In terms of strategic planning for technology it is important to comprehend that integration of technology is very complex and requires "investments to plan for the alignment of technology initiatives" with the company's mission. The starting point is gaining the involvement of stakeholders through having them assist with assessment of the current technology and strategy for which direction to take with new technology. This could mean that there is a need to hire someone to be a facilitator to assist with planning. Training considerations include budgeting time for training staff. It is important that training is "task-specific and has immediate on-the-job application." (Osten, 2001) Osten states the fact that training sessions in the form of 15 to 30 minute mini-lessons "are more valuable than hours of software training." (2001) Hardware technical support should be assumed and budgeting plans made for support of both network and PCs within the company. Software generally includes issues of compatibility and upgrade requirements. In terms of connectivity, speed and number of connections are important considerations and this is an area in which outsourcing training is likely to pay off in the long-term.
The work of Leifheit, Correa, and Fink (2001) entitled: "The Continuous Education Solution for a Country Wide Telecommunication Company" relates that "Competition among companies has put up a challenge regarding training and development of human resources." Leifheit, Correa, and Fink state research findings that online learning or 'distance learning systems' have a low associated cost as compared to commuting added to the fact that the employee does not have to leave work to attend classes and that these combined "contribute to validate the investment in this methodology." (2001; p.1)
The work of Campbell (2008) entitled: "AOTMP Releases Study Detailing CFO vs. CIO Approach to it and Telecom Management" states that management of telecom is a "...critical role within the enterprise as communication flow and data sharing rely on the viability and flexibility of the it and telecom systems." Campbell relates a report that "details that when it comes to managing enterprise technology and telecommunications, Chief Financial Officers (CFOs) and Chief Information Officers (CIOs) are considered to be worlds apart." (2008) the study reported by Campbell was conducted through administration of a survey to 275 leaders in Finance and it in order to learn their views. Research findings include that: "69% of CFOs and 67% of CIOs rank optimization of technology management as the top priority for their it group. Another trend was identified in the 63% of enterprise that indicated they continue to place emphasis on aligning it and business goals." (Campbell, 2008) Spending reductions on it and telecommunications were included in the stated priorities of management.
The work entitled: "Interview with the Hungarian Telecom Training and Knowledge Management Directorate for Case Studies in the Megatrnds Project" published by Magyar Telekom reports an interview in which the Hungarian Telecom is asked to describe the history of distance training in their institution. The Hungarian Telecom answers by stating: "The institution has already started experimenting with e- learning in 1996 by introducing a rented WebCT Learning Management System (later, based on their experiences with this, the company has developed their own LMS) and creating e-contents/e-books and interactive help, but its e-courses have only become fully operational in year 1999. By 2005, the Hungarian Telecom had above 8000 enrolments for c.a. 150 courses. Presently, the time-wise distribution of online and face-to-face courses taken by the company's learners is about 50-50%." (T-Com, 2008) the company claims that the first training program was completed successfully by all 30 who enrolled in the course, which "justifies the quality and success of T-Com's pilot initiative." (T-Com, 2008) When asked the question of how "...competence in e-learning developed" in the institution and contributed to its success, the Hungarian Telecom answers by stating: "The initiation was internal. T-Com has a so-called E-Team that is an 8 person e-learning group responsible for specific tasks such as methodology advancement, operation support and development." (T-Com, 2008) Within this framework, three individuals are responsible for multimedia and pedagogy while two are responsible for project management and three other individuals are responsible for operation and development. (T-Com, 2008; paraphrased)
The E-Team is stated to work "...on a one to one project basis, often involving external contractors when specific objectives and tasks make it necessary, by enabling any required competence to be present in their endeavors." (T-Com, 2008) When asked if the development of training in the Hungarian Telecom company has been "abrupt...or...more as a gradual step-by-step process?" (T-Com, 2008)
Hungarian Telecom states that "...e-learning has been a well considered and constructed process rooting in a perfectly time start. Their general pilot experiences and the feedback collected via different ways of assessment had been and are still being fed back into the operation and strategies periodically, by this continuously improving the company's online educational practice -it is a series of methodological milestones in their e-learning development, that T-Com collects anonymous feedback every quarter year both from its staff (including external tutors) and learners. The company keeps up-to-date with pedagogy and technology just as well" (T-Com, 2008)
Stated to be "...an important and strong contributors to T-Com's success in online education" is the factor of 'evaluation'. Strengths and weaknesses of the e-learning administrative programs include company strengths in administrative systems with "tailor-made characteristics, how the method of creating online material suits the work of teacher/tutors." (T-Com, 2008) Weaknesses include needed improvement on blended learning courses." (T-Com, 2008) T-Com's online education is partially "on a project basis, contracting for the development of courses on demand. Most typically the company has mainly developed procuration administrational, technological and basic security type courses and e-learning modules, but also courses on traffic regulations and sales fundamentals." (T-Com, 2008)
When T-Com was asked to describe the "...onlineability' of the e-learning subjects, T-Com relates that practically any subject matter "can be transferred into e-learning material with a professional, creative, and well-paid staff..." (T-Com, 2008) it is critical according to T-Com that the courses are "...interactive and colorful, including lots of multimedia elements, and to ensure that the learner remains motivated throughout the entire learning cycle." (T-Com, 2008) it is important to note that T-Com states that the complete exclusion of "face-to-face sessions" are not always possible. The online courses do provide "flexible start-up and progression" in training T-Com staff and partners. (T-Com, 2008)
Synchronous and asynchronous communication between students and teachers as well as among students and other students is addressed and the importance of the role of these communication capabilities and stated is: "In the late nineties T-Com had experimented with the use of synchronous communication in their "teaching in distance" practice but these initiatives had failed. Now, with the exploitation of broadband access, new perspectives have arisen, however it is expected to remain a relatively minor part of e-discussions. The company's findings show little willingness of their learners to communicate with each other, especially in real time. In fact, it would be possible to trigger student to student communication (by synchronous platforms) with assignments where they must collaborate, but that would have a bad influence on learner centeredness and flexibility. The use of asynchronous communication tools is still deterministic." (T-Com, 2008)
When T-Com was asked how they would "...describe involvement from the institution leadership in terms of being supportive, and how this has been important for success?" T-Com answers by stating that the leadership of the institution "is not only supportive but, in fact, has been the initiator of the educational transformation by the introduction of e-learning...an important success factor." (T-Com, 2008)
Resistance is reported by some leaders and teachers within the T-Com organization in the beginning. T-Com relates that its e-learning strategy is just one strong component in what is a strong training strategy with the primary focus in this strategy being cost efficiency. Since the option of online education in training has been available, the costs associated with training have been significantly reduced presently costing only 25% of the former training costs. Online courses are reported to be "easier...and cheaper...to maintain and keep up-to-date." (T-Com, 2008) Other savings include travel expenses and savings in time. The strategy of T-Come is "keep the cost efficiency of e-training provision, supply them on demand and just in time, and to achieve that 40% of their training courses are provided online."(T-Com, 2008) Hungarian Telecom reports using ISO 2001 so that quality is assured "by benchmarking the company's practice with other EU member countries' and, on the other hand, a more bottom-up approach, that is surveying the players and beneficiaries of online education." (T-Com, 2008) the effectiveness of the company's administrative routines relating to online education are described as "well developed and continuously improving...working very effectively." (T-Com, 2008) Flexible contracting is the approach utilized in acquiring teachers stating that these assignments are "casual but the volume and nature of their jobs are clearly communicated toward the…