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To get an answer to this question we need to formerly understand the pros and cons of information technology. The article published by Nicolas Carr “IT doesn’t matter” does raise a couple of eyebrows, especially of those belonging to the IT sector. But I have had to really understand what his view point is in order to get an answer to this mind boggling question – does IT matter? Despite my attempts to understand why according to him IT doesn’t matter I can only jump to one conclusion i.e. computers, data storage facilities, data processing facilities, etc are easily available to all. Mr. Carr’s point of view is that businesses across the globe are resorting to IT to give them a better edge over one another and thereby spend trillions of dollars over technology that is easily available to all. So there is hardly an “advantage” that companies have over one another. Mr. Carr does accept that today Information technology has become the backbone of commerce.
At all times it’s tough to intricate a line between where the technology ends and use of it begins. During previous years industries didn’t had a systematic approach in some of the technical and financial aspects. One must not forget that a new ray of light has arisen due to the presence of Information Technology in the field of commerce, science, telecommunication, security and different manufacturing processes. Industries could make those products which would meet the demands of international consumers. This would improve the trade relationship among different companies and countries. Nowadays all the work which were done manually have now become computerized. With a single click any customer can place an order for different number of varieties at any place at any given time. Nowadays companies are more dependent on IT fields for protection against vulnerabilities. There are intelligence tools like business intelligence reporting tools that help not only to store and retrieve data (that account for huge memory spaces that would be nearly impossible to keep track of using the age old technique of accounting manually) but also analyze data and generate reports thereby reducing the load of understanding and analyzing data to make strategic decisions (www.smallbusinessbible.com).Many companies have merged with IT companies to form a secured data system which would not only protect their data system but also enhances their capability to meet the customer needs. Today businesses race not to come up with intellectual schemes to achieve success but to do so before any body else does. Time is of the essence and that is where IT enters.
IT has become a day to day necessity in our life. It has brought a major impact in business and society. It has driven a rising economy to a developed economy. In today’s day to day activities personal computers, mobile phones, emails, fax machines and internet has not only become our support system but has also become an integral part of our life (www.smallbussinessbible.com). IT is present everywhere but its important aspects should be harnessed evenly and properly so that it is used to its core. They are present everywhere and become an indispensable commodity of any industry. It plays a key factor in evaluating many of the new technologies assisting new infrastructural projects. IT has not only brought the world closer together, but has permitted the world’s economy to boom. It means that we can share information at high speeds and at high efficient rate, without any linguistic and geographic barriers. All the information can now be shared in a well organized and resourceful manner interesting jobs. IT plays a very important role in foreign exchange. It acts as a customer relationship manager who tries to solve the problems. FOREX capital markets have arisen due to the presence of IT industry. As the company boasts from 1999 till date it has 15000 clients in over 80 countries and has an average trading volume that exceeds $15billion (O’Brien and James, (1936)). Due to continuous efforts and development in the IT field, the companies could easily handle their customers and also the various salespeople who work hard for the company. It tries to manage various aspects of the company even though the company is located in different countries, having linguistic barrier. IT has increased the probability of developing new and innovative jobs. The world has progressed into a global village with the help of information technology which has allowed countries like India and Russia who are separated by time, distance, language and geographic boundaries to disclose ideas, facts and data with each other. Information Technology has helped to communicate at cheaper, faster, and more efficient rate. With the help of video conferencing work can now be completed at home without any wastage of time and money. Text messages have added extra wings to communication which facilitates quick responses. Video conferencing has added a midas touch to the world of communication which by opening up the face to face direct communication facility all round the world (www.smallbusinessbible.com).
Information Technology has provided immense help to condense the cultural gap among people belonging to different to communicate with one another thus allowing exchange of thoughts and opinions which results increased awareness and reduced prejudice. Due to computerization, businesses have become lucrative money-spinning machines thus increasing the productivity which results into increase in profits (www.smallbusinessbible.com). This results in increased profitability, productivity, and overall development. This in turn results in pay, enhanced and much better working conditions. It is be because of Information Technology that business are now open 24 x7 all round the world. This means that a business can be open anytime anywhere, making purchases from different countries easier and more convenient. It also means that you can have your goods delivered right to your doorstep with only a click of a button. Amazon and eBay have established themselves as hubs of commerce when it comes to consumer online shopping. They are development activity where openness breeds innovation and innovation generates sales. Its chief technology officer Al Vermeulen says that they think web services feeds directly into making that flywheel spin. It has not only served different purposes of different fields of business but has increased the capability of the companies to be more productive and profitable in terms of market values. They have changed the market rules (O’Brien and James (1936)).
The best advantage of information technology is the formulation and development of new and interesting jobs. Huge development has been brought in diagnosing disease and damage to the body with the help of body scanners which use software to process the information produced to assist us with maps of body. Experienced doctors train their junior doctors with the aid of new IT technologies. Computers help surgeons to operate effectively and swiftly. Siemens Healthcare provides with efficient and integrated solutions for support processes, from building automation and security to data centre’s and communication. They are the specialist in the state of the art imaging, laboratory diagnostics and IT solution for an earlier prevention and more specific diagnosis thus enhancing patient care. It ensures security and access control (www.med.usa.siemens). Moreover IT plays a very important role in overall development of an economy. IT can change an undulated economy into improved one. According to me IT is not the standard package which has answers to every question you ask. Right amount of planning and forecast is key to success for IT applications. IT has given world the best of its results but it again depends on how you apply to a problem. So in case of IT we have to be double cautions and this is very well explained by Hilton Hotels. Hilton hotel via Texas based Hilton reservation worldwide have developed fastest reservation system. Hilton hotels have more than 2400 hotels located in 65 countries and Hilton worldwide reservation (HRW) handles around 31 million call and generate more than 9 million reservation annually. And the amazing fact about this system is despite of this incredible volume the average reservation time in just two minutes. Information Technology has given this level of efficiency and customer service. How this amazing system works, well when there is a call to HRW through dialled number identification services it is identified that customer is calling. Immediately call is then transferred to reservation specialist who uses Hilton hotel room availability information. The information regarding the availability of room is displayed on the specialist’s desktop as the call is transferred. Then if customer is demanding some other place the specialist can click online screen button to start a search. Within seconds specialist can scan through entire database of Hilton property. Further innovative application is automated reservation system. In this there is interactive voice response system. Once the agent is finished with the reservation then call is transferred to IVR. In interactive voice response system customer hear back and confirms his reservation. Due to this outstanding customer service system Hilton hotel are among the top guns in the market (O’Brien and James,(1936)).
Most civil engineers practice in specialized subsets of civil engineering, such as geotechnical engineering, structural engineering, transportation engineering, hydraulic engineering, environmental engineering and land surveying (www.wikipedia.com). A number of new software tools are available relating to the different specialized disciplines. Some software houses have attempted to provide design software catering for the variety of infrastructure design fields in an integrated manner for example: Civil Designer which uses the AllyCAD CAD engine or VisionCivil which uses AutoCAD and MicroStation. Allycad is a CAD software application for 2D design and drafting. It is developed by Knowledge Base and is used internationally. It was originally developed by Paul Harper. Microstation is the technique used by many of the international companies to design structures of national and geographic importance. Infrastructure design relies heavily on estimates of load, pressure, drainage and flow. Different software packages rely on different formulae and theories as the basis for these calculations. Popular storm drainage simulation models include for example the Rational Method, ILLUDAS, SWMM and HYMO all of which have their own proponents and associated academic debates (www.wikipedia.com).
Examples of how companies have used Information technology to develop competitive strategies.
Strategy company Strategic use of IT Business Benefits.
Cost Leadership Dell Computers Online Build to order lower cost producer
Priceline. Com Online seller bidding buyer-set pricing
eBay.com Online auction Auction -set prices.
