It Significance in a Business Environment Assignment

It Significance in a Business Environment Assignment Words: 5804

A central tenet of network based technologies is their ability to eliminate geographical, distance and time constraints that have traditionally manifested themselves as boundaries encapsulating and protecting local business institutions from the more harsh realities of global competitive forces. The convergence of information and communication technologies in the Internet is not only of technological relevance, but also holds substantial implications for business in removing traditional boundaries and barriers to business operations.

The Governor of the South African Reserve Bank, Mr TT Mboweni, in addressing the Black Management Forum Conference on 13 October 2000, brought home the true consequences of this reality in stating that; “Financial markets around the world are being integrated into a single global market and, whether we like it or not, emerging and developing countries are being drawn into this process. The growing economic interdependence of countries worldwide can be seen in the greater volume and variety of cross-border transactions and in the faster and more widespread diffusion of technology …

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Another consequence of globalisation, is increased competition. Financial liberalisation, the removal of controls and the breakdown of international barriers, make it possible for new entrants to participate in markets which were previously closed to them. ” This statement gives meaning to the fact that South Africa is no longer an island unto itself, but that it has become part of the so called global village. It is a village where competition is rapidly increasing with the click of a mouse at Internet speed.

The inescapable reality is that the forces, complexities and interdependencies associated with global economic integration need to be clearly understood by South African business executives and strategically managed to ensure survival in a highly competitive global business context. Globalisation is forcing executives to recognize the need to create value for their clients through the effective utilization of technology and the redesigning of business systems that take into account the strategic realities associated with globalisation.

The concept “globalisation”, from a South African perspective embodies a sense of both opportunity and threat, both elements that feature prominently in contemporary strategic management theory and practice. While economic integration, access to international markets, and an exchange of technology and information holds significant opportunities for South African business institutions, it also hold the threat of increased competition and exposure to the whims of fluctuating international markets.

Adverse developments in international markets hold far greater risk for business institutions in developing economies than for the more established institutions in the developed countries of the world. Business institutions in the developed nations tend to have a greater international distribution and delivery capacity and a greater level of experience of international markets and consequently can compete on a far more decisive basis globally. 2. Introduction The current era has been termed the knowledge era.

It needs to be questioned what makes it so different from previous eras to have been specifically characterised as constituting a new era of business. A central tenet of the current era is the convergence of information technology and business systems in what has been variously termed the digital, knowledge, global, network or the new economy. At the core of these concepts, which for all practical purposes are in effect very similar in nature, is the reality that the modern day economic transformation is being driven by the development and diffusion of emerging information technology.

It is such a pervasive transformation that there are few domains of the business environment in which organisations function that have not been influenced thereby. Of consequence it entails a dramatic shift in the traditional strategy, business operations and culture of enterprises both within the public and the private sector. Transformations that impact not only on all aspects of the economy and society are rare. With this in mind this assignment sets out to trace the convergence of emerging technology and innovative business practice.

The digital economy is as much a story about changes in business practice, global market structures, human learning experiences, a changing society and political systems, as it is about emerging technology innovations. As this new age unfolds South African business institutions will need to contend with a radically transforming business environment, one that will require a new strategic business model. The characteristics of this environment are briefly explored and a strategic model presented for debate.

It is a model that of necessity is designed to integrate business practice and information technology transformation. 3. The Background of IT in Business In order to understand why the need for IT professional’s being aware of and interpreting business needs has increased, some background on how the IT industry has evolved is important. Electronic Data Processing (EDP) or Data Processing (DP) was where the IT industry began. In those days data was entered onto “punch cards” via “keypunch machines”.

The cards were then fed into a card sorter to assure their sequence and then input into the computer. The “keypunchers” eventually became data entry operators when CRT (cathode ray tubes) terminals and intelligent workstations replaced the keypunch equipment. These intelligent workstations were in fact the beginning of the client (workstation) / server (mainframe) environment so common today. The DP department back then was usually structured under the accounting department. This was primarily due to the fact that almost all transactions initiated or terminated in accounting.

