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Information Technology in Firms

Introduction

Information and Communications Technologies (ICTs) has had a great impact in the way business is conducted in the modern world. Several companies have incorporated technology in their operational and strategic management. Areas among others in which information technology is deployed to increase employees’ competency and productivity include: staffing systems, career development systems, and training systems.

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When companies employ electronic transactions in their daily operations, the business becomes E-commerce. Internet availability is sometimes a basic requisite for the incorporation of Information Technology (IT) in business. Components of this kind of business include online payment for goods and services and extranet network systems among others. Although IT is not a replacement to historical conventional manual trading, it is actually of immense benefit to firms that undertake to implement it. The initial cost of IT infrastructure installations is costly, but the benefits outweigh the investment cost and improve businesses.

Information Technology and employee productivity

Several firms of all levels still depend on communication channels such as emails and voice mails to distribute information.MS Word documents, spreadsheets, presentation and various other unstructured ways of communication are common occurrences in business settings. The forms lack coherent structured systems to enable archiving and compilation of resulting materials from the teams input (Antbony & Morton, 1971. p.63).

In essence once a document is circulated, the dispatcher has to typically wait for response from the various concerned personnel. In the meantime, some details that are fundamental to the concern issue come in late or never arrive at all. The author therefore has to compare the limited information received and ultimately compile another document which is then re-sent and the cycle begins again. Several important comments end up being made outside the documents and never find their way into the actual drafts. The consequence is wasted effort by the author, data resources that no one can cross reference and knowledge drain of the circulators and coordinators of the compilation system (Coghil & Laudon, 1997).

Several Web applications such as intranets, extranets and many more others efficiently curtail these set backs. In general, the applications provide one single source-repository for all the data. Company wide access to the information requires a degree of authorization that depends on several factors such as seniority in the company. The systems ease global updating of information and provide fast and efficient means of increasing productivity. Incorporation of IT in management of firms leads to: Availability, scalability, capacity planning, reliability, performance and flexibility (Cummings, et al. 2006).

Staffing systems

Every organization tries to equip itself with the best staff possible. This however is a challenging issue in both local and international organization. Global staffing is a sensitive aspect of human resources management that a company needs to be well vast in for effective operations (Pucik, 1996, p. 76). For multinationals, employees may be expatriates, host-country nationals, or third-county national.

Information Technology helps human resource departments of organisations in several aspects related to staffing. To begin with management of staff timing like physical monitoring of when staff comes in and out is easily done by security cards which are used to open doors and at the same time record the entry or the exit. IT assists in running of organisations. When services are automated, the need for human capital becomes redundant to a large margin.

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The initial cost of automation may be high, but maintenance of machines is way easier than retaining employees. For instance the current healthcare problems associated with inadequate number of nurses in the United States can be significantly reduced by incorporating IT into the system. Clerical work and other tasks can be automated leaving practitioners with ample time to attend to patients needs.

Mistakes associated with human beings like negligence are also reduced. Staffing shortages can therefore be reduced through information technology. For multinationals operating in global scale, IT provides maintenance of personnel track records in a manageable manner from a centralized headquater eliminating the difficulty that international mangers would have to face in keeping the records manual hence increasing competency.

IT gives the service industry a chance to serve customers for longer hours. A common notable example is in the banking sector. Conventional manual service to customers does end with the close of business hours but through Automated Teller Machines, customers are still able to enjoy services such withdrawal of cash. Longer service hours translate to more transactions and revenue in addition to customer satisfaction. This significantly increases productivity (Efraim, and Wetherbe, 1996).

Career development and training systems

Career development goes hand in hand with training in the Information Technology sector. This is not only due to constant innovations in the industry but also the numerous challenges that require solutions through information technology. Flexibility is important in ensuring IT employees are up to date with emerging new trends in the sector.

Business that incorporates Information Technology in their operations should be ready to employ IT technicians and constantly upgrade their knowledge in the trade for them to serve the company better and experience career growth. This is through acquisition and development of new skills. In the IT industry, it is common for a good product to be in the market for only a short period of time and get surpassed by an even better one.

If the company’s basis for using Information Technology is to gain a competitive edge in the market and provide better services, then it has to adjust to using the new product. This means that the concern employees in the IT sector must clearly understand the operation of the particular product. The company therefore needs to have a structure for reinvesting in employees to continuously acquire the necessary skills in order to perform better.

This is done through retraining of the employees which could be in the form of seminars, scholarships to an academic institution, industrial arrangements with the manufacturers of the products, or on job training among others. Evaluation should be done to ascertain which of the prospective options is most viable for the company by considering factors such as cost, benefits to the company, and impact of employees’ absence. A good investment on Information Technology greatly gives a competitive edge in running of firms increasing efficiency, competency, and performance (Morton, and Lester, 1990).

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Conclusion

Technology has not made communication cheaper but has made it way quicker creating a global village which eases decision making and running of organisations. The expensive nature of installing Information technology infrastructure and security risks associated with centralization of information which can easily be accessed are but some of the downsides of IT. All in all, IT boosts employees’ productivity, improves staffing systems, and ensures career development and training for staff. These benefits greatly develop firms and increase their efficiency in operation amounting to higher competency and productivity.

Reference List

Antbony, G.G. & Morton, S. S. (1971). A framework for management information systems. Sloan Management Review, 13 (Fall), 55-70.

Coghil, K. & Laudon , J. P. (1997). Management Information Systems: New Approaches to Organization and Technology. Upper Saddle River, NJ: Prentice Hall.

Cummings,D. et al. (2006). In Management Information Systems for the Information Age. Toronto: McGraw-Hill Ryerson.

Efraim, T. & Wetherbe, E. R.(1996). Information Technology for Management: Improving Quality and Productivity. New York: John Wiley.

Morton, S. M. & Lester C. (1990). Thurow, Corporation of the 1990s: Information Technology and Organizational Transformation. London: Oxford University Press.

Pucik, V. (1996). Human Resources in the future: An Obstacle of a champion of Globalization?. CAHRS Working Paper Series. Web.

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