Information technology in the business world through the years and beyond!
Information Technology (IT) can be defined as a collection of individual technology components that are typically organized into computer-based information systems. Information technology has changed the way the world does business. Businesses no longer have to rely on a trail of paper work to conduct everyday's transactions. Slow snarl mail is a thing of the past. Customers no longer have to leave their homes to buy products or transfer money from their savings account to their checking account. By just sitting in front of a computer screen, businessmen can attend meetings that take place several miles away. As the business environment continues to evolve at a rapid rate, management of every type of industry is searching for new ideas and possible core competencies to capitalize on. One area that has been closely examined is information technology. Over the past decade the importance of IT has been stamped upon the minds of top executives worldwide. In the past, computers were just an object that people thought only the rich and large companies possessed, but today computers run our world. Information technology has become more and more prevalent in businesses and our daily lives. Information is now available instantaneously and in incredible amounts across the globe. How these emerging technologies are affecting the personal, social educational and political aspects of the business world and of our fives you ask. Probably the one aspect of Information Technology that has the largest affect on the business world is the World Wide Web Garson. The Web has basically eliminated any limitations on communication around the world and has provided efficiency and productivity in the business industry and the world economy.
The most competent business strategy that companies have now is electronic commerce. Electronic commerce is defined as a multifaceted concept involving the exchange of products, services, information, or money with support of computers and networks. Currently, $80 billion is traded over the internet annually, and by year 2030 the number is estimated at $4 trillion. Levi Strauss & Co. has effectively incorporated information systems with their business. Levi Strauss was forced into the information age in the early 1980s by the competition from designer-label jean manufacturers. The company wanted to get closer to the retailers who were selling their products. Levi Strauss came up with LeviLink which is a global connection of the retailers that puts the right pants, in the right sizes, colors, and styles on retailer's shelves. LeviLink uses bar codes that record the garment's color, size, and style in the database. Levi Strauss is then sent the information from LeviLink. The retailers then reorder the right jeans, shirts, or pants in the right color, size, and style. LeviLink has increased the annual sales of stores 26 percent to 30 percent. Overhead costs have dropped since the retailers now use just-in-time inventory software to cut holding costs and provide more accurate inventories.
Most plastics companies are using desktop computer systems to run their inventory control, accounting, and human resource management. Information technologies have changed the plastics manufacturing workplace by using new computer-base programs. Machines have reduced cycle times, increased productivity, and safeguarded superior product quality by using microprocessor controls. Remote computer diagnostic systems are linking the process machine to their customers to shorten maintenance downtimes. Information technology has also limited the time that human supervision of the manufacturing process requires. Machines can monitor their functions in order to anticipate part failure without the aid of humans (Dickerson, 2003). Due to this process, the maintenance programs have become more flexible than it has been in the past.
The Canadians have come up with a network known as CertaPay. CertaPay is the world's first e-mail payment network of its kind and scale. CertaPay's Universal Funds Transfer Platform will make possible an ample range of next-generation payment capabilities. The transactions take place through e-mails. The persons involved do not have to physically visit an office to conduct of banking transactions. The user sends the recipient an e-mail and provides information on the payment amount, account from which funds are to be drawn, a security question and an optional personal message. When the e-mail is received by the recipient, the sender's account is debited and the recipient's account is credited. The transaction becomes electronic and instant. CertaPay makes their money by charging a fee on each online transaction somewhat like an ATM fee. There are five million Canadians who use this online banking system to send and receive money transfers. There are fifteen million Canadians with an e-mail account who can receive a money transfer. This makes CertaPay the first and largest person-to-person interbank network in the world.
2. EFFECTS OF IT ON THE BUSINESS WORLD
Another way the information technology affects business is web conferencing (Garson, 2001). Businesses are using web conferencing to keep away from time-consuming and expensive travel. Web conferencing can also improve staff training and interactions with clients. An example of how web conferencing is used when a CEO delivers a live video and audio talk to employees or suppliers who watch on their computer. The CEO can discuss marketing strategies, show Power Point slides, go over finances of the company, and talk about future advertising campaigns. All of this can be done without having to book airline tickets and hotel rooms, renting cars, and using expense accounts.
Wal-Mart is one of the biggest companies in the world with 4,457 stores, 30,000 suppliers, and annual sales of more than $217 billion and one information system. By running a centralized information system Wal-Mart has a competitive advantage and has one of the lowest expense structures in retail. New technologies that Wal-Mart is working on include radio frequency identification. This will soon replace bar codes, and managers will be able to see what's on the shelf and what's in the storage back without associates having to verify it. Voice over IP is when an associate moves or transfers and the phones must be changed. The associate will now take the phone with him, plug it back in, and everything will work the same again. Wal-Mart will also have devices that will let customers get product information from computer assisted selling. In the future Wal-Mart will start simulating their business with computers. The model will help maximize sales before the actual event occurs. Hypothetically, Wal-Mart can run programs simulating Christmas sales on the computer and prepare for the outcome before it even happens.
Even the war with Iraq uses information technology (Songini, 2003). Combat situations in the information age have become real time operations relying on information technology. The U.S. Army has 64 mobile units equipped with portable systems that scan information about combat and supply vehicles. The data is then sent via a secure satellite link to the Army's central asset-tracking system. The system is called Transportation Coordinator's Automated Information for Movements System. It is built around a Sybase database that runs on a Windows server. The system comprises of a 65-lb case with a laptop, wireless bar code radio frequency identification readers, a printer and other peripheral devices. The system is used to scan vehicles and supply convoys as they approach checkpoints. This system gives commanders in the field real-time information about where people and equipments are. Commanders will know when the supplies or convoy reach their destination. The system will allow up to 15,000 end users access at any given time. Before the system was developed commanders did not know what was in the boxes that were being delivered until someone opened the box. With this automated system commanders can know what is in the box as well as know where it is. The Army is also working on providing commanders with the location of military personnel along with materials in the air and on sea or land. It will be able to calculate the cargo space available on aircraft and manage the loading of ships.