DP’s role was primarily to provide data entry, reports, checks, invoices, purchase orders and statements. Eventually, this technology moved into the manufacturing environment and provided production, shipping and inventory documents and reports. In the 1980’s, shortly after the development of the personal computer (PC), the first major redesign of the industry began. PC’s brought about “networking” which is the ability to connect many PC’s (clients) to a main computer (server). With the popularity of networks and supporting technology came Management Information Systems (MIS).

MIS was still DP, but now had new emphasis by connecting the entire organization with PC’s. Unfortunately MIS became divided between the “mainframe and midrange” and PC staff. The mainframe staff felt threatened by the PC environment and its popularity. The PC staff may have jumped to conclusions by thinking that the PC network would replace the mainframe and midrange systems. Both groups were partially correct and to some degree wrong. A common computer environment today in many large organizations utilizes a combination of mainframe or midrange servers and a PC network.

With the development of transmission control protocol/Internet protocol (TCP/IP), which has become a network architecture standard (O’Brien, 2000, pp. G19-20), the mainframe and network computing environments can now seamlessly coexist within the same corporate infrastructure. An important point to note is that despite the major changes the industry underwent from DP to MIS, the corporate organizational chart still looked the same. MIS remained positioned under accounting. In some “cutting-edge” organizations MIS was elevated to finance and reported to the chief financial officer (CFO).

Despite MIS having a more significant role within the organization, the problem with this structure is that corporately MIS was still considered a “second-class” citizen by executive management. During the 1990’s another sweeping industry-wide change began to occur. Companies and individuals were beginning to tap into the Internet. And now, with the Internet firmly positioned as an integral part of businesses, the latest restructuring of the “computer department” is taking place. MIS is moving into the IT era. This time the industry transformation is substantially more than new technology and new ways of transacting business.

IT is being elevated to equal status among other departments within an organisation. As this corporate change takes place there are several more developments occurring. First, the teachings most IT professionals received when they were introduced to the computer field was the basic foundation of what the technology industry today was built on; comprehending and applying the current technology. Because of that fact, there is one constant between the DP, MIS and IT professionals, there were very technical oriented individuals then just as there are now. Many of these IT professionals are exceptionally talented.

They are, however, not usually interested in building business relationships; only in making the systems they have designed become revolutionary” computer technology. Without these professionals, the archaic equipment and technologies from decades ago would still be in use today. The downside is that they have made other departments resistant to work with IT because of a disinterest in building relationships and learning how the entire organization functions. Bridging that mentality and offering “technology benefits while building relationships” is a more productive way of thinking.

Executive management and IT are deploying this approach throughout the world’s corporations. More simply, this aligns IT with the business (Mitchell, 2000, p. 154). The chief information officer (CIO) and their staff must be perceptive, interested in, and attentive to all aspects of an organization. Furthermore, the business climate in which IT now operates requires the ability to solve and implement solutions for complex issues on a global scale. The challenge remains, however, in explaining a futuristic information system to the rest of the organization.

The shared knowledge, language and culture of the IT group are frequently an obstacle (Morris, 2000, p. 162). IT is required to understand the business needs and goals of the entire organization and work closely with each department in order to meet those goals. IT is still charged with providing a computing environment that is useful, reliable and strategically designed for future growth. While employing substantial relationship and leadership skills to carry out these objectives, the responsibility of IT for the technology aspect continues to exist.

This includes supporting and maintaining current systems in corporate, regional or divisional offices. These are just a few reasons why having a balance of technological and relationship skills for IT professionals is becoming increasingly important. Unfortunately, many companies large and small do not share that opinion of their IT department and may even remember the “old era” attitudes of IT. That is usually why IT may not be included in projects until the middle, the end, or not even at all. This is called working in “silos”, as described by Jim Rankin, a consultant with The Effective Edge, Inc.

This actually takes place with more departments than just in IT. Each department is focused on their responsibilities and only looks internally for solutions. By changing a company’s way of thinking about IT professionals, a more unified relationship among IT and the other departments can be established. As other departments adopt this same philosophy the silos between all departments can be removed and more open communication and information sharing will occur. The silos mentioned regarding IT were actually promoted indirectly by previous DP, MIS and IT staffs’ attitudes and mentality.

