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Construction industry is one of the most booming industries in the world. It is a data based and information dependent industry. Construction Industry is the second largest sector in India after agricultural sector and has an employee size of 32 million people. Kochi, a city in the state of Kerala is witnessing a remarkable growth in the construction industry, especially in the real estate construction. Still it is expecting that many new players will enter the sector provided the current economic situation and consumer preferences. The information generated and exchanged in the form of drawings, contract documents, analysis results, planning schedules, photographs, and reports. Construction Industry has gone to a new level with the integration of Information and Communication Technology (ICT) with its construction projects involving large investments, tighter schedules, stringent quality standards and widely dispersed project participants.The studies and researches prove that construction industry is not using the benefits of ICT to its full potential, but the with limited adoption itself the gains achieved is enormous
The reasons for using ICT in construction projects are the improvement of the interaction of the business process with each other, bigger profits, and service quality improvements and to gain a competitive advantage. The main hindrance to proper information management is hefty and slow information management processes, culture issues and the barriers of ICT adoption.
1.3 Purpose of the study
This study is an attempt to assess the effectiveness of ICT adoption in selected construction companies in Kochi, Kerala. Kochi being an IT hub city provides an excellent opportunity to study about ICT adoption.
This study has dual objectives. The objectives of the study are:-
* To assess the current usage of ICT tools by selected construction companies.
* To examine the effects of ICT integration on construction companies' performance.
1.5 Research Questions
The research questions for this study are as follows:
* What is the awareness level of construction companies about ICT tools?
* What are the current trends in the usage of ICT tools?
* What are the effects of ICT integration into construction activities?
1.6 Scope and Limitations
The survey is conducted within Kochi city and a similar survey in other cities in Kerala like Trivandrum, Kozhikode and cities outside Kerala like Bangalore, Chennai, and Kolkata may produce different results. The primary data gathered and analyzed in this study contains only 50 completed questionnaires and a larger sample may produce better results.
ICT is an acronym for Information and Communication Technologies. The World Bank's definition of ICT says that:-
"Information and Communication Technology consists of hardware, software, networks, and media for collection, storage, processing, transmission, and presentation of information (voice, data, text, images)." World Bank
So ICT refers to all technologies that facilitates the information handling and enables the communication among human beings, electronic systems and between them.
ICT TOOLS IMPORTANT
Internet is the worldwide system of computer networks used for transferring and exchanging information. For an information system, Internet is the perfect platform. Now a day's Internet is not just a scientific network, it is a tool for generating business, performing e-business, e-commerce and e-tendering. Internet is been adopted by the construction industry to help in the effective and timely project delivery.
Internet will serve as a communication platform which helps to attain speedy transmission of information and saves money in the communication process with long distance construction sites. Thus, Internet helps to communicate information more effectively during the construction process.
Web application is an application accessed via a web browser over a network such as internet. Web based application helps in solving problems caused by the geographical fragmentation. The major benefits of using a web based data base as a central repository for the project information are 1) Reduced manual distribution costs 2) Integration of project information 3) Simple management of access rights 4) Document storage & archiving 5) Continuous access to project information and 6) Minimal software requirement. The effect and efficiency of the decision making process is upgraded by the technical. The integration of the organization data base and World Wide Web (WWW) functions upgrades the effect and efficiency of the decision making process and supports the decision makers in conducting long distance evaluation at various project sites. A collaborative work environment is enabled by the project web sites. A web based four dimensional (4D) visualization enables a collaborative construction planning and scheduling.
Researchers have identified twelve critical factors affecting performance of web based project management systems as: project type, project duration, Internet access availability, type of Internet connection, level of internal support, ability of project managers, usage frequency of advanced features, level of support provided by a service provider, functionality and reliability of the web based system, data security and reliability, external integration ability of the system and the unique characteristics of the organization using the system .
An Enterprise Resource Planning systems (ERP) system in a construction company can link together an entire organization's operations such as accounting, finance, human resources, manufacturing and distribution, etc and also connects the organization with the customers and suppliers.
Supply chain software is also evolving towards Internet applications that communicate with the Enterprise Resource Planning systems (Green 2001). Internet has helped in developing e-commerce applications for construction companies and hence the buying and selling goods and services over internet are made possible.
Video conferencing is an element of collaborative work environment. As the construction industry is more globalized and competitive than other industry, it needs faster interaction to enable real-time collaboration, application sharing between the office and construction sites. Video conferencing helps to conduct meetings and share documents live over the internet and achieve real time collaboration.
The basic internal computer networks such as Local area network (LAN) and its wireless technology (W-LAN) has become more common in construction companies. The telephony services over internet which are called as Voice over internet protocol (VOIP) helps in the communication cheaper and faster.
Intranets are used by the construction companies to share information, collaborate and manage across various technical platforms and information systems, and across structural and geographical boundaries within the organization in a user friendly manner. An extranet is a private network that uses Internet protocols and the public telecommunication system to securely share part of an organization's information or operations with suppliers, vendors, partners, customers or other businesses.Extranets promote project collaboration, team working and e-commerce.
