The Impacts Of Information Technology On Businesses
The world has evolved and continues to evolve due to the fast-growing Information Technology, and the business world has tremendously benefited from this as well. This is because the world itself has become a global village meaning what goes around comes around. In today’s world, the success of any business is largely dependent on Information Technology. Information Technology has impacted not only how businesses are run, but how businesses and companies relate to their employees, customers, external customers, production, processing, manufacturing, marketing, etc. The interesting thing about the impact is the constant improvement of information technology, meaning anything that comes today has the tendency of being obsolete very fast. Thus, businesses have to constantly find new ways to improve on customer service, marketing, production, security etc. The more a business effectively incorporates Information Technology and constantly adopts new ways within its operations, the more its long-term growth and success is directly impacted.
One of the most significant impacts of Information Technology on businesses is marketing. Digital marketing and e-commerce is the best modern way to promote business across the world such as emails, SMS, media advertising, social media, etc. Most companies are not just relying on emails now to reach out to their customers, but are developing strong marketing strategies to incorporate social media to reach out to their larger audience. Digital marketing has become possible due to rapid growth of the internet. The internet allows companies to advertise their products online for customers to purchase through secured online transaction systems. The goods and services are directly sold to customers leading to improvement of customer satisfaction and instant gratification. While companies and businesses strive to use these marketing strategies, most of them also use statistical tools to monitor the buying habits and trends of customers to determine and provide customers with the right products. Businesses also need marketing management software to manage and process the high amount of data daily.
Another major impact Information Technology has on businesses is improving customer service satisfaction. Customer service is one of the essential aspects of business and organization. When customers have problems or product issues, they anticipate company’s customer service section to resolve them. It is very clear that Information Technology has significantly improved customer service and as Steve Jobs, the American entrepreneur, businessman, inventor, and industrial designer puts it “Get closer than ever to your customers. So close in fact, that you tell them what they need well before they realize it themselves”. In elaborating Mr. Jobs point, technology is making it much faster to get closer to customers. Information Technology provides the best tools for businesses to communicate with customers and help solve their problems and needs in real time. The emergence of social media and online rating has also put businesses on their toes constantly.
The authors of the articles titled “Technology-Based Self-Service and Its Impact on Customer Productivity” talked about how technology-based self-service has improved customers’ service, saved time and cost and improved productivity. The authors did not only talk about this but also did research that provided evidence to back their claims, however failed to take into considerations how expensive it is for most businesses to adopt these technologies based self-services in their operations. They left out the fact that, most of these technology based self services rely heavily on high sophisticated technology that needs skilled labor and proper maintenance. Whiles the authors are also right about the vivid examples of the ATM, airline self-check-in Kiosks, etc. but failed to talk about the problems that arise when some of these ATM or airline self-check-in Kiosks break down, the impacts they have on customers. Experiences at the airport show that these technology base self service machine break down and end up creating long queues, flight delays and flights cancellation in most cases. The authors also over-looked what is considered an important point, the emergence of robots in production and manufacturing companies and how competitive and necessary it is for most businesses to adopt these strategies. They only limit it to customer service. The examples the authors gave about the Virtual golf simulation game were very heartwarming and should be endorsed.
Human Resource Management is one of the vital parts of organization and for big organizations this can be very difficult to manage. Thanks to Information Technology, Human Resource Management has become easy due to the introduction and integration of Enterprise Resource Planning (ERP). Enterprise Resource Planning is a business managing software that allows an organization to employ a chain of incorporated applications that can manage and computerize various business processes. Human resource managers can manage their employees at any location either mobile, at the office or from home due to Information Technology. This enables employees to be more productive even though they are not physically present at the work office, because they can access the company’s workstation from everywhere. The human resource managers in the past had to rely on print publications to recruit people and camp prospective employees at a particular location and train them. With the introduction of Information Technology, human resource managers can now recruit prospective candidate through emails and phone interviews and even do their critical training through various form of web-training.
With the introduction of Information Technology, businesses and companies are using data analytics to drive decision making as compare to using previously non-existing technology. Back in the day, there were not as much access to data or the means to analyze it. Companies made educated guesses with fragmented and incomplete data to make business decisions. Now due to Information Technology, Amazon is able to utilize buying history and frequency of products views in real time to suggest add-on products to sell to users and customers that visit their websites. They use data to capture delivery time, product turnaround and inventory turnover to make decision on where to put their next warehouses and optimal products to store in them. This is what makes Amazon Prime model more efficient and effective. Other organizations also use customer relationship management systems (CRM) not only to manage resources but also to collect and analyze data that will help determine customers need, behavior and future trend.
Information Technology has a huge and profound impact on businesses because of communication. In the past, working professionals had to spend money on flights, hotels, etc. to different locations of their businesses to have meetings and monitor their business operations, but now, these meetings can be held virtually without compromising on quality and productivity.