The computer personnel frequently used their knowledge to belittle and often alienate the other employees who had no idea how computers functioned. “The way people react is tied to how they’ve been treated in the organization,” says David Johns, CIO for Owens Corning (Varon, 2000, p. 140). This is certainly true within most companies. Not only did the other departments resent how they had been treated, they have also reciprocated by considering IT a lower class department within the company and would omit them from important meetings and projects. . The Convergence of IT and Business in the Digital Economy A key characteristic of the digital global economy is the degree of uncertainty and turbulence that exists in the economic and business marketplace. It frequently translates into a need for reevaluating and redirecting the strategic imperatives that form the foundation of business institutions’ day-to-day operations. The digital economy is as much a story about changing business practice to deal with strategic uncertainty and environmental urbulence, as it is about emerging technological innovations. Traditionally land, labour, capital and entrepreneurship were the key resources that needed to be effectively managed to ensure optimal wealth creation. Within the industrial era the importance of labour essentially stemmed from the need for physical, manual or the “doing” aspects associated with wealth generation. Within the digital economy the importance of labour tends to center on the capitalization of the collective intellectual or knowledge resources that resides within the organization.

This shift in emphasis has been captured in a host of new business concepts and terminology that have engulfed the management literature, one of the more pertinent being knowledge management. multimedia, video conferencing, e-mail, data warehousing, and similar information and communication technology (ICT) infrastructures have given birth to a context that is information rich and one were business practice is increasingly directed at empowering employees at all levels in the organization to add value to the services and products that are the life blood of the organization.

It is also a context where computer literacy has become an imperative. People and nations who are technologically marginalised are consequently also deemed to be economically marginalised and consequently confined to live in poverty and deprivation. Disparity between the availability and use of emerging technology have frequently been cited as a primary cause of exclusion from global markets and the ensuing economic advantages that flow from there.

It is contended that the world’s poorest countries are poor because of their technological isolation. While the technology association with economic development have become well established, the scope of the factors giving rise to the marginalization of nations and individuals within nations has in instances been extended to incorporate a set of interrelated variables that could be used to explain the gap that exists between nations and individuals within nations in terms of economic well-being.

Often the accent has been place on the consequences or symptoms associated with the disparities that exist and in the process, the cause giving rise thereto has become blurred with resulting myths and generalisations being fabricated to explain the perceived situation. This has in some instances clouded the issue as to what exactly is meant by the concept “digital divide”. The definition attributed to the concept within a document of the OECD, directed at enerating an understanding of the concept, is quite extensive, namely: “The term “digital divide” refers to the gap between individuals, households, businesses and geographical areas at different socio-economic levels with regard both to their opportunities to access ICTs and their use of the Internet for a variety of activities” (OECD, 2001:5). Seen within the South African context this definition would imply that significant sections of the population are technologically disadvantaged and unlike the North American and European situation e-commerce and e-government is constrained by this reality.

It also translates into a need for educationists and academics to focus on the technological empowerment of the population, government to set in place an appropriate basic ICT infrastructure to facilitate the move towards the digital economy and business to strategically redesign their business processes and technology systems, to capitalize on the advantages presented by the digital economy and globalisation. Within the African context South Africa, Egypt, and Botswana are currently probably the best equipped to take advantage of established electronic networks to ensure that they are not excluded from global financial and business markets.

It is yet rather disconcerting to note that in the white paper on science and technology it is concluded that South Africa “lacks a national policy to facilitate the country’s optimal integration into the global information society” (South Africa, 1996:Internet). This is described as being a serious defect that needed to be addressed with a sense of urgency (South Africa, 1996: Internet), yet to date there appears to be no clearly defined integrating national strategy in this regard.

