smiggin Holes, Mt blue cow and Guthega results.||Relevant IT department shall be empowered to ensure that the requirements are provided and installed for use. The computers between the four resorts shall be connected together via LAN||Performance shall be evaluated by ease of use of the installed system measured in time saved by users. The other success indicator is on the amount of money saved by reduction of employees once the system is launched.|
|To facilitate human resource empowerment to ensure that new technology is appropriately adopted and optimally utilized.||The IT department shall recommend qualified personnel for in-service training to ensure that he copes with the task of appropriating new technology in the system. If need be more specialized staff shall be recruited.||The success shall be measured by the period through which the company shall be able to rely on the new technology under the guidance of the trained personnel. The scenario where the organization will no longer need to outsource some of its IT data processing from outside will also be a success indicator. Addition of more qualified personnel from among the former staff is also an added resource to the company.|
|To ensure that Perisher Blue maintains a leading role in the resort business services.||The organizational needs shall be reviewed regularly against the changing market requirements and provisions made as it shall be found appropriate. Professional consultants may be hired in times when major changes are expected.||Success here shall be evaluated by how the position that the company takes among the internationally recognized resort centres in accordance to the statistics drawn from independent international organizations.|
|To reduce time and error margins in preparing financial documents by the finance department.||Adopt the use of more specialized accounting software to manage the financial transactions in the company. Ensure that the adopted software can be updated and customized to fit any company requirement.||The success will be measured by the reduction in time taken to retrieve sample real time data from the system and the error margin contained in the retrieved data as compared to what existed before.|
|To integrate data from various departments and from various resorts bases to speed up decision making process by the top management.||Specialized systems to monitor and synchronize the activities from the strategies laid by different departments should be adopted. The top management should then be able to study and understand the interpretation of the provided information to make decisions without having to do so much consultation.||The success of this strategy shall be evaluated by the period in which the top management will take to evaluate issues by use of the adopted new technologies and make informed decisions. This shall be compared to the time it took to do the same through interdepartmental consultations.|
|To cut down on the time taken by the management team to deal with the administrative duties.||Adopt new reporting procedures that would ensure that the tasks are spread evenly through out the time scheduled for each of the task. This would ensure that tasks would not be concentrated together at the last minute and overwhelm the management team.||The success of the strategy shall be measured by the factor in which the time for administrative tasks is reduced from the former.|
|To reduce the administrative, managerial and personnel costs.||Wherever necessary use fast means of processing data by use of modern technologies to achieve speed, efficiency, reliability and lesser manpower. Avoid outsourcing and using consultants for tasks that can be appropriately handled internally.||These success indicators for this strategy shall be based on the costs reduction attained by use of appropriate technologies to effectively manage administrative schedules and practices.|
IT action plan
Issues and problems arising from the strategy
With the challenges posed by the current state of competition in the global market due to rising dependence on IT/IS, Perisher Blue Company has been left in a position where adoption and development of IT/IS structures within all its resorts is a crucial undertakings. As a business enterprise the company has therefore placed ambitious business objectives to expand customer base particularly among the EU countries and Asia where there is still great potential for business.
To realise this vision the company has placed clear IT/IS objectives to automate all its operations in marketing and all other internal and external business operations so that the advertisement tools can be accessible from all around the World. The company has therefore installed modern optical cables within all its resorts and provided for modern IT/IS facilities that meets the international standards. The management has committed itself to ensuring that these standards are maintained by engaging the right IT team.
The following table shows how the current problems shall be addressed to achieve the laid down business and IT/IS objectives.
|Funding for IT infrastructure upgrading||The funds for IT infrastructure upgrades and other equipments shall be drawn from the reserved pool of the company earnings and allocated a relevant budget line.||IT manager, Procurement manager and finance officer.|
|Who are to be trained?||The first bunch of trainees shall be sourced from the IT department. The trained staff shall in turn train the rest of the staff who shall be directed affected by system upgrades.||IT manager|
|How often and who shall review changes in the market?||The proposed changes in the markets shall be reviewed on monthly basis. The heads of each of the four resorts shall prepare situational report each month and present it to senior management for discussion and adoption.||Head of the four integrated resorts.|
|Which specific software shall the company adopt in its financial transactions?||The requirements for the software requirements shall be discussed between the finance and IT officers and a recommendation made on which software is the best for adoption by the company.||Finance officer |
|How often should the top management review the departmental strategies?||Departmental strategies should be reviewed on monthly basis.||Senior management team|
|To what extent should the personnel costs be cut?||The personnel costs should be cut to a minimum figure that shall be agreed by the appointed advisory board.||Advisory Board.|
Project implementation Schedule
To ensure that Perisher Blue succeeds in the implementation of its vision a comprehensive IT strategic plan should be prepared and followed strictly (Ward and Peppard, 2002). The plan shall show details of the dates and activities that are supposed to be implemented at each of the phases. The implementation dates shall consider the budget, strategies as well as the urgency of the proposed changes that require being implemented (Steiner, 1979). The head of IT department shall play a crucial coordination role in ensuring that the implementation schedule is followed.
Many companies are considering outsourcing some of its company to professionals who can do the same work on behalf of the company at a cheaper way but in a more professional approach. Considering that Perisher Blue is not a professional company in IT management, it can consider outsourcing some of the related tasks like training of staff, consultation on better new technologies to adopt and the best software and infrastructure to use while taking good care of the environment. Outsourcing services to professionals ensures that the final results are reliable, affordable and at the same time it makes it possible to have services customized in the best way that would suit the circumstances of the company.
It has been established that some of the resorts that have since been merged to form the current Perisher Blue Alpine resort started as running as early as 1950s. Since those early years a lot have changed in the way businesses rely on technology to advance their operations. Unlike those early years today businesses are depending on new technologies to advertise their services, display products/services, communicate with customers, book customers, receive payments etc. Businesses that have been able to fully embrace the new technologies through proper IT strategies have been able to gain competitive advantage over others.
Since the merger of the four Perisher resorts into one big business enterprise a lot has been done to ensure that the company remains a leader in this market. However, the rate at which new technologies emerge in the market requires constant review of the market to ensure that business operations are not left behind to become obsolete (Quigley, 1993). Perisher Blue Company therefore has a role to protect its global leadership role by ensuring that constant review of the global market advancements are compared regularly with the company’s operations to ensure that they are always at par. This can be achieved by ensuring that the IT strategic plan developed for that purpose is followed.
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