To successfully implement an information technology infrastructure into an organization, it is critical that all levels work and plan together, and that the planning performed be proactive and strategic. Some components of the infrastructure may require an upgraded or be deleted; however, some components may not. Certain information about information systems, interaction, and processes, once collected, organized, and comprehended, can form an essential component of infrastructure which will outlive many of the upgrades to equipment and software. The focus of this paper is to explain what managerial roles does information system support, how has the Internet improved supply chain problems, list and describe the components of IT infrastructure that firms need to manage, name and describe the management challenges posed by IT infrastructure, and finally define Open-Source software.
Managers continue to perform critical roles in today’s organizations. They have a wide variety of responsibilities ranging from decision making, compiling data, making reports, to coordinating meetings. To understand managerial role better, we must look at both the classical and contemporary models of managerial behavior.
Henri Fayol was one of the most significant providers to modern concepts of management, having stated that the five primary functions of management were planning, organizing, coordinating, deciding, and controlling (Rushing, 2010). Fayol believed management theories could be developed and then taught. Henri Fayol proposed that it is important to have unity of command. This concept that suggests there should be only one supervisor for each person in an organization. Fayol also suggested that management is a common human activity that applies equally well to and organization as it does to a family. This type of management theory was basically unchallenged from the 1920’s through 1990’s. The terms associated with Fayol’s management theory were of a formal nature rather than describe what a manager actually does in the performance of his job (Laudon & Laudon, 2006).
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The contemporary behavioral scientists had discovered that managers do not typically behave as the classical models had first implied. “Behavioral models state that actual behavior of managers appear to be less systematic, more informal, less reflective, more reactive, less well organized, and much more frivolous than students of information systems and decision making generally expected it to be” (Laudon & Laudon, 2006, p. 87). Analyzing managers’ daily behaviors, Henry Mintzberg discovered that these actions could be classified into 10 managerial roles. Managerial roles can be described expectations of duties that should be performed by a manager in an organization. Mintzberg discovered that these roles could be broken down into three categories: interpersonal, informational, and decisional.
In general, interpersonal roles will be established by the type of position you hold in an organization. For example, lower level managers will have dissimilar interpersonal roles than middle management. The Interpersonal roles of a manager can be broken down into three categories: figurehead, leader, or a liaison.
Figureheads within an organization speak for their companies to the outside world and carry out symbolic duties such as passing out awards to employees (Rushing, 2010). Additionally, there are numerous administrative tasks and they are also in the public and professional limelight. As a leader you are responsible for ensuring a safe and productive environment for your employees. The development of your department and your employees lies on the figureheads shoulders and they must be able to promote growth while at the same time steering clear of conflict. As a liaison you must be prepared to correspond with others. Liaisons not only report to upper management but will have to work with peers from other factions within an organization such as vendors, and even clients. The liaison is responsible for knowing who to get in touch with to get to the bottom of any situation.
A monitor, disseminator, and spokesperson are the three informational roles that a manager may assume (Hartman, n.d.). These informational roles are created as a result of enacting the set of interpersonal roles already described. A network of interpersonal contacts with both subordinates and individuals outside the work unit serves to establish the manager as an informational nerve center of the unit, responsible for gathering, receiving, and transmitting information that concerns members of a specific department.
A manager takes on the monitor role by constantly scanning the environment for information or activities and events that may identify opportunities or threats to the organization. Much of the manager’s gathering of information is accomplished through the network of contacts established through the interpersonal roles. The information a manager gathers as a monitor must be evaluated and transmitted as appropriate to members of the organization. The transmittal of information by a manager activates the disseminator role. Privileged information may be disseminated to subordinates, peers, or superiors in the organization. Occasionally, a manager must take on the role of a spokesperson by speaking on behalf of the department to people inside or outside the organization. This might involve lobbying for critical resources or appealing to individuals who have influence on activities that affect the work unit (Wren, 2005).
Both interpersonal and informational roles are really preludes to what are often considered to be a manager’s most important set of roles: the decisional roles of entrepreneur, disturbance handler, resource allocator, and negotiator (Laudon & Laudon, 2006).
