Making The Grade With An Information Technology Degree

With computers in every type of workplace from the high-rise office to the post office, an information technology degree is simply one of the most useful qualifications available. A dependence on computers has created a need for those who understand the inner workings of various information systems. IT professionals not only get networks up and running, they keep them running and are able to create resourceful solutions on their feet.

Whether one chooses to work in network engineering or security, management information systems or computer programming, there are many different areas of IT that require just as many different skills and abilities. While a love of computers is certainly a necessity, attention to detail, abstract thinking ability and a good memory are also requirements. Individual preferences for certain IT areas also come into play.

By getting an education in information technology, students can learn how to take their best abilities, merge them with state of the art skills and apply them effectively. As many come to find, the scope of IT is extremely wide allowing specialized skills to be used in a number of different places. A career in IT means never being forced to stay in only one aspect of the industry.

It is widely known that IT professionals have the benefit of a higher than average salary than other careers, even when first starting out. Plus, with computers used in every single area of life, there is hardly anywhