Prior to think about starting new business or implementing new technology to the business, one must think about the “Objectives” what they are expecting from it and objectives are based on planning. Therefore, “plan” is the most important part and if plan does not figure out the outcomes, this would mean that the plan made is vain. So planning should be made under consideration that whatever objectives we are going to calculate from the business, plan should stipulate end results and its associated activities to achieve that results.
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Objective may be set under the consideration of increase in monthly sale, profit or decrease in cost, operating expenses, check and balance on cash flows, debts, investments etc or non financial objectives such as customer satisfaction and whatsoever to give the positive edge to the business in the competitive environment. However, the selected topic would highlight the introduction of a new technology in an organisation in achieving its business objectives in following discussion.
Lots of executives nowadays are more sentient about the strategic weight of technology in terms of providing the value and cut-throat edge to their companies in fast pacing business arena. Such kind of needs turn into more crucial issues when we talk about their practical implications in any business as it comprises not only cost and complexity but also increase in the rate of technology change, sources and competition.
This may sound uncomplicated in terms of designing it on papers, however putting it prudently into practice is not simple, as it requires valuable processes, management of technology and system to make sure that these technological resources are matched with the business needs, not only to cope with current demand but for the future needs of the business as well. Hence, no matter what technology is planned to introduce in the business, but it must considered that it assists the business processes such as communication and its implementation must be aligned with business strategy and development.
1.1 Technology And Its Appendage To Business
We can define technology in many ways and the abstracts from the various definitions highlight different aspects that epitomize technology and this can be deemed as a precise type of knowledge however this may also be in material form in a shape of physical object, e.g. it can be a machine, system, module or product. Moreover, when we talk about important elements of technology then we come across with the sense that these elements distinguish technology from ordinary understanding to precise understanding of the company, as technology comprises with engineering and science. And the procedures which work effectively for its functions are also very important, for instance organisations structures and software applications / tools together with innovative procedures and advancement of new product etc.
Obtaining awareness about the technology and accommodating it for its effective use is crucial, as technical know-how of any technology consists of both overt and unspoken knowledge. Where, overt know-how can be explained whether in a form of report, process or user manual, together with the physical equipment. However, unspoken technological knowledge can not be easily expressed and depends on training and understanding of work such as obtaining different skills according to the need of work. Equally like technology, we can portrait technology appendage to business in a way that it concentrates on the effectual recognition, selection, getting hold of development, utilization and shielding of technology needed to uphold a market place and business recital in conformity with company’s objectives. So technology appendage to business can demonstrate as ascertaining and upholding the link between resources and objectives of the company and this requires suitable processes and tools sustain by effective management and communication.
1.2 Management of Technology
Once technology introduces to the business the next phase comes in the shape of its management which elucidate the demanding processes to build up an incessant relationship between product and services that it can produce desired results while serving to the target market. In this way it becomes easy for it to put together all technological issues arise during the business processes, including innovation, operation management, strategy development and new product development and ultimately the extraction of those issues with best solutions.
Excellent management of technology requires the strong link of knowledge and communication among the technological and commercial perspectives in the organization and this would help to accomplish a balance between technology push and market pull. Thus, it does not only depend alone on either internal or external factors but equally on both factors such as business objectives, inside culture of the company and dynamics of the market. Following figure shows how technology can support to both product and services to achieve its best and cost efficient results while simultaneously focusing on business strategy and available market opportunities.
As challenges are associated with all of the businesses, fields, professions, processes, etc similarly there are various challenges attached with the introduction of new technology to the business few of the vital challenges are as follows:
Comprehensible Business Need
The first challenge prior to decide the introduction of new technology to the business is “Need” and this must be taken into account with high consideration as cost of implementing new technology must not exceed the benefits originate from it. Otherwise lack of clear business need may affect worst to the business position and ultimately may put business out from the market.
1.3.2 Valuable Business Processes
Once it’s decided that there is a genuine need of the new technology in the business and competitive advantage would be driven into the business, then there is a need to think about how to develop valuable business processes which would align all internal and external factors with the business strategy to achieve its objectives and it must not overload from limited or short term tasks only.