The entrepreneur role comes into action when the manager seeks to improve the work unit (Rushing, 2010). This can be accomplished by adapting new techniques to fit a particular situation or modifying old techniques to improve individual or group activity. Managers usually learn of new or innovative methods through information gathered in the monitor role. Whereas the entrepreneur role establishes the manager as the initiator of change, the disturbance handler role establishes the manager as a responder to change. Organizations, unfortunately, do not run so smoothly that managers are never called upon to respond to unwelcome pressures. In these cases, the manager is required to act quickly to bring stability back to the organization. When a manager is placed in the position of having to decide to whom and in what quantity resources will be dispensed, the resource allocator role is assumed. Resources may include money, time, power, equipment, or people. During periods of resource abundance, this role can be easily performed by a manager. In most cases, however, organizations operate under conditions of resource scarcity; thus, decisions on the allocation of resources can be critical for the success of the work unit, division, or organization. As a decision maker, the manager must strive not only to appropriately match resources with subordinates but also to ensure that the distribution of resources is coordinated to effectively complete the task to be performed (Rushing, 2010). In addition to decisions concerning organizational changes, disturbances, and resources, the manager must enact a negotiator role. The process of negotiation is possible only when an individual has the authority to commit organizational resources. Hence, as managers move up the managerial hierarchy and obtain control over more resources, they become more involved in the negotiator role.
Supply Chain Management
Supply chain management (SCM) combines the art and science that goes into improving the way an organization discovers the components it needs to make a product or service and deliver it to its customers (Laudon & Laudon, 2006). The idea of Supply Chain Management is built around two principal ideas. The first is that just about every product that reaches a customer represents the collective effort of multiple organizations. Together these organizations are referred as the supply chain. The second idea is that although supply chains have been around for a long time, many organizations have only paid attention to what was happening within their own organization. Few businesses understood and managed the entire chain of procedures that eventually delivered products to the final customer. The result was disorganized and often ineffective supply chains
Internet and Supply Chains
Supply chains in almost every business are at the start of a startling reinvention produced by the growth of the Internet. The change extends beyond performance advancements and efficiencies acquired from computerization and communication to incorporate brand new possibilities to create value. This new value results from coordinated supply chains that can extend to larger markets and shape goods and services to meet the customers’ needs and new products and services that adjust to the highly competitive and increasing environmental needs. The Internet alters the way in which supply chains are managed, designed and controlled. The information, choices and practices that form Supply Chain Management are shifting to the Internet, breaking old ideas and widening company boundaries. This common ground will be where entire supply chains truly can be synchronized. New unknown specialist providers of both virtual and physical activities will create their own exclusive roles in the new infrastructure. In this ever changing environment, supply chain capabilities will be essential. But gaining those crucial competitive resources will not take place through the typical supply chain ideas of today (“Challenges facing supply chain management”, 2008).
Internet Technology for Integrating Business Processes
Information technology (IT) has always been utilized to handle exchanges of goods, services, and information between organizations. With the arrival of Internet-based business-to-business (B2B) electronic markets, on the other hand, real opportunities for online transactions have begun to open up (Samson, 2010). The emerging internet was definitely an unpredictable development. All the same, important operating criteria such as reliability, local structures and robustness always came to the fore. As a result, users had the opportunity to get access to a highly available international data network that stays operative even in case of a breakdown of some single nodes. One important aspect of globalization is concentration. As a logical consequence, international companies have to merge or to collaborate with each other to meet the requirements for a global distribution of their goods and services. In a networked economy, these enterprises are bound to unseal some parts of their IT infrastructure to allow the engaged parties an exchange of product and accounting data as well as current status information in order to sustain the supply chain. Furthermore, employees need improved business applications with enhanced functionalities to manage their all-day work. These applications replenish existing legacy systems by degrees. Long-ranging, these enhancements result in a heterogeneous network of computers and applications, as all those components require each other and have to be consolidated. In the context of integrating distributed business application systems, the vision of redundancy and robustness was not resumed consequently: A changing business environment results in new technical developments and increasing demand of IT supported execution of business processes (Needle, 2009).
Information technology infrastructure can be defined as the tangible hardware used to link computers and users (Laudon & Laudon, 2006). Infrastructure may include transmission media and other instruments that direct transmission paths. Infrastructure can also consist of the software that is used to send, receive, and manage transmitted signals.
Additionally, infrastructure can refer to interconnecting hardware and software and not to computers and other devices that are interconnected. On the other hand, to some IT users, infrastructure is regarded as everything that maintains the continual flow and management of information. IT infrastructure today is comprised of seven major components: computer hardware platforms, operating system platforms, enterprise software applications, data management and storage, networking/telecommunications platforms, internet platforms, and consulting and system integration services (Samson, 2010).
