Digital Information Creates Strategic Challenges: Case in University’s Environment

The Evolution

            Even though the United States has passed from industrial era to information era since 1957, the technology trends that were to support the information work hardly existed.  After about 20 years, the information age is empowered by the dramatically change technologies that are effectively used in education, commerce, communication, and others.  The economy has transformed as the United States has led in the information age (Mukherji, 2002).  Computers have been used widely and wisely, and the information technology has been dramatically developed ever since.

            This generation witnesses the evolution of the digital information technology, which nowadays has transformed the substance of daily life with which people of the world is living in the era of digital information technologies (Haag & Cummings, 2008).  People are using digital technology at every minute in their lives.  They use smart phones, personal computers, laptops, iPods, iPad, and the Internet at work, at home, and even on the road. 

            Internet equips organizations and businesses a new dynamic way of communication and business operations.  Communication technology becomes a crucial catalyst for organizations in business processes, operations, and global supply chain management.  The technology trends in hardware, software, data, and communication have evolved throughout the history of information systems.  Clearly, information systems has created new dynamics in the way organizations leverage to reduce cost and increase productivity (Mukherji, 2002).

The Impacts

            The advent of Internet and its applications in the information age has contributed to the transformation of the economy of the world.   Electronic mail, web portal, voice and fax over internet, smart phone, and other web-based platforms have dramatically changed and improved the communication between and across organizations within and beyond supply chain management.  Organizations which do not equip themselves to meet this changing demand will not survive. 

            According to Hitt and Brynjolfson (1997), since the organizations shifted from handicraft to machine production, distribution of computing technology broadly improved the communication and coordination throughout the organizations.  Additionally, as information management focused on concepts of web technology, document imaging, and data management to organize organization’s data, information resources contained a richer universe of digitalized media. Thus, information systems did not only become a crucial strategy in business innovation and improvement but also become a strategic challenge to the organization’s environment, especially to the university’s environment.   Diffusion of computing technology and the emergence of computer supported cooperative work systems enabled university employees to share resources and information more effectively within the campuses (Kahn, 2000).

The Strategic Challenge

            One of the technological availabilities that effectively assists the decision-making process is business intelligence (BI).  BI enables organizations to extract the true meaning of digital information for business decision-making process (Haag & Cummings, 2008).  However, there is a challenge in the conversion of information to digital media from original paper records (Kahn, 2000).  The strategic challenge of new technology, therefore, relates to record management and archival processes.  One of the most organizations which handles a large amount of record management and archival processes has to be a university or governmental agency.

            The growing of electronic records and digital information or media clearly has changed the method of handling traditional paper records.  Most of universities leverage information systems to effectively improve the communication and coordination in handling information and archival processes.  Therefore, Kahn (2000) suggested the work environment, which has significantly changed, impacts the organizational relationships in archival and record management offices.  University, which refuses to adapt the new change in organizational relationships and to leverage information systems to overcome the limitation of disadvantages, will not lead to greater success.

            In Kahn (2000)’s case study, campus B lost the funding because they did not (a) respond to the change with management strategies that promotes decentralization of authority, builds alliances, and streamlines budgetary management, and (b) leverage the computing technology in communication and electronic information record management.  Using digital technologies empowers employees by improving the information flow and increasing the skill level.  Hitt and Brynjolfson (1997) stated that information technology, which vastly improved the communication, does not much change human information processing abilities because human still has to analyze the data generated by computers. Therefore, the association of information systems and work system that includes decentralized authority creates a relationship between them.  In this relationship, it appears to be consistent across industries and does not depend upon whether the organization employs more skillful professionals (Hitt & Brynjolfson, 1997).

Role of Social Action Theory

            The social action theory accepts and assumes that human beings have different actions according to social contexts and how action affects other people.  Kahn (2000) argued that the relationship of technology and organization structure is empowered by social action literature on technology and structure.  Social action theory is used by looking at the way leaders fail or succeed in an organization to understand the relationship of technology and organization structure and the organization’s response to innovation.  Kahn (2000) suggested that social action is a useful framework in the successful innovation.  This relationship is shown in the case study where record management team of Campus A decentralized the authority because of technology used and changed the budgetary process because of the computerized fiscal management system.

            By Kahn (2000), Campus A’s record management team maintains and adds to alliances by sending email messages, posting on intranet workshops and seminars, and communicating with campus community.  Campus B, otherwise, basically limits itself in a traditional strategy in which record management team is less likely to develop alliances and to effectively use of technology.  These activities are resulting from the view of social action theory that is accountable for (a) restructuring of work activities, (b) creating of communication networks, and (c) shifting in team leadership and authorization processes (Kahn, 2000).  The case study proves the effectiveness of the social action theory.  It suggests organizations that are facing with technological change should encourage communication between coworkers, decentralization of leadership and control, and boundary-spanning management techniques.

Conclusion

            Information technology trends showed the rapid growing of hardware, software, and communication platforms since the beginning of the information age.  Electronic mail, voice and fax over internet protocol, smart phones, and web applications have turned the organizations to a new way of conducting business.  Leveraging technology will reduce cost and increase productivity.  Information technology has impacted organizations in their operations and supply chain management.

            Digital information records open a new challenge in managing, controlling, and distributing of the information records.  University is a clear sample organization which faces challenge in record management and archival information.  Case study by Kahn (2000) proves that social action theory works for organizations that leverage information technology by suggesting decentralization of authority, utilization of new technology in creation of communication, and reorganization of the work activities.  In conclusion, organizations with heavily technological use tend to adopt the organizational practices of decentralization of authority and control, boundary-spanning management techniques, and emphasis on subject incentives (Hitt & Brynolfson, 1997).

References

Haag, S., & Cummings, M. (2008). Management information systems for the information age (Laureate Education, Inc., custom ed.). Boston: McGraw-Hill/Irwin.

Hitt, L.M., & Brynjolfsson, E. (1997). Information technology and Internet firm organization: An exploratory analysis. Journal of Management Information Systems, 14.

Kahn, R.L. (2000). The effect of technological innovation on organizational structure: Two case studies of the effects of the introduction of a new technology on informal organizational structures. Journal of Business and Technical Communication, 14(3).

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