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Careers: Business/Information Technology


How will you create an impact of Information Technology in your organization and do international business?

Information technology (IT) is dramatically changing the business landscape. Although organization cultures and business strategies shape the use of IT in organizations, more often the influence is stronger the other way round. IT significantly affects strategic options and creates opportunities and issues that managers need to address in many aspects of their business. This page outlines some of the key impacts of technology and the implications for management on:

Business strategy - collapsing time and distance, enabling electronic commerce
Organization Culture - encouraging the free flow of information
Organization Structures - making networking and virtual corporations a reality
Management Processes - providing support for complex decision making processes
Work - dramatically changing the nature of professional, and now managerial work
The workplace - allowing work from home and on the move, as in telework
There is also the outline of an executive presentation, that has been used to increase awareness of these issues.

The Impacts
Business Strategy
IT creates new opportunities for innovation in products and services. Services which used to be delivered in person can now be delivered over networks. Among the key levers are:

resequencing: including parallel processing of data-bases
simultaneity: making information instantly available in several systems (e.g via OLE)
time extension: offering 24 hour a day; 365 days a year service
portability: taking service and products closer to the user
reusability: using information captured for one purpose (e.g. transactions), and using for others (e.g. customer targeting)
Organization Culture
Newer types of IT such as electronic mail and groupware are creating significant changes in the way that information flows around group ware, and between them and their customers and suppliers. It can hasten the development of more open and innovative cultures. However, as experts like Davenport warns, and surveys from companies like Reuters confirm, the notion that "information is power" still reigns large in many orggroup warelso, our experience shows that many new systems fail to become accepted by their users, because the systems developers have not been culturally sensitive to the department or group ware, in which the new systems are to be used.

Organization Structures
For many years it has been argued that IT will enable larger spans of control and the flattening of group ware. This has at last happened, but due as much to initiatives like BPR (business process reengineering) and the drive to cut costs. Research on whether IT encourages cencentralization decdecentralizations produced ambivalent results. Many companies have cencentralizedckroom operations (for efficiency) while at the same time decdecentralizingher activities. It now seems clear that IT enables a greater variety of structures. In particular it enables more flexible and fluid structures - networked structures, dispersed team and teams that come and go as needs change (as in the virtual corporation).

Management Processes
IT is rapidly entering the era where it supports unstructured management processes as well as highly routinized business processes . It provides more effective ways of accessing information from multiple sources, including use of external information on databases and the Internet. However, group decision support systems that operate in a meeting room environment can help enhance decision making, but it does need someone who is an expert facilitator to help the group master the technique of structured discussion.

IT is dramatically changing the nature of professional work. There are few offices where professional do not make use of personal computers, and in many jobs involving extensive information and knowledge based work, the use of the computer is often a core activity. Becoming effective not only requires traditional skills of organizing, thinking, writing etc., but knowing how best to use the power of IT for researching sources, accessing information, connecting to experts, communicating ideas and results, and packaging the knowledge (asset) for reuse. One aspect of this is the need for hybrid managers - people who are competent at both their discipline and IT.

The Workplace
The way in which IT diminishes the effect of distance means that it creates a variety of options for reorganizing the workplace. At a basic level, it can provide more flexibility in the office, allowing desk sharing and a degree of location independence within a building (this will develop as CTI (Computer Telephony Integration) and wireless PCs become more firmly established. At another level it permits the dispersion of work teams, thus saving costs of relocation and travel. It has also created the mobile professional and also allows people to work effectively from home.

Implications for Management
These IT impacts have implications for managers of all organizational functions, and not just MIS managers. Among the most important are:

Understanding the Changing Context of IT - as well as the direct impact on their business managers need to be able to see these developments in the context of the wider environment in which their business operates.

Keeping abreast of Developments - not about the details of the technologies, but about the business impacts; for example by meeting suppliers business consultant's, attending conferences, or receiving customized presentations from independent analysts.

Integrating IT and Business Planning - the IT strategy should support the business strategy and vice versa. This may need new planning processes, hybrid teams, and a increased incorporation of the levers into business plans.