Computer Hardware Platforms
The physical part of the computer is referred to as the computer hardware. This includes the digital circuitry, which is different than the computer software that executes within the hardware (Laudon & Laudon, 2006). The hardware of a computer is rarely changed as compared to the computer software and data, which are soft in the sense that they are quickly created, tailored or deleted from the computer. The microprocessor is the core of any computing device. The two major companies that manufacture most microprocessing chips are Intel and Advanced Micro Devices (AMD). Standard tests of the AMD chip alongside the Intel Celeron chip have shown that the AMD chip was better in performance.
Operating System Platforms
An operating system is the program that, after being initially loaded into the computer by a boot program, manages all the other programs in a computer. The other programs are called applications or application programs. The application programs make use of the operating system by making requests for services through a defined application program interface (API). In addition, users can interact directly with the operating system through a user interface such as a command language or a graphical user interface (GUI) (Greer, 2009).
Enterprise Software Applications
The goal of enterprise software applications is to integrate applications into seamless processes throughout an organization. The two most popular applications in this group are customer relationship management and supply chain management systems. Business processes that have traditionally been optimized for internal efficiency can now add the element of superior customer service, tailored to each customer, inspiring the skills of trained agents in the call center. Back office processes are greatly improved with better information from the customer. Additionally, agents can slowly decrease the flow of paper, in favor of more efficient communication avenues such as e-mail and the web (von der Weth & Starker, 2010).
Data Management and Storage
Organizations are collecting increasingly more data on its customers, employees, and even the organization itself. Being able to manage and storing the data so that it is readily accessible and supply meaningful information to the organization is developing into a discipline in and of itself (Laudon & Laudon, 2006). Storage area networks (SANs) provide an organized, cost-effective way to combine data from across any system within the organization. Online users want direct access to data and SANs help organizations with a way to provide it.
As we continue towards a completely digital world, networking and telecommunications platforms will begin to merge together. Instead than having a platform for networking computers and devices and a separate platform for telecommunications, we will begin to see businesses providing a combination of computers and peripheral devices, handheld PDAs telephone services, cell phone services, and wireless services all packaged together into one. A myriad of telecommunications companies have already merged with Internet service providers to provide complete digital service packages (Eren, Subasi, & Coskun, 2008).
The Internet and subsequent technology continue to develop the services businesses are able to offer their employees, customers, suppliers, and other business partners (Laudon & Laudon, 2006). Intranets and extranets constructed on Internet technologies provide businesses an easy and economical way of providing services that were extremely expensive just a few years ago.
Many small and medium-sized businesses are using Web hosting services instead of purchasing new hardware necessary to support Web sites, intranets, and extranets. It’s more cost effective and easier to have these service-providers manage hardware, software, and security issues, leaving the organization to concentrate on its primary processes.
Consulting and System Integration Services
Systems used in many large organizations are so complicated that it’s almost impossible to manage them by alone. Integration services offered by the companies like IBM and Hewlett-Packard are essential in keeping up with all the changes. In various ways it makes more sense for a company like Nike to focus on its core processes of making sports apparel and let a company like IBM take care of the technology issues.
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These services become more vital as many organizations combine their old legacy systems with newer technologies such as wireless networking. The old legacy systems merely can’t be thrown away but must work flawlessly with today’s newest technologies. Some organizations prefer not to completely replace legacy systems because it’s not cost effective, requires large amounts of training, and causes too much change in the organization. It’s simpler to use middleware and other technologies to combine new and old systems (Schmidt, Otto, & Osterle, 2010).
Developing and managing a sound IT infrastructure raises multiple challenges: making wise infrastructure investments, coordinating infrastructure components, dealing with scalability and technology changes, and management and governance.
Just like investments in home remodeling often fail to provide a significant return on investment (ROI), it is frequently the case with investments in superior IT infrastructure components. IT Managers are constantly under the gun to decrease costs in order to fund new projects or to meet cost-reduction goals. Managers should make decisions to prevent overspending on component parts of the organizations computer systems. For example, high reliability storage, will offer little value if matched with servers or network connections of lower reliability. A string of high reliability components may surpass the necessities of the service they support. Any time the performance of any component notably goes above the requirements the incremental savings is pointless (Laudon & Laudon, 2006).
