Information technology has transformed the modern-day business market to include technological systems that facilitate the digital environment. Among these technological systems are information systems (IS) that today are considered the backbone of organisation especially profit-based enterprises. Institutions such as banks, hospitals and even governments serve their customers using the support of information systems, this helps improve their productivity and overall efficiency (MIT 2011). Furthermore, these systems are used in every aspect of business today, including communication, gathering of information and support of decision-making processes. This extended integration therefore makes IS the most prominent component of organisation structure today.
Information systems are characterised by many components some of which interact with customers directly while other are used internally by organisations themselves. Consider e-commerce a service facilitated by modern banking institutions. When a person makes an electronic payment they are usually interacting with the information system rather than personnel in the bank. This facility saves time and resources, furthermore, it's able to provide extended services that human being cannot support. Similar services are seen in supermarkets and other business where information system are used to track stock and keep accurate records for enterprises. Based on these diverse applications of information systems, this report will analyse these systems more so enterprise system/applications and their role in helping businesses reach their operational objectives.
A general definition will see enterprise applications defined as Softwares that facilitate organisations to carry out their operational activities. To meet this objective, they enhance the degree of automation and the implementation of business processes. During these enhancements, operations such as planning, designing, analysis and management are made easier and most importantly are based on factual business decisions. Decision-making is the most important part of a business that determines the overall outcome, and enterprise applications are able to meet this endeavour (Harsh 2014). Now, systems integration is a key characteristic of enterprise applications, this feature helps enterprises coordinate data and processes from different sector thus provide the holistic approach stated above. In doing so, an organisation can execute and manage business operations at real time (Springer 2012).
Modern designs and implementations will have enterprise applications as packaged systems with a multitude of operation modules. These modules will come pre-installed in the entire system and will require specific licences to activate them (i.e. certain actions). Therefore, organisations will activate and customise systems based on their operational needs that again are determined by business decisions. After their integration, business data are kept consistent across all functional departments. Internally, these systems will sometimes mean enterprise resource planning (ERP) systems which are used to manage an organisation’s resources (Gulla 2004). Externally, these systems will include customer relationship management (CRM) systems that facilitate a better business-customer relationship.
Our modern corporate environment has changed the design of enterprise applications that are now complex, distributed and more scalable. Moreover, these systems are mission centred and operate on a number of platforms across on organisational networks from the intranet to the internet. Furthermore, they are all data centred which means they depend on data inputs to make conclusive decisions that are then used to meet the user requirements (Microsoft 2017). Again, these functionalities will depend on the design which is implemented using different modules. A consequence of this design method is that the outcome of one subsequent section affects the entire system which translates to an integrated and interconnected system. A good example of this outcome is a management system that identifies low sales in a particular product which translates to the manufacturing department producing less of it.
Drivers of Enterprise Systems
According to Shang and Seddon (2002), businesses will invest in technological systems to access powerful decision-making system. These powerful systems are then used to perform critical management processes, a cheaper alternative to employing different individuals in the management. Furthermore, these systems such as enterprise applications are also cheaper as compared to custom built systems that are designed for specific services other than a collective functional requirement. Nevertheless, enterprise systems are also expensive when one takes into account the different components that are purchased to make them functional i.e. licences, modules, support and maintenance. However, these expenses also outline the primary driver of businesses for implementing enterprise systems which is the desire to be successful (Tanis & Markus 2000).
Now, analysing business success is also seen as a difficult process more so at a post-implementation stage where no results are actually observed. This dilemma can only be solved using business strategies where an enterprise will invest in the said systems with their operational objectives in mind regardless of the absent results. A critical element of these strategies is forecasting procedures that are developed using an organisation's data. Furthermore, forecasting is also dependent on adequate resource planning, a resource that improves an organisation’s competitive advantage. All these outcomes are easily met using applications such as ERPs that improve an enterprise’s business strategies by facilitating business operations using information technology. Therefore, organisations will use enterprise systems to support other technological systems that are results driven (Revenaugh & Muretta 2013).
Thirdly, enterprise systems are known to provide a real-time outlook of business which improves customer relations as well as the active management of services/procedures. Therefore, through these systems, the management can adjust its service delivery options to meet the needs of consumers. This outcome creates more time for other business operations that require the management personnel. In summary, a conclusive analysis of enterprise systems will outline the following drivers of business for their implementation: one, maximising business processes and operations through strategic systems that are both flexible and efficient. Two, to reduce expenditure costs by facilitating the integration of business modules. Three, to improve customer relations through efficient services (Viehland & Shakir 2005).
