• Evaluate how Information Technology can be seen as an assemblage.
• Identify how the information technology assemblage can enhance the transmission,Storage and retrieval of information. Use business case studies to illustrate your argument.
• Critically analyse the issues/questions these actions raise for business. Do this by comparing and contrasting the viewpoints of relevant theorists and critics.
Computers and information technology has become an essential component of business in today’s world. It is compulsory for any business to invest in Information Technology in order to meet with business competition in the market and conduct a successful business process. IT holds a significant position in affecting the decisions regarding how an organization run a business and market their services and products. Every business needs to apply technology to determine almost every aspect of a business application such as communication, inventory management, data and information management, customer relationship management, transaction management and many more (Quaadgras, Weill and Ross, 2014). A well planned and well implemented Information Systems increases the efficiency, performance, productivity, scalability, capacity as well as accuracy for a business process.
IT as an Assemblage in Business
A business can experience the vast amount of advantages that IT provides through various ways. Information technology can be seen as an assemblage enabling the overall functionalities of business through increased sales, diversity, improved customer service and customer relationship, decreased cost of investment and higher product quality. IT as an assemblage can improve traditional business functions to facilitate popularity and success to a business (Qi, 2014).
No matter what industry or what kind of business is under consideration, Information Technology is mandatory for successful and efficient business management.
Storage: computers and database systems are essential for storage, retrieval, update and transfer of information. Various business related information such as inventory, payment details, sales, transactions, receivables, payrolls, etc need to be stored in order to be processed. Accounting software with appropriate back end tools uses these payroll, client and tax files to process business.
Marketing: A large aspect of IT is utilized for a business’s marketing needs. Electronic marketing is a great way to attract wide range of customers as well as increase the web presence and business exposure (Putten, 2013). Publishing advertisements in the internet is a sure-shot approach to target potentially interested customers and increase business revenue. Moreover, with advanced technology it is now possible to customize and generate ads based on users choice by implementing the ‘Big Data and Data Mining Predictive Analysis Method’ to store, extract and process customers personal information.
Communication: IT provides smarter and faster means for communication inter-personal, internal as well as external to an organization. Email for communication between customers and business representatives are available 24X7 hours a day. Additionally, communication and interaction processes have also become more safe and secure than earlier approaches.
Actor Network Theory was developed in the year 1960. According to the creator of ANT, Bruno Latour and Michel Callon, it is a theory which is based on the social and technological attributes discussed under the studies of Science and Technology. It mainly deals with the man-machine interactions. The relationship between humans and electronic machines has greatly evolved and in fact grew deeper and stronger with the advancement of new technologies and modern computing (Lopez, Huang and Sandhu, 2013). The actor network theory states that there are both human actors and non-human-actors involved in a given system. The story surrounding the whole system is analysed on the basis of ANT. ANT theory perceives the system from sociological as well as technological view point. Today’s generation of people have both a social and an online existence. Actor network theory considers both these perspectives. In sociological science the human actors and non-human-actors participates in the whole system of activity which is considered as the network. How these actors shape the network is analysed in this theory. The actor network theory occupies a significant amount of space in the Science and Technology studies. The ANT writers refer to these human and non-human entities as “actants. The term “token” is used to mention to the objects passed between the actants (Zhao et al., 2014). ANT covers a large aspect of questions and answers most of which are related to the use of technology, its relationship with the society, how and why we use these technologies and its effects on our lives.
Success Story of e-Tailing Business
The success story of Fabmart.com marks the significance of IT in business. Fabmart.com has been maintaining a fine balance between its physical stores and online website for e-marketing. Fabmart has a number of physical markets as well as facilities for online shopping. A leading IT magazine, PC Quest has awarded Fabmart the title of ‘best-focused e-commerce shop’ in their Editor’s Choice Award portion in the year 2000. In the same year Fabmart was also given the name of ‘most popular online shopping site’ by the readers of Chip Magazine. At early 2002 their customer database increased to a number of 1, 60,000 worldwide shoppers. The e-tailing model of Fabmart supports variety of products and services belonging to different categories (Seidel, 2013).
