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Over the past decade, the growth of information system has been tremendous. However, business organisations need to be cautious in adopting any form of technology so as to reap the benefits. They have to carefully study and decide which one is appropriate for an organisation to use. Thereby, enable any organisation to achieve its goal.
Currently information systems are essential in any organisation unlike decades before. There are different types of information systems. Any company should have a clear understanding on the appropriate ones for the specific usage. Thereby, essential to have information technology experts or managers who will advice the company on what systems to use to be able to minimise costs and add value to a business organisation.
More so, managers and staff would know how to accept the changes brought about by the information systems positively to enable them to work properly towards achieving the pre determined goals.
The article gives an explanation as to what information system entails as pertaining to a business organisation or company and how it should be used hand in hand with the strategic planning to ensure the smooth running of any organisation and its success. It further entails and gives example of two companies and how they operate with regards to information systems and the strategic plans of a business.
It is only limited to the technological aspect and the foreseen targets for the operation efficiency of an organisation, it does not incorporate other factors that enhance efficient management. Only two companies found in the UK were used to show case the study at hand.
The article entails an evaluatory research of information systems and the strategic planning of two companies; Company A and Company B.Thereby, giving a basis of how the companies should use the two concurrently. It is also descriptive in the sense that it gives a clear picture on the application of eight tenets.
The research in the article is interpretative in the sense that it the reader enlightens the reader on what is needed or expected to ensure efficiency on the management of information systems alongside with the strategic plans of the organisation.
IMPORTANCE OF THE STUDY
Strategic planning is a tool used in any business organisation to show where the organisation wants to be or achieve in future. Most strategies are either short term or long term depending on the organisation itself.
However, the business world is not as it used to be due to the technological changes and advancements. In some business organisations, departments have been done away with while others have newly emerged due to computerisation. Customers are able to deal with suppliers or producers directly thus eliminating the use intermediaries as was before. Furthermore; the internet has greatly changed the business scene.
It is apparent that any organisation has to do modifications so as to keep up with the ever-changing and rising demand for technology. An organisation has to be abreast with its information system so that it can know its existing competitors in the current business situation. Basically, have an overview of the current situational needs and changes of an organisation resulting into identifying the strengths and weaknesses both internally and externally and if need be correct to ensure maximum success.
The article clearly emphasizes on the need of both information system and strategic planning for the operational efficiency. It clearly shows the difficulties of managing the former since planning is systematic whilst technology is not. Some companies incorporate the two differently and are still successful while others do not. All this depends on the type, size and location of the business organisation.
Much as both information system and strategic planning are instilled, an organisation needs to exploit the opportunities and threats to ensure its survival and success. This study is meant to provide a framework for the use of information systems in an organisation such that it will enhance effectiveness and efficiency.
In view of this, good operational efficiency does not only entail strategic planning but also involves other factors like effective management as well, so as to enhance the success of any organisation. Other factors that need to be considered to ensure the smooth running of any organisation include good employer/employee relationship, good communication among staff and so on.
DEGREE OF CONTRIBUTION AND ORIGINALITY
In the 80's and 90's, as a result of infrastructure development of organizational capabilities there has become a necessity to expand the concept of information systems which have strategic importance in any business organisation. Later, with the expansion of efficacy of any type of computer system led to the strategic planning of information systems to become an important issue. The priorities in a plan of the development of systems need to be identified into specific projects planned for the future. For any company, it is very important to have a business plan in the capacity of a flexible and constant development of organizational capabilities which leads not only to profit and expansion of the company, but also it is one of the foundations of stable competitive advantage.
Various authors who have made a big contribution into the development of Strategic Information Systems Planning such as John Ward, Joe Peppard, Martin J., Earl MJ, and George Philip. Moreover, an important contribution in this area has been made by authors or researchers such as Samandra Pant and Cheng Hsu. They presented their work on an international conference, which was a prerequisite for the large development Strategic Information Systems Planning.