3D technologies are tools to generate three-dimensional drawings, plans and construction outlines and to develop communication among the project stakeholders.
3D technology is a part of digital construction process in which all the construction project elements are created and stored in 3dimensional model. 3D technology provides better communication with the contractor or stakeholders and easier evaluation of construction methods.
The development of Virtual Environment (VE) and Virtual Reality can help the construction project stake holder in observation and in the successful completion of project. The VR techniques can enrich the efficiency of all stages in the completion of a construction project such as designing, planning and preparation. The ability to review the design and rehearse the construction of the facility in a 3D interactive and immersive environment can increase the understanding of the design intent, improve the constructability of the project, and minimize changes and abortive work that can be detected prior to the start of construction.
4D model is developed by combining time sequencing in visual environment with the 3 D geometrical model (x, y, z). 'nD modeling' is an extension of 3D model by integrating all the design information needed at each level of construction project life cycle such as time, cost, organizations etc.
Radio Frequency Identification Device (RFID) is the material tracking device used in the construction industry to identify and track materials in the supply chain with help of small electronic chips.
A study is conducted on the application of an integrated Global Positioning System (GPS) and Geographical Information System (GIS) technology to the reduction of construction waste. The study is developed from automatic data capture system such as the bar-coding system for construction material and equipment (M&E) management onsite, whilst the integrated GPS and GIS technology is combined to the M&E system based on the Wide Area Network (WAN).
Definition of Construction Industry
The purpose of construction activities is to produce arte facts such as buildings, process plants, roads and bridges. The United States Department (1984) of commerce defines construction by considering the immobility of its products. So the construction of durable and complex goods such as ships which has all the characteristics of construction items is not included in the construction. In the development board act, 1984 of Singapore , the construction industry is defined as " the industry concerning the carrying out of construction works and construction works as : the construction, extension, installation, carrying out, repair, maintenance, renewal, removal, alteration, dismantling or demolition of any building... structure,... road, motor way, harbor works, railway, cable way, canal or aerodrome, any electrical, water, gas or telecommunications works, any bridge, viaduct, drain, reservoir, pipeline, sewer, ...shaft, tunnel or reclamation
CONSTRUCTION SECTOR OVERVIEW BUSINESS STRATEGY DEVELOPMENT
The construction sector is a source of great economic and social benefits for every country. It accounts for 10% of the word's total work force and the employment seeks a wide range of skills and abilities.
Construction sector has been identified as being complex, fragmented and unique. There are lots of reasons for this claim. First, there are many phases such as feasibility, design, construction and maintenance in most construction projects. Second, many project participants such as the owner, contractor, designer, consultant, subcontractors, and suppliers are involved in communication and coordination in each phase. Communication and information exchange can smell problem with this. Since the construction type, place and participants varies, each project is unique.
The basic characteristics of construction sector as seen by European Construction Research Network (2005) are as follows:
Fragmentation of responsibilities, processes and resources
The responsibilities will vary for each design, site works and operations with different countries, organizations and different types of projects. So the confusion of responsibilities and ambiguity in communication arises. As the construction industry is fragmented in nature with small size of employees, it causes the hindrance for the adoption of new technologies and new information. This fragmentation also prevents learning process. In many construction projects the project partners will be new and so the relationships and experienced which are gained from the previous projects cannot be used. A long term alliance is needed to achieve progress and to incorporate innovations.
Lack of focus on end-users
In many cases the client or user doesn't have a direct link with the construction which results in complexity. The lack of tools to communicate with users after the initial discussions causes the user to imagine the consequences of 2D drawings and its specifications. This will result in the final product without the proper interest of the user. The tools like virtual reality systems can assist in a proper communication with the clients.
Lack of performance indicators
"Value for money" is the mantra for most sectors since the product and services compete on the basis of relationship between performance and cost. Customers should be able to distinguish between competing offers on the basis of performance factors like delivery time, capacity, size etc. Unfortunately construction has few such metrics; buildings and infrastructure are commissioned on the basis generally of other indicators (e.g. capacity) rather than by reference to their effectiveness in supporting the activities within them.
Short-term, price-based competition
The separation of design responsibility from construction means that contractors tender to construct a building or a facility that has essentially already been specified, and so selection of the successful tender will be highly influenced and in some cases totally determined, by price. Furthermore, the separation of construction from operation provides no incentive for the contractor to consider longer-term performance. The consequence is to encourage cost-cutting, sometimes at the expense of performance, and to create an industry focused on maximizing short-term returns. The customer is seeking optimum performance over the expected operational life of the facility, yet this is not reflected in the business processes.
Construction sector is subject to numeral regulations (several thousands of regulations and standards are already applied to the sector at the European level alone). High regulation reflects society's concern that its outputs, which have impact on everyone, whether users or not, and which are expected to operate for many years, should be constructed to recognized standards of technical performance. Regulations are applied to set minimum standards in areas where the customer is normally unable to make an informed judgment. They can accelerate the introduction of new ideas by setting high performance standards without specifying the means of compliance. On the other hand they may also, when written in prescriptive form, act as barriers to innovation.