Culture of any organisation is vital for its success so new technology must be supportive to its culture and should participate in the effective progress of making culture stronger than the ongoing culture and definitely it should not impede the ongoing progress otherwise the introduction of new technology would be costly rather than beneficial to the company.
1.3.3 Right People and Functions
There is also a need to ensure that right people and functions must be aligned with new technology as it all depends on the knowledge and skills so if the right persons are not put in place to exercise it or in the process of making functions to obtain competitive outcomes then the best use of new technology may concealed forever from the company’s desired results.
1.3.4 Obligation from Senior Management
Obligation from senior management is required for this introduction as they are in command to decide and use of the technology. As they are working for the best interest of the shareholders so every decision from them must be transparent and they are accountable and responsible for their actions towards the company’s progress. Lack of commitment in this regard may affect worst on the decision of introduction of new technology.
1.3.5 Required Data / Information
Availability of required data / information is essential that could support the company’s decision for the introduction of new technology. Because this would help the management to decide whether these is a need for the new technology in the business or they can make outsource arrangements for the required processes without this data / information company may play blind ultimately associated cost would turn their profit into loss.
Effective Tools / Techniques
Effective tool, techniques and methods must be analysed which would be associated to the new technology as these should not either play a difficult or negative role in the company’s ongoing processes. Consequently, these would leave destructive impact on the operations and company may face solvency or loss due to the introduction of new technology.
Effectual Training and Monitoring
Training must be provided to all of the staff members involved in the processes affected by the introduction of new technology as without the proper training they may face difficulty to use or bypass cost effective processes and finally monitoring is vital for the sake of observing the desired benefit calculated prior to the introduction. If company achieves it’s objectives then its beneficial and would give competitive advantage and if not then company always move with the contingency plan to depart from the use of new technology or processes.
2. Radio Frequency Identification (RFID) New Technology By Tesco
Tesco is trying to develop the idea of introducing new technology Radio Frequency Identification (RFID) from last 5 years with a perspective to align it with its business strategy.
2.1 How It Works
This technology has an ability to track and tag items, on the other hand its implication is enormous. For instance, the movement of stock can be tracked and in transit products can be easily monitored, so inventory of all items can be examined at any time.
2.2 Enhanced Customer Availability
With the help of stock tracking in real time and ability to record it automatically, this technology will help the staff members to re-shelve the items on time. Eventually, it will be the reason for enhanced customer availability to the stores.
2.3 Reduced Pricing
Through this technology control over the waste in store, effective supply chain management and better stock levels would help Tesco to reduce the products prices to obtain competitive advantage. In simple words products would be ordered in controlled manner such as Just In Time delivery before the stock ends and eventually minimum waste of it in store.
2.4 Enhanced Customer Services
Due to control over all other aspects such as enhanced products availability, the staff would be able to provide excellent and focused customer services. As, they would get awareness of stocks in seconds of time whether items are available or not together with tracking the misplaced items and putting them back to their places.
2.5 Automated Re-order
As, this technology keeps record of all items available in stores, in transit, misplaced in the store and control over the wastage of inventory. So, it would be possible to reorder items automatically based on the contact of minimum level of stocks of each item.
2.6 Implementation Issues
Tesco is still working on this project to implement it in its stores but there are many issues left and need appropriate intention and secure programming. The main barrier around its implementation is the requirement of huge cost and without cost / benefit analysis Tesco is not ready to implement / test it in any of its stores. But it is expected that it will introduce in 2010. The other main issue which has to consider carefully that this technology has a potential of “spy” and this issue has already risen by Civil Rights activists. Also there is apprehension about the manipulation of data in terms of changing in the product price by customers. For instance, PDA (hand held device) may edit the tag of one item with the price of another.
The idea behind introducing the new technology is that whether it endows positive and efficient results to what is currently in use by the company or not. So, the thing is company has to decide that whether they need to upgrade the existing technology already in use or introduce the new technology to achieve business objectives while taking advantage of the more profit, competitive edge / enhancement of operational activities or if they can push the business activities forward without introduction of new technology.