Consequently, a set of different theoretical and practical researches are seen. If a parallel is drawn between the two researches, most of the fore mentioned authors rely on the theoretical basis. However, among the listed authors only George Philip uses an academic theory in practice. The importance of his work lies in the fact that he is trying to reduce the distance between the theoretical approach to business processes and application to the two companies. George Philip has made research based on related literature on Strategic Information Systems Planning thus on basis of eight tenets by showing an example of two companies in the different areas of development.
In analyzing the article it can be said that the level of the research was evaluated to give a clear meaning on the usage of information systems and strategic planning concurrently. The generated work by the author shows that there was summarization of the related sources in the area and created a new direction for any business organisation to forge ahead in the ever-changing technological world. While it is very difficult to describe that the approach is original it still creates a good overview of the information and creates awareness that in information systems more or new research has to be done always to keep up with the changes in business scene to match up with technology.
As seen 8 tenets were used to show the utilization of both the strategic plans and information systems for the success of any business organisation. The researcher tries to create a perfect model of business development on how any business organisation can be successful by use of the tenets. However, any business organisation can still be successful without following the models. Various methodologies have been put forward towards the rationale of strategic planning and information systems. Thereby, any business organisation can choose any methodology to develop their business based on their capabilities and targets.
The use of eight tenets and methodologies used is a clear indication of a grounded theory whereby the underlying belief is that the data holds the clue to the explanation. In this case, the eight tenets and that the explanations are meaningful to those whose actions are being studied. (Denscombe, 2003, pg124).
This is not appropriate because little scope is given to other factors that also affect the performance of a business organisation like the economic factors and social factors.
RESEARCH METHODS ADOPTED
There are two methodologies information systems that is impact and align methodologies (Lee and Gough, 1993; Booth and Philip, 2005). The importance of impact methodology is to achieve competitive advantage through the usage of information technology whilst the main purpose of the align methodologies is to a establish symbiosis relationship between information system strategy and objectives of the business itself. (Reich and Benbasat, 2000).
It is apparent that the most prevailing planning methods are the one that take a top-down business-led approach (Premkumar and King 1994), and are designed to bring about contribution between the information systems strategy and the business strategy. Align methodology includes the exploitation strategy, which generally goes through two main stages:
Top-down analysis for clarifying business needs and identifying Information System requirements.
Bottom-up evaluation of already existing Information System for evaluation their effectiveness.
Impact methodology includes the exploration strategy which aims to provide the strategic or competitive advantage for the business.
The research analysis used in the article was qualitative method. The method, in contrast to the quantitative method which focuses on the statistical measurements, relied on the
understanding, explanation and interpretation of empirical data and the sources of the formation of hypotheses and productive ideas. In simple terms, qualitative method does not respond to the questions of "How much?" "What?" "How?" and "why?". Furthermore, in qualitative method, researches widely use projective and enabling techniques.
By exposing some facts from the article, it is evident to know the applicability of the method of research used. Various authors used for research "case study", "questionnaires"," scientific articles", "text", "observation" , "documents" and thereafter, resulted into 8 tenets for information systems planning, this shows that the qualitative research method was mostly used appropriately in the research of information systems. (Orlikowski and Baroudi, 1991; Alavi and Carlson, 1992).In addition the above said confirmed the following expression that: using the case study, as a problem-solving technique, which is seldom undertaken in organisations since case studies dealing with problems similar to the one experienced by a particular organisation of a particular size and in a particular type of setting are difficult to find. More to that, Secaran (2000) suggested that the data collection methods like personal interviews within various groups in the organisation (primary data), examination of company's reports, data, academic and industry reports (secondary data) were used as an example of the qualitative research methods.
The basis of research was proposed by the two strategies: "exploitation strategy" and "exploration strategy". In the article we have used primary sources (researches); Text and empirical data for interpretation. (http://wire.rutgers.edu/research_assignments_pri_second.html) and secondary sources (researches)-"Research based on the work of others. Literature that interpret or comment upon the primary sources" (http://wire.rutgers.edu/research_assignments_pri_second.html).
