Technology is reshaping the way people live their lives today in profound and sometimes unexpected ways. Indeed, the concept of using something new is always frightening for some people, and even the proponents of technological solutions caution that they can actually do more harm than good when they are not used in appropriate and meaningful ways that justify the investment required to apply them in the workplace. Nevertheless, the trend is unmistakable and the spread of technology is growing, and many businesses may "leap before they look" in order to avoid behind left behind on the race for success on the Information Highway. In order to achieve the best return on investment in technology, then, it is important to understand just what it is and how it can help the ordinary individual or business become more successful. To this end, this paper provides an overview of how technological solutions, particularly computers, the internet, and other information system technological can be used to help individuals and organizations achieve their goals, while identifying the obstacles and constraints that have been associated with the deployment of new technological solutions by some businesses today. A summary of the research will be provided in the conclusion.
II. Perspective One: Technology Must be Supported by Organizational Commitment and Intelligent Choices.
a. Ideas the perspective sets forth. A number of studies have shown that many businesses treat technological integration with the business processes as an unneeded resource depletion; on the other hand, others have demonstrated significant difficulty in understanding the need to invest in and harness its technological infrastructure. Thus, there is some troubling disconnect between chief executives and the urgent need to leverage on the tremendous beneficial impact of communications technology on business performance. Companies that have embraced the great potentials and contributions of communications technology to businesses continue to struggle with choice options of the technology to implement as well as how to align their business venture with current and pre-existing technology.
b. Supporting reasons and evaluation of those reasons. Organizational transformation has been key to significant strategic positioning. Many an organization has employed terms such re-engineering, process improvement, total quality management, and lately empowerment to ensure that they stay afloat and viable in their industry. The implementation of these technological solution initiatives at various at times or concurrently within an organization is intended to strategically orient the business enterprise along a predetermined path. They are intended to offer the firm aggressive or defensive posture in relation to its competitiveness, but such decision cannot be made in isolation from what is taking place in the marketplace. For instance, a company might be well advised to await the arrival of an off-the-shelf software package in a month or two that will do the job that would require a customized application today (Aouad, Kagioglou, Cooper, Hinks, & Sexton 1999).
c. Supporting evidence and evaluation of that evidence. In order to determine when and how, or even if, technological innovation and investment is the key to success, The problem becomes how does a firm know the strategic path that will deliver on this construct? The overall problem solving posture of aggressive dimension must be centered on the premise of crucial characteristics of the organizational decision-making recognizing technological innovation and solutions as a potential opportunity for improvement, rather than as a symbol of success or an shallow effort to keep ahead of the competition. According to Stewart Brand (2003), "Cars, airplanes and telephones were all life-changing inventions, but they had a steady and comprehensible evolution. Computers and biotechnology, on the other hand, are progressing so fast that only an elite few can keep up. Such swiftness could create societal frictions" (Brand 2003:1). Brand suggests that what Western civilization requires today is a "NOT-SO-FAST button"; the proponents of technological determinism have been able to make a strong case for allowing self-accelerating technologies to follow their own life cycle. "Rapid development in computer technology, they point out, has spun off robotics and the Internet -- to the great benefit of industry and human communications. Besides, it isn't so easy for a free society to put the brakes on technology" (Brand 2003:2-3).
d. Values that are implied by reasoning and evidence. It is possible to use today's resources to address tomorrow's problems, but there are steps that must be taken since there are no corporate crystal balls available (yet). In order to accomplish this, an accurate assessment of the need for technology investment, organizations must enhance the robustness of the organization and provide protection of its core skills; knowledge about what types of technology might be most effective is therefore fundamental to cultivating futuristic posturing dimension (Weill 1992). This author points out that knowledge about what types of technology are available and how they may assist an organization is crucial in that it provides perspective of the direction that a firm could be headed if it did things right. Thus, the problems that are typically associated with the research needed to confirm that investment in technology solutions are required, and then what types of solutions are appropriate, have a potentially enormous impact on the performance of the firm. Certainly, such investments have been shown to bolster organizational performance, but there must exist congruence of the strategies of both the business and information technology.
e. How does perspective "present" the reality upon which the thinking is based?
The technological revolution of businesses has different impacts on different industries as such; each industry has to align its business strategy with the communications technology strategy that fits its needs. In the banking industry the most profound effect is the e-banking or e-commerce banking. For instance, ATM, credit cards, debit cards, smart cards, and online lending via the Internet are considered electronic commerce banking. Thus, the reality of these technological innovations in the marketplace and their subsequent implementation in the banking industry require an immediate realignment of banking industry functions in order to remain competitive.
f. Does perspective overlook certain groups or areas of society? Studies to date such as Weill (1992), indicate that a small marginal net gain in the valve manufacturing industry when technological solutions were applied; however, the study was limited to only the manufacturing industry. Although this study is limited to a specific industry, it reflects the degree to which virtually any type of organization can benefit from the innovations becoming increasingly available today. Nevertheless, there appears to be some level of disagreement on the actual impact of technology on business performance across the board.
Loveman (1988) maintains that there is no net contribution to output as a result of investments in information technology without an overall commitment of the company to its successful application. In this regard, congruence of communications technology and business strategies can be of significant importance on the outcome of such investments. Merely investing in computers alone may not transform business' performance landscape. There must exist sound congruence in strategies between the information technology investments and stated business purposes in order for meaningful assessment to be realized. Here again, investments may have various degrees of impact on the business performance at various times depending on the amount of investment, fit of the investment, and length of time allowed for the assessment. Finally, Ballantine, Galliers, and Stray (1994) have reported that investing in computers, at least, does have a direct correlation with increased return on assets.
III. Perspective Two:
Different People and Business Require Different Technological Solutions, but Almost Everyone Can Benefit from Technology.
a. Ideas the perspective sets forth. The beginning of the 21st century has ushered in a new era that is being dominated by technology. However, in order to better understand how individuals and business are being affected by these fundamental changes, it is necessary to categorize technological policy into its different components. These components are:
1) Offensive technological posture;
2) Mechanization and process innovation; and, 3) New product development (Oster 1999).
b. Supporting reasons and evaluation of those reasons. Today, many organizations that have substantial motivations to employ technology often exhibit strong attributes of merely wanting to appear to be on the cutting edge of technology. Such organizations fall into the offensive technological posture (Oster 1990). These types of organizations are frequently regarded as the innovation leaders, but without experiencing any substantive return on their investment for their troubles and investment. However, it is important to note here that an organization can exhibit multiple technological postures simultaneously. The organizations that exhibit these types of attributes do so largely because of their specific core competencies and their comprehension of the role of technology in their unique organizational operations (Foster 1986). Variations in the needs of businesses quite often make it imperative for certain organizations to adopt multiple technological postures.
c. Supporting evidence and evaluation of that evidence. According to Joo (2002), the most common determinant of the offensive or aggressive technological posture for businesses is the need for such businesses to engage in specific strategic initiatives that require the acquisition…