The general rule is that the more complex the performance is required, and higher the safety risks, the more likely it is that regulations will be prescriptive.
High labor intensity, poor image
Construction was always and remains a labor intensive activity. Although some 13 million workers are recorded as being in construction in the EU 25 member states, this number underestimates the true figure. Self-employment and in-house maintenance staff add substantially to this number. New construction continues to require a high input of site labor, despite greater use of prefabricated components. Across Europe, in-situ3 concrete remains the favored method of construction while pre-fabrication of large components and building modules is the exception.
Although it is labor intensive, construction sector does not offer good working conditions and the safety record is poor. Usually it is listed on a second place, just after mining in terms of the probability of injury or death. Site conditions are generally unhealthy and facilities inadequate.
The project-based nature of construction leads to insecure employment and hinder investment in the development of skills. The disruption, noise and dust which are commonly associated with site works all contribute to society's poor image of construction.
The sector is not successful in attracting the skills and abilities necessary if it is to adopt new ways of working and transform its performance. Shortage of skilled labor and new recruits may stimulate a different balance between on-site and off-site activities, with greater use of prefabricated components. Previous attempts to introduce industrialized construction methods failed because systems were inflexible and were not compatible with the requirement for local variations.
High resource usage
The energy efficiency of new buildings has improved considerably in the past two decades; nevertheless the sector remains the principal consumer of raw materials and its outputs account for nearly half of Europe's energy usage and a high proportion of water usage. The reuse and recycling of materials, e.g. in road construction, has grown, yet still accounts for only a small proportion of materials usage. Moreover, construction is the major source of industrial waste materials, including new materials discarded from construction sites. The extraction, processing and transport of construction materials consumes large amount of energy and significantly influences on the environment. Due to the fact that the built environment is constructed faster than it is replace, construction will continue to demand new materials, however efficiency in the use of materials can be improved and consumption of energy and water in buildings reduced.
Local environmental impact
Activities that are performed on-site create pollution and disturbance in the local environment. Noise, dust, water run-off and sometimes gaseous emissions are commonly present at construction projects. Besides there are also the associated impacts on activities like traffic disruption, displacement of normal functions, potential loss of business and additional costs. Through good planning and adoption of new operating processes and technologies, all these side effects could be at least minimized, if not eliminated.
Slow to innovate
Traditional structure and relationships in construction creates barriers to the acceptance of new ideas. Likewise the long operational life expected of the built environment, encourages caution in the adoption of new technologies and construction methods. The small size of most construction companies indicates that they do not have sufficient resources to engage in systematic examination of new approaches or of unfamiliar techniques, such as formal risk assessment methodologies, which are widely practiced in other sectors. The emphasis on price based rather than performance-based competition obstructs investment in research to improve the final performance of the outputs. Similarly the communication of such new ideas which are generated through research and other means is inhibited by the large number of small companies.
A special issue of the lack of innovation is the relatively slow spread of IT-based tools in the sector. Interoperability among many parties which are involved in a construction project and means of interacting with costumers are still inadequate. While retail chains have invested heavily in logistics systems, these are only now starting to penetrate construction. Any construction project involves the generation and distribution of a great deal of information; therefore the better use of IT will be a key element in the sector's future development.
Poor dialogue with society
Construction takes many forms, from small in-house works to the creation of enormous facilities. The demolition associated with construction works in all forms has been noted previously; furthermore construction is seen as the destroyer of nature and habitats. The sector generally fails to communicate its role in providing the living and working environments of modern society, to set out how it uses new technologies, to promote its ability to create buildings with much lower environmental impacts than up to now, or to provide visions of how future buildings and infrastructure will improve our lives.
INDIAN CONSTRUCTION INDUSTRY IMPORTANT
In any country's infrastructure and industrial development construction is an indispensible element. Construction is the second largest economic activity after agriculture. Construction can be broadly classified in to 3 segments such as 1) Infrastructure, 2) Industrial and 3) Real Estate.
The construction projects in different sectors like roads, rails, ports, irrigation, power etc come under infrastructure. Industrial construction is defined by expansion projects from various manufacturing sectors. Real estate construction can be classified into residential, commercial, malls/multiplexes etc.
In residential construction, the task is to build houses needed for residential purposes. These houses may differ in varieties such as single family occupied house, duplex buildings, residential apartments in the form of flats. The residential construction process is classified into two such as 1) Construction for new residential buildings 2) renovation, repairing or modification of existing houses. Indian residential construction is witnessing a boom in the recent times. Commercial construction is responsible for new construction, repairing and modifying of retail stores, office buildings, hotels etc.
Construction activity differs from segment to segment. Construction of houses and roads involves about 75% and 60% of civil construction respectively and construction of airports and ports are in the range of 40-50%. But for industrial projects, construction activity is in the range of 15-20%.
In the financial year 2008 construction sector has contributed about 8.5% to the India's GDP. The growth of the construction has followed the trend of economic growth rate of the country over past few years. The multiplier factor of 1.5X-1.6X has been maintained between growth rates of construction and GDP. From FY 06 to FY 08 the construction as a percentage of GDP has increased from 8.0% to 8.5%. As the construction activity being labor intensive, it has generated employment for about 33 million people in India.
