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Business world adapts as Information Age changes

By Marissa Neeley
On April 24, 2014

The last few years and the next few years have been referred to both the Digital Age and the Information Age. With the explosion of the Internet and technology, the world is changing, including the business world.

Technology used in business

“The explosion of mobile technology has been one of the biggest changes to have impacted business over the last many years,” said Sriram Varadan, a master’s student in management information systems.

A lot of organizations are embracing bring your own device, or BYOD, he said.

“Employees are encouraged to bring their own device to work and connect with a secure environment to discharge their duties,” Varadan said. “Things like BYOD and mobile technology explosion have helped the growth of cloud-based computing. These advances have made businesses focus on their core competencies, made them lean and agile and thereby enabling them to respond faster to the consumer.”

Technology has changed the way business is done, he said.

“Access to the internet has exploded with the advent of smartphones,” Varadan said. “New markets have opened up. Facebook is no longer only for the youth. With over 1.13 billion users — just a little less than the population of India — it has revolutionized marketing in a big way.”

The business world cannot continue to work the same old way to survive in this information age, he said.

“Many C-suite executives now directly interact with their consumers on Facebook,” Varadan said. “Technology is changing the way consumers perceive the real world. Businesses need to be cognizant of this and learn to work in this new world.”

Progress in technology can never be bad, he said.


“It is the improper/inefficient usage of technology that often leads businesses to fail,” Varadan said. “Technology is a means to the end and not the end itself. Very often businesses get carried away, losing sight of the end objective while getting deeply engrossed in the magical world that new technology promises. Technology can and should be the enabler of business goals.”

Technological changes to business market

Technology is a business enabler, he said.

“Being a marketing professional for over 10 years, I can say with confidence that the single biggest thing that has changed the way business market to consumers is the smartphone,” Varadan said. “It is now official that more people access the Internet from a mobile device than desktops and laptops. Smartphones are not just a channel to reach consumers but a vehicle to understand consumers better.”

Some major changes in business within the last few years include cloud computing, the Internet, 3-D printing and the mobile internet. Cloud technology has made quick discussions and meetings a click away. There is phenomenal progress, although the trend is yet to catch up, said Shruti Pitre, a graduate student in management information systems.

E-commerce is making the traditional brick and mortar retailing stronger, he said.

“It has resulted in consolidation of businesses,” Vardan said. “The ones that have not reinvented themselves in the face of e-commerce have perished and the ones that have leveraged it, to do better have flourished. Amazon may have killed Barnes & Noble, but the ones that continue to survive have found their niche and have not just survive, but grown in the face of competition.”

Telecommuting

Technology makes it easier to be connected, whether to an organization’s computerized information systems or to work colleagues, regardless of one’s physical location, said Kathy Chudoba, associate professor and director of MMIS in the Huntsman School of Business.

“Telecommuting is work away from the office, usually during normal business hours,” she said. “It can range from low intensity of one to two days a week to full-time telecommuting. A telecommuter may work from home, a coffee shop, the library, or anywhere he or she is able to concentrate and remain connected. Telecommuting will continue to be an important option for employees and organizations, and more and more people will become at least part-time telecommuters.”

Chudoba and a colleague are currently conducting a study with a Fortune 500 company that decided to allow some of its information technology employees to telecommute one or two days a week, as part of a pilot program.

Management in other areas of the business that depend on IT were concerned because they were afraid performance would suffer if the IT professionals weren’t always in company offices. They found just the opposite. Managers of the IT professionals and the customers or clients who IT supported said the performance of those who were telecommuting remained the same or improved over a six-month period.

Some of the customers and clients were not even aware there was a telecommuting pilot program because the IT professionals performed their work seamlessly, whether done in the office or at home, she said.

“Start-ups, smaller organizations and companies in the technology sector often have no concerns about a new employee telecommuting from day one,” Chudoba said. “Larger and more established organizations may prefer that employees not telecommute for the first six months or so in order for the new employee to learn and become part of the company’s culture, establish working relationships with colleagues, and so forth.”

Almost any job as an IT professional can be done as a telecommuter, at least some of time. Some tasks, such as gathering requirements or conducting training programs or discussing strategic issues, are best done face-to-face, she said.

Rate of technological advances speeding up

Technology is advancing at a pace hard to keep up with, Pitre said.

“Whenever there is a ‘new idea’ a business needs to catch up with to keep from being left out in the race to be the best, bam: There is a new development which works better and the business now needs to shift direction again,” Pitre said.

Technology without a doubt changes the way people conduct business sometimes for the good and others for the worse, she said.

“Communication and sharing of knowledge/information has definitely benefitted immensely from all advancements of technology,” Pitre said. “From having endless reams of paper stacked in huge storerooms to retrieving a file off the cloud, communication has become effective, easy and productive. Mobile working, on-the-move meetings, working lunches over the Internet are an everyday affair in today’s world. For an organization to not have its presence online is unheard of.”

Downfalls to technology

With all of these technological changes, however, there are of course reverse effects too, she said.

“Information security is a risk to be considered,” Pitre said. “Network qualities may not always be optimal. Business continuity plans may not work effectively if a disaster strikes.”

There are some definite downfalls of technology having grown at such a rapid pace, she said.

“I believe today humans, as a race, are losing touch with humanity as an aspect,” Pitre said. “Machines, automation, virtual realties – all these are taking on so much importance in human life, that we are losing our understanding of historical significance of evolution. Today’s business world has organizations and people more frustrated than ever before, at even small waiting times.”

At the end of the day, it is machines which are being developed to make work easier and better. It’s all a matter of convenience, she said.

“Can technology be misused? Yes, it can,” Pitre said. “For me, technical advances have definitely introduced changes for the better than worse. From travelling every day for over four hours to completing my meetings in an hour over the Internet. My productivity is phenomenal, I am satisfied with my quality of work and the business benefits from having most things accomplished well in time. My business life is well-balanced and easily organized.”


marissa.neeley@aggiemail.usu.edu

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