As late as 1999 the department of communications in its discussion paper on electronic commerce policy, notes that while both the government and the business community have begun to take initiatives to expand and upgrade the existing infrastructure, more progress in relation to the direction of policy is required. The economic marginalisation of developing nations, previously alluded to, stems to a large degree from the fact that it is extremely difficult to integrate the economy of developing nations into the global economy if appropriate electronic network infrastructures to support the business processes are not in place.

A frequently cited statistic in the literature is that there are more telephone lines in Manhattan and New York City than on the whole African continent. From recent surveys it is estimated that there are more than 1. 4 million Internet users on the African continent, of which 65% are in South Africa alone. This stands in stark contrast to the situation that exists in the more developed nations of the world. A common theme encountered in the contemporary literature is the issue of the importance of intellectual capital within this knowledge era.

It has become the primary asset of enterprises such as Microsoft, IBM, and enterprises in the pharmaceutical industry. The use of ICT is seen as a means for developing, accessing and sharing of knowledge within the enterprise. The business systems, practices and technology utilization in the knowledge era are ostensibly directed at establishing profitable relationships with clients. The conventional rules and practices that applied within the industrial era are making way for a new service directed culture.

ICT supported business systems such as customer relationship management (CRM) are increasingly being deployed in an attempt to gain a competitive advantage through service excellence. The name of the game in a highly competitive business context is one of profitably meeting client expectations and this is giving new impetus to a new form of ICT enabled total quality management (TQM), that focuses on the integration of three key ingredients, namely business systems, ICT and human resources.

Collectively these elements play a fundamental strategic role in positioning the organization to meet the challenges presented by globalisation. Access to state of the art ICT alone is no longer a sufficient condition for guaranteeing that business institutions will be able to survive the turbulence and competitive challenges presented by globalisation, as the human intellectual capital and skills required to integrate the technology with business systems remain a critical consideration in this regard.

As market barriers are eroded through deregulation and political policies of trade and financial liberation, even those institutions that have restricted their business activities to local markets will no longer be able to avoid the global competitive forces that will increasingly come into play and impact on their activities. This is particularly significant in the case of small and medium enterprises that will need to play the competitive game according to a new set of rules that have been briefly eluded to above. The rules are, however, strategically generated as the organization’s strategy defines how the organization will play the game.

Playing the game according to the rules as defined by the major role players in the industry will mean that they have an undeniable competitive advantage, as when the going gets tough they can merely change the rules of the game. All strategic action represents a dialogue between the institution and its environment and Courtney, Kirkland and Viguerie (1997:68) warn that within turbulent conditions of uncertainty, traditional approaches to strategic planning “can be downright dangerous”, as it implies a degree of predictability that is hardly justifiable within turbulent conditions.

Campbell & Alexander (1997:46) also believe that strategy development is “messier than most textbooks suggest” and view the process essentially as one of discovery and gaining an understanding of value creation within turbulent conditions. This contention is specifically pertinent in view of the renewed emphasis on value chain management, as a strategic issue in integrating ICT and business systems, so as to gain a competitive advantage. No one expects to formulate a detailed long-term plan and follow it mindlessly” according to Luehrman (1998:89) who under conditions of highly competitive global markets suggests that strategy in essence constitutes a portfolio of options that may be pursued. The underlying theme is one of reevaluating traditional strategic management practice in the light of the extensive contextual uncertainty and change emanating of the global village.

As noted by Beinhocker (1997:28), in researching strategy at the edge of chaos, “what is needed is a model of a world where innovation, change, and uncertainty are a natural state of things”. The emerging trend within the contemporary strategic management literature is without doubt one of questioning the logic that underpins traditional strategic management theory. Globalisation and the environmental characteristics associated therewith for one appears to challenge the assumptions on which traditional strategic management processes are based.

Few of the traditional strategic management models have for instance incorporated ICT strategy as an inherent business critical element. Yet ICT has moved from a traditional administrative support role to one of providing business institutions with the potential to move into and capture far greater market share in the global marketplace. It also presents even small business institutions with the potential to form strategic alliances that extend beyond national boundaries, so as to capitalize on the profitable business opportunities that exist in global markets. As reviously noted there has also been a move towards knowledge workers with ICT forming the core infrastructure for their involvement in the activities of modern day enterprises. The capacity to transform ICT based intellectual capital into strategic advantage is a critical strategic consideration that can no longer be ignored. It is therefore argued that it has become imperative to ensure that corporate business and ICT strategy are in alignment. The value of ICT in generating a significant return on investment has frequently been questioned, as ICT infrastructures come with quite a substantial price tag.