Addressing Culture Issues - the dimensions of existing and desired culture need to be understood and how proposed systems will affect them. In particular attention needs to be paid to the organization's information culture

Experimenting with new Structures - using IT to remove some of the limitations of hierarchy and to encourage the development of innovative teams, using experts located in different functions and places. Managing dispersed teams is challenging but rewarding.

Ensuring that new systems are customized change proof - our studies have shown many new systems to be developed around existing customized structures and responsibilities. Since these change very rapidly, new systems should be built with orgacustomizedxibility and change in mind.

Developing New Skills - more of tomorrow's managers will need to become hybrid managers, combining the knowledge and skills of general management, their own discipline and IT.

Using IT as a management tool - initiating personal use of IT into every day work. This should include use of decision support tools, groupware, knowledge management solutions and exploiting the Internet.

Exploiting Information as a Strategic Asset - using the techniques of Information Resources Management to develop it as a valuable resource for internal use, for adding value to customer activities or services, or for creating saleable products.

Introducing Knowledge Management and Innovation - going beyond information to developing networks of knowledge experts who evolve the organization's knowledge assets to create extra capabilities and value.

Reorganizing the Workplace - by introducing flexible working and telework. The business benefits of this in terms of productivity and cost savings are such that there are many personal benefits to be achieved by a successful implementation.

Information technology systems are used by organizations to perform various tasks. Some use IT to provide for the basic processing of transactions, while others enable customers, distributors and suppliers to interact with the organization through various communication technology systems such as the internet.
The term ‘’information technology systems in an organization ‘’ is composed of four distinct parts which include: an organization, information in an organization, and information technology and information technology systems in an organization.  Below I have listed some of the impacts of information technology in an organization.

Flow of Information:  Information is a key resource for all organizations. What information describes might be internal, external, objective or subjective.  External information describes the environment surrounding the organization. Objective information describes something that is known. Subjective information describes something that is currently unknown. With information technology the flow of all these three types of information is made simple buy use of centralized data centers where all this data can be retrieved.  Information in an organization can flow in four direction and these include upward flow of information, downward flow of information, outward flow of information and horizontal flow of information.

Transaction processing:  Information technology simplifies the transaction process of an organization. A transaction process system (TPS) is a system that processes transactions that occur within an organization.  At the heart of every organization are IT systems whose main role is to capture transaction information, create new information based on the transaction information.  TPS will update any transaction process and store that information in a database, so any concerned party in the organization can access that information via a centralized information storage network of internet.

Decision support:  A decision support system (DSS) is a highly flexible and interactive IT system that is designed to support decision making when the problem is not structured.  A DSS works together with an artificial intelligence system to help the worker create information through (OLAP) online analytical process to facilitate decision making tasks that require significant effort and analysis.

Workgroup support: Since information technology facilitates in the creating an information sharing environment, workers can easily consult each other across different department without any interruption. They can use emails, text chatting services to inquire some thing related to a given task at work. With work group support systems, group decision making becomes easier.

Executive support:  An executive information system (EIS)  is an interactive management information system (MIS) combined with decision support systems and artificial intelligence for helping managers identify and address problems and opportunities. An EIS allows managers to view information from different angles. Yet it also provides managers with the flexibility to easily create more views to better understand the problem or opportunity at hand.

Data Management:  With the help of database software, an organization stores all its relevant data on a database. This infrastructure can be designed when it is internal or external.  An internal centralized system can only be accessed with in the organization while an external centralized system allows data to be accessed out side the organization using a remote (IP) internet protocol Address or a domain name. In this case, employees or managers can use a company website to access relevant company data by use of passwords. This data is not exposed to the public and search engines.

Communication: Information technology accounts in the development of communication technology. Services like electronic mail make communication within and outside the organization easy and first. Now days email communication is a default communication technology used by every organization. Communication is a great tool in business develops, with advanced communication tools, employees and managers can easily make beneficial decisions in the organization.  

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Leo Lingham


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