Modern organisations develop and function in the rapidly changing world dominated by information technologies that serve as the drivers of success and growth. As a result, the organisations that are willing to stay at the top of their industries and remain, strong competitors, tend to adopt new technologies actively for the purpose of enhancing their performance. In turn, the adopted innovations and information technologies tend to produce a powerful impact on various elements of an organisation including its contextual and structural aspects.
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The organisation overviewed in this report is Dubai Electricity and Water Authority (DEWA) – one of the most influential and powerful corporations in the UAE. Due to its orientation at innovative practices and active adoption of the latest technologies, DEWA managed to achieve a high level of excellence in many of its services and operations.
However, regardless of the active addition of new technologies to its working process, the creation of Smart services and Data Hub, the structure of this organisation remains surprisingly vertical keeping its stiff hierarchy and a confusing division of power and leadership with overlapping spheres of expertise that are likely to slow down many of its functions.
The contemporary world is known for its rapid development due to the advancement of information technology that serves as a major driver of growth in many other industries. Moreover, information technology seems to have become a very important part of many spheres of life and activities of the modern people of developed and emerging economies, thus achieving ubiquity in the majority of the world’s most powerful countries.
The benefits brought about by the IT are diverse and multiple; also, they are strongly associated with the opportunities for advancement and development of an industry or a business. As a result, many organisations are focused on adopting new technologies and embracing the latest IT practices for the purpose of becoming stronger competitors in modern business realities. However, the adoption of information technologies calls for significant changes in the working processes, operations, communications, and systems of organisations. Basically, an organisation’s IT practices often end up reshaping its entire structure and changing its business strategies and approaches.
The major purpose of the present paper is to review this process using a specific organisation and explore the impact that information technologies tend to produce on this organization. The establishment selected for this project is called Dubai Electricity and Water Authority (DEWA) that is a large and powerful government corporation that is focused on staying on track with the latest innovative practices and technologies, expanding its impact, and shaping its operations and systems in an optimised and efficient manner allowing this organisation to function successfully and fulfil its multiple tasks and duties.
Since the present paper is focused on the exploration of Dubai Electricity and Water Authority, it would make sense to use the official website of this organisation (www.dewa.gov.ae) as one of the major references for the report. In fact, this website contains a substantial body of information covering many different aspects of the organisation, its development, future projects, history, culture, structure and hierarchy, as well as its vision, mission, values, and the overall motivation for the growth and expansion.
In addition to the diversity of information presented, the official website of DEWA also can be seen as one of the most reliable primary sources reporting the company’s news and changes. In that way, the website contains information about the deals and partnerships DEWA has formed recently for the purpose of improving its operations and achieving an even higher level of excellence.
Also, since DEWA is extremely innovative and focused on the adoption of the latest technologies as the tools and instruments helping boost its performance, many of the news articles placed on the organisation’s official website are there to inform the readers about the new projects involving various information technologies. For instance, some of the articles that can be found on the website include the news about DEWA’s adoption of Microsoft’s HoloLens, a new cutting edge technology working on the basis of augmented and virtual reality and the recent partnerships with some of the most well-known IT companies for the purpose of enhancing the technologies employed by DEWA these days.
The work titled “Impact of IT on the organisation’s performance” by Md. Saifullah is another useful source that could drive the research for this report. This article is focused on the assessment of the influences information technologies can produce on the elements and aspects of an organisation (Saifullah, 2013).
The source offers a strong theoretical basis concerning the ways in which the IT tends to cause transformations in the structure, hierarchy, and culture of organisations; the purpose of this source is informing about the areas and aspects where the major changes occur and what processes and factors are involved in the transformations (Saifullah, 2013). Overall, the author specified that the assessment of impacts of the IT on an organisation is a very complex task due to the ever-evolving nature of the technologies organisations adopt and the long- and short-term results and changes that they can bring about.
