Information technology and Internet systems have become such an integrated part of life today that all businesses of any significant size have at least some form of electronic media as part of their daily operations. Indeed, it is difficult to imagine how any business could function without at least an e-mail platform or an electronic database connection. What I have learnt about decision making, the role of information, information systems, and knowledge management should help me in my current job situation, when thinking critically about the ways in which other businesses conduct their operations, and in constructing my own operations should I be a business owner in the future. This knowledge can be applied to my current work situation at the telecommunication company Orange, as well as to a group investigation I was part of for the Manchester University.
The Orange company, where I am currently employed, is a French company that has existed for a number of years. Particularly during the last few years, the company has faced several challenges in terms of new competitors, market deregulation, and substitute markets. It has therefore been necessary for the company to keep a very close eye on new information regarding these changes in order to ensure that it remained at the top of its competitive edge. Information systems and knowledge management are excellent ways in which to maintain a sound understanding not only of these external environments, but also of the company's internal strengths and how these can best be applied to the advantage of Orange. Specifically, the Chief Information Officer (CIO) play a very important role in this. This is one of the most interesting and important things I learned about the way in which information systems can enhance business. They can only do so when under the management of specific and competent personnel.
According to Maes (2009, p. 16-17), there are six different role a CIO should ideally fulfill at the company where he or she works. These include: 1) Information Strategist; 2) Co-creator/advisor business strategy; 3) IT Portfolio Manager; 4) Enterprise Architect; 5) Business Advisor; 6) Trend Watcher.
According to the author, the first duty, as Information Strategist, is the most direct responsibility area for the CIO. The professional is in control of the definition and direction of the information strategy. This means that he or she needs to take into account the business requirements of the company, as well as being able to identify ICT opportunities for the growth and development of the company. At the centre of this duty is the ability to fully exploit information as a business resource to ensure optimal competitiveness for the company. One of the sub-role of the CIO is then also to organise the information management strategy of the company. At Orange, this means that the CIO would need to use information management to organise information on the internal strengths of the company. This should then be related to external challenges in order to ensure top competitiveness.
Because Orange is a telecommunications business, information functions as one of its central business focal points. This means that the role of co-creator/advisor in business strategy is extremely important. The CIO should co-define and co-structure the business opportunities and risks of ICT. At Orange, this means going beyond simply relating internal strengths to external challenges. It also means that these should be strategically used to help the company grow in the future. According to Maes (2009), the CIO can best fulfill this role in a position as member of the Board or advisor to the Board.
The CIO is also responsible for the company's relationship with ICT providers. At Orange, these providers are both internal and external. For this, the CIO provides a long-term strategy for ICT services. The CIO ensures that these are carried out by monitoring the performance and costs of current suppliers, as well as keeping up with developments in the supply market and how these can be used to the advantage of the company. At Orange, an optimal relationship with all suppliers is vital, since the quality of supply services affects the quality of the service that Orange can provide. This quality can be maintained and optimised by means of regular electronic communication, newsletters, and the like.
As enterprise architect, it is the work of the CIO to develop the overall, integrated architecture of the company and its services. This is where optimal information and communication technology is at the centre of concern. Flexible and scalable infrastructure should be ensured. This is also a vital part of the competitive platform at Orange. The company functions on the platform of telecommunications supply. Maintaining optimal quality in these services also means retaining market share and competition. All employees should therefore be able to communicate effectively within the company, while external partners as well as customers must be regularly informed of the company's operations and relevance.
According to Maes, the role of business advisor is often neglected in terms of assigning duties to the CIO. What is important here is the understanding that the CIO is part of the business rather than a separate entity with a separate work platform. Everything should be integrated. Because of the nature of the company, this is generally an accepted paradigm at Orange.
Finally, CIOs are also trend watchers. They continually investigate the external environment, which includes the competition, for trends that can be usefully applied towards a better competitive edge. Furthermore, the CIO investigates these trends for their legitimacy, longevity, and worthiness of investment. In this way, the possibility to waste resources on the implementation of trends that might not be worth the effort is minimised, and potential loss is mitigated.
It is therefore clear that the CIO must play an important role in companies that specialize in information systems, such as Orange. Other companies, which are traditionally not as focused upon providing IT services, might find it more difficult to implement these services, or to understand the vital role that CIOs can play in the well-being of their business. In the group project I was part of, for example, Manchester University displayed a lack of integrated services provided by ICT's.
At the university, the capabilities of management was limited in terms of measuring the impact of the University's programmes and subsequently making effective decisions towards reaching goals. An ICT can provide centralized data, store and communicate information, which could lead to the facilitation of decision making.
As seen above, accurate information management in terms not only of a company's internal strengths or external challenges, but also in terms of how these can be integrated and utilized for the company's business advantage, is a vital role that can be assigned to the CIO. This can be said to be done effectively by Orange, since the nature of the business requires it.
The University, however, is traditionally an institution of learning, which existed long before Internet platforms of information management. Many of its systems would therefore be outdated, based as it is on the traditional mode of information management. The important lesson here is that companies, regardless of their years of existence, should continuously be able to grow and change with the times in which they function and provide services. The University generally focuses its service on younger people. While technology is doubtlessly provided to enhance the learning experience, there is a basic lack of business architecture that is based upon electronic information systems. It is vital that these systems be implemented in order for the University to determine its current position in the market, and to determine a specific pathway towards the goals it has determined worthy of reaching. Hence, we made the recommendation that the services of a CIO should be implemented to address the information system shortcomings we have determined.
In a more specific sense, Davenport (2006) focuses on the importance of analytics in terms of driving decision making. This means that the CIO or information manager uses statistical knowledge or trends in order to make sound decisions for the information architecture and goals of the company.
Davenport (2006, p. 100) uses the concept of "apps" to demonstrate the importance of analytics. The success of apps created by companies such as American Airlines with its electronic reservations, Otis Elevator with its predictive maintenance, and American Hospital Supply with its online ordering app, is not only the result of the app itself, but also of the ability of the company to predict the perceived need for these apps. This perceived need is driven by customer requirements and needs. To make electronic reservations for a flight, for example, means that the traveller can make all his or her reservations from the comfort of the home environment, while airport time is minimised. The sense of convenience created by this has increased the value of the service for customers. To determine whether a new development will be accepted and/or valued by the public, information management should be sound. This is something that can primarily…