Information Management Essay, Research Paper
The relentless advance of IT and telecommunications systems has brought dramatic benefits to individuals, businesses and other organisations. These years, the world has developed into an information economy, and the applying of new technologies is at the centre of the activity. New technologies are being developed at a record pace. Those celebrities such as Bill Gates of Microsoft, Steven Jobs of Apple all emerged to create information technology dynasties for 1980s and 1990s have become the heroes of economic development and contemporary enterprises.
In this essay, I would like to describe how the information technology changes our work and our life in three steps. First I will introduce the history of IT industry briefly and from the trends of information technology we can by now be more familiar with the changing information environment. In order to see the future more clearly, we need to look at where we’ve been. Second, it is very important to know that we are now live in a digital age. As the saying goes, every business now is an information business, our information technology industry is driving ahead with advances that promise to bring the new medium into the living rooms and onto the desks of millions more. So, in this part, I will discuss the advantage that information technology brings to our work and analyses it in-depth. Last but not least, as technology continues to develop, I also give the opportunities and threats for our businesses in the coming Internet age and how we can achieve information advantage. Most managers acknowledge IT will be one of the main factors that affect the companies’ performance and moreover, the stakeholders’ wealth.
1. History of IT industry: Whirlwind of change
Nothing epitomises modern life better than the IT does. For better or worse, IT have infiltrated every aspect of our society. Today computers do much more than simply
compute: supermarket scanners calculate our grocery bill while keeping store inventory; computerised telephone switching centres play traffic cop to millions of calls and keep lines of communication untangled; and automatic teller machines (ATM) let us conduct banking transactions from virtually anywhere in the world. But where did all this technology come from and where is it heading? To fully understand and appreciate the impact computers have on our lives and promises they hold for the future, it is important to understand their evolution.
1.1 Four stages of modern Information Technology development
First stage (1945-1956)
In this period, Electronic Numerical Integrator and Computer (ENIAC), produced by a partnership between the U.S. government and the University of Pennsylvania. Consisting of 18,000 vacuum tubes, 70,000 resistors and 5 million soldered joints, the computer was such a massive piece of machinery that it consumed 160 kilowatts of electrical power, enough energy to dim the lights in an entire section of Philadelphia.
First generation computers were characterised by the fact that operating instructions were made-to-order for the specific task for which the computer was to be used.
Second stage (1956-1963)
Throughout the early 1960’s, there were a number of commercially successful second generation computers used in business, government from companies such as Control Data, Honeywell, IBM, Sperry-Rand, and others. These second-generation computers were also of solid state design, and contained transistors in place of vacuum tubes. They also contained all the components we associate with the modern day computer: printers, tape storage, disk storage, memory, operating systems, and stored programs. One important example was the IBM 1401, which was universally accepted throughout industry, and is considered by many to be the Model T of the computer
industry. By 1965, most large business routinely processed financial information using second generation computers.
In the 1960s, significant advances in data communications character coding resulted in the development of 8-Bit characters. In 1962, IBM created and promoted, a coding standard known as Extended Binary-Coded-Decimal Interchange Code or EBCDIC for short. This coding scheme defined 8-bit characters, allowing up to 256 characters to be used. Another standard called the American Standard Code for Information
Interchange (ASCII) was adopted in 1963 and ultimately won the standards battle.
Third stage (1964-1971)
Scientists later managed to fit even more components on a single chip called a semiconductor. As a result, computers became ever smaller as more components were squeezed onto the chip. Another third-generation development included the use of an operating system that allowed machines to run many different programs at once with a central program that monitored and co-ordinated the computer’s memory.
In 1967, IBM developed a protocol for communications between IBM devices. Called “Binary Synchronous Communication”.
The Carterphone decision in 1968/1969 allowed devices that were beneficial and not harmful to the network to be connected to the PSTN. This spawned the development of many modem and data communications companies!
Fourth stage (1971-present)
Dataphone Digital Service (DDS) started deployment in 1974, bringing digital transmission facilities to the customer’s premise. DDS circuit deployment also accelerated the conversion to digital networking within the Bell System.
In 1981, IBM introduced its personal computer (PC) for use in the home, office and schools. The 1980’s saw an expansion in computer use in all three arenas as clones of the IBM PC made the personal computer even more affordable. The numbers of personal computers in use more than doubled from 2 million in 1981 to 5.5 million in 1982. Ten years later, 65 million PCs were being used. Computers continued their trend toward a smaller size, working their way down from desktop to laptop computers to palmtop.
Additional telephone networking services were offered to business customers. Particularly, enhanced services such as Virtual Private Networks evolved. These services allowed flexible dialling for business users, and allowed the carrier to integrate Public and Business communications throughout the network.
The attractive Virtual Network options for voice services, combined with continued cost reductions in T1 services, have resulted in the segregation of voice and data in the Wide Area Network (WAN).
