The Information Technology infrastructure consolidation integration project and schema within corporate networks and the strategic use of IS systems in the London (UK) Local Authority has elicited interest within management professionals and IT theorists for some time.
The scenario today is that business entities in
The Information Technology infrastructure consolidation integration project and schema within corporate networks and the strategic use of IS systems in the London (UK) Local Authority can be distinguished from the advances in connectivity and operation ratios in Information Technology. Furthermore, this is also brought upon by the resulting advances in application programs. These programs offers much faster data processing, management information systems (MIS), individual and office support on PCs and office systems, and then to electronic data interchange (EDI) and inter-organizational systems, organizational 'platforms', and networks (Ward et al. 1990). The merging of computer and communications technologies, and the more widespread use of databases, networks, and integrated systems requiring long-term planning perspectives, also stimulated IS managers' interest in IT planning (Boynton and Zmud 1987). Nowadays, increasing dependence of organizational activity on IT the together with the sheer size of the resource demand and has had managerial officers focusing on the cost-benefit calculations and a more rationally planned approach to the use of IT.
Globalization is altering HR affairs by getting companies to spread their operations in cases where business are wholly-owned or joint- ventured and people across scores of countries. First off,
Tapscott & Caston (1993) describe four paradigm shifts that are interconnected and result in the dawning of a new era of the information age. These shifts to the (1) new geopolitical order, (2) new business environment, and (3) new enterprise share the characteristic of being "open" systems that require (4) new technology that is open, user-centered, and networked. The resulting shift in the application of information technology is from personal to work-group computing, from system islands to integrated systems and from internal to inter-enterprise computing (across customers, suppliers, business partners, etc.
Software applications like Microsoft Office Consolidation together with the advent of the internet and intranets has bridged over the spread among UK business owners and managers together with their data, their clients within organization systems, which reduces the uncertainness of dealing with transactions and thus results to added business efficiency. Information technology has stimulated a substantial time between order and delivery time for product manufacture. This has made possible for production turnout to react more progressively to increased demand.
Information technology which is composed of data warehouses, telecommunications, and computer processing has now been also complemented by state-of-the-art software applications which have come together to form the Internet. These conceptions has allowed for the further development of new applications which constantly raise the flow of information in business. An expected, this pattern results to the widespread and effective application of information and other technologies which constantly raises the par of the substantial advancement in terms of productiveness and diminution of overall business cost.
Moreover, some other advantages brought upon by Information Technology are as follows: (1) Management can focus on the company's main business activities. (2) Frees up resources for other purposes. (3) Possible overall cost savings. (4) Access to state of the art information technology. (5) Accelerated reengineering benefits. (6) Shared risks. (7) Ability to accurately forecast computerization budget. (8) Advantages of small and slim organizations. (9) No problems with workers unions striking and halting computer operations. (10) Possibility to build a highly efficient computerized department. (11) Construction of a measurable level of service and improved service to the organization and clients. (12) Improvement of the organization's financial indicators (taxation, income/assets, human resources/profits ratios, etc.)
Two additional concepts in direct relevance when defining the disadvantages brought upon by Information Technology are: convergence and irreversibility. As such, an exceedingly confluent network is one where in common distinctions of employees, tasks and events and processes are compatible and incorporated that any individual can at any time distinguish and mobilize all the network's skills without having to get involved in costly adaptations, translations or decoding. It is in these circumstances where the members can work together in pursuit of common objectives and not feel that their identities and activities are under constant threat from one another or in continuous need of justification. Additionally, some of the perceived disadvantages of Information Technology are: (1) Loss of a strategic asset and skills. (2) Possibly no overall cost savings. (3) Fear that the supplier will compromise a lower level of technology for reducing expenses. (4) Fear of losing control over information resources and dependence on the service provider. (5) Fear of a leak of sensitive information (6) Worries about the supplier's stability and survivability. (7) Lack of control over service levels, possible detrimental effect on service to clients. (8) "Transitional phase" - a period in which there is a significant danger to the organization's operations. (9) Fear of its being a "one-way street", with no way back to the beginning. (10) Difficult to change vendors. (11) Possibly longer response time to problems. (12) Time-consuming to supervise. (13) Cultural differences. (14) Less informal communication. (15) Overcoming spatial distances. (16) Problems with software licensing.