Also company must take its vision in account and must ensure that this new technology is heading towards the same direction and has ability to dominate the future approach of performing a task in the company’s favour or will it become obsolete after a little time (company’s loss in terms of functional cost) or complex in use that customers will lean while using it at the time to buy a product (damage of image). Apart from the criticism about “spy” and other associated issues, Tesco knows that introduction of new technology has other short terms issues as well such as re-organising, re-training of staff, educating customers how to use it etc. Moreover, the cost / benefit analysis are left behind and has to analysed before the implication of this new technology.
This is fair to say while concluding from the introduction of new technology’s analysis that business would not obtain benefits if it is same alike so. And if without introducing new technology a business is already standing on the top of competitive environment then there is no need to introduce new technology to the business but hold the “card” to put off when any of the competitors changes its approach to come forward in the competitive business arena.
3. Approaches Of Introduction Of New Technology
Once I read the available list for The Oxford Brookes University Research and Analysis Project (RAP) by ACCA, I decided to write on “How the introduction of a new technology can assist an organisation in achieving its business objectives” and for this purpose I selected “Tesco RFID” to refer it with the different available approaches. Following are various approaches / levels / stages etc that every company may consider while functioning about the introduction of new technology to achieve their business objectives:
3.1 Planning Of Product / Technology
This is the very common type towards the introduction of new technology in the business and it covers the entire processes that a company may come across with right from its start to its end. This stage helps the company to insert technology in their running system and contrived products. Tesco RFID prior to its development was taken into account with a consideration of individual customer’s understandings and needs. The idea was based on customers’ shopping experience and wastage of stock in the stores. So they planned to introduce a new technology that regulates with the current operational activities and this process can be seen in the following figure which shows the timely introduction and connection of products-technologies relationship on planning stage.
3.2 Capabilities Of New Technology
After the planning stage, the next step companies consider for the introduction of new technology in their businesses is analysing the capabilities to handle the current operations of the organisation by new technology that it should enhance the performance of the ongoing processes and should not become the reason of either making it difficult to handle or making the current operations more complex than their existing way. Same as in the case of RFID, Tesco reviewed its existing operations and analysed that with the help of capabilities of new technology together with the management serving the customers by giving individual attention, the implementation of RFID would be very effective. The technology captured positive perception but still issues are associated with it and Tesco is working hard to resolve these issues.
Tesco management knows that it would give them cost reduction benefit by controlling over the wastage of stock but the implementation is still delayed due to the high initial cost requirement and other issues. But, it seems like Tesco management is sure about technology’s capabilities and exceptional services by staff members so they know that it would help Tesco to understand that how much investment is required to implement it properly and ultimately this would become a rationale in increased business activities plus profit. Following figure shows the interrelationship between all activities behind the introduction of new technology in the business to achieve its objectives.
3.3 Strategic Approach
It is very important to keep in mind about the future vision of any introduction of new technology in the business as it comprises on the all vital aspects of the business environment including market, product, skills, technology etc. So prior to deciding for the new technology, companies should made the vision that what they are expecting from this new project that it should stroll along with all vital aspects of the business without having conflict with any of it.
The same way, Tesco realised that they can save much of the costs they are wasting in a way of stock wastage and made vision that this RFID would produce excellent results in terms of increase in sales and reduction in costs including management cost and more important is that it is aligned with its operations and future vision. Following figure shows the how the strategic approach works for the business even to fill out the gap which turns up due to the comparison of current position with the future vision.
3.4 Information System
Information system is vital part of every successful project and especially when thinking about to introduce new technology to the business. All of the project’s essences up to its success are based on the right information on timely basis. If wrong information driven on the initial stage would mean the wrong decision for the future and ultimately it would drive company towards cost and loss of business.
Tesco for instance, when initially took step for introducing the RFID they came across from many experiments in the shape of surveys and observing customers’ behaviour and they collected right information from its various outlets to make decision about introducing new technology.
So, we can see from the following figure that right information on right time in the process of technology development provides the dominant outcome (e.g. nugget in the fig) leads to cost effective edge in the company’s operations.