Wireless communications system use has exploded, with dramatic growth in Cellular voice and data technologies. Slow, but steady increases are seen in the use of Integrated Services Digital Networks (ISDN); providing higher speed digital access capabilities to the residence and businesses.
During the 1992 U.S. presidential election, vice-presidential candidate Al Gore promised to make the development of this so-called “information superhighway” an administrative priority. Though the possibilities envisioned by Gore and others for such a large network are often years (if not decades) away from realisation, the most popular use today for computer networks such as the Internet is electronic mail, or E-mail, which allows users to type in a computer address and send messages through networked terminals across the office or across the world.
2. A crucial role for IT in our business: Emerging digital age
2.1 Technology dominate our work and life
In the 19th century, the industrial revolution ushered in technological changes that reshaped industry, commerce and trade. Now, on the eve of 21st century , a digital revolution-built around the ones and zeros of binary computer language- is poised to have an equally dramatic impact.
Indeed, it is easy to forget that it is only 50 years since the first commercial mainframe computers were developed, 20 years since the desktop personal computer first appeared and just a few years since the commercialisation of the Internet resulted in an explosion of activity on the world wide web. Today, there are more than 400m PCs in the world (Financial Times survey, Jan.13, 1999), supercomputers forecast the weather and simulate nuclear blasts, and sophisticated software programs fly aircraft and run multinational companies. Presently, the United States is the most technologically advanced country in the area of telecommunications with about; 126 million phone lines, 7.5 million cellular phone users, 5 thousand AM radio broadcast stations, 5 thousand FM radio stations, 1 thousand television broadcast stations, 9 thousand cable television systems, 530 million radios, 193 million television sets, 24 ocean cables, and scores of satellite facilities! Spending on information technology continues to rise across all sectors world-wide even through in terms of raw power, the cost of computing has fallen by a factor of a million in the past 20 years and there is no indication that this trend is slowing.
Western Europe: IT spending increasing every year
2.2 Information Technology brings globalisation
As Information Technology penetrates more deeply into all aspects of business and society, I think the most important factor is IT brings the globalisation for us.
Can we imagine a world without television, telephone or computer? Businessmen want the capability to trade rapidly across time zones, currencies. The continued growth of computer and web make all the people in the world find it is much easier to communicate each other. As Craig Barrett, Intel’s chief executive, noted recently, “we are already moving toward a world of 1bn connected computers. This is like a seventh continent, it provides instant access to information and presents any organisation with the ability to make informed and quick decisions global wide. Now, most of the multinational companies do business world-wide depend on the advanced communication technologies, most of the managers in these companies invest highly on developing and updating there computer network. Because of these intelligent devices including smart phones, handheld wireless communicators and interactive set-top boxes as well as “thin client” devices used for globalise business.
2.3 Information Technology brings more compete world
At the same time, globalisation is also forcing companies to compete across geographic divides and meet the requirements of their customers. Already, the pace of change associated with the Internet and Internet based technologies has caught many companies and boardrooms off guard. For example, who would have guessed two years ago that a bookshop started in Seattle would be worth billions of dollars even though it has yet to make a profit. Amazon.com may well turn out to be a “wake up” call for many traditional business. Faster technology allows small companies have the advantage of being able to compete side by side with larger businesses. The development of Information Technology alters the “economies of scale” equation to put the kind of resources that only used to be available to large companies, at everyone’s disposal, 24-hours-a-day, seven days a week. It provides businesses, both large and small, with instant access to vendors, customers, manufacturers and customer information anywhere in the world. And it is fundamentally going to change the way we do business.
World Wide Electronic Commerce ( $bn )
2.4 Information Technology brings a revolution restructure in most
First, let us take the perspective of industry structure. We see battles in the marketplace all the time as “content ” companies try to acquire related content business, not only because of their thirst for information but because of the opportunities for synergy created by repackaging, reuse and navigation. More significantly, perhaps, content companies acquire or build alliances with communication companies, and vice versa. Both sides recognise that to command the airwaves is to command the distribution channels of the information age, and that the high value-added opportunities are likely to lie in selling content and repackaging and reusing it in manifold ways. The firm of the book of the television programme is an established example of such repackaging opportunities. Disney’s marriage with ABC is a case in point. And of cause we see regulators on the sidelines of these information wars stepping in to control market power. Now, in the knowledge economy, retailers, financial services, pharmaceuticals and airlines will stitch together alliances because of the information potential of customer cards.
2.5 Information Technology brings office automation
Office automation also referred to as electronic offices. It is a conglomerate of various technologies intended to improve the efficiency of office work and also to reduce the huge numbers of office staff presently employed. Office workers have gradually increased their use of semi-automatic machines such as photocopies, recorders, etc., over a long period, but office automation is expected to bring about much more extensive changes to their work style. The principal areas of office automation are: word processing, microcomputers, mainframe terminals, electronic mail and desktop publishing. These years, in addition to reducing paper usage, postage and increasing efficiency, EDI (Electronic Data Interchange) gives users information. Data that can be useful in inventory control, sales, production and any other area of a business can be retrieved and formatted to fit your needs.