The construction industry is the second largest activity of the Indian Economy and is extremely fragmented. Many unorganized companies in the industry are working on the subcontracting basis. Subcontracting is done when the general contractors doesn't have time or skills to do some tasks and is a kind of outsourcing. Higher technology projects can generate more profits for the companies than low technology projects like road construction. Majority of projects in Construction industry are working capital intensive. It is forecasted that about Rs. 10000 billion investments will be used in construction industry in the next five years. Similarly there will be an inflow of Rs 1500 Billion in the construction industry on the back of the investments planned by various manufacturing sectors. The real estate segments also create an investment of Rs 1000 Billion over next five years. The bulging order book position of the construction companies reflects the whole scene clearly.
The strengths of the Indian construction industry are its manpower strength including manpower with high level technical and management skills, and construction experience of every type of construction in all types of terrains and climates; government initiatives for providing financial incentives to construction organizations; manufacturing of varied construction materials and equipment in the country; agility and adaptability to the changing global construction scenario and working with overseas organizations.
The major weakness identified in the Indian construction industry is it is not IT savvy sector. The surveys have shown that the technology has done little to transform the Indian construction industry except for some larger organizations. It is high time to recognize the true value of ICT and reengineering of the traditional systems of working. The major barrier with respect to ICT is that the method of formal reporting is not practices in these organizations.
REAL ESTATE CONSTRUCTION INDUSTRY- KOCHI
Kochi, the God's Own Country, the most eventful city in Kerala is now the attraction for all eyes due to the booming Construction business. Now it is one of the few cities in India that is bringing in the impact of globalization and liberalization. Kochi is now the favorite investment option for a majority of the business people from the state and from the country as whole considering its real estate and construction building options. The skyline of Kochi city has been totally altered due to the amazing progress achieved through investments from overseas destinations and also the support of the public. In earlier times, the construction industry was dominated by the government-controlled agencies and they utilized a major portion of the funds allotted under the Five Year Plans for housing development. The construction industry in Kochi has its hands full due to the rising demand for apartments and other built up spaces.
ICT AND INFORMATION
In a Construction organization, information can be classified under three sections
* Information needed for managing the internal operations of the organization,
* Information needed for assessing the industry and organization's position in industry
* Information needed for managing the construction projects.
For the first section of information, ICT is needed to integrate the communication between various departments, branch offices and sub units of a construction organization.
For the second section the need of ICT is to deliver nimbleness to the information system. The constant flow of information from internal and external sources allows informed decision making environmental scanning and coordination of a response.
The third part of information is generated by due to the communication between the organization and different agencies which are part of the project team. Project information are processed and presented data which enables action.
ICT Adoption in Small and Medium Enterprises: An Empirical Evidence of Service Sectors in Malaysia
A study conducted by Syed Shah and Mohd Kamal investigated the factors influencing the adoption of ICT in small and medium enterprises in Malaysia. Small and medium enterprises are the back bone of industrial development in Malaysia and play a pivotal role in its economy. Most of the Malaysian businesses and SMEs are slow in adoption of technology. A survey instrument was initiated to get the feedback from the SMEs in Malaysia to assess the awareness, receptivity and adoption of ICT in their business. The survey was conducted on a sample of 180 SMEs. Majority of the companies surveyed are in whole sale and retail business. Out of 180 companies, 159 respondents were under local ownership which was 88.3%. The foreign ownership company constituted only the remaining 11.7% which was only 21 companies. More than 50% (53.8%) of the respondents surveyed were middle managers which come to 97 respondents and executive's came second in this study with 27.8% followed by Managers with 12.8%. Due to the least participation and lack of time, the top officials like CEO contributed only 5.6 percent which is 10 out of 180 respondents. About 57.22% of the respondents specified that they use computers in their company. 86 out of 180 respondents have indicated that they have internet connection where more than 52.28% had been using internet less than 5 years and 42.72% using internet for more than 5 years. The results showed that most of the companies adopted Windows XP as their operating system which was the latest OS at that time. There were 69 out of 103 respondents using Windows XP which carried 66.99 % and 27 companies were using Windows 2000/98 as their operating system. Some of them were using Mac OS X but it was as lower as 6.8%.
The study has showed ICT adoption as a dependent variable. The study has tested five dependent variables such as perceived benefits of ICT, perceived cost of adoption, ICT knowledge and skill of the employees, external pressure and the government support.
The results in this study proved that a perceived benefit has a strong and significant role in the ICT adoption. The adoption of ICT has given the business, a wide range of possibilities. It helped to get access to new market opportunities and improved the competitiveness. The immediate customer feedback is initiated and helps the company to react fast to the changes. The respondents had agreed that the use of Internet will be important for the future development and will generate desired returns in terms of profit.
Perceived cost don't have direct impact in the ICT adoption. One of the reasons is that Malaysian government is providing full financial support to the SMEs and also SMEs will have other options for financial support for their ICT investment. These reasons reduced the importance of perceived cost in ICT adoption.