3.5 Asset and Management Knowledge
On the basis of aligning available management and asset knowledge companies can portray the future demands. Asset knowledge relates to the processes on which management takes decision about the projects and their needs including introduction of new technology and this is the stage where management takes business objectives very carefully in to account.
As Tesco on the basis of its knowledge and management skills enabled it to take a decision about to introduce RFID. With the help of following figure we can analyse that how all aspects of introduction of new technology in business such as assets, knowledge and management help to align all the processes while focusing on the eventual end of achieving business objectives.
4. Issues With Introduction Of New Technology
Similar to all projects, there are various issues attached with the introduction to new technology and these issues must take into account very sensibly to achieve the desire business objectives. However the most import issue is Software, as almost all of the technologies are dependent on software that enables its effective use so companies must consider the following main issues related to software:
Software should define all aspects of the business processes without any conflict with inter-related activities from enabling data, sharing information, to all templates and protocols.
Software should enable management to retrieve data for decision making, analysing situations, and managing the complexities in the systems etc.
Software must provide the critical paths of the activities along with available activities which can start parallel to the critical paths to save time and cost and eventually helping management to make timely decisions.
Software must have ability to uphold market information, product-market analysis, option evaluations, assessment of technology up gradation etc.
Software should have ability to customise it on timely basis according to the requirement to obtain utmost results from the technology.
Software should have ability for integration of methods, processes and information.
Software must have ability to facilitate the business processes from importing and exporting data simultaneously connecting with other management and business information systems.
Software interface must be user friendly with ability to grow with company, this would mean that it must have ability to support multi-users as data would input from various locations and types.
Must consider that only software alone may not produce good results as its role is just to support business activities and it depends on the management that how they utilise the best from the information generated from the software.
5. Pros and Cons Of Introduction Of New Technology
Like every object new technology introduction also has pros and cons to the business as the logic behind the introduction of new technology is that businesses want to make their activities and processes more efficient as compare to their current available needs.
5.1 Advantages of Introduction of New Technology
Following are the advantages of the new technology in business:
5.1.1 Cost Efficient
The first and main advantage behind the decision of introduction of new technology is cost saving.
Increased productivity in terms of production, planning and efficiency is also one of the advantages associated with introduction of new technology to the business.
5.1.3 Reduction in Workforce
Automated activities help companies to reduce the workforce eventually this would help as a source of cost saving.
As efficiency increased it reduces the cost so introduction of new technology to the new business allows work to be done more quickly which would mean more fluency of cash inflows to the business.
5.1.5 Employees Motivation
Once company achieved its business objectives from the introduction of new technology this would means business is making profit. So, companies may think about remuneration increment or bonuses to their employees to increase their motivation level.
5.1.6 Effective Communication and Decision Making
Introduction of new technology may help companies to communicate effectively with their long distance businesses point of sales and thus it would be easy for them to make decision according to the requirement of a particular area.
5.1.7 Competitive Advantage
Companies always decide to introduce new technology with keeping competitive advantages in their mind. It could be offering products on low prices without lowing standard of products.
5.2 Disadvantages of Introduction of New Technology
Following are the disadvantages of the new technology in business:
Main disadvantage is the introduction of new technology to the business might be difficult to manage. So with high consideration of genuine “need” must take in to account.
New technology if internal, the company may require to arrange appropriate training for its employees or if external (for customer use) then may not be user friendly and thus beyond the range of use from large number of customers and this would generate loss in return.
The maintenance and up gradation of technology to keep it effective may incur more cost than its benefits.
5.2.4 Other Costs
Other costs may be in terms of redundancy pay to the staff due to the introduction of new technology and purchasing it for the entire branches of business.
5.2.5 Time Factor
Introduction of new technology may obsolete more quicker than the time company calculated to obtain benefits from it.
Introduction of new technology may not integrate with all of the business processes or may bypass various activities which may be important to take into account for the effective outcome.
Substitute of the technology may be more efficient of cheaper than the technology company is going to arrange for its business activities. This would mean inefficient and costly decision by management without making proper research.
From all of the above discussion we can abstract that introduction of new technology (if genuinely required by the company) has great potential to support the development and implement of business activities, align with strategy of the company while endowing a company with the effective information, processes and tool to obtain positive outcomes.