Challenges of Enterprise Applications
Enterprise systems are becoming more critical every day in business, this outcome has increased their complexity as new designs and implementation procedures have been adopted. Furthermore, the introduction of agile and service-oriented designs have caused the modern systems to sprawl and as a result, has increased the rate of new rollouts that are different in each deployment. In addition to this, the industry is faced by many new IT technologies such as cloud computing which further confuses the end users (Early 2016). Nevertheless, there are some specific challenges that are more common than others, for instance, recovering from business disruptions. When organisations face downtime periods the end user is left in disarray as the problem affects the entire system from the management applications to the services systems. Sometimes, these service outages may take days to resolve because they require careful diagnostics to fix them. Furthermore, most problems are only identified when end users contact an organisation’s help desk services to report the problem.
Security and data integrity spell the second most common challenge faced by the end user. At the core of the services delivered by enterprise applications is consumer information. At an organisation level, the business may have the right security protocols to protect its user’s information. However, the end user may lack the same capabilities, this exposes them to malicious acts from suspect individuals who prey on innocent subscribers. Furthermore, some systems may be infected by malware to produce inaccurate results which place the end user at a disadvantage (Hinchcliffe 2007).
Internet-Based Technologies and Enterprise Systems
According to the current design concepts, the future of enterprise systems is set to be based on smart systems that are supported by a full networked society. For organisations, this outcome is already a reality, a fact outlined by the existing internet infrastructure. Through the internet, information is dynamically manipulated to meet the needs of the end users. Moreover, the internet has eliminated the boundaries between business and the market environment which has become the root of all entrepreneurship concepts (Neuville & Porta 2010). Furthermore, consider the practicality of using real-time applications that are able to deliver efficient services such as e-commerce and mobile banking. These services not only raise the service quotas but also reduce the expenditure cost used to conduct business.
Let’s take an example of Tesco, an organisation that provides its consumers among many other services, online purchases. Unlike traditional systems that require tellers and store workers, online systems enable the customer to make their product decisions facilitated by the management system. Furthermore, through the same system, an organisation like Tesco can analyse the purchase trends which are determined by consumer behaviour. These functionalities help businesses make better decisions as a consequence of integrating enterprise systems with the internet (Peter India 2017).
Benefits of Enterprise Systems
As a general benefit, adopting enterprise systems such as ERP systems will enhance the operational capabilities of a business. This benefit is facilitated by the holistic approach used by these systems where several processes from different departments are integrated into one. Furthermore, consider the automation provided by ERP systems which offer streamlined customer services, enhancing the user experience. Now, consider an IT company that provides solutions such as data management, internet service and sale of software systems. Their customer relationship is enhanced by help desk services that are supported by an ERP system. In essence, customers will launch issues they are facing to the relevant department guided by the application. From this design, the customer feels valued as they get a one on one interaction with the organisation to solve their specific problem or even enquiry (Scranton 2017).
Secondly, it’s easier to scale all available resources through the services offered by modern enterprise systems. Moreover, this capability is enhanced when IT resources are considered because an up or down approach is followed to ensure all departments are served accordingly. Therefore, for our IT Company, its additional resource requirements such as additional data can be sorted using cloud-based systems that again are easily integrated into the existing enterprise system. Furthermore, with the existence of internet based solutions, an organisation can scale down any service to meet the real-time reviews observed online. This flexibility is very important in allowing an organisation make excellent decisions on expenditure costs (Williams & Schubert 2010).
Finally, consider the strategic planning facilitated by enterprise system through the different functionalities and capabilities they provide. An IT firm can assess the records they have to outline some of the changes needed in their service delivery system. For instance, an area outlined to have many customers can be identified and more resources focused on it. Furthermore, it’s easier to plan other organisational requirements such as security because these systems provide accurate and consistent data. Overall, these capabilities will help an organisation review its processes and activities to fit their immediate and future demands (Johnston 2017).
Information systems is a diverse field that has many components with many different capabilities. At the heart of these components are enterprise systems that enhance business operations more so, by improving operation integration where different enterprise services and processes are coordinated to meet the overall objective of increasing revenue income. However, a deeper analysis of enterprise systems reveals the different variations that exist and the benefits they present. Applications like ERP systems enhance resource management which translates to lower expenditure costs because services and processes are deployed where needed. Moreover, an enterprise can boost communication which again will lead to efficient services.
On the other hand, applications like CRM systems enhance the customer experience where the enterprise enhances the interaction between them and the end user. In essence, the consumer interacts with sophisticated systems and not individuals, however, their performance is so accurate that the customer in most cases is left satisfied. This high level of satisfaction is what increases the customer base translating to higher sales. In addition to this, these applications will streamline service delivery options by automating processes that would otherwise take ages to implements. A good example of this capability is e-commerce where customers pay for services online with the assistant of enterprise systems. In all, enterprise system will boost service delivery options and enhance the operational objectives of an organisation.
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