Coordinating Infrastructure Components
Today’s organizations develop IT infrastructures by choosing a variety of wholesalers, people, and technology services and fit them together so that they work as a whole (Samson, 2010). Because each part of the whole IT infrastructure has its own priorities, managing them collectively can be quite difficult. Some components of infrastructure will need to be upgraded or are subject to upgrade or replaced, as is with most components of computing systems. However, some components are not. Specific information about information systems and associated processes can form an essential component of infrastructure which will outlive many upgrades of equipment or software.
Dealing with Scalability and Technology Changes
In general terms, scalability refers to the ability of a system to maintain, if not improve, its average performance as the number of clients grows (Laudon & Laudon, 2006). As an organization continues to grow, it can quickly out grow its infrastructure. On the other hand, if an organization downsizes, they may be stuck with an infrastructure that is too big and expensive to keep running. Every component of the infrastructure has some kind of management or operational overhead associated. Therefore, it is imperative that the organization recognizes these changes and takes appropriate actions to keep the organization moving forward.
Management and Governance
One of the most vital tasks for successful information management is developing the business governance over its program and related projects (Wren, 2005). Governance will apply a priority to the often-conflicting organizational pressures. It will take organizational plans and goals and help to form them into bounded endeavors. However, many organizations battle to get their governance programs up and running. They can’t acquire interest, and they are in need of ideas to discuss after the initial objective is created.
Information Systems and Ethical Issues
Information systems introduce new and often complex ethical issues (Carroll & Buchholtz, 2006). This is very true today because of the challenges created by the Internet and e-commerce to the safeguard of privacy and intellectual property. New ethical issues caused by vast use of information systems include creating accountability for the consequences of information systems, establishing standards to safeguard system quality that look after the safety of individuals and society, and upholding values and establishments considered vital to the quality of life in an information world. Whether you manage your own company or work in a large business, you’ll be facing these issues, and you’ll need to know how to handle them.
Open-source software (OSS) is computer software that is created by a cooperation of several thousand programmers worldwide (Chan & Husted, 2010). Some open source software is accessible within the public domain. The term open-source software was derived as part of a marketing campaign for free software. “Open-source software is based on the premise that it is superior to commercially produced proprietary software because thousands of programmers around the world working for no pay can read, perfect, distribute, and modify the source code much faster , and with more reliable results , than small teams of programmers working for a single software company” (Laudon & Laudon, 2006, p. 209).
Open-source software experts have identified several advantages and disadvantages. The key advantage for an organization is that open-source software is an excellent way for companies to attain better market penetration. Organizations that present open-source software are able to create an industry standard and, therefore, gain an advantage over its competition. Additionally, it has helped create loyalty to the developers. In turn, the developers feel a sense of empowerment and ownership of the end product. Furthermore, less marketing and logistical services costs are required for OSS. Also, it helps organizations to keep up on of all technology developments. Another advantage is that it is an excellent tool to market an organizations image, incorporating its commercial products. The open-source software development method has produce reliable, high quality software rapidly and at a much lower cost. Likewise, it offers the promise for a more adaptable technology and quicker improvement. The mix of different perspectives, business objectives, and personal goals helps speed up innovation. Additionally free software can be developed in concurrence with entirely technical requirements. Open-source software does not entail considering about commercial demands that tends to degrade the software quality (Chan & Husted, 2010).
On the other hand, it can be argued that the open-source development process may not be as clear and that some system testing and documentation may be overlooked. Nonetheless this is usually only true for smaller jobs. Bigger, successful jobs tend to define and impose, as a minimum, some rules because they are needed to ensure good teamwork. In the most complex projects these rules may be as strict as reviewing even minor change by two independent developers.
Even though many companies like IBM and Sun Microsystems support open source software there are no great financial interest involved. A majority of the developers and advocates of free source software tend to believe in an unrealistic society that does not involve intellectual property rights Therefore most of the applications are not dependable and you cannot run essential business operations on them.
Another disadvantage is that once you choose to use open-source software you are on your own. Although there is a lot of help available on the Web, there is no real skilled support available. Basically, you have to learn how to install and use applications on your own, without damaging your data and hardware. There are no documents and manuals made available to help you since the software is being constantly being changed (Chan & Husted, 2010).
An additional drawback is that most of the open-source applications are not compatible with some of today’s devices (Chan & Husted, 2010). For example, there is no such thing as plug and play hardware when you are using open-source operating systems. Occasionally it is hard to get modems to work with open source operating systems.
Finally, technical support is more expensive compared to commercial software (Chan & Husted, 2010). People who offer support for open-source software count on earning lots of money to provide support and in fact this is the only income model alleged in support of the open source software movement.
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