IT Case Study Essay, Research Paper
The organisation on which this case study is based is named ¡¥MGON¡¦ which is an acronym for ¡¥Media And Games Online.¡¦ The company is based in Stockholm, Sweden, although as it is an Internet based company it could be considered as a world-wide organisation. The company currently has a workforce of just over 200 employees, around 20 of which work full time. The majority of the company however, consists of people working from their homes through the use of the Internet.
The actual purpose of the company is to serve an online community with a collection of topic-specific websites, as the name of the company suggests the range of sites are limited to that of Media and Games. Currently the network consists of around 30 sites, although the number is increasing as the company continues to develop into one of the largest online portals on the Internet. As the Internet is the quickest expanding form of media at the current time, the company must cater for its audience in an appropriate way and match the demands of the increasing market. Despite the current dip in the market, the company is continuing to do well and recently announced an impressive annual income.
The information that the company needs to be collected is vital to it¡¦s success. Without surveys and polls, very little information would be known. The most important aspect to be considered is that of the ¡¥Target Audience¡¦ that the company must cater for, as without a specific target audience the company could not market a specific area efficiently as the range would be far too great. Initially when the company was first established, a survey was performed via the company¡¦s own site (http://www.mgon.com). This enabled them to acknowledge what user group their products would have to be geared towards, the results were very conclusive and greatly aided with research. Other information could be gathered from other sources and existing surveys that had previously been published and made easily available.
After all this information had been gathered, it was possible to design the company around the specific target audience, which was determined by the online survey. The results showed that 82% of the audience are male, 46% under 18, 27% were18-24 years of age and 18% were 25-34 years. Many other pieces of information were found that made the target audience very specific.
As well as this initial survey however, there is also a ¡¥Poll¡¦ on the site which asks visitors specific questions that will aid the company with research, once the visitor has submitted his opinion on the subject, the results are shown and are available to all who participate as well as the company. This way, the ever-changing market can be constantly re-evaluated and new figures found. This is a common way in which Internet based companies discover information that is required. Without the information, the company would not know which topics to base new sites on the network upon and would therefore create some sites that proved unpopular, therefore revenue would be lost as the advertising banners would not be displayed as often.
Once the information has been submitted, it is sent to the servers in real-time and is made available to the company, the information is then stored on a local hard disk. The results may then become available on the Internet for the general public. As the data is submitted through the company¡¦s website, all the information is in .html format and is therefore easily readable and appropriately displayed in a clearly visible front-end.
Communication between the company generally takes place over the Internet in IRC channels specific to the company, that way an unlimited number of people can
Participate in discussion and the topics can be easily moderated and file transfers can be performed. Email would be the second most common method of interaction, as many hundreds of people may need to be aware of a situation, this can be done quickly and efficiently in little time. Other methods of communication include telephone, the Internet in specific forms such as forums and file transfers over the Internet and LAN.
The company as a whole, seems very efficient due to the use of IT, without it infact, the company could not exist. The company makes very good use of technology available and this is apparent when the many methods of communication are considered. However, many elements could be improved upon such as user interfaces and the time in which it takes to get a message across to a large group of people, due to the fact that the technology is fairly new, there are occasional faults and glitches within the system. For example, if the file server goes down, the whole network would become useless as none of the sites would be visible and valuable time and work lost, as has happened in the past. Security should also be of the highest level to combat against potential hackers and those who wish to damage the company through methods such as a potentially dangerous virus.
The software that the organisation uses includes the programmes of other companies and in-house developments that are required for specific tasks. For example, the websites that were developed by the company were all made internally, albeit using external tools such as Macromedia Dreamweaver, which is considered to be the most powerful website building tool available.
An interesting aspect of the company and many other similar companies is that if a large number of people are to constantly update a network of websites efficiently, an intranet would have to be developed. The only other method would be to update the sites via FTP, although that would prove very slow, unreliable and very unsafe as large amounts of information could be wiped out quickly. Therefore, MGON developed an Intranet that is accessible through a regular Internet browser such as Microsoft Internet Explorer or Netscape Navigator. Upon arrival at the Intranet URL, a username and password must be submitted, once this has been done the employee may update many aspects of the site quickly and efficiently through a graphical user interface. However, the Intranet does require almost constant updating and bug fixing and must be able to incorporate new features easily.
There is also a large amount of specific hardware that the company needs to make use of. Most important of all, are the actual servers which allow people to visit the site and for updaters to make use of the Intranet. At the time of writing, the servers consist of 2 computers both running a version of Linux and compromising of a dual Athlon 1.2Ghz processor, 512MB RAM, two 80gig hard disks each and other standard pieces of hardware. The servers also run on a T1 connection, thus offering a very fast connection on two very fast computers. The servers however, must be constantly upgraded to meet with increasing demands of 20% increased traffic per month, the more busy the servers are, the slower it will appear for users. Within the company, employees also have their own computer systems of vastly different combinations and other communication devices.
The company hugely benefits from the use of IT, without it the company could not possibly exist as it is entirely based on Internet revenue. As well as the company itself, the general public benefits as large amounts of information and news are made available at no specific cost to them other than the cost of the connection to the
Internet itself. Through the technology in which the company incorporates, employees also face a distinct advantage as work can be done from home in very little time considering the amount of data that is being transferred. Therefore the company does promote its use of IT to the public as it offers a specific, reliable service.
There are some limitations with basing the company entirely on IT however. System failures and hackers, as mentioned earlier are one of the flaws, as well as the fact that constant updating and upgrading can prove very expensive. The Internet is also a very new market and therefore new companies are fairly unfamiliar with many aspects of the medium, if there is a sudden dip in the market, for example, the consequences could prove fatal.
The potential effects of errors in data also pose a fairly big threat, although the majority of this would simply be spelling checks, although the Intranet does come with as spell-checker. Other more significant errors such as errors in names and addresses to entering the wrong data relating to a person or company such as salary. Although this is generally due to human error and is therefore, of no fault to the actual use of IT. Due to the nature of the company and the fact that this rarely happens, this aspect of IT is not so much of a threat and is almost unavoidable within all large companies.
Keeping data secure and accurate is a far bigger issue and is perhaps one of the most important factors. Simple methods such as password protection is used and as each user has their own password, the culprit can easily be identified or their IP address logged. Physical security is not much of an issue as the likelihood of someone wishing to damage the company from within the offices are very low, the main threat is from the outside world. Therefore backup and data storage procedures are performed, as many as eight hard disks store the same information and are simply replicas of each other, this means that if one becomes damaged, it can be replaced and the information is still intact. The implications of the Data Protection Act are of significant value as hackers cannot simply destroy a system and information can be kept safe.
Social, legal, economic, ethical and moral effects on the organisation using IT are not much of an issue. In general, everyone in the company enjoys their work, thus resulting in a friendly environment. Due to the nature of the company, which is to offer information at no cost and make money through advertising, the public benefit in a positive way and as the topics are non-offensive there are no major issues. Economically the company gains profit, as well as it¡¦s employees, and the advertisers generally make money through products they have successfully sold through the advertising. There would only be an issue in this field if there were content of a graphical nature that a particular group would find offensive, or if quite simply, there was an economic downturn and little profit was being made or if losses were made.
In conclusion, the company as well as the public and all related parties benefit through the use of IT and the money that it produces, although there is a significant risk involved, as with almost all major ventures.