A Study On The Effect Of Virtual Teams On Competitive Advantage, A Case Of International Business Machines (IBM) In Airtel Africa Project

Virtual teams are quickly becoming a standard organization structure as more and more organizations globally are investing heavily in their systems, processes and people to create an environment that effectively supports virtuality. The question that remains unanswered is that despite these investments in virtual teams, has it enhanced competitive advantage. The purpose of this study was to evaluate the effect of virtual teams on competitive advantage in an organization, with a case of IBM – Airtel Africa Project. The project develops, installs and implements services, software and hardware across 16 countries for Airtel in Africa. This study utilized a sample of 118 out of a population of 175 to complete the study on the evaluation of virtual teams on competitive advantage. The instrument used in the study was a questionnaire which contained open ended and closed-ended questions which were previously pilot-tested with 3 other reviewers to establish content validity. Questionnaires were sent out and feedback received through soft and hard copies, and all responses remained confidential. Descriptive statistics were used to analyze the data. From the findings of this study it is evident that virtual information systems can be used to identify and create new products and services and to develop new markets or radically change products based on the demanding nature of the current markets. Organizations can also work on new initiatives of establishing pure online operations through implementation of virtual environments. Virtual systems also provide better capabilities and opportunities for innovation and plenty of opportunities to collaborate with customers, external partners and internal people. How a company uses information technology can affect each of the five competitive forces and can create the need and opportunity for change. The study shows that virtual teams represent a growing response to the need for fast time-to-market, low-cost and rapid solutions to customer needs. Virtual teams enable organizations to pool the talents and expertise of employees and non-employees by eliminating time and space barriers. Implementing a virtual workforce is also becoming a broader strategic option for reducing operating and real estate expenses associated with moving employees out of offices or facilities and removing commuting reimbursements are tangible and easily accountable savings. Evidently virtual processes can be used to build cost advantage through e-marketing, collaboration, organization learning and reduction in travelling expenses. Improved virtual processes offer companies a highly sustainable competitive advantage by allowing firms to improve quality and productivity, lowering costs and freeing up resources to focus on innovation and adding value. It can be recommended that companies should invest in information systems as these systems have an effect on competitive advantage. They can be used to create new products and services and to develop new markets or radically change products based on the demanding nature of the current markets. Organizations can also work on new initiatives of establishing pure online operations through implementation of virtual environments thereby creating new markets and reducing costs incurred through physical existence. Virtual workforce enables organizations to pool the talents and expertise of employees and non-employees by eliminating time and space barriers. Virtual workforce improves the outcomes that lead to competitive advantage; the improved income includes use of fewer resources, achievement of objectives, positive economic returns, reduced product development time, enhanced customization and enhanced variety. Virtual processes can be used to build cost advantage through e-marketing, collaboration, organization learning and reduction in travelling expenses. Improved virtual processes offer companies a highly sustainable competitive advantage by allowing firms to improve quality and productivity, lowering costs and freeing up resources to focus on innovation and adding value.