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With over 300,000 people world wide, AT&T is truly a global Fortune 500 company with a significant presence in the communication industry. With impressive growth, executives and managers need to develop a strategy that allows AT&T to connect with their customers and manage the contributing factors to their success.
As stated in the AT&T Annual Report (2007), “AT&T was able to increase their annual income by 98.3%.” This amazing growth occurred in all sectors of their revenue stream and made 2007 a historic year financially for AT&T. AT&T Chairman, CEO and President, Mr. Randall Stephenson also states in the annual report (2007, p. 8) “there is one word that best describes what AT&T does and it is connected.” A simple vision that clearly describes what AT&T does for their customers to drive growth in their organization.
In order for a company to succeed in today’s market, the product appeal to a global audience is imperative. Although AT&T did not begin as a business that offered products and services globally, AT&T’s network now includes 38 internet data centers on four continents across the globe (AT&T, 2008). AT&T offers a variety of communication products and services that appeal to individuals and companies. The demand for these types of products and services is on the rise, especially within major corporations. Given this demand, AT&T has developed and maintained an advanced and powerful communications network. AT&T is an industry leader of communication services, which serves millions of individuals and businesses on six continents (AT&T, 2008).
The economy is an external factor that influences how AT&T manages rapid change. For example, with home foreclosures at a record high, the demand for landline telephone service is decreasing. Meanwhile the demand for wireless service is increasing. AT&T continues to focus on advancing wireless products (AT&T, Vonage, 2008). AT&T has acquired many smaller wireless providers, which allows them to become the top provider of wireless services in the United States. Cingular wireless is one of the wireless companies that AT&T bought out. After the purchase of Cingular wireless, AT&T began, promoting the “new” AT&T, the one-stop shop for all kinds of communications and entertainment services (Goodbye Cingular, 2007).
As early as 1885, AT&T began providing telephone service in the United States. To see the vast growth in their technology over the past 100 years is amazing. The service initially started with one-line calls or the ability for only one person to make a telephone call at a time and it now services over 70 million customers. The costs have decreased significantly over the decades as well. In 1892, a long distance phone call from New York to Chicago would cost about $9 for the first five minutes; rather expensive for that period in time.
Today, AT&T has grown to be the world’s largest communications carrier and provides services for a broad spectrum of customers from residential to commercial, like the Fortune 1000 companies. Other than the typical local and long distance voice services for the residential customer, AT&T also provides high speed internet access, home networking, Wi-Fi, and wireless voice and data services. According to AT&T’s website (2008), they provide businesses with “access to one of the world’s most advanced IP networks.” AT&T provides the corporate community with technologies, such as, Voice over IP (VoIP), enterprise mobility solutions and Virtual Private Network (VPN) connections.
To keep up with today’s vastly growing field of technology, AT&T (2008) “…recently switched on the nation’s first coast-to-coast IP/MPLS network…” In the United States alone, AT&T’s wired network encompasses 61.6 million access lines and has 14.2 million high speed internet subscribers. In 2008, AT&T plans to expand their current 64,000 Wi-Fi hot spots to more than 70,000 locations also launch more of their multi-screen services.
AT&T embraces technological innovation to convert ideas rapidly into useful products and services. AT&T’s management and planning functions focus on the company and its customers while applying principles of sound, responsible and forward-looking stewardship to the needs of society. Today, AT&T is rethinking management functions and planning in terms of the Internet and new culture and capabilities. E-business (electronic business), derived from such terms as “e-mail” and “e-commerce,” is the conduct of business on the Internet, not only buying and selling but also servicing customers and collaborating with business partners.
E-business allows AT&T and other companies to use the Web to buy parts and supplies from other companies, to collaborate on sales promotions, and to participate in joint research. AT&T’s involvement with technology innovation such as e-business influences a range of criteria, including customer relationship performance, sales-based outcomes, and a general measure of organizational performance. The moderating role of AT&T’s management team’s involvement suggests that management “championing” the initiatives is crucial for successful results of the e-business market tendencies and new business development possibilities (AT&T, 2008).