There are always two types of validity which are internal validity and external validity. The former of this was an output made by the author after the study, or the result obtained on the basis of the study. In this article, it is seen on the use of two types of strategies and review of 8 tenets for successful information systems planning. The latter refers to generalization. External validity was seen as a conclusion made by the author after the cross comparison of the case study of the two companies. It is not clear enough whether to talk on the internal and external actions of the case, although the primary and secondary sources of data are available. The article does include any new methods. As seen, that the author used a more qualitative methods, with all its attendant properties. Thereby making the study based on the two strategies and the reviewing of eight tenets.
KEY FINDINGS AND IMPLICATIONS
Currently, the world is in the technological era. People and business organisations are using information systems to make life easier. In the article, there are some strategies used to have a very strategic information systems plan and making sure that those companies reach their goal.
The discussion based on the study was on the exploitation and exploration strategies. According to the Galliers, (2001) the company's information systems strategy should employ the two strategies. The exploitation strategy, is mainly focused on how to improve the operational efficiency of a company whilst in exploration strategy, it is usually used to make any business organisation have a competitive advantage. (Philip, 2007)
The case study emphasized the need for operational efficiency in any business organisation. Operational efficiency is when the company uses the right combination of people and technology to enhance the productivity of the business operation while making sure that they are still in the budget. (Ensynch, 2009) Companies must ensure that they have the right technology and people to be efficient in the effective running of any business organisation. However, companies are facing difficulties in obtaining qualified employees who have technological skills and knowledge. They always need to ascertain whether the employees have the right qualifications. (Ensynch, 2009).
It dwelled on the Eight Tenets in having a successful Information system planning in order to be efficient when it comes to the operations of any business organisation. They are as follows: (Philip, 2007)
Developing a Business and Information System Strategy concurrently.
Using Top-Down and Bottom-Up Listening and Communication
Developing a High-Level plan with broad principles, not specific actions.
Should have the support of the Top-Management
Using Opportunistic Methods.
Mandate Proactive Implementation
Build in a Frequent Review Process and Contingency Planning
Information Technology Leaders are technology scouts and interpreters
Developing a business and information system strategy concurrently, is when we ascertain that the business plan and the information system plan go hand in hand. The process involves the entire executive team with the Chief Information Officer.
Communication is one factor that makes the plan successful. Taking to the employees would help them in their planning. The company needs to know what the employees think about a certain situation and also, those employees would help them to generate some ideas to make sure that the plan made would be successful. Getting feedback regarding the performance of the systems is also important so the company would know whether the system is doing fine or not and whether it needs improvement or not.
Making sure that the plan made is high-level enough; meaning the plan should allow some changes when implementing the program without rewriting the whole plan. By doing this, they could focus on making a solution when they overcome a problem rather than making the plan again.
Support from the top management is crucial in having a successful plan. The senior executives must be active and makes sure that they have the correct materials to make the plan. They should also take an immediate action when they faced a problem regarding the plan.
The company should make sure that their plan is put into practice proactively in order to maximize the benefits of the plan. They should make sure that the implemented strategy is to be effective to avoid any problems or inconveniences when the plan is implemented.
Reviewing the plan is also crucial. Normally, the company reviews their plan at least twice a year and managers and information technology personnel usually review the plan. The reviewing of plan help the Chief Information Officer to know if they are still on budget or not. Also, they would know whether the plan is doing great; whether they are reaching their goal or not.
Lastly, the Chief Information Officer should have the knowledge when it comes to the development of the information systems plan. The Chief Information Officer acts like a technology scout in an organization. They should make sure that the technology used incorporates with the mission and vision of the company. The Chief Information Officer should also be aware of the latest technologies in the market. He/she should know the right time of investing a new technology. They should make sure that when they buy a new technology, it still fits within the organisation's budget. The Chief Information Officer should know the business language and the technology language for proper interpretation and usage of both technological and business terms.
Case studies have become extremely widespread in research. When researchers dwell on a case study they look into a set of related ideas and preferences thus when combined give the approach its distinctive character. However they are not unique in the sense that the basis of investing has always been done already. (Denscombe, 2003, pg 31).
The article is clearly a case study on use and applicability of information systems and strategic planning for the operational efficiency of any business organisation. Various authors have put forward their opinions whilst theories written for justification purposes. However, no solid generalisations can be made; in the sense that it would depend on ones advantageous view point of the whole scenario and understanding as pertaining to any business organisation. A manager would chose to adopt whatever benefits the company. There is no exact formula or specific way of managing the two concurrently to achieve the organisation's pre-determined goals. The other issue is that information represented in the case possibly is not fully reliable and accurate. There is always risk that case can contain errors and inaccuracy.
Apparently, the article based the research work on a qualitative approach. However, two methods of approach should have been used, that is the qualitative approach and the quantitative approach, to produce an unbiased end result. In the former, it is always natural for the researcher view not to be eliminated in the process.
The other limitation as clearly seen in the article is whereby only two companies from the UK have been used in the research work. This is not adequate. It should have involved more companies since planning and use of information systems is vital to any organisation. There was also a variation in the way he provided and collected the data in that the companies are internationally based but only sited the UK one. However, different approaches or theories may apply differently to different nationalities due to technological factors, cultural barriers, political barriers and so forth.
Furthermore, the comparison made on the two articles lacked equality. The dates of the research analysis done were different, In company A it was dated 2003 whilst in Company B it was dated 2004.Since the author rated the performance of each companion on the technological basis, it was not appropriate because how a company performs depends also on other factors like inflation rate, the country's fiscal year and perhaps the national income for 2003 may not have been the same as for 2004.
It is logic for plans and the way information systems are handled to change from time to time in the sense of recent information. Information systems and plans of any article also provide recent information to be used but the research obtained dates back 5 years or 6 years or so. The article did not present how all these statements should change in the fast growing and developing business environments thus no exact description of how all this eight tenets can be effective.
More so, the researcher should have used real life current situations to assert his reasoning and conclusions. Other theoretical findings should have been included to give a thorough and more precise understanding of the research at hand.
Other limitations in the researcher's article included the failure to discuss the possible effects that would happen to both companies given the tenets and that Company A did not follow most of the tenets but still remained successful.
In this current technological era, companies are using technology to make work easier and gain competitive advantage in any business world. However, there are some companies who are not using the full capacity of technology in terms of being competitive in the market.
Companies are not enthusiastic in employing the Strategic Information Systems Planning due to the fact it is expensive and it will not help in the attainment of long term objectives. In addition, other companies do not use information system and strategic planning due to lack of proper knowledge of the technological factors or others may be due to ignorance. However, to be competitive in the market, Strategic Information System Planning needs to be incorporated to enhance the performance of the business and aid in the normal operations of a company thus ensuring efficiency.
Other companies should have been used in the research process. It should not only be based on this two companies when using the eight tenets since every company is different on how they approach activities carried out in any business organisation.
The researcher should have explained more on the eight tenets. It is not stated in the article on the effects of the eight tenets and the usefulness of the tenets on any business organisation. The researcher should also have emphasized more on the eight tenets and how it can affect the fast moving and developing companies. Companies should not only use the eight tenets just to make an information systems strategy, but try to look for ways on how to have an efficient operating system.
Strategic planning and information systems are vital components in any company's goal in achieving operational efficiency and in giving assistance in the company's decision-making activities. However, prudency is needed when incorporating the two for the business to earn maximum benefits.
In doing so, the researcher tried to explain on the relevance of information system and strategic planning, in the article, by the introduction of eight tenets acting as guidelines. Thereby, any business organisation would be able to decide the best ways on how to handle the two for operational efficiency of the organizations.
Apart from the framework given, further explanations and an exhaustive research should have been brought to attention so as to make clear generalisations thereafter, thus make applicability in any business organisation easier to comprehend and follow.
All in all, the message was still passed across by the researcher on the comparisons and differentiation on how different companies, in this case, Company A and Company B, apply the 8 tenets for successful information systems and the strategic planning for operational efficiency. Thereby, enabling an analysis to be done on such a case study.