Many business institutions, who in formulating strategy, have had to give consideration to e-commerce, have been confronted with this dilemma. Conflicting statements as to the return on the investments made and the dot. com crash that presented many small enterprises with a major financial headache are all factors that tend to cloud the issue in terms of the true value that ICT adds to the modern day business institution. The strategic utilization of ICT is without doubt a fundamental issue that few business enterprises can afford to not take into consideration.

Henderson & Venkatraman (1999:472) convincingly argue that organizations’ inability to realize value from their ICT investments may be traced to a lack of alignment between their business and IT strategies. They view strategic alignment as not constituting an event, but a process of continuous adaptation and change. It is stressed by Luftman et al. (1993:205) that “in essence, business and information technology are in alignment when business objectives are enabled, supported and stimulated by information technology strategies”.

The alignment of business and ICT strategy has posed the question as to which of the two are the drivers of corporate strategy. The traditional paradigm of ICT as constituting a support function tends to support the view that the business strategy and the associated processes are first established and consequently the IT strategy and infrastructure is put in pace to support the former. This is essentially in line with traditional conventional thinking. It, however, ignores the alternative perspective of innovative ICT strategy playing a definitive role in redirecting the corporate strategy of the institution concerned.

Martin (1995:56) for instance argues that technology is the driver of corporate strategic change and is a key reason for corporate restructuring. Hope & Hope (1997:44,94) adopt a slightly different perspective in noting that as new technologies emerge, markets shifts and customer needs change and to survive enterprises need to look beyond a narrow economic model, to embrace a more responsive strategic model that capitalises on the intellectual capital and commitment of its employees. They therefore link ICT and human resources as a key determinant in formulating corporate strategy.

The picture that emerges is one of business systems, ICT architecture and human resources infrastructures being brought into alignment by means of an iterative process that takes the strategic determinants of all three into consideration simultaneously. Luftman et al. (1993:203) in terms of their research conclude that the strategic use of information technology is a fundamental issue for all business institutions, the objective being to design business processes that reflect the interdependence of business strategy and information technology capabilities.

Contemporary enterprises may be conceptualized as a web of interrelated business processes, human resources networks and ICT systems, strategically aligned to realize well researched and defined strategic objectives, based on both external and internal environmental considerations that are of strategic importance in ensuring the future growth and survival of the enterprise.

To only focus on the business or ICT determinants of corporate strategy, without taking the human resources issues into consideration could well result in an enterprise either missing or not being able to capitalize on strategic opportunities that may arise from globalisation or new innovative technological developments. The evolution of innovative technology and new business practices has taken place at an unprecedented rate leaving in its track confusion, uncertainty and a lot of rhetoric that remains largely unsupported by empirical studies.

A world of seamless communication that transcends all boundaries giving rise to an information rich society may sound appealing, but when all the rhetoric is over, executives are still left with the task of translating technological possibility into profitable business reality. It is here that the integration of business and technological strategies spell the difference between wishful thinking and opportunistic strategic planning reality. The realities associated with the digital economy that need to be factored into strategic thinking revolve around two fundamental schools of thought.

The first is being the rationalist school with its underlying principles of scientific management and the second a human relations perspective based on the philosophy of organizations as webs of social interaction. The former has tended to focus on business process re-engineering with an accent on the tasks of management while the latter has accentuated a transformation that is more people orientated. Typical initiatives in the latter category include self directed teams, participative management, knowledge management and total quality management.

In researching management paradigms relating to the digital age both schools of thought seem to prevail, with a possible tendency to accentuate the more human aspects of intellectual capital and knowledge management. The process elements are also, however, ignored by executives at their peril. One cannot introduce state of the art technology without taking into account the business systems implications. Value addition along the business value chain is a component of technological and business systems that are integrated into a synergistic strategic entity, while the human factors involved are taken into consideration.