Businesses now can communicate effectively with their customers through the power of social media. Information Technology is a disruptive technology which has ran most traditional mode of communication out of business. It has made the world a global village. By the click of the mouse meaning the world is interconnected and information is shared and accessible across the globe hence bridging the geographical boundaries.
Inasmuch as Information Technology has had great and positive impacts on businesses as discussed above, there are a lot of challenges most businesses face in integrating their business operation into Information Technology. Most companies have to spend a lot of money migrating from their old systems into the new Information Technology systems. The cost of purchasing new software, the cost of training and hiring skilled labor can be a huge financial burden on most businesses. It is true that companies like Facebook, Amazon, Uber, and AirBnB just to mention a few are doing well with total reliability on technology. These companies defy all odds and are proving that technology can change the way of life when people think differently. However, some businesses that are founded on technology have collapsed in the eyes of their shareholders. Nokia is one big example.
As the Nokia CEO Stephen Elop puts it at the press conference when Nokia as being acquired by Microsoft, he asserts that “we didn’t do anything wrong, but somehow, we lost”. “https://www.linkedin.com/pulse/nokia-ceo-ended-his-speech-saying-we-didnt-do-anything-rahul-gupta”
The CEO and his top management team shared tears profusely during the acquisition and after making such a painful statement.
The essence of Nokia CEO Mr. Stephen Elop’s argument is that businesses can implore the best technology and benefit from all the impacts information technology has on businesses as discussed above but can still fail if businesses are not done the right way with customer focus, strong ethical principles, innovation and proper leadership skills just to mention a few. Businesses must be encouraged not only to focus on technology but create a brand that has the next fourth and sixth generation in mind by producing leaders rather than followers.
Most writers who write about the impacts of Information Technology on businesses always fail to talk about how culture has provided a solid platform for Information Technology to strive. Culture has indeed created one of the biggest and solid platforms for Information Technology to strive and have the major impacts on businesses. McDonalds operates in over 118 countries across the globe. Most of these McDonalds in each country serve their food based on the culture of its location as well as most international franchises who really want to make impact on their communities. They have to consider the way people in that particular community eat, dress, the kind of language they speak, etc. Without dealing with these huge cultural challenges and barriers, they will be missing out and probably fold out. It does not matter if you have the latest technology or the best software put in place or the best social media strategy put in place. It is essential that as businesses go global, they do not forget the vital role culture plays in enhancing their growth and success.
What is culture? Culture is the way a group of people live, speak, eat, dress etc. Culture has played a significant role in our business community in the past decade. Even though modern technology has exposed culture in terms of communication as compared to an era without technology, businesses still have to study the culture and behavior of the people to be able to develop their marketing strategy and the kind of products they need to produce to fit that particular community. This is still relevant even today with the introduction of technology and in a research done in Africa, people from the western part of Africa, hand shake is a sign of warm greeting as compare to East Africa which means something totally different. This means that, even though technology is spreading in the developing countries, if you want to do business globally, you still have to study the culture of the people to be able to communicate your ideas and products and be able to address their needs.
There was research done by a non-profit research team from Canada in 6 communities in the northern part of Ghana about the effect of the disease called “bilharzias”. These communities were suffering from bilharzias and the research team realized that these women and children were getting this disease from the stream where they draw water.
The medical team of the non-profit from Canada medically treated everyone in these communities and dug 6 state of the art boreholes for them. They were closer to every household and projected that by six months none of the people living in these 6 communities will have the disease again.
After six months when they returned, every single soul in the community still contracted the disease after the previous treatment. So the non-profit did more research and realized that these women still go to the stream even though they have modern boreholes with clean water close to them. When they did proper cultural research, they realized that most of these women were mothers and housewives that did not get the chance to go out and hangout with their fellow women to gossip and plan other social activities. The only way they could do that is when going to fetch water from the stream. The non-profit team decided to erect 4 more modern technology boreholes at a long distance from the community.
When the research team went back to these communities after six months, there was no one in these communities with the disease. What this means is that technology can make a lot of impact on businesses and communities but if we ignore the culture, the way people live, eat, speak etc. we will miss a lot as culture and technology influence each other in any business field. Communication has impacted culture a lot as it is easy to communicate with people across the globe now with technology than in the past. Most people living in different countries can now call their families and love ones in their home countries through Skype, WhatsApp, and Viber just to mention a few.
In conclusion, the world has evolved and continues to evolve due to the fast growing of information technology. This fast growing information technology has positively affected the way businesses are operated compared to the era where businesses are done at the table. It has also destroyed businesses that refuse to adopt agile leadership principles. As the prominent American writer, futurist and businessman Mr. Alvin Toffler puts it “The illiterate of the 21st century will not be those who cannot read and write, but those who cannot learn, unlearn, and relearn” In making this comment, Mr. Alvin Toffler urges us to be willing to adapt to change and continue to learn new things everyday to be relevant. Culture has always had significant impact on businesses which creates the huge platform for Information Technology to thrive.