Technology and Communication Information systems and communication technology are significant tools of contemporary management. These tools constitute the communication infrastructure between organizations and their geographically dispersed markets. Global information networks enable collaborative sharing of information to support decision making and to facilitate resource managing. These information tools provide critical links between the organization, its internal segments and its external environment. Global competition requires organizations to utilize information and communication technology to accommodate rapid and complex change in global markets. Manufacturing companies, for example, are adopting advanced manufacturing technologies (AMT) to improve quality, reduce cost and speed processes; these challenges result from global competition, rapidly changing consumer tastes, and slow growth in domestic productivity.
Companies capable of acting aggressively on information will gain market advantages. According to Rockart todays organizational structures demand extensive communication. They are facilitated by the vastly increased communication and coordination capability now available through information technology. Without information technology, it is highly doubtful that many of the organizational changes and experiments underway could exist (Rockart, 418) The networked organization is one which has moved away from mainframes and `stand alone’ personal computers to integrated systems based on shared fileservers and electronic communication links. Such new technologies include: shared computer-based databases; electronic mail and organizational intranets; the Internet; computer conferencing software; groupware; computer supported cooperative work (CSC systems; and video-mediated communication systems (such as videotelephony or videoconferencing).
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Most managers find that technology plays a critical role in industrial competition.
However, many non-technical managers are averse to technological concepts, and some even harbor fear of technology. Others see the keyboards as clerical instruments of the secretarial realm. Simultaneously, they know that greater increases in productivity can be achieved through technology. Nevertheless, technology escalates the rate of change in organizational climate and composition of the workforce. In such environments, an important attribute of an effective manager is adaptability to change, and one of the most important skills is the ability to initiate and manage change. According to contemporary context, successful managers are collaborative and co-operative and communicate interactively with their remote counterparts using information technology in both real-time and delayed-time.
Managers will increasingly continue to exchange business information co-operatively worldwide. Information-based strategic alliances allow organizations to share research and development expenses, gain access to complementary resources, and spread risk (Gugler, 96).
An interesting example is the Apple-IBM alliance to develop object-oriented software that breaks down the format barriers which previously prevented networks of different equipment from interacting. The central theme of an alliance is to enable people to work differently by merging competences to create a series of foundation technologies which lead to greater productivity. Managers must understand technologies to take advantage of such alliance formations. A fundamental tenet of the network organizational form is that an increase in communication links enables more communication between a greater variety of individuals leading to more participative discussions and decision making, especially as this supports project team-work. This viewpoint is particularly associated with Sproull and Kiesler who suggest that the suppression of social cues in email (e.g. status differentials) is an advantage allowing a more open expression of personal views and thus a more democratic organization (Sproull, 38-39).
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In support of this conclusion, they cite laboratorybased experiments which have demonstrated more balanced participation in group decision making when mediated by electronic communication systems, as opposed to face-to-face discussion. It is also argued that direct communication links make all levels of hierarchy accessible. For example, Rice and Steinfield argue that senior managers become easier to contact as the traditional gatekeeping function of the secretary is bypassed by electronic communication (Rice, 109).
Information technology may yet drive the paperless office to reality, at least towards paperless transmission and paperless storage, to change the way business is transacted. Electronic data interchange systems, facilitated electronic meetings, and geographic information systems are among the tools available in bringing information from source to point of need. These, as well as other tools help to organize and access data which provide managers with critical information before committing organizational resources.
Geographic Information Systems (GIS) and Electronic Image Management (EIM) can enhance database management and integrate the information architecture. Benefits include better image storage and retrieval, transaction processing, integration and remote access of text, data and image (Fruscione, 31).
Electronic mail which connects companies with their customers and suppliers can respond quickly to change as well as competition. Going on-line streamlines entire operations and improves profitability. These are just a few examples of how contemporary information and communication technology can improve managerial and communicational processes. However, the successful implementation of technology requires that managerial personnel is knowledgeable enough to initiate projects, communicate and gain organizational commitment, locate technically competent staff and train others in the technologies to be employed. Bibliography Rockart, J.
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Towards survivability of communication-intensive new organization forms. Journal of Management Studies Gugler, P. (1995), Building Transnational Alliances to Create Competitive Advantage, Long Rartge Planning, Vol. 25 No. 1, pp. 90-9. Fruscione, J.
(2001), EIM Support Frameworks, A Statewide Perspective, Records Management Quarterly, Vol. 26 No. 2, pp. 28-32. Rice, R., & Steinfield, C. (1999).
New forms of organizational communication via electronic mail and voice messaging.
In J. E. Andriessen & R. Roe (Eds.), Telematics and work. Hove: Erlbaum Sproull, L., & Kiesler, S. (1998).
Connections: New iv ways of working in the networked organization. Cambridge, MA: MIT Press.