1: Motivators, processes and best practices adapted from open source movement
A virtual organisation, due to its disseminated entity, demands managerial expertise in assimilating and motivating its workforce towards the achievement of targeted goals. Such business organisations thrive on the unique and valuable knowledge and skills of their workforce. However, lack of motivation and direct association often discourage the employees to share such knowledge with their teams. Examples from open source movement indicate that with the right motivation, managers might overcome such trust issues successfully. The following are some of the practices, processes, and motivators that managers of virtual organisations might adapt from the open source movement to ensure and increase the organisational productivity.
Acknowledgement and appreciation of shared knowledge
The open source software communities are often tagged as gift economies, as the developer of a software offers it to the community along with the source code, availing the other members a chance to use it, improve it and change it according to their need (Velkova, 2016). Consideration of sharing of skills and knowledge as gifts might also contribute to the productivity of the organisational team as the contributor in such case also receive reciprocal contributions that they might use in their works. Moreover, the contribution of a developer, in the open source communities, is peer-reviewed and if considered good, is duly acknowledged. Similar practices in the virtual organisations would encourage the team members to share their skills and knowledge instead of hiding them from the other team members.
Open culture encouraging creativity
The open source movement marks the enthusiasms among many software developers to create or improve the available open sourced software. Martinez-Torres and Diaz-Fernandez, (2014) observed this phenomenon through the self-determination theory and stated that such practices are triggered by intrinsic motivation. The intrinsic motivation, here, is the immediate satisfaction or the creative pleasure merged with the sense of community that encourages the developer to create the software. The practice of such open culture within the virtual organisation through communication and operational transparency could also encourage the employees to innovate and be creative in their regular work too.
Consideration of the team as a distributed system
Similar to the open source software communities, employees of virtual organisations are also loosely linked members of a virtual system (Martinez-Torres & Diaz-Fernandez, 2014). Therefore, the manager, with the help of, effective communication tools and by encouraging asynchronous yet regular interactions among the virtual staffs might be able to transform the workforce into a distributed community. Tools, like video conferencing, appreciation through common blogs or comments instead of private e-mails, here, might help in achieving the target.
While the open source movement established a sense of community, it also allowed the developers to practice autonomy without disrupting that of others. The availability of the source code and freedom to change the software according to own need, or for the improvement of the existing system allowed the developer to practice autonomy without harming the sense of community (Velkova, 2016). Similarly, allowing the employees to practice autonomy in terms of making decisions regarding own performance might help in improving the individual employee’s performance and hence the overall organisational productivity.
2: Issues in managing information
With the advancement of information technology and escalating necessity of establishing an online presence, managing information and presenting them in the right form and to the right group of audience has become important for business organisation. With this increased need for sharing information, problems related to managing information have begun to unfold as well. The following are some of such issues that exist in relation to management of information.
Data supply issue
Business organisations often find it difficult to determine the right amount of information that different stakeholders need to be exposed to. While burdening the stakeholders with excessive information might generate confusion and disinterest, it also contains the risk of important organisational data being trafficked to the competitors.
Inadequate IT infrastructure
Absence of a well-planned IT system often limits an organisation’s ability to manage as well as utilise its information for the development of a better operation or communication system. According to Soomro, Shah and Ahmed, (2016) planning and managing the communication network has been one of the major issues regarding information management in United States (US), which has hindered the development of its companies in considerable manner.
Technical advancement and financial investment
Appropriate technical support is essential for remaining relevant in the market in terms of collection, management and usage of information. Such agility also requires considerable investment in the development and maintenance of a sound, information management system.
Insufficiency of human resource
Apart from its hardware and software, the knowledge and IT skills of human resource of a business organisation also require updating, lack of which hampers its ability to use and communicate its information (Luftman and McLean, 2004). In many cases, lack of human resource engaged in management of information also causes data loss.
With the increasing virtual presence, the chances of data theft have also increased for the business organisations. Soomro, Shah and Ahmed, (2016) reported that in United Kingdome 93% of large business corporations and 87% of small companies have faced data breach in 2013 alone. In US, the average cost of the 56% of firms that faced data breach was US$9.4 Million (Soomro, Shah & Ahmed, 2016).
Backup and data usability
Data loss is another issue that limits a company’s ability to use its information for strategic planning and management. Lack of timely, regular and systematic updating of data also is an issue that business organisations often overlook. Management of information is often considered less important or secondary work, which restricts the company’s ability to use its data at the opportune moment.
Consumer database and information regarding other stakeholders is crucial when it comes to managing marketing information or determining stakeholder strategies. However, while dealing with such data the management needs to take utmost care to make sure that the privacy of the individuals is not violated. Failure in doing so might cause severe legal or ethical penalties for the business organisation.
3: Role of executives in managing IT usage
Maintenance of information transparency has become more important than ever due to the availability of several effective communication tools. With such increased necessity of sharing information, the need for managing information has also heightened for the executive officers to balance the information system according to the organisational needs. While the nature of the role of executives often depends on the company, large-scale business organisations often allocate an IT executive to manage organisational information efficiently. Following, are some of the responsibilities that executives and in some cases, IT executives need to play within a business organisation.
Alignment of information technology with business
The information management system of a company largely depends on its nature and operations. It is the responsibility of the executive to plan the use of information technology, strategically, to support the business strategies (Luftman and McLean, 2004). Well prioritised IT steps, such as utilisation of organisational data for decision-making, strategic and timely disclosure of information to stimulate reaction from stakeholders and allocation of updated IT measures to enhance communication, help the business organisation to achieve the strategic goals.
Overseeing information technology needs of a company
Identification of the IT requirements of a company and planning it in harmony with its developmental plans is a crucial responsibility of its executives. It is the responsibility of the executive officers to conduct surveys or interview, evaluate the identified information and develop a report to present before the board of directs for approval.
As mentioned in the previous section, the development of information technology has made business corporations more susceptible to hacking and data breach. It is the responsibility of executive officers, especially the IT executive to identify and organise implementation of security measures to protect organisational data from data theft and forgery. This also includes ensuring confidentiality of information related to organisational stakeholders.
IT budget determination
Identification of the IT needs of a company, in terms of instruments, software and upgrades, budgeting the expenses and evaluating the value generated through the expense is the responsibility of executives. Evaluation of the justifiability of the budget is as crucial for strategic decision making as the budget itself. While evaluation of the value of IT implementations might appear difficult, Luftman and McLean, (2004) pointed out the instance of food manufacturer in US that accurately evaluates the IT expenses through corporate performance measures. Such evaluation is crucial to determine future IT measures.
Recruitment, development and retention of IT staffs
Acquisition, training and retention of talented IT professional are another major responsibility of the executives (Luftman and McLean, 2004). Skilled and knowledgeable human resource is key to the successful implementation of any of the organisational strategies. IT strategies and plans are no exception to it. Identification of IT needs of a company, acquiring and shaping human resource accordingly to fulfil the identified needs is an important responsibility of the executives.
Luftman, J., & McLean, E. R. (2004). Key issues for IT executives. MIS quarterly Executive, 3(2), 89-104
Martinez-Torres, M. R., & Diaz-Fernandez, M. D. C. (2014). Current issues and research trends on open-source software communities. Technology Analysis & Strategic Management, 26(1), 55-68
Soomro, Z. A., Shah, M. H., & Ahmed, J. (2016). Information security management needs more holistic approach: A literature review. International Journal of Information Management, 36(2), 215-225
Velkova, J. (2016). Open cultural production and the online gift economy: The case of Blender. First Monday, 21(10), 1-17