When it comes to DEWA, the organisation selected for this report, there exist many news articles that report its active and ongoing improvement and the expansion of its practices. Some of the most renowned achievements made by DEWA are focused on its customer service excellence where it managed to show flawless responsiveness and cover all the requests of the customers, as well as the innovation department that is tirelessly seeking out new technologies that would help the organisation boost its capacity (“DEWA – customer service department of the year,” 2017; DEWA adopts Microsoft HoloLens technology to enhance electricity and water services in Dubai,” 2017).
Since the United Arab Emirates has a very successful and intense history of business and economic advancement, many of its influential and well-known contemporary organisations were founded just about a decade or two ago; some went a further way and grew over many decades. Dubai Electricity and Water Authority is an organisation with an interesting and lengthy history that is longer than that of many other successful modern organisations of Dubai.
The corporation was founded in winter of 1992, which is only 25 years ago. The main founder of the corporation is Sheikh Maktoum bin Rashid Al Maktoum, a leader with a strong vision of how the organisation should function and develop in the future.
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In fact, Sheikh Maktoum bin Rashid Al Maktoum was the initiator of the two organisations that were merged and taken over by Dubai Electricity and Water Authority, they appeared in 1959; however, it was The major purpose with which DEWA was formed was to unite two independently operating organisations – Dubai Water Department and Dubai Electric Company. This merger helped to consolidate, centralise, and organise the processes and operations required for the effective provision of electric energy in the Emirate of Dubai, as well as manage its water supply.
Over the 25 years of its existence, the organisation has undergone a wide range of changes in culture, approaches to practice, and activities that it fulfils. DEWA has significantly expanded its influence in Dubai, took over many new practices, and changed its structure and operations, adjusted its communications, and eventually defeated all of its competitors, thus becoming the only supplier of water and electricity in the Emirate of Dubai. In addition, becoming stronger and more influential, the organisation started to feel the need to expand its staff and hire more people. As a result, communication between different parts, branches, departments, and offices of DEWA needed to be accomplished in a more successful manner that would take less time and allow the company to cater to a larger base of customers.
These days, DEWA has a large staff and employs about 8000 workers dedicated to the management of as many as 880 kilometres mains for the transmission of water that has different diameters that vary from 900 to 1200 mm (“Dubai Electricity and Water Authority adopts advanced gis-centric modelling technology,” 2017). Moreover, the combined capacity of the corporation’s mains and pipes is 300MIG.
Working in the areas as large and active as Dubai, DEWA has to improve and better itself constantly because the demands of the region grow all the time; for example, the overall consumption of water in the area grew significantly over the last ten years. To be more precise, in 2007, DEWA supplied 72,588 million gallons of water to the residents and businesses of Dubai, and next year, the total consumption level grew to 83,397 million gallons (“Dubai Electricity and Water Authority adopt advanced gis-centric modelling technology,” 2017).
One of the main goals on which the corporation is working is the adoption of clean sources of energy for the area. DEWA has made a wide range of important achievements in this regard, as well as in terms of improving its customer service. Currently, DEWA is recognised as one of the most successful and producing infrastructure organisations and utilities in the world (“Our history,” 2017). The approximate customer base of Dubai Electricity and Water Authority today equals as many as 780 000 people; and the overall rate of customer satisfaction and happiness with the services of the Authority is 95% (“Our history,” 2017).
Moreover, working on its major tasks and fulfilling its duties, DEWA has achieved the level of excellence that helped it surpass some of its influential global competitors of the United States and the European Union. To be more precise, DEWA managed to cut its losses in such networks as power transmission and distribution to 3.3% (accordingly, the same statistics for American and European utilities showed the reduction to 6-7% which is quite close to the success of DEWA) (“Our history,” 2017).
Also, DEWA’s results in the reduction of losses in water networks also qualify as some of the best worldwide with 8% rate total (North America managed to make cuts that equalled 15%) (“Our history,” 2017). Moreover, in terms of customer service, DEWA has made some significant and noteworthy improvements. In particular, in regard to the customer minutes lost annually, DEWA’s results showed only 3.28 minutes while the same losses reported by some of the leading infrastructure companies in the European Union equalled about 15 minutes (“Our history,” 2017).