The relation between the ICT knowledge and skill of the employees is very important. The employee's knowledge, skills and previous experiences will help and influence the organization in ICT adoption. The opportunity of ICT use in organizations increases with the knowledge and ability of the managers and owners.
The external pressure always has critical importance. But the Malaysian SMEs are not much involved in global business. So the external pressure from the customers and suppliers is very less in adopting ICT.
The result showed that government support has a significant role in ICT adoption. The government policies and initiatives have a direct impact and helps in producing faster technology diffusion.
Adoption and usage of ICT in developing countries: Case of Ugandan firms
Information and Communication technologies play a major role in the economic development of developing countries like Uganda. The study conducted by Joseph & Michael (2007) investigated the extent of ICT usage and adoption in 101 firms in Uganda. The study analyzed various characteristics, ICT usage, E-commerce; Internet usage and connectivity, perception on the contribution of ICT to firms, Government policies and barriers to the ICT adoption and use. The study reveals the followings:
Majority of the medium sized firms were foreign owned. The large firms were locally owned or joint ventures. 33% of the foreign firms and 8 % of the local firms were less than 10 years old and 27% of foreign firms and 15% of local firms were between 10 and 20 years old. 70% of the foreign owned firms, 77% of the local firms and 83% of the joint venture firms were more than 20 years old.
All the firms surveyed had computers and internet access. When surveyed in terms of ownership, results showed that all foreign and joint ventures had been using computers for more than 5 years and 80% of foreign firms and 83% of joint firms were using internet between 3 and 5 years.
The ICT access in terms of employees showed that those in administration and finance have more access to computers and internet. Marketing & sales employees had also similar access to computers, but their internet access is very less. Other employees like support staffs and production had also very less computer and internet access. The main use of computers by the employees was for word processing, accounting, information processing, and inventory control and storage optimization.
61% of the firms have website on the internet. Whilst 27% had their own website hosts and 73 % of them outsourced their web hosting. Leased line and wireless internet were the major type of internet connection used by small and medium sized firms. The main use of internet was for communication and surfing. Only 27% of the firms used internet for e-commerce (buying and selling of goods& services over internet). The adoption of ecommerce was higher in medium sized firms than larger firms.
The firms were asked to respond to various policies put forward by the Ugandan government.75% agreed that the expanded coverage of radio and TV in the country had improved the firm's market share.71 % agreed that increased number of telecom operators had reduced the firms operating costs. When asked whether the increased number of telecom operators and ISPs had enabled firms to invest in Internet, 31% strongly agreed and 56% agreed. Whilst 50% agreed and 28% strongly agreed on the availability of well trained ICT personnel would encourage the firms to invest in ICT.
The major perceptions or benefits as responded by the firms were increased savings, increased efficiency, improved service delivery, low transaction costs and improved market performance.
The major barriers to the adoption and use of ICT were expensive hardware and software, expensive qualified personnel, high taxes on hardware and software and lack of security on the internet.
The study proved that level of ICT adoption and use was still not favorable as compared to developed countries. Medium and large firms were better in the adoption of ICT as they were owned my foreigners than smaller firms.
ICT APPLICATION IN A DAIRY INDUSTRY: THE E-EXPERIENCE OF AMUL
Milk products are very important in India which is having a large vegetarian population. A large number of farmers are depending upon the milk production and dairying for their livelihood. When it comes to dairy industry in India, first name coming to the mind will be Amul and its parent company, Gujarat Cooperative Milk Marketing Federation Ltd. (GCMMF). There is an argument that the investments related to ICT in rural areas are not effective, but the case of Amul eliminates all such arguments with its effective and efficient application of ICT. The Kaira District Cooperative Milk Producers Union Ltd, popularly known as Amul diary is Rs 67113 million turn over institution. It is an institution built up with a network of over 10000 Village Cooperative Societies and 500000 members. Amul initiated the dairy cooperative movement in India through an apex cooperative organization called GCMMF which was formed in 1946.
A study was conducted by Bowonder, Raghu Prasad and Anup Kotla on the ICT application in the dairy industry: the e-experience of Amul. Almost 4000 rural locations in the dairy sector is already using computer for processing milk buying and selling transactions in a transparent manner and daily around 500000 people are benefitted by ICT. Amul had installed Automatic Milk Collection Unit System (AMCUS) in all villages' societies to increase the clarity in the transaction between the farmers and cooperative society. AMCUS has helped to reduce the processing time to 10 % than before. The entire supplier information is made accessible through this system integration.
Each farmer is provided an individual identification card. At the milk collection centre the farmer drops the card to the machine and the data is transmitted to the computer attached to it. An electronic fast test machine is used to weigh and test the milk. The information about members, fat content, volume of the milk procured and the amount payable to the member are available to the Co- operative Society in the form of a database. The zonal offices, regional offices and the dairy members are connected through VSAT. Thus a seamless flow of online information is achieved. Centralized monitoring is the major benefit gained from an ICT platform. All the sales offices and distributors are connected through TCP/IP internet mail account for information exchange. A Global Information System is also used by GCMMF. It has got an all India map that enable it to plot the zone and distributor location. GIS is used for sales and distribution planning and also for business planning and optimization of collection process. With the success of AMCUS, Amul diversified the use of ICT into all value chain activities to attain 'Better management practices'. An Enterprise wide Integrated Application System (EIAS) integrates and optimize the logistic and supply chain activities. DISK (Dairy Information and Services Kiosk) is an initiative started by Indian Institute of Management Ahmadabad with GCMMF. It facilitates the data analysis and decision support in improving milk collection.