Both schools of thought therefore are of relevance and need to be taken cognisance of in strategically positioning the organization to deal with globalisation. It is not a case of one or the other but of both schools of thought predominating and being taken into consideration. Many projects in which state of the art technology has been implemented and business processes have been redesigned to accommodate the new technology have been difficult to implement as the human element and the culture of the organization have not been factored into the strategic equation.

These often less tangible elements are in practice the more difficult to manage. Business institutions attempting to identify an explicit model to achieve strategic excellence need to give consideration to the three key elements identified in this assignment, namely business systems, ICT and the associated human infrastructures that spell the difference between success and failure in managing the transformation process 5. Information Technology’s Significance in Strategic Business Planning Today, global organizations are integrating their worldwide enterprises and recognizing the strategic value of information technology (Schermerhorn,

Hunt & Osborn, 2000, p. 247). This has brought about the proliferation of electronic commerce (e-commerce) and established the Internet as a critical tool for conducting business. Global integration and e-commerce are the two key business environments creating the need for organizations to build a stronger relationship with their IT professionals. The challenge for the IT industry is to not only understand and know the technology, but to also, and often simultaneously, understand and know the business purposes for the implementation of that same technology.

Many IT professionals have been trained to “focus” on a specific aspect of this vast industry. Programming, networking, systems analysis and design, technical support and operations each require an extensive amount of training and expertise. Therefore, it is understandable why a specific focus is needed. Unfortunately, the ability to recognize, interpret and diagnose a business problem has often been viewed by IT with too narrow of a scope. The objective was focused on accomplishing the IT requirements and did not take into account business impact in other departments or regional facilities.

For example, when new SNO Neotel’s new network infrastructure was being considered, Neotel decided to run their key IT system, Billing, from India. Would it not be assumptive to neglect gathering information from all key IT staff in the organization as well as other departments’ key staff members? The answer is yes, it would be a very poor assumption that the IT department could think of every essential aspect of a project without significant input from other key personnel. 5. 1 The Strategic Alignment of ICT and Business Strategy KEY ISSUE: The business / ICT divide. IMPLICATIONS: ICT and the business related dimensions of management are not seen as constituting and integrated framework. ?ICT does not feature within traditional strategic management models ? In formulating strategy ICT and business functional executives tend to each focus on their areas of competency ? An integrated ICT and business strategy remains elusive ?Business strategy fails to capitalise on potential of ICT to provide the institution with a competitive advantage ? ICT essentially seen as providing a support role to business ? Technology strategies ineffectively linked to business strategy ?

From a business process perspective ICT impacts on most activities within the value chain ? Emergent strategic imperative – the integration of business systems, ICT & human resources into a holistic framework KEY ISSUE: Business process design. IMPLICATIONS: ?Alternative approaches: radical versus incremental adaptive changes – BPR vs TQM ? Focus of process remains on customer related outcomes ?Value streams inherent in process design ?Value chains extend across internal and external boundaries of an enterprise seamless service delivery ?

Value chains – management of relationships, information coordination, business process and ICT alignment – to realise competitive advantage ? Distinction made between process improvement and process innovation – in practice coexisting processes ? Hierarchical and functional thinking still influence design ? Process redesign must be strategically informed & motivated ? Business process & ICT alignment – iterative process of adaptation and experiential learning – correlates with emergent strategy ? Process innovation adopts clean slate approach – not often encountered in practice ? In practice process improvement & innovation combined BPR focuses on satisfying individual customer needs, not one size fits all approach – individualised service ? TQM – directed at reducing costs, enhancing safety, curtailing defects & waste. – is a bottom up approach. KEY ISSUE: ICT as a strategic determinant in the realignment of the enterprise. IMPLICATIONS: ?In the past little emphasis has been placed aligning business and ICT at a strategic level ? Traditionally business strategy was seen as preceding ICT strategy formulation – ICT strategy directed a supporting business strategy. This view is still entrenched in many cases ?