Innovation AVENT Marshall Customer/suppler Increase in market share
Moen Inc. Online customer design Increase in market share
Growth Citi Group Global Intranet. Increase in global market
Toys ‘R’ Us Inc. POS inventory tracking Market leadership
Alliance Cisco systems virtually manufacturing Agile market leadership
While Information Technology has outshined the business process it has also created job cutting, downsizing and outsourcing. It has immensely affected the middle and lower level thus creating more unemployment. Wal-Mart introduced RFID technology, RFID means Radio Frequency Identification. It is a data carrying and automatic identification technology used throughout industry. Information about an item is stored in the RFID tag which is attached to that item. RFID tag is just like a data carrier, just as some as that of a bar code. Data carried by the barcode is scanner with the help of an optical or infrared wavelength. RFID reader emits radio waves which activates the tag. Wireless communication takes place with the tag known as air-interface. Importance feature of an RFID system is it does not require any tag or label to read its stored data. It enhances customer service, employer safety and enhances productivity of a company. It is very helpful in medical field too. Wrist tag ensures complete accuracy to identify patience. But this technology has created a huge lot of unemployment. Many of the working lower class employees would have been affected in negative manner because of this technology. From mobile phone signal interceptions to email hacking, people are now worried about their once private information becoming public knowledge. Industry experts believe that the internet has made job security a big issue as since technology keeps on changing with each day. It means that one has to keep himself/herself updated with the latest technology in order to keep his or her job secured (www.wiki.answers.com).
But over usage of IT management becomes tedious tiresome. Even though information is readily available, confidential matters can be assessed unless they are properly password protected. IT leads to unemployment due to downsizing outsourcing. IT leads to tampering of many private issues which has to be kept away from light. Privacy issues are of major concern due to rise in growth of technology. Hacking of email, breach of security are major issues due to advancement in information technology. IT leads to lack of job security. Due to hardware failure economies can be affected negatively. It may result in failure of stock markets (www.associatedcontent.com). Internet often results in breaching of copyright. Nowadays viruses are spread via internet. Pornographic issues are of serious concern. It only affects a person physically but mentally too. It disturbs normal Most of the viruses get transferred via e-mails or when certain information is downloaded. These viruses damage many of the important documents which are of utmost importance. Collecting information from internet wastes a lot of time.
In conclusion, I believe that Mr. Nicholas Carr to some extent does believe that the advantages I stated with regard to IT are noteworthy and something that are the most desired technologies. But what I seem to understand is that he is neither upset with the innovations in information technology nor with the fact that IT has helped make businesses go global but with the inability of these technologies to remain exclusive to companies that make use of them. Also I believe that today e-commerce has reached a point of no return. And as much as some companies believe that they need to stop spending extravagantly on software the fear of lagging behind or being out of the race to become the numero uno prevents them from doing so. It has become more like “if you can’t beat `em join `em” Personally. I personal feel that there is lot of room for the development of IT in most of the developing country. In India still we have to struggle a lot with our daily chores. Forgive me for sounding too dramatic when I say this, but the process for doing these chores meant standing and waiting in long queues in the hot sun for a minimum of 3 hours before I could reach the counter and there were one too many times when the counter would close for lunch the instant it would be my turn. But net banking has made this phase of my life disappear. Now my bills are paid, tickets are booked within minutes and I don’t have to bother about what is happening at the back-end. As a student I could learn more about this institute and apply here which was also possible thanks to the internet. Gaming, entertainment, chatting, video conferencing with my family back home have helped me feel slightly less homesick. It could be that I cannot or probably do not want relate to Mr. Nicolas Carr’s point of view for my own selfish reasons and so for me on a very personal level IT does matter…
- O’Brien and James (1936) Management Information systems -8th edition-Boston, London: McGraw-Hill/Irwin, 2008.
- http://www.smallbusinessbible.org/advan_disadvan_informationtechnology.html [Accessed:16 November 2009]
- http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/civil_engineering_software [Accessed:15 November 2009]
- Carr Nicolas G. (2003) ‘IT Doesn’t Matter’, Harvard Business Review, Vol. 81 Issue 5, May, Pages 41 – 49.
- Brown John Seely (2003) ‘Does IT Matter?’, Harvard Business Review, Vol. 81 Issue7,July, Pages 109-112.
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