The study has identified various benefits of ICT in dairy industry as follows:
* Reduction in time
* Human errors are minimized
* Spot payment for farmers possible
* Reduction in wastage
* Transparency in operation
* Integration of operations
It is a challenging task to implement and conceptualize ICT in the dairy industry. There are many factors associated with it.
To design a customer oriented ICT platform, the start should be made from the base line operations. The understanding of ground conditions helped Amul creating a customer based system. The acceptance of new technology was enhanced by the reputation of the agency. The customers were benefitted with reduction in waiting time. The rate of diffusion of ICT will be high when the benefits weigh higher than the costs. Amul always treated their customers identically. It helped to build trust which enabled them to reinforce the working relationships.
EXPLORING THE EXTENT OF ICT ADOPTION AMONG SECONDARY SCHOOL TEACHERS IN MALAYSIA
A study conducted by Bee Theng Lau and Chia Hua Sim in Malaysia explored the extent of ICT adoption among Secondary School Teachers.
A survey was conducted among some 250 secondary school teachers of Mathematics and Science to collect the qualitative and quantitative data.
The respondents were asked to specify the frequency of ICT usage in teaching, classroom management, communication and personality development was investigated.
The report showed that ICT usage in teaching & instructional on daily or weekly basis has a higher percentage with 75%. The ICT use in classroom management activities came to 49% and in communication with 26%. The less frequent usage of ICT was in personality development.
The use of ICT applications on daily or weekly basis showed higher percentage to teaching courseware (73%), presentation tools (43%), internet browsing (53%), and spreadsheets (32%). The lower rated applications were graphical visualization tools (24%); multimedia (22%), simulation programs (14%), and online demos (7%).
The teachers were asked to rate their competence level in basic computer applications including word processing, spreadsheets, presentation tools, e-mailing, internet browsing, statistical tools, and teaching courseware. The teachers responded themselves to be competent , either excellent or good in word processing with 71 %, teaching course ware (63%), presentation tools (50%), emailing (41%), and spreadsheets (39%), statistical tools (31%).
When asked to rate on what extent does they agree with the perceptions about ICT adoption, the teachers responded that ICT makes them more effective in their teaching (75%), organizing their tasks (80%), and helps to meet the needs of the students (48%). They also agreed that with the increased use of internet and technology, their lessons plans are getting richer (55%). These results showed the positive perception of teachers towards ICT.
About 85% percentage of teachers specified that they like to integrate more ICT application into their teaching. 87 % of the respondents perceived ICT as an important tool to finish their tasks.
The major barrier for the ICT adoption as indicated by the teachers is the lack of technical support. Then the lack of time, limited knowledge on how to make full use of ICT, Limited understanding on how to integrate ICTs into teaching and Lack of software or websites that support state standards.
The study investigated the level of ICT use by teachers in schools, their competency, perception and also the barriers for ICT adoption. The research showed a positive attitude of teachers towards ICT and also the need of proper training in the technology for teachers.
A SURVEY ON THE ICT ADOPTION OF BUSINESSES IN MAURITIUS
The National Computer Board, Mauritius (2001) conducted a survey to assess the extent of ICT level in various Businesses in Mauritius. A sample of 300 establishments was taken from a population of 2132 establishments having more than 10 employees. Of the surveyed establishments, 48% came from tertiary sector, 45.3 % from secondary sector (manufacturing & construction) and 6.7% from the primary sector (agriculture).
All the establishments surveyed have more than 10 employees and can be considered as large establishments. 60 % of the establishments have annual turnover over twenty million rupees and 79.7 % of the establishments are 10 years or more old.
Around 83.3% of the establishments have at least one computer and it suggested the extent of adoption of technology, since the computer is the basic term in ICT. The usage of computer by the business processes came in the range of 50% to 100%. The establishments with no computer have responded with no necessity of it as the reason for it. But a 42% of those not having computer is planning to computerize and 76% of them would be doing it in less than two years.
37.3 % of respondents have one to three servers for their computer network. 24.3% have one to three PCs and 20% of them have more than 20 PCs. The use of Notebooks, laptops and thin clients are very low. About 90.3% of the respondents are willing to upgrade their computer.
The office tools (96%), Accounting software (44.8%), inventory/stock control system (28.4%) and pay roll system (27.2%) are the widely used software packages by the establishments. For the IT security establishments have used antivirus software (96.4%) and uninterrupted power supply (UPS) with 73.6%. Whilst 90.4 % of establishments have a practice of taking backups and 60.8% of them did it daily. A 55.2% of the establishments have a back up for their server. Even as 83.6% of the business establishments reviewed their security procedures once in a year.