Actants: Analysis of the interrelationships and interactions of information systems within the business processes from A.N.T. perspective involves identifying the underlying actants which are acting upon the whole system or process. In order to explore further, the technological actants are identified as the software and hardware actants and it includes the data management mechanisms, networking measures, data transmission channels, database access software and the pool of data. Information systems give a business accessibility, globalization, product management and process management facilities. In the current context, the technological actants are identified as the IT process architecture used and applied by Fabmart for electronic marketing needs. IT as an assemblage is acting upon the whole process of business which in turn has impact in society and economy at large. IT actants has its effect upon cost effectiveness, business process improvement, stakeholder integration and last but not the least it helps the organization to gain a competitive advantage in the global marketplace (Laumer et al., 2013).
The fundamental role of IT in business is it makes the whole process run faster. It practically removes all the physical barriers and reaches to a larger amount of customers. Exchange of information is facilitated in various possible ways such as Smartphones, Television, Internet, video conference etc. Based on the theories of actor network, the relationships between these entities involve the interaction of different actants within a single network. These actants can be broadly categorised as humans and information system technologies (Kessler, 2013). The idea of actors is extended to support a sociological viewpoint as every action is seen as either human or non human phenomena. The importance of IT in the global economy is evident from its capacity to change the global electronic market scenario. It helps build confidence, bring agility and optimize business (Spann, Hinz and Ramachandran, 2013). Global information technology performance survey in the public and government sectors assures that IT is essential to introduce innovative solutions. Proper IT infrastructure can change the way governments interact with their organizations, enterprises as well as citizens.
ERP Success in Public Sector
A large European public-sector that processes over 300 million payments per year replaced their legacy architecture containing over 50 legacy system with a standard ‘ERP (Enterprise Resource Planning)’ system supporting over 70,000 users and all the project management activities that removed all the inconsistencies and drawbacks of outdated technical support and human resources IT systems (Da Xu, 2014). It helped them apply budget control, risk management, improve product quality and customer service management processes.
Actants: The strategic project management processes are able to support automated risk management and cost estimation and other related business process methods. With the ERP system implementation the organization feel the leadership control of the business project as a whole. The actants in this scenario are identified as both human actants and non-human actants. The automated ERP system processes are able to provide efficient mechanisms for storing and retrieving business information as well as employ strong security measures for protection of information (Cheon, 2013). IT gives huge variety of resources to facilitate quick and effective communication. The IT actants play a major role in the success of the public sector organization. The actants can be listed as memory storage, database management systems (DBMS), expert systems (ES), decision support systems (DSS), transaction processing systems (TPS), management information systems (MIS), supply chain management (SCM), customer relationship management (CRM) etc. From A.N.T. point of view, the actants who are acted upon by the IT components are the business processes and various industrial organizations that implement ERP systems. The actants such as business persons and organizations get favour from the ERP system.
Process improvement is the key to information technology application in business. The ERP systems integrate the sales, cost etc in a single software platform. Business can make significant positive impacts with proper implementation of ERP. A standard IT infrastructure for a business consists of the most common and basic components such as CAD (Computer Aided Design), statistical analysis and accounting software, spreadsheet applications (Buhl, 2013). Network systems provide effective communication means such as email, messaging, blogs, websites, video conference etc. Management and enterprise IT systems for business is there to design and integrate the entire process flow of a particular business.
Business as an actants gets certain benefits from the integration of information systems with its business processes (Yamamoto, 2013). Thus, any business will continue to depend on IT to conduct business operations. Specialized IT software is used for various industrial activities which makes some of the best practices of business standards.
The impacts of IT range from business models to commerce and market structures, education, career, labour market to society and personal life. With the concept of actor network theory, we can analyse the effects and impacts of information technology on the society and economy. E-commerce is the most prominent example of information technology. E-commerce is the best business strategy to attract customers all over the globe without any geographical boundaries as well as significant reduction of investment cost with regards to infrastructure management and maintenance (Agyei and Keengwe, 2012). Applying quantitative techniques to a business’s managerial as well as decision making activities is involved in information systems. Almost every organization today uses email as the means for communication between organizational staff, customers, vendors, stakeholders and suppliers.
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