Management Information Systems in Indian Railways – A Case Study

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Management Information Systems (IS) is an inter-disciplinary area bridging the business perspective and the well-defined computer science field (popularly referred to as information technology, although there is a difference in the strict sense) that has been steadily evolving since it was coined in the 1960s. The management information systems discipline therefore is supported by the theoretical foundations of management science, information theories, technology, decision support systems, economics, sociology, consumer behaviour and information technology. Scholars perusing the discipline have the unique opportunity to explore the dimensions of various business models as well as related algorithmic processes and their complexities extended from the computer science discipline. Typically, information systems include business procedures or even processes, people, data, information flows, software, and hardware that are used to gather and analyze digital information. Can you comprehend the levels of complications in such a situation? Specifically Information Systems are the intersection that people and organizations use to collect, filter, process, create, & distribute data (computing) through its business processes, and implemented by its human capital, to address such challenges.

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Today, all major firms and organizations are heavily dependent on Information Systems and the Indian Railways (IRCTC) is no way different in that. However, what is different is the way information systems is being used by the Indian Railways to service the billions of users across the Indian sub-continent. This case study provides an unique overview of the way information systems have been used by the Indian Railways to service the multitude of users in a G2C centric service. It is indeed refreshin to know that in such a huge public sector, driven by billions of transactions, information systems have really paved the way for organizational changes and efficiency of information usage. And trust me, it is not an easy task.

Railways were first introduced to India in 1853 from Bombay to Thane. Today, Indian Railways is the fourth largest travel network in the world. It has actually earned an whooping Rs.104,278.79 crore which consists of Rs. 69,675.97 crore from the freight logistics and Rs. 28,645.52 crore from the passengers tickets. With over 1.4 million employees, it is the eighth largest employer in the world. Sounds astounding to be true? Its website IRCTC is the LARGEST E-COMMERCE SITE in India. That is not without reason. In fact people have major problems trying to log in during peak hours since over 30,000 people may be trying to access the resources at the same concurrent time. Recently, the website recorded an average of 4.47 lakh e-tickets per day.

This report gives detailed information about the IT infrastructure in Indian Railways. Indian Railways uses Information Technology for many important operations including Timetable information, Reservation and Ticket Booking, Passenger Information, Current status of the trains, Route maps etc. The Information Systems of Railways are managed by Centre for Railway Information Systems (CRIS). CRIS was established in the year 1986 by Ministry of Railways under the Government of India, with a major focus to provide consulting and IT services to Indian Railways. The role of CRIS is briefly discussed here. This report covers the effects of Information Technology on Indian Railways. Role of IT in ensuring safe and secure journey is also discussed in the later part of the report. Various problems associated with the existing IT infrastructure along with potential solutions are discussed in detail.

About the author: “Dr. Arpan Kar” is a Professor of Indian Institute of Technology Delhi. He has earlier taught in Indian Institute of Management Rohtak. Prior to joining academics, he has worked in Cognizant Business Consulting and IBM Research. He has multiple publications in the domain of e-commerce, e-procurement, decision support systems, m-commerce, internet marketing, cloud computing and e-governance. He is the editor of Business Fundas, one of the top knowledge portals in technology and business management.

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