The following features of introduction of new technology have identified:
A lot of benefits of new technology are taken from the business processes and these processes brings together personnel from various divisions of the business endowing them chance to share effective information and their perspectives towards the development of new technology.
The obvious advantage to develop and introduce the new technology is based on the effective communication which is associated with business processes and eventually with the strategic planning.
The new technology development may have potential for supporting business planning and strategy to achieve the business objectives sketched by business’s vision.
New technology introduction is not a black box approach that it would use as a learning experience or flexible approach that it would base on specific circumstances.
Introduction of new technology should articulate in graphical form as it is the most effectual means which maintain communication across useful boundaries prior to the development of processes under new technology.
New technology must integrate with technology already in use, products development, business processes and commercial activities by the company.
New technology should overtly describe the time measurement which is significant for certifying that all business related activities are synchronised effectively.
Introduction of new technology must focus on long term vision of the company as the initial investment for the development, implementation, and training about new technology costs as a huge expense to the company.
Software plays an important role in every application in the technology. It may alone can not deliver the best results unless it is made as user friendly and integrated with all other related aspects of the business
Finally a key benefit of introduction of new technology is sharing of knowledge among all the personnel even if around the globe and the development of strong and common vision where company is heading.
After working about the implementation of RFID by Tesco and attached issues to this project following are few recommendations for its growth:
YE ABHI CHANGE KERNI HEIN
Establish Technology Management Practices
Create IT Management Team
ORG does not have a formal technology management team. Given the size of ORG’s computing environment, CompuMentor recommends ORG develop an Information Technology Management Team. This team will drive the overall direction of technology and information systems. We have found this to be the most sustainable and cost effective way to manage the technology projects and systems that ORG will be developing. This team can be comprised of existing staff through a reallocation of their time depending the existing staff skill set, interest and budget considerations.
Allows all staff to begin discussing needs, ideas and directions for technology.
Provides a realistic technology budget that takes into account the organization’s technology plans.
Becomes a focal point for future technology planning, and specific technology projects such as web site construction or database planning.
The diverse membership of the tech team can help ensure that such policy is useful for all members of an organization.
ORG should develop an Information Technology Management Team pooled from its existing staff.
The team works to set technical priorities, assist in decisions in technology plan implementation and advocates for technology in the budgeting process.
The team is made up of a representative cross-section of the organization. This will be increasingly important as ORG’s technological capacity grows and the needs of its users become more diverse.
The tech team ensures continuity for planning that outlasts the tenure of any one individual. The tech team should ensure that members also share training opportunities.
Document Policies & Procedures
In order to most productively manage the technology usage at ORG it is important for the organization to document common computer procedures and computer usage policies and to train staff members on these policies and procedures.
The series of training materials that Miriam has produced should be finalized and deployed to all ORG staff members.
Computer usage policies should be drafted and posted at each location.
Improve Network Server and File Security.
ORG should standardize and improve its network security. The mix of local vs. server accounts and the lack of standards for file organization and file sharing not only requires more overall administration; but also puts ORG’s data at risk from loss, theft, or access to private files by individuals who should normally be denied access.
In order to provide a consistent model among all of its offices ORG should follow a standard set of guidelines for storing and sharing files. Additionally, all user accounts should be centralized on the servers at each location.
A consistent file storage and sharing model will help users across the organization to know where to put files so that they are secure and confidential.
This recommendation should be considered when planning to replace the network server at the unified Peabody/Whitehall office as many of the tasks below could be most quickly performed on a new server.
Evaluate need for regular systems administration.
Due to the size of ORG’s organization, it should consider how much time is spent administering various systems and resolving day-to-day user problems. ORG presently has a person at each location designated as the “defacto” administrator. This role is in addition to their regular mission oriented duties.
ORG should track its daily user related issues and the amount of time it takes to resolve them over a period of time (30-60 days).
Evaluate the time requirement to resolve such issues in order to identify if further scheduled support service or a full-time administrator is required to free up the time of the present administrators and to provide better service to staff members.
Establish a formal technology budget.
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