Information Technology has become more prevalent making it indispensable in the day to day activities of not just individuals or businesses but to the nation as a whole. There are more government initiatives to move from paper-based record keeping to a digital record management. However, despite technology growth, the nation as a whole is not prepared to get accustomed to a digital world. Though technology simplifies certain key processes and tasks in our day to day lives there are still areas like training and development that the nation needs to tackle in order embrace the digital revolution.
The key aim of this review is to understand the key role of information technology and information systems in business, public sector and in the lives of the common man and the evolution of technology and its use in various areas. The review critically analyses research about internet and other emerging technologies and points out the current gaps.
The rapid development of information technology and tools has not only made it easier for individuals and businesses to work at their own convenience and obtain information faster, but has also shrunk the world into a global village. Information Systems and Technologies have now become the backbone and lifeblood of businesses. In an information age, almost all processes are automated by businesses, most transactions take place over the internet and businesses use information technology in some way or the other.
The Office for National Statistics (2013) have shown that there has been a sharp increase in the usage of internet for business activities. From using internet as a primary means of communications, businesses are now increasingly using internet for making sales online. The statistics show that 18% of the business turnover was accounted for by online sales and nearly 43% of businesses in the UK used social media to market their products and promotional activities. Studies by Business Zone (2011) showed that 77% of the households in the UK have access to the internet and that the growth in the Information and Communication Technologies (ICT) has the potential to generate ?35 million value added growth in the UK economy by businesses.
In the digital technological age, businesses and nations have two options to either embrace the technology or be a technologically divided nation. Technology has become ingrained in the lives of the modern man and has proven to have significant advantages and benefits. The last four decades have shown a stark increase in the development and usage of technology. Businesses that do not have technological expertise miss out on opportunities, individuals find it difficult to carry on even the most mundane tasks without technological assistance as dependence on technology increases but technology enables information to be available at any time that helps organisations take strategic decisions (Melville et al, 2004)
The main aim of this paper is to identify the role information systems play in organisations and to critically review the literature to get an in-depth understanding of the IT trends and infrastructure evolution in order to understand whether the UK has become a digital nation.
This section discusses the role of Information Systems in business organisations, the infrastructure and key technological developments over the past few years and also the role of internet in the digital and modern age.
Information Systems in Business
Studies show that information systems are being used by businesses in order to increase productivity, decrease costs, and effectively manage their day to day operations thereby increasing profits (Melville et al, 2004). Information Technology and Information Systems are no longer a separate department in an organisation but a cross-functional one which has a role to play in the overall business, thus making it inevitable (Rainer and Cegielski, 2010). In their book, Enabling and Transforming Business, the authors (Melville et al, 2004)discuss the role information system plays in not only developing the business but also as a key role it takes in facilitating the business to reach its strategic and long-term goals and vision. The authors discuss the power of digital information and the real-world applications of Information Technology in a business environment. The authors show that IT solutions can be applied to any business problem in order to maximise the returns and also to ensure that an effective solution is maintained. This is not just true to business organisations. In a digitised world, governments also apply Information Technology to make information available and to use IT and information systems to process, store and disseminate information to enable faster processing, reduction in costs, improved practices and complying with various regulations .(Rainer and Cegielski, 2010).There is an undeniable and key role that Information Technology plays in business organisations that it is almost impossible for businesses to function without IT support. This does not mean that using IT would lead the organisation to success. The authors point out by means of case studies and examples where using IT can actually lead to the failure. This points out to the areas that need to be concentrated on while implementing an IT solution within the business or the key points that need to be considered while deciding to digitise the business to ensure that the IT implementation helps the business achieve its objectives. This book provides all the basic pointers that need to be noted while implementing an information system and takes the reader through the importance `and advantages of the same. This book however cannot act as a final guide for choosing appropriate technologies or for advanced readers.
