This section starts by looking at the influence of information and communications technology (ICT) on how it affects the ways in which people work. It then considers the different ways in which organisations may use ICT. In particular we focus on the various stages through which a company may pass, from simply using it to collect information, to a strategy where linked ICT systems control the whole process from initial customer enquiry through to manufacture and delivery.
We then go on to look at the question of security. Use of the internet and Web has significantly increased the risks of theft or loss of information that may be of benefit to criminals or the organisation’s competitors. ...view middle of the document...
There may actually be benefits in sending an e-mail to the person sitting at the adjacent desk (for example it will avoid interrupting his work, enabling him to deal with the problem when he has time). On the other hand it does reduce the number of social contacts we make each day and so may reduce people’s motivation
* It can affect role, position and the nature of rewards. Modern information systems make it easy to record and reward people’s performance. For example, you can easily measure how many calls a person in a call centre takes, or how many components a machine operator creates. Unfortunately, the true situation is more complex. The customer-facing staff in call centres may be rewarded for dealing with queries quickly; but that may not be the only relevant factor. For example, it ignores the question of whether the member of staff gave out the correct information
* It can impose time dimensions on workers. Above we mentioned the need to work quickly in a call centre; people may also experience stress if their work involves contacting others using the Internet and their response times are slow. All of them work at varying speeds at different times of the day, yet automatic monitoring of our work rate cannot make allowances for those variations.
Think about each of the four influences in turn.
a) Many supermarkets automatically re-order goods on the basis of records of sales at the check-outs. How may the four influences affect the work of a store manager in a supermarket?
b) Which of the influences relate to your own work, the work of people in your team, and the work of people in the wider organisation?
We thought of the following possible examples of influences on the store manager:
Influence | Example in a supermarket chain |
It influences the specific design of each person’s work. | The individual store manager spends much less time on re-ordering stocks, and can spend more time on other tasks. |
It affects the nature of social interactions. | For the above reason, the manager may have less contact with staff at the delivery depot. Staff at the supermarket may have less need to speak to the manager. |
It can affect role, position and the nature of rewards. | Managers may feel that they have less impact on store performance. It may make it harder for them to earn bonus payments. |
It can impose time dimensions on workers. | The need to maintain stock levels on a very wide range of items means that deliveries are often made during the night, thus affecting people’s hours of work. |
It is likely that you can find similar influences on your own work. If you have trouble identifyng these, try discussing the issues with your colleagues.
Adding Value Using ICT
Having seen that ICT can affect work, now consider a theory relating to how the way in which the use of ICT changes as companies gradually understand how it may create competitive advantage.
Figure 4.1 summarises the stages defined by...