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Recent decades have seen outstanding triumphs of information and communication technology in the industry in the UK. The industry has become bigger; their products range from mobile telecommunications, voice over Internet calls relying on fast broadband speeds, audio conferencing to the highly sophisticated product of videoconferencing. The market for these products is increasing at an unstoppable pace and such developments in technology has paved the way for UK-based companies such as HSBC or TESCO to become more competitive in the world markets. However, accompanying these advantages are always drawbacks. Therefore, companies which are intending to adapt communication technology to replace their traditional equipment are now undecided between whether to do it or not.
This assignment will focus on communication technology applications that have been used in UK-based companies. More specifically, it will look at the popular applications that have facilitated procedures in processing data and way of handling work amongst British companies. Moreover, it will also give negative effects that come along with the adoption of communication technology at work.
The importance of communication technology on business:
One of the main aims for the invention and revolution in communication technology is to facilitate the development of global connectivity. Moreover, communication technology helps companies to boost productivity. In fact, most British leaders have to deal with a lot of works simultaneously and it should be difficult for them to resolve them if communication technology was not invented or developed. How can a company like HSBC with just 325,000 employees deal with huge data of 100 million customers over the world without latest communication technology tools and gadgets? (HSBC annual report, 2008) How much time spent by LLOYDS TSB to inform its 16 million (LLOYDS annual report, 2008) different customers with their own information in the heading of the same letters without the Mail Merge function of Microsoft Word?
The most popular communication technology applications in UK companies:
Firstly, among communication technology facilities that have been applied in UK firms, Instant messaging (IM) software such as Yahoo Messenger and iChat is the most prevalent and highly accepted among employees. In fact, instant messaging is a type of chat service which lets users send and receive messages over the Internet (Kenneth C & Jane P., 2006: p287). Compared with other forms of communication like email or telephone..., IM software is cheaper, more convenient and really helpful. In fact, this software assists employees in handling different works simultaneously. ProcessOne (2008) revealed that 74 percent of UK companies say that they think Instant Messaging could create valuable collaboration benefits to their business.
Secondly, blogs are also prevailing among British firms as a mean to deal with customers' requests and as a marketing tool. Actually, blogs are Web sites which are continually updated as a personal diary, collaboration space, news outlet, collection of links, or memos to the world and blogs can be divided into two types: internal and external blogs (Carmichael and Helwig, 2006). External blog can aid firms in coping with customers' troubles. The fact is that problems of a customer of a firm is usually the problem that other customers have experienced and companies do not want to reply to customers about a problem that they have answered for the others before. In the case that customers can not go to a firm's store because of any reasons (for example, they have to work at the opening time of the store and they are just free at the closing time), they can post description of their adversities to the firm's blog and get the solution in the next day. In addition, companies also prefer blogs because blogs have proved to be extremely useful marketing tools.
Thirdly, turning to videoconferencing, arranging meeting between colleagues or between head offices and divisions in multinational companies is always a big issue for firms, especially for organizations that have divisions around the world or organizations that began to develop groups and team with the aims of having better decisions, increasing productivity.... Indeed, the costs of traveling and hiring places are not cheap for these companies. Because of these issues, the subject of videoconferencing has been concerned and adapted within many organizations. In the UK, more than 90 percent of large companies are using some form of virtual collaboration to enhance the quality of their work (Susan J. Campbell, 2008).
The negative aspects of communication technology in UK companies:
One of negative consequences of communication technology is cyber-bullying. Examples of cyber-bullying range from threaten email to spreading lies and allegations to social public sites and it involves a lot of communication technology appliances such as mobile phones and websites, chat room.... Pitcher (2007) has surveyed and concluded that one in ten UK employees has suffered from cyber-bullying in their workplace. Some measures have been adapted and advice to victims in an effort to shield workers from cyber-bullying.
In addition to these troubles, there are other problems that managers who approach communication technology usually meet. One of them is overwhelming data, email or messaging. Because of the fast pace of computers and internet broadband, they almost have to handle immediately after the tasks or data are sent from their superior. In UK companies, there are about "one-third of office workers suffer from e-mail stress" (Limberg, 2008). Instead of helping office workers, communication technology in this case has created pressure on their work and sometimes substantially reduced their efficiency.
Moreover, companies have difficulty controlling all activities which use communication technology applications. Many employees use communication technology for their personal work. For example, people use Instant Messaging at work to talk or chat to family and friends, rather than business related conversations. In the UK, about 90 percent of employees use Instant Messaging for their personal tasks during work hours (Flynn, 2003).
Communication technology is a useful tool which has created many benefits for UK companies. The use of Instant Messaging, blogs and videoconferencing has helped companies have effective collaboration between each other's employees. However, the situations have brought some disadvantages to business, such as cyber-bullying, overloading and level of control. In fact, many businesses have not adopted or have stopped using communication technology in their operation because of these negative affects. For example, there are about 72 percent of UK businesses have banned the use of public instant messaging software, such as MSN, AIM and Yahoo!, due to security fears (ProcessOne, 2008). Nonetheless, in the UK, it is necessary for companies to choose an appropriate progress in applying communication technology as well as setting up new policies and security for communication system. In other words, these actions could help UK companies to operate safely and effectively without worrying about some consequences of communication technology.
Carmichael, J. and Helwig, S. (2006). "Corporate Weblogging Best Practices: A Guide for Enterprises seeking to Leverage Corporate Blogs" www.uwebc.org/opinionpapers/archives/docs/CorporateBlogging.pdf.
Flynn, N. (2003) "Email Policy Guide" http://www.epolicyinstitute.com/members/welcome/epolicytoolkit.pdf.
HSBC (2008) "Annual report 2008 HSBC" http://www.annualreports.com/HostedData/AnnualReports/PDF/hbc2008.pdf.
Kenneth C. Laudon and Jane P. Laudon (2006) "Management information systems" Pearson Education, Inc, Upper Saddle.
Limberg, B. (2008) "Email is running my life" BBC online http://news.bbc.co.uk/1/hi/business/7281707.stm.
LLOYDS (2008) "Annual report 2008 LLOYDS" http://www.lloydsbankinggroup-annualreport.com/2008/pdf/Lloyds-Report-Final-2008-LR.pdf.
Pitcher, G. (2007) "One in 10 workers experiences cyber-bullying in the workplace" Personnel Today online http://www.personneltoday.com/articles/2007/07/26/41707/one+in+10+workers+experiences+cyber-bullying+in+the+workplace.html.
ProcessOne (2008) "Majority of UK businesses miss out on instant messaging benefits because of security fears" http://www.process-one.net/resources/research/20080619_IM_research_release.pdf.
Susan J. Campbell (2008) "U.K. Companies Overwhelmingly Relying on Virtual Collaborations to Enhance Communication Quality" http://www.tmcnet.com/channels/web-meeting/articles/31373-uk-companies-overwhelmingly-relying-virtual-collaborations-enhance-communication.htm.