Businesses in this information age are moving to global web-based platforms to be able to appeal to more customers. Internet and other emerging technologies, such as wireless and mobile communication systems, further enhance their business offering and also for competitive and strategic advantage (Bocij, 2006). Organisations use information systems for provision of business intelligence that would enable them be in the forefront (Negash, 2004). Studies relate good organisational performance with a strong information systems and infrastructure. Information technology has a great impact in the performance of the company and helps to add value to the services offered. However, researchers show that in order for the information technology to be able to add value and help in the significant contribution of the success of the business, it is essential a good framework is being used to develop the IT business model, training needs are adhered to and that a proper change management mechanism is in place. (Melville et al, 2004).
From the above, it can be noted that information systems in business is inevitable and even government organisations are adapting and embracing new technologies thus driving forward the digital age and making a contributing to drive the nation to go digital.
Information Technology is developing and evolving at a rapid pace. Technology is no longer just a personal computer or a network of computers. Gartner (2013) predicts the top technologies include mobile device management, mobile apps and applications, cloud computing, smart machines and 3-D printing in 2014.
MIT technology (2014) discusses that future holds a lot more breakthroughs in technologies. The most fascinating and powerful technologies that would dominate the current year are noted as ultraprivate smartphones built with security and privacy, 3-D printing, neuromorphic chips that act like brain chips and mobile collaboration. The research shows that these technologies take the digital age to a whole new level and that helps businesses become and remain more competitive and also take provision of services to a whole new level. Powerful and modern technology would enable businesses to operate and collaborate in a better fashion.
These emerging technologies show that the scope of technology has gone beyond just using of computers and how technology if used properly can help steering forward the digital era and also the impact it can make on business as well as the entire population.
Internet in Business
Internet in business is gaining more and more importance and the proliferation of this technology has made communications seamless across the globe. The Internet started out as a communication technology and now has become indispensable to the business not only for communication but also for various other purposes (Afuah, 2000).
Internet is increasingly used as a tool to collaborate, make sales, communicate with customers, build brand image and as an economically viable channel to advertise and reach out to a larger population of customers (Zhao, 2000).
Internet commerce or e-commerce facilitates processing of transactions online using internet technologies. The development of these technologies and the proliferation of these has enabled businesses to sell their products directly to the customers irrespective of their geographic location. This technological era has not only changed dramatically but has also led to the change in perspective in terms of business models and the way businesses and corporations operate and engage with customers.
The emergence of social media sites on the internet enables businesses use these to be able to pitch their ideas and attract a plethora of customers, build trust and a brand image. Similarly, using internet technologies has enabled effective communication across the globe irrespective of the time zone and to be able to obtain information across the globe at convenience. Overall this has marked the rapid growth in using technology as a means for development and making a significant impact in the digital world.
Benefits of IT
Studies show that UK digitisation has had a very positive impact in the economy and has added nearly ?63 billion to the annual GDP.
The other benefits of IT in the general population and the economy includes:
Better living quality by minimising efforts and increasing efficiency of services offered.
Internet proficiency can help government to meet its goals and also streamline various processes. (UK & Booz & Co, 2012)
Businesses can collaborate better and use its online presence to market its products and services.
Key Information Technology Challenges
Though internet and other Information and Communications Technologies have become more prevalent and common in businesses today, there are still various organisations that face various IT implementation challenges. These include:
1. Moving from paper-based environment to electronic records: Studies show that more than 90% of the businesses use electronic records. However, moving from paper based to electronic environment could be quite challenging. Businesses would need to be able to find the correct records management software and technologies to support their processes and manage business records digitally and this is difficult because of the lack of key skills and expertise in understanding the various tools and services that are offered. This process could be further complicated by various compliance laws that might become applicable whilst moving to electronic records, organisational culture and change management procedure in place to handle these (M Rapaport, 2014).
Training: When implementing new technologies it is imperative that staff are trained. Implementing new technologies might cause reluctance in employees using these due to lack of knowledge, skills and expertise. It is imperative that businesses use good training methods and have adequate change control to ensure business-wide acceptance of the technologies (E Savitz, 2011).
Security: Security is a key issue and data protection and privacy are areas of concern for enterprises. Systems and technologies are under various threats and risks and it is therefore essential for businesses to think through the information security challenges, authentication and authorisation methods, policies, compliance and regulatory requirements whilst implementing IT within the business (Symantec, 2014).
All businesses and individuals are using information technology more and more. Government departments are also moving towards electronic data and technology has now become a part and parcel of all organisations. However, this development has a lot of challenges and businesses need to cross a lot of barriers before implementing the correct information system and technology.
Training and acceptance of technology has to be taken into consideration while implementing Information systems across the organisation. There are various advantages of using IT and affiliated technologies. The key challenges facing the government adapting to technology is ensuring cost effectiveness and having a fully transparent procedure that is auditable. Moving to a digital age can make certain things challenging; however, the benefits of implementation of technologies outweigh the challenges.
The current trend shows that there would be an increase in the technological proliferation and for government to embrace the technology fully it requires that the skills gap be catered to and that ICT literacy is taken into consideration by the government. To become a digital nation, substantial investment is required and the adequate skills needed to be able to support the infrastructure and the technology are essential. The costs for such an emergence needs to be taken into consideration and the necessary measures need to be taken to be fully prepared to embrace the technological age with ease.
This review has shown that there are various benefits of using Information Technology and has also shown evidence of the usage of Information Technology by businesses and the government. This clearly shows the steps and the contribution to move to a digital era. It also highlights the key challenges faced and these challenges if tackled effectively would lead to harnessing all the key benefits of technology thus making UK a truly digital nation.
Rainer and Cegielski (2010): Introduction to Information Systems: Enabling and Transforming Business. USA: Wiley Publication.
N Melville, K Kraemer, and V Gurbaxani (2004): Review: Information technology and organizational performance: An integrative model of IT business value. MIS Quarterly, ACM Digital Library.
Negash S (2004). “Business Intelligence,” Communications of the Association for Information Systems: Vol. 13, Article 15.
Available at: http://aisel.aisnet.org/cais/vol13/iss1/15
Office for National Statistics (2013): ICT Activity for UK Business 2012, Available at: http://www.ons.gov.uk/ons/rel/rdit2/ict-activity-of-uk-businesses/2012/index.html
Business Zone (2011): Internet stats show importance of online for small businesses, Available at: http://www.businesszone.co.uk/topic/technology/internet-stats-show-importance-online-small-businesses/36800
Bocij, P. (2006): Business Information Systems: Technology, Development and Management for the E-Business. UK: Pearson Education Trust.
Rivera, J. (2013): Gartner Identifies the Top 10 Strategic Technology Trends for 2014, Orlando Available at: http://www.gartner.com/newsroom/id/2603623
MIT Technology (2014): 10 Breakthrough technologies in 2014, Available at: http://www.technologyreview.com/lists/technologies/2014/
A Afuah (2000): Internet Business Models and Strategies: Text and Cases, ACM Digital Library, USA
David W. Stewart, Qin Zhao (2000) Internet Marketing, Business Models, and Public Policy. Journal of Public Policy & Marketing: Vol. 19, No. 2, pp. 287-296
Rapaport, M. (2014): Top Challenges of Moving from Paper to Digital in Quality Management, IQS, USA. Available at: http://www.iqs.com/iqs-blog/top-challenges-moving-paper-digital-quality-management/#.U9KImvldVo8
Savitz E. (2011): How To Get Employees To (Really) Use New Technology, Forbes, USA.
Available at: http://www.forbes.com/sites/ciocentral/2011/07/14/how-to-get-employees-to-really-use-new-technology/
Symantec, 2014: Securing the New Enterprise: Five Key IT Challenges. Available at: http://www.symantec.com/content/en/us/enterprise/white_papers/b-5-key-it-challenges-en-us.pdf
Go On UK & Booz & Co “This is for Everyone: The Case for Universal Digitisation”, 2012
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