Structural change comes in many shapes and sizes. Its effect is to alter the configuration of relationships, the distribution of resources and the operation of command and control procedures. One unintended consequence of the growth of the IT function has been the increased dependence of other functions upon IT and the associated exacerbation of the centrifugal forces of management. In the 1970s and 1980s IT and IS divisions controlled huge resources and tended to pursue 'technology driven' agendas. In the late 1980s and 1990s, finding a workable balance between technological and business-driven innovation has proved a central concern for many organizations. Changes in the organization also represent downsizing, which refers to corporate size reduction through, often large-scale, redundancies. It differs from de-layering in that it is often associated with the refocusing of strategic business objectives around so-called core competencies. Furthermore, it is often linked to programs that make recourse to the subcontracting of non-core activities formerly carried out in-house. Downsizing is closely associated with the programs that are intended to improve the 'leanness' of organization by streamlining procedures and the removal of activities that produce little value-added.
ATTAINING IDEAL WORK ATMOSPHERE:
Information technology has now become so powerful and reliable that all office processes are being completely rethought. As office technology develops exponentially, new kinds of office culture are being invented on the run-plural, fluid, responsive, knowledge-based-that are in complete contrast to conventional forms of office work. The old, top-down, hierarchical structures are dissolving. Conventional boundaries are disappearing. New processes are being invented. Clerical work is being automated or exported to economies where labor is cheaper. The chronology and the geography of newer kinds of office work are being redrawn as IT allows more and more people to control, and indeed redesign, the ways in which they manage their energy and intelligence, shape their working days and reconfigure the connections between home, work and leisure.
This technological change can account for increases in productivity as just described. It generally can be considered a measure of the shift in a production function, which can be the result of embodied or disembodied technological change. Disembodied change is evident if, independent of any changes in the factor inputs, the gains of a production function shift inward toward the origin as time progresses. In other words, a greater amount of output can be produced with the same or lesser amount of input factors (e.g., capital, labor, materials). This all refers to the advantages brought upon by Information technology, but in order to complement these advantages with an ideal workplace, we must be able to understand the environs which form a work environment. As such, work environments must now be understood in terms of the extent to which they support the performance of knowledge workers- and the technology they use, and that means balancing a range of different elements in an integrated approach that includes spatial, technological and organizational issues.
During the 1980s organization and management theory rediscovered and celebrated the importance of culture as a vital factor in the revitalization and redirection of organizations. This focus gave rise to a number of organizational initiatives. Where culture was identified as a key variable for achieving an 'excellent' performance, programmes of cultural strengthening were introduced. Where culture was weak, disjointed, and unfocused, wholesale programmes of cultural change were undertaken. In principle, such programmes drew together and energized often fragmented and conflicting organizational forces around core values that would guide the work of all organization members from Chief Executive to clerical staff. Such programmes were often developed as an integral part of a process of strategic management that sought to redesign organizational culture in a way that rendered employees more capable of responding effectively to the challenges posed by the changes an business organization faces when changes are implemented and tasks becomes automated resulting to the need for less clerical work.
The growing importance of strategic focus, planning, and cultural change, has been reflected in a rethinking of how to tap the creativity and adaptability of human beings. The rise of human resource management has signaled a concern to link the management of employee skills and careers more directly to the pursuit of business strategy. Perhaps the most visible sign of increasing attention being given to a more holistic, strategic approach to management has been the rise and pervasiveness of the total quality movement.
PROPOSED NETWORK PLAN
A. Type of Network
The basic company implementation model is very simple. It begins with the establishment of a local area network (LAN) within each company building or cluster of buildings. The LAN must be connected with the company departments. At the management offices a similar LAN should also be connected, because this is where the centrally managed information will exist. The company then must link to the nearest Internet service provider that has the capability to provide the best user support at minimal costs.