Alexander Graham Bell made the first telephone call to Watson about 150 years ago. One century ago, there were 10,000 telephone companies battling for their share in the voice communication market. AT&T battling in the communications market, realized in order to continue innovation, a sustained research and development component was needed. Early in 1925, AT&T determined they could not do this alone and made a series of strategic acquisitions and uniform standards. In the late 20th century, AT&T acquired Bell Labs that focused on computers, information and communications science.
According to AT&T (2008), “Recognized as a pioneer in the IT revolution of the late 1990s, direction of innovation at AT&T Labs influences not only the ways we live and work today but our lives and the workplace of the future. With these guiding principles, our work in development, creativity and innovation lead to improved social, economic and environmental opportunities for AT&T communities.” (¶13)AT&T has made significant innovative contributions to the history of American business and global technology. Listed are a few of these accomplishments including:High-fidelity recording (1925), First TV transmission (1927), Trans-Atlantic radiotelephone (1929), Radio astronomy (1933), The transistor (1937), The first computer (1939), The laser (1960), Optical fiber communication (1977), Cellular technology (1983), Speech recognition and synthesis (1992), Voice over IP technology (1995), Quantum computing (1999), Internet Project predictive and proactive network security (2005) (AT&T, 2008).
AT&T noted on their website (2008), “Despite its pioneering efforts in other areas of the company, including diversity, customer service and human resources, AT&T’s reputation for innovation remains closely tethered to AT&T Labs.”(¶ 4)AT&T realizes that diverse, talented and dedicated people is key to the company’s success. In fostering diversity and inclusion, AT&T has created a better business environment, one that makes the company an employer of choice, a preferred business partner and important contributor to the community. The company’s philosophy is to provide employees with continued opportunities to grow and develop their careers.
Management is charged with successful implementation of various diversity initiatives as part of this philosophy. AT&T leaders are expected to understand the importance of cultural competency. To support this principle, AT&T provides career development initiatives. AT&T’s commitment to diversity remains a top priority for the company. AT&T’s diverse workforce is an asset to the company and a result of its commitment to recruit and hire the very best talent. AT&T currently conducts business in more than 150 languages and advertises in top languages in selected states. AT&T leaders and employees practice respect for differences in their daily interactions. By understanding the various regions served, AT&T management is better positioned to plan for and meet the unique needs of customer’s wherever it does business (AT&T, 2008).
With over 300,000 working for AT&T ensuring ethical behavior is very important. Ethics and Governance are the standards in which the company, including all employees, must adhere to in all aspects of conducting business internally and externally. AT&T has adopted a simple statement “Do what is right” as their motto for ethical conduct by all employees and directors. (Governance, 2003-2008)AT&T has four guiding principles stated in their Code of Ethics and Guiding Principles manual on how to treat customers, investors and employees. Those principles are; Talk straight and Follow Through, Lead by Example, Work Together, and Deliver our Future.
These four statements are the fabric to AT&T’s principles and make it clear as to what is expected when working for or dealing with AT&T. In today’s environment, ethics have become a serious issue. Directors and managers, as well as employees, are becoming more liable with respect to moral decisions they make at work. Enron is an example of how deceit by a few individuals caused such a ripple effect on the finances of many. Companies like AT&T need to touch the moral being of each employee to ensure its customers, shareholders and all parties vested in them are not affected by one’s poor judgment.
In concluding, with this impressive growth, executives and managers needed to develop a strategy that allowed AT&T to connect with their customers and manage the contributing factors to their success. Through innovation and diversity, AT&T has grown from a company that started with one-line calling to a multi-million conglomerate, servicing millions of customers around the globe. In keeping up with technology and continuing to implement new corporate strategies, AT&T will continue to grow both financially and globally. AT&T will continue to be a leader in their field for many years to come.
AT&T Inc., (2008), All about AT&T Company, Retrieved April 8, 2008, from att.comAT&T Inc. (2007) Annual Report, p. 8, 29.
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Goodbye Cingular, hello again AT&T; AT&T’s acquisition of Bell South began process. (2007, May 21). The New York Times, Grand Rapids Press, Grand Rapids, MI, Retrieved April 9, 2008, from ProQuest database, University Library,