How Computing Has Changed Us


How Computing Has Changed Us Essay, Research Paper

Computing has changed the workplace dramatically over the last few years. Information technologies have taken over our infrastructure. It is now necessary to consider your organizational needs before you make any drastic changes. Managers must consider how these changes will affect different aspects such as human behavior. We need to see how the advent of telecommunications will affect peoples behavior. Will Email, database services, and teleconferencing affect our users? These are the questions we need to ask as managers of businesses considering organizational change.

We need to assess any and all consequences of implementation of all the aspects mentioned before. Factors such as employee resistance are a big concern. For instance if an employee that hass a busy work load is expected to learn a lot of new procedures may become overwhelmed. This may result in less productivity and more job dissention, which is not good for anyone involved. Learning new ways of doing things can be an extra burden that some people may not have the time or the patience to deal with. As managers we need to find ways of easing organizational changes in to the work place. Another option is to provide training for the employees in need of it. Sometimes it is better to train everyone in the procedure rather than just training them on the equipment. They may be able to become efficient earlier with out knowing exactly how everything works but rather knowing how to accomplish the tasks they need to get done on a regular basis.

We must discuss human behavior success factors. If technology is to be compatible with human, social, political, and economics patterns we need to recognize these factors. Not only recognize these factors but address them in a way that is conducive to the business. Human compatibility is obvious we already alluded to that. Social compatibility is another issue all together. Political compatibility is another factor that cannot be overlooked. It is crucial to provide compatibility

with all political issues. Economic patterns must be seen as compatible with changes made to organizational structures.

In a recent survey article in The Economist, John Browning wrote: “Information technology is no longer a business resource; it is the business environment.” His statement is not far from truth. Ongoing advances in information technology (IT), along with increasing global competition, are adding complexity and uncertainty of several orders of magnitude to the organizational environment. One of the most widely discussed area in recent business literature is that of new organizational network structures that [supposedly] hold the promise of survival and growth in an environment of ever-increasing complexity. How can IT help the organizations in responding to the challenges of an increasingly complex and uncertain environment? How can IT help the organizations achieve the “flexible” organization structure? These are the topics of discussion in this article.

We are observing a strong trend of convergence of the technologies of computing and telecommunication. Changing technology economics, merging of formerly disparate technologies with different managerial traditions, and the problems of managing each of the phases of IT assimilation in different ways calls for a major reappraisal of the organization structures designed for yesteryears.

IS researchers have expressed time and again that technological change poses the greatest challenge to their research. It has been mentioned that not much attention has been given to the integration of technology or its use as a coordinating mechanism for organizational units. It is our contention that IT should be studied as an independent variable affecting the organizational structure. It has been many times recommended that a serious and in depth a reassessment of certain components of organization theory which are affected by the tremendous changes that have occurred in the capabilities and forms of communication technologies. This article will attempt to contribute to the development of these issues.

Researchers have studied the impact of information technology at different levels of the organization. Possibly using organization theory, formulated hypotheses for empirical testing which reflect the impacts of IT on the decision behavior and design of organizations. Others have noted that most of the early studies considered IT as the dependent variable for analyzing its adoption by organizations. As reported, the results of several empirical studies that attempted to analyze IT s impact on organizations have proved inconclusive.

The increasing global interdependencies and the accelerating pace of change demand more flexible and adaptive organizations. Other managers have defined organizational flexibility in terms of “vulnerability” and “adaptability.” Effective implementation of IT would decrease vulnerability by reducing the cost of expected failures and enhance adaptability by reducing the cost of adjustment. We can attribute the ever-increasing need for managing interdependence to competitive pressures that included globalization, time-based competition, increased market risk, and a greater emphasis on customer service and cost reduction. It was once said “the organization’s response to the environment will continue to be the crucial determinant for its effectiveness.” Since postindustrial organizations will be faced with increasing environmental complexity and turbulence, organizations’ needs to process information and make decisions will be substantially increased. The capabilities and flexibilities of computer-communication systems make them increasingly relevant to organizations by being able to respond to any specific information or communication requirement.

The cost of IT has plunged since the 1960s resulting in enormous investments in IT applications that have stimulated increasingly complex organizational change. Some anticipate that technology cost-performance improvements will sustain this trend over the next decade. Presently, IT amounts to nearly one-half of US firms’ annual capital expenditures and increasingly affects how firms organize, do business, and compete. IT may be considered as comprising of five basic components – computers, communications technology, work stations, robotics, and computer chips. In this article, “IT” is considered to be synonymous with the definition of “advanced information technologies” provided :

“(a) devices that transmit, manipulate, analyze, or exploit information;

(b) in which a digital computer processes information integral to the user’s communication or decision task; and

(c) that have made their appearance since 1970 or exist in a form that aids in communication or decision tasks to a significantly greater degree than did pre-1971 forms.”

IT is becoming all-pervasive and is having impact on all industries — in service as well as in manufacturing. It is affecting workers at all levels of organizations from the executives to assembly hands and clerks. IT is increasingly becoming an integral component of all types of technologies — craft, engineering, routine, and no routine. We now have very rightly defined organization as “a structure in which information serves as the axis and as the central structural support.”

The very efforts of the organization to maintain a constant external environment produce changes in organizational structure. While some have argued that organizational structure and goals are driven by the preferences in the environment. The structure is determined by the information- processing capacity requirements of the organization, which in turn are governed by the IT being used. We have attributed structural differences to the organization’s technology. Some had suggested that the organization’s environment and technology are the independent (contingency) variables that determine the structural variables of the organization.

More on the history of organizational communications technologies contends that the phenomenal expansion of organizations can be largely attributed to advances in the technologies of organizational communication. Others argued that in absence of technological communication organizations could have evolved differently. Preliminary econometric analyses of the overall U.S. economy for the period 1975-1985 further confirms that the increased use of IT is correlated with decreases in firm size and vertical integration.

Some say that the future organizations would be facing a shortage and a redundancy of information. To solve the problems of “information-glut” arising from the evermore-affordable information and communication technologies that provide for evermore high-capacity, fast, long-distance transmission, organizations would need to introduce methods for “selective dispersion of information” to their various parts. Work tasks would be grouped in organizational units created around a common program for information processing. Improvements in telecommunications will make it easier to control [which will be primarily a matter of information exchange] organizational units dispersed over different parts of the world. Advances in telecommunications [such as videophone], coupled with diminishing costs, would result in increased distance-communication. Indirect communication would be preferred for well-structured information for routinized, “preprogrammed” decision processes.

The design of the organizational structure should take into account and take advantage of the information and information- processing supports, which could be designed, and in the not- distant future will be inexpensive. The technology itself is neutral, but it can greatly increase humanity’s woe or welfare, depending on how well it is used. What is missing is the full recognition of the strong interactions between this technology and organization design, and the consequent need to take a systems approach to the joint design of organizations and their information support systems.

Unlike the systems theory view of organizational constructs, the most common approach taken by empirical researchers has been in terms of goal achievement or the degree to which an organization attains its goals. This poses a problem of identifying or postulating the goals, manifest and latent, of an organization. Some researchers seek to avoid the goal approach and argue in favor of the “resource” approach. While there is much merit in emphasizing the crucial importance of resources – or in ,systemic terms, of input processes and input goals – it ignores the other three systemic processes. On the other hand, the economist’s bias of measuring outputs in relation to inputs overlooks the other systemic processes that eventually effect the organization’s overall survival or growth. Clearly, the systems approach has its advantages. Moreover, the problems encountered in defining an organization’s goals can be avoided by indirectly deriving the goals – by positing the three generic goals of input, transformation, and output.

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