Within a contemporary setting it is acknowledged that ICT strategy can serve as a driver of business strategy ? In practice both ICT and business strategy are seen as coexisting and interactive processes ? ICT enables the integration of business functions at all levels within and between organisations ? The benefits that may be derived from ICT functionality are not fully realised if superimposed on existing business processes. 6. Conclusion Organizational or business strategy is the process of positioning the organization in its competitive environment and implementing actions to compete successfully.

Organizational design scholars recommend that the design follow the strategy of the firm and that the strategy take advantage of a combination of advantages offered by size, technology and the environment (Schermerhorn, Hunt & Osborn, 2000, p. 251). Understanding how the IT industry has advanced and recognizing the current technological and business trends provide a foundation for IT professionals as well as insight into the future of business. It is very apparent that the Internet is causing a rush for the business community to get “online”. Too often, as with many dot. om companies, their haste is very costly. This is a very good example of how the “lack” of IT’s involvement and understanding in business operations, decision-making and planning processes may have contributed to many dot. com’s going out of business. Granted, there are many more variables that could have negatively impacted the dot. com business. However, not developing synergies between the business and IT remains the most common error organizations still continue to make. The relevance for the IT professional to understand this is twofold.

First, a major objective for IT professionals, in addition to employer loyalty, is to ensure that they remain marketable by continually improving their skills. Understanding and being knowledgeable about the employer’s business operations benefits both the employer and IT professional. The employer benefits because employees become a valued resource and asset. The more all employees learn, not only the IT staff, regarding the overall operations provides a stronger resource pool to aid in the organization’s success. Finally, the IT professional benefits because they are not only obtaining an mportant educational and business perspective, but they are also becoming a more valuable asset as their career progresses. The end result is a win-win situation for everyone involved. 7. References BEINHOCKER ED. 1997. Strategy at the edge of chaos. McKinsey Quarterly, (1):24-39. CAMPBELL A & ALEXANDER M. 1997. What’s wrong with strategy? Harvard Business Review, 75(6):42-51, November-December. COURTNEY H, KIRKLAND J & VIGUERIE P. 1997. Strategy under uncertainty. Harvard Business Review, 75(6):67-79, November-December. HENDERSON JC & VENKATRAMAN N. 999. Strategic alignment: leveraging information technology for transforming organizations. IBM Systems Journal, 38(2/3):472-484. HOPE J & HOPE T. 1997. Competing in the third wave:the ten key management issues for the information age. Boston: Harvard. LUEHRMAN TA. 1998. Strategy as a portfolio of real options. Harvard Business Review, 76(5):89-99, September-October. LUFTMAN JN, LEWIS PR & OLDACH SH. 1993. Transforming the enterprise: the alignment of business and information technology strategies. IBM Systems Journal, 32(1):198-221. MARTIN J. 1995.

The great transition: using the seven disciplines of enterprise engineering to align people, technology, and strategy. New York: Amacom. MBOWENI TT. 2000. Global competitiveness – is South Africa ready? (Address at the Black Management Forum conference, Sandton Convention Centre, Johannesburg, 13 October. ) Mitchell, M. (2000, May 15). The sixth man: How one CIO became a key player for his executive team. CIO, 13(15), 153-164. Morris, M. (2000, May 15). Expert commentary: Fighting the knowledge curse. CIO, 13(15), 162. O’Brien, J. A. (2000). Introduction to information systems: Essentials for the internetworked enterprise.

New York: Irwin/McGraw-Hill. OECD. 2001. Understanding the digital divide. Paris: OECD Publications. (A copy of the document can be downloaded from the OECD web site Internet: http://www. oecd. org) Schermerhorn J. R. , Hunt J. G. & Osborn, R. N. , (2000). Organizational communication: An introduction to communication and human relation strategy (Special ed. ). Boston, MA: Pearson Custom Publishing SOUTH AFRICA. 1996. White paper on science and technology – preparing for the 21st century. Pretoria: Internet: http://www. dst. gov. za/legislation_policies/white_papers/Science_Technology_Wh

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