Company Local Area Network Implementation
Implementation of a LAN in a medium sized company must involve the installation of a cabling system. This cabling system will have the capacity to distribute the network throughout the company structure(s). The installation of a wiring system, on the other hand, must be done to support connections of computers and terminals to the network. There is also a need to install one or more network server machines in a central location as well as a network router and telecommunications circuit which will connect the company to its various departments. The most common LAN technologies widely used today include ethernet and LocalTalk (Geoghegan, 1994). Both are cost-friendly and easy to install and maintain. However, ethernet is approximately 20 to 40 times faster than LocalTalk. Therefore ethernet is the most practical to use for all computer connections, when possible.
B. Type of Topology
Internet technology must be designed in such a way that allows very flexible network plans. The type of topology that is most suitable for a medium sized company is a "star", where each computer is connected directly to a "hub site" within the building. The well-coordinated services of circuits and a solitary point of connection to an Internet service provider will be able to decrease the overall costs and increase opportunities towards the usage of the latest technologies. A major component of the star topology will be the installation of cabling systems that will connect individual computers or clusters of computers to the LAN (Nichols, 1994). A cluster of computers, normally found in a research department, can be interconnected within the room where they are primarily installed, as well as the cluster connected to the hub site with a cable.
C. Server Support Required
It is a requisite that each building of the medium sized company must install a "network server" in order to support local storage of commonly used information and other functions that normally requires high speed communication to the user's computer (Oblinger, 1994). The software that will be shared among the company's computers will be most effective when it will be stored locally since it would be very time consuming to transfer it to other slower external links.
The server's location must also be studied carefully to protect it from abuse and damage. More often than not, the HRD office as well as the research and development department is the main area where data gathering and storage activities are being done frequently. This is the reason why clusters of computers or terminals are installed within their department. These places would be a very practical area to place the network server computer.
The network server that fits a medium sized company is a small yet powerful computer possessing a large amount of disk storage capacity, preferably 1-4 gigabytes. Its software must be powerful enough to facilitate access by a huge number of users all at the same time. It must also be able to support dial-in access using standard modems.
D. Peripheral Devices Required
A single communication circuit must be used to connect the company LAN to the various offices and departments within the medium sized company. There will be a Network Router established between the LAN and this single circuit. On the LAN side, the connection must be the normal ethernet cable.
E. Communication Media to be Used
Individual computers within a medium sized company will have the need for communications adapters and appropriate software. Typical communications software can normally be found in personal computer stores at minimal costs. However, there are other powerful software being developed by computer programmers for applications such as multimedia database access. But for this case, it is recommended the use of a software for Windows PC computers that will facilitate the access to a huge amount and variety of information resources and services (Ernst et al. 1992). However, the company has the right to look at all the available software and base their choice on the effectiveness and support costs.
In principle, changes in the structure, technology and culture of organizations might yet usher in an era of networking characterized by dynamic cooperation, open and trusting relations, and the empowerment of both managers and employees. However, it is difficult to reconcile this vision with the reality of employment relationships in which, beyond the hype of empowerment and self management, employees continue to be treated as commodities whose work is continuously intensified and whose labor is laid off, casualized or discarded without ceremony. Even if the fundamental issue of ownership and the limited capacity of employees to moderate the treatment of their labor as a commodity is set aside, moves towards Information Technology pose a threat to established positions, careers, identities, and practices that is likely to render its realization partial and precarious. The Information Technology infrastructure consolidation integration project and schema within corporate networks and the strategic use of IS systems in the London (UK) Local Authority is a political one. Its realization requires not just a change of style or even a change of heart but, more fundamentally, a radical change of politico-economic system. This is because technology is only as good as the minds that are using it. Human resource professionals must perceive and understand their business organizations as integrated systems. HR must go well beyond looking at HR measures, indices, and ratios as separate and unrelated pieces of information. With a solid understanding of the business and an advanced HRIS, there is great potential for HR to demonstrate value-added by working key organizational levers.