All of these admirable results point to the successful development and active improvement of the organisation under review that was made possible due to its timely adoption of the latest IT technologies, and their successful integration into the working process, operations, and systems carried out on a daily basis.
When it comes to the ways in which information technology can impact organisations and their performance, it is, first of all, important to point out that the IT tends to alter the core ways in which people receive, store, and process information; and in that way, the entire communication system, as well as its media, speed, and effectiveness start to change (Saifullah, 2013). Since communications represent one of the major systems driving the performance of an organisation, the changes that it undergoes tend to impact the entire company.
To be more precise, due to the transformation of the ways in which people communicate with one another within the organisation, its structure begins to change accordingly. Practically, when communication is achieved quickly and successfully, the additional links in the chain of communication become unneeded. Specifically, when a manager is able to send a memo to the entire department of workers, there no longer is a need for him or her to outsource this task for their assistants or other supervisors. Consequently, this change leads to the flattening of the organisational hierarchy that starts to have fewer levels due to the easier communication between their representatives.
Hierarchy and Centralisation
In the company such as Dubai Electricity and Water Authority that is initially divided into two major parts following the nature of its activities, it is very important to establish a clear and simple hierarchy that would prevent the time-consuming duplication of tasks and duties that causes chaos and confusion in the executive and bottom levels of management.
However, the actual chart of the organisational hierarchy that can be found on the official website of DEWA depicts a wide variety of departments and levels of power. In particular, at the very top of DEWA’s chart, there is the corporation’s MD and CEO, below are several groups of top executives and other authorities that are subdivided into the following groups and positions: CLA (Chief Legal Assistant) – legal affairs, VP (Vice President) – marketing and corporative communication, as well as internal audit, EVP (Executive Vice President) – strategy and business development, CFO (Chief Financial Officer) – finance, and technical advisors (“Organisation chart,” 2017).
After this level, there goes the division into departments and branches that include as many as eight different parts such as power and water planning, power and water generation, the transmission of power, distribution of power, customer happiness, water and civil, business support and human resources, innovation and the future (“Organisation chart,” 2017). It is important to notice that the chart provides information that all of these departments answer to Executive Vice President. In turn, each of these eight departments has multiple other subdivisions; for instance, the power and water generation department has as many as nine different parts that answer to different leaders (“Organisation chart,” 2017).
To be more precise, the administration of security and fire answers to an SM (Senior Manager), while production planning and mechanical maintenance are the parts controlled by the VP (“Organisation chart,” 2017). The same dynamics are happening in other departments. This kind of hierarchy is very complex, and it is difficult to understand which leader is in charge of which branches and tasks.
This hierarchy is very vertical which means that the significant technological advancement that Dubai Electricity and Water Authority has undergone throughout the last couple of decades did not affect the organisation’s structure and did not help to flatten its hierarchy. It must be very difficult for the company with so many responsibilities and tasks to operate relying on such complicated hierarchy with multiple levels of leadership, power, and intersecting spheres.
However, based on the exceptional efficiency and success of the corporation, it is possible to make a conclusion that leaders of DEWA managed to find a way to work around this problem and keep the vertical hierarchy without having to flatten it and without facing challenges due to the structure of the organisation. Also, it looks like the decentralisation of DEWA did not spread too far, thus making the organisation slightly more decentralised than an authoritative company with a sole leader by still keeping a great amount of centralisation for the establishment of control over its multiple departments and branches.
Similarly to the other large infrastructure and utility organisations worldwide, at some point in its recent history, Dubai Electricity and Water Authority faced the problem of storing and processing of information. In particular, prior to the rapid development of the IT and its penetration in the business sector, the information and data of all organisations used to be stored in hard copies which called for the additional space and time management since the physical data storages had to be maintained and organised. Also, it took time to find and access the required files, look through them, send them to another department for analysis or processing them for a report.
Today, due to the use of information technologies, DEWA was able to create what is known as Data Hub that is constantly expanding and impacting other organisations as an example for the innovative data management, as well as an excellent technology helping a large corporation with diverse tasks and duties to prevent confusion and enable all the employees with timely access to the information they need for work.
In fact, realising that information technologies are one of the main assets of the organisation, the leaders of DEWA tend to improve the technologies they use for data management. Specifically, not so long ago, DEWA has signed memoranda of understanding with several IT organisations such as Microsoft and SAP for the purpose of cooperating in the future (“DEWA’s MORO signs MoU with SAP to provide innovative data storage & cloud computing services,” 2017; “DEWA signs MoU with Microsoft,” 2016).
In particular, one of the important new technologies adopted by DEWA recently is Microsoft HoloLens – a product that allows the recreation of 3D models and presentations in confined spaces and, basically, helps apply theoretical projects and plans to the physical environments through a form of augmented reality that allows the viewers combine the present state of things with the desired or planned constructions (“DEWA adopts Microsoft HoloLens technology to enhance electricity and water services in Dubai,” 2017).
As it was previously mentioned in the organisation description section, Dubai Electricity and Water Authority have excellent results when it comes to customer service. In particular, the customer minutes loss has been reduced to a minimum and now the result is much better than the statistics presented by the leading utility organisations in Europe. In addition, DEWA’s customer happiness department is proud of responding to and resolving 100% of all the customer requests sent to the organisation within a year (“DEWA – customer service department of the year,” 2017).
This exceptional level of excellence was achieved due to the adoption of new software and hardware allowing the company to stay more interactive and responsive, inform its customers about all the changes and answer to their claims and questions as soon as they arise. The active use of smart services promoted by the organisation has proved to produce a powerful positive impact on the level of customer satisfaction and happiness (Wam, 2017). In fact, the Smart Centre of the organisation operates as a part of its customer happiness department, and it focuses specifically on the implementation of innovative changes that are directed at the improvement of customer experience on a daily basis.
As mentioned by Saifullah (2013), the evaluation of the exact impact produced by information technologies on various elements of an organisation is a difficult task due to its flowing and ever-changing nature. At the same time, Brodar, Calopa and Pihir (2009) pointed out that the mere fact of the adoption of information technologies by an organisation means that certain changes and adjustments of the organisation’s contextual and structural dimensions will occur as the consequences.
This tendency persists because organisations are dynamic and all of their elements are in constant and ongoing interaction with one another; as a result, changes in one of the elements will cause the adjustment of all the related ones.
In that way, DEWA has walked a long way from being a merger of two different organisations with two different types of responsibilities and purposes to transforming into the only supplier of water in the Emirate of Dubai, saving to close to 800 000 consumers and creating one of the largest power plants in the region. The organisation’s strong orientation at innovations and technologies has played an important role in this transformation.
Due to its information technologies, DEWA became the number one customer service provider of the year managing to cover 100% of tall the requests from its numerous consumers, showing excellent responsiveness to its latest customer service software and smart services that proved to enhance customer happiness significantly.
Additionally, DEWA operates a large amount of data daily, and its Data Hub is a helpful and creative way out of data management situations that usually occur in large customer service organisations.
Finally, one of the structural aspects of DEWA that does not seem to have been impacted by the IT is its hierarchy that still remains predominantly vertical with many decision-makers and overlapping spheres of expertise.
Brodar, K., Calopa, K., & Pihir, I. (2009). Impact of ICT on the structural and contextual organizational elements: Case study of the Varazdin County. Journal of Information and Organizational Sciences, 33(2), 243-254.
DEWA – customer service department of the year. (2017). Web.
DEWA signs MoU with Microsoft. (2016). Web.
Organisation chart. (2017). Web.
Our history. (2017). Web.
Saifullah, M. (2013). Impact of IT on organization’s performance. Web.
Wam. (2017). DEWA’s Smart Centre boosts smart services adoption rate. Web.