2.6 Information Technology makes our work more efficient
If there is a better, faster, cheaper way to do something, then someone will take advantage of it and the rest of the world will have to compete. So we can now predict that the markets of early 21st century will be dominated by powerful computer systems and driven by the needs of demanding and cost conscious investors. The Internet is also opening up new avenues of trading opportunity.
For example, like the stock exchange, the traditional role of exchange will change dramatically and many smaller ones will disappear. This explains the spate of alliances, partnerships and co-operation agreements being forged between markets keen to harness the potential of information technology to their advantage. Some exchanges, such as NASDAQ in the US and DEUTSCHE BORSE in the Germany’s financial capital of Frankfurt, have lone put IT at the heart of their strategy. Others are catching up, while smaller ones are being pulled alone in the wake of the leading players. Also, those furtune500 corporations have invested heavily in IT systems to speed up trading and administration. In UK, EDS claims to be on budget and on time at the Inland Revenue. Moreover, EDS deals with more than 1000 small and medium sized enterprises, in initial savings of 225m were projected in 1994, and 2000 staff have transferred to EDS.
2.7 information Technology brings the age of Individual Empowerment
The culmination of all these other implications of IT leads inescapably to one conclusion: the increasing importance and empowerment of individuals, regardless of location, economic status, political affiliation or any other criteria. By connecting people with others, to vast resources of information and by helping them bypass intermediaries who have monopolised access to knowledge and opportunity, IT is helping people take greater responsibility and control over their lives and communities.
More than a third of the residents of Blacksburg, Virginia, a town of 36,000, are on a computer network called the Blacksburg Electronic Village which links them to each other, the city’s businesses, government departments, schools, doctors, hospitals and entertainment. It enables them to communicate with their government, shop with local retailers, get medical advice and, most important, talk to each other. The system, established by the city government, Virginia Polytechnic Institute, Bell Atlantic, and local businesses and organizations, is precursor of other places, of what society and technology will begin to do on a broader basis in future years,” according to a Bell Atlantic official.
One particular way in which interactive communications can inspire people is by helping them start and grow their own entrepreneurial businesses and civic movements. By placing mass communications in the hands of people, along with better tools for creating information, entertainment and education products, it is helping individuals circumvent the previous need for large amounts of capital. One person, or a small group, can legitimately create, produce, promote and distribute an electronic newsletter at negligible cost. People in rural or disadvantaged areas can reach nearly any corner of the earth to ask a question, raise a grievance, provide a service, deliver information or market a product.
3. Challenges form the age of Information Technology
The explosion of information and raw data available electronically and in other forms presents challenges as well as opportunities. Several recent studies have highlighted the fact that many executives and managers feel overwhelmed by the sheer volume of data available to them and complain of information overload and stress.
Therefore, making this flood of data more manageable is likely to be one of the biggest challenges facing companies over the next decade.
Capturing new types of information, such as transaction data, processing it and storing it in a data warehouse, will offer business new opportunities for data mining and spotting trends through the use of business intelligence software. However, most senior IT executives also acknowledge that as they collect, sift and process data, enterprises will need to deal with growing public concerns about privacy and security. As Eric Schmidt, Novell’s chief executive officer, notes, “instead of being on the Net, people will be in the Net.”
Significantly, most technologists believe that the biggest challenge will be finding the people to manage the technology. This means, managing technology will require very creative people, there is no royal road at the moment. If we do not master the knowledge of IT in the coming 21st century, how can we survive? The promise of Information Technology is that it can open doors of opportunity to change lives, to close society’s gaps, to open new horizons. Whether or not that promise will be realised depends on personal engagement and guidance for the public good. It depends upon action.
Another important point is that people’s acceptance of a technology does not mean that they are using it effectively or achieving adequate benefits for the organisation. A fair body of research suggests that few organisations get full value from their It investments, either because people have not learned how to use it well or because managers have not learned how to manage its benefits. George Bernard Shaw said, “The people who get on in this world are the people who get up and look for the circumstances they want, and, if they can’t find them, make them.” Our challenge is to ensure that this kind of opportunity remains open in the information age, in fact that it is expanded to include more people and even brighter possibilities.
In this essay, I have already given the history, the role, and the challenges of information technology in our lives, our work and our communities. First, four stages are defined in the not very long IT history. I think it is very useful to know it not only because it is a revolution of human potential and opportunity, but also it is upon us and nearly everyone will be part of it whether they consciously choose to or not. It is having an impact on everything from the economy to government to medicine and education. So, in the second step, I give 7 major impacts that how IT change our lives with many valuable examples from real company. In fact, in many cases we will find that technology is not just a tool in the company, it is really is the heart of their business. Last, I think we must think about the challenges IT brings us when we take full advantages of it. We should improve ourselves if we do not want get in trouble in the near future dominated by Information Technology.
When I read the reference books of information technology, there are inevitable many jargons in the book, but I have tried my best not to use these jargons in my essay.