43% of the establishments indicated that they have Local Area networks and 12.7 % have Wide Area Networks. At the same time as 90% of the establishments have access to internet. The use of internet was high in sectors such as manufacturing, wholesale and retail trade, hotels and restaurants, transport, storage and communication and banking and finance. The usage of internet in education and training sector is 63.2% and in public administration is 72.7% .The internet usage was less in Construction (58.3%), banking (45%) and health (40%).
The main challenges faced by the e-commerce adoption are the limited size of market (42.2%), inadequate infrastructure (31%), shortage of IT skills (26.2%) and goods or services do not provide themselves to the transactions over the internet (23%).
The establishments having ICT spending of greater proportions of their annual budget are software (43.2%), consultancy (15.9%) and hardware (14.8%). All establishments mentioned that they have a minimum of 50000 Rs of annual budget for their ICT spending.
The proportion of ICT staff to the total number of employees turned out to be 11%. Around 46.1% of the staffs are computer literate. The survey showed that there is a need of training for staffs in Office tools and operating systems and staffs who is IT specialist is less than 1 %.
In terms of the benefits of ICT, 79.6% have responded that they are satisfied with the return on IT investment and a great proportion of 88 % have indicated that the technology have a positive impact on their organization. Whilst 68% of them have confirmed that their turnover has increased in the range of 1-10%.
THE CURRENT STATE OF INFORMATION AND COMMUNICATION TECHNOLOGY USAGE BY SMALL AND MEDIUM TAIWANESE CONSTRUCTION COMPANIES
Hung-Ju Chien and Stephen Barthobe conducted a research to find the current state of Information and Communication Technology usage by small and medium Taiwanese construction companies. To accomplish the goal they conducted a questionnaire study on 100 small and medium construction companies in Taiwan. They divided the small and medium construction companies into two categories such as one with turnover between TWD 0.1 -2 billion (USD 3 - 61 million) and other below TWD 0.1 billion (USD 3 million).
The study showed that majority of the companies (72.5%) specified that their ICT investment is less than 0.1% (TWD 1 million) of their annual turnover. 25.5% responded that their ICT investment is between TWD 1 million and 5 million and only a 2% of the companies have a reasonable ICT investment between 5 million and 10 million.
The survey on the use of ICT applications revealed that accounting (76.5%) leads the list. The other applications used are Financial Management (56.9%), Electronic Document Management Applications (54.9%), Estimating (49%), Project Management (47.1%) and Human Resource Management Applications (39.2%).
The ICT applications such as Accounting, Financial Management, and Electronic Document Management were found to be more useful for the effectiveness of Construction management
The use of CAD software was found to be so common such that 92.2% of the respondents were using it. Even 87.5 % of the firms with turnover below TWD 0.1 billion have CAD software using in their company. The CAD software was found to be 85.6% useful in the effectiveness in designing and drawing.
37% of construction firms with turnover between TWD 0.1 billion and TWD 2 billion and 33.3 % with turnover below 0.1 billion used Virtual Reality technology. VR technology is found to be 76 % useful in the effectiveness of marketing and communications.
The main communication tools used by the construction companies are e-mail (96.1%), intranet (58.8%) and video conferencing (33.3%)
Only a 29.4% of respondents used Knowledge Management software to handle company's knowledge and it is considered to be 67 % of useful in the effectiveness of knowledge management
AN INVESTIGATION INTO THE USE OF ICT IN THE NIGERIAN CONSTRUCTION INDUSTRY
A survey was conducted by Adebayo A. Oladapo to investigate the use of ICT in the Nigerian Construction industry. The respondents targeted were mainly Engineers, Architects and Quantity Surveyors.
Most of the respondents (98.5%) used computers and among them desktop computers (91.9%) was the common one. The use of Laptops was 60.6% and of notebook computers were 17.6%. The commonly used Operating System was Windows XP (59.6%), Windows 2000 (55.1%) and Windows 98 (47.1%).
MS word (67.6%), Word Perfect (36.8%) and MS excel (55.9%) were the word processing and accounting software used by the companies. Among the presentation software MS power point (59.6%) was the commonly used.
The companies used CAD software for designing and drawing purposes. AutoCAD (73.6%) was the leading software used by the companies. WinQs used by 41.5% is the most common Quantity Surveying Software. MS project (45.6%) was the only project planning software used by the respondents.
66.9% of the respondents have internet communication facility in their company. Other communication methods like intranet (19.1%) and voice mail (12.5%) were used very less.
The respondents were asked to rate the importance of various benefits of use of ICT in construction companies on a scale of Very high to very low. The most important benefit was the improvement in the quality of work.
The ranked benefits from very high to very low are:-
1. Improves quality of work
2. Makes complex tasks easier to perform
3. Saves time
4. Improves productivity
5. Enhances public image
6. Saves cost
7. Facilitates decision making
The main barrier for the use of ICT in construction was inadequate and erratic electric supply, since the electric supply in Nigeria was very unreliable. The other barriers that comes next were high cost of hardware/software, lack of sufficient jobs, fear of virus attacks and high rate of waning of hardware/software
The survey showed that even the present state is not so good, majority of the respondents were very optimistic about the future of ICT in the Nigerian Construction Industry.
A SURVEY OF INTERNET USAGE IN THE MALAYSIAN CONSTRUCTION INDUSTRY
Internet is an important tool in the ICT. The Internet came into Malaysia in the year 1990. Since then the development in the technology with the help of internet in Malaysia is clearly visible. The study by Lim Y M, Rashid A Z, Ang C N, Wong C Y and Wong S L investigated the current level of usage of Internet, its advantages and disadvantages in the Malaysian Construction industry.
According to the survey 94% of the respondents had internet access. Whilst 84 % responded that Internet is an important tool for their company and only 14 % had said that it is not important. 96% of the respondents were using Internet for emailing purposes. 59% were using the internet for research and information gaining purposes and 38% for marketing. For contracting, estimation, project management and virtual meeting the respondents were only 35.6%.
When asked about the benefits of usage of Internet, 60% had said it as time saving in the work. 51.4% agreed the benefit as Internet improves efficiency and 47% responded with cost saving. For the benefits like expanding business and reduction of employee, the respondents were 8.6% and5.7% respectively.
As mentioned by the respondents the main disadvantages of Internet are downloading problem (59%) and virus problem (50%). About 47% responded that the problem as connection problem or Internet traffic. Other disadvantages were the difficulty in the extraction of data (27%), e-mail sending and receiving errors (21%)) and security problems (21%).
24% of the firms had their own websites and 21% of those not having websites were planning to own their websites in the near future. When asked about the reason for setting websites, 49% responded with no reason. It showed that majority was having website for the reason that others was having.
12% were using the website for advertising purposes, 11% for company status and 10& for information for employees. For the reasons like getting feedback from customers, the response was 7% and for sharing information it was 5%.
The main problem for setting up websites was time consuming (52%). Other reasons were security problem (12%) and cost (29%).
A SURVEY ON THE IMPACT OF INFORMATION TECHNOLOGY ON THE CANADIAN ARCHITECTURE, ENGINEERING AND CONSTRUCTION INDUSTRY
The survey conducted by Hugues Rivard studied on the current use and impact of Information technology in the Architect, Engineering and Construction Industry in Canada (2000). The main respondents were engineering firms, contractor firms and architectural firms. The gross revenue of the companies surveyed ranged between $ 100000 and $ 100 million. The survey checked the computer availability, use, CAD tools, network & communications and various research directions.
Almost 99% of the firms responded that they have computers and the result was very encouraging than previous years. While in 1996 only 65% of the construction industry was using computers. With the technology advancement, decrease in the price, increase in usefulness and popularity of computers have made this result more positive.
The average number of computers per employee was 0.8. 90% of the employees used computers or their work and 80% have their own computer in the company to do their work. As working on sites most of the times, contractors have less proportion in computer availability.
Microsoft was main operating system (90%) used in the construction companies. Among the office software, word processor (98.6%) and spreadsheet (91.5%) were used by most of the companies. The usage of database (65.4%) and project planning (47.4%) software was not so encouraging, but firms are planning to use in the future.
The extent of computerization of various business processes was classified into three categories such as highly computerized, partially computerized and not computerized. The business processes like book keeping, invoicing and specifications comes in the highly computerized category. Materials control and purchasing was still done manually or without computerization, while costing, budgeting and technical calculation were partially computerized.
The CAD software was mainly used by engineering and architectural firms and only 26.4 % of the contracting firms used CAD. Among the firms having computers, 76% used CAD software. AutoCAD was the leading software used by the firms. Other CAD software used was MicroStation and Visio Technical.
Geographical Information System (GIS) is a software application meant to analyze and store geographical information and is used in land planning, surveying, infrastructure management etc. GIS was mainly used by engineering firms (20%) and only 5% of architectural firms used GIS software.
Most of the drawings and design work was done by CAD software. 71% of the firms used CAD software for 80% to 100% of their drawings. The majority of the drawings (94%) were two dimensional and only 4% of the firms used 3 dimensional drawings.
64% of the firms have computers connected through LAN (Local Area Network). 75% of the engineering firms used LAN, and the use of LAN in architectural firms was 44%. 90% of the firms have access to internet. 97% of the engineering firms, 86% of architectural firms and 83% of contractors have internet connection.
E-mail was used by 87% of the construction companies surveyed. In terms of the type of firms, the use of e-mail was engineering firms with 96.1%, architectural firms (83.6%) with and contractors with (73.8%). 43% of engineering firms, 27% of architectural firms and 27% of contractors have their own website.
The main benefit as mentioned by the firms was better quality of work. Other important benefits were work done more quickly, better financial control, better communications an simple and faster access to common data. The reduction in staff, decrease in the use of paper, telecommuting and staff contentment was not found to be major benefits by the firms.
The main obstacles for the application of IT in AEC industry were continual demand of upgrading, high cost of investment and greater know how required by the staff. The areas of future research as responded by the firms were the implementation of computer integrated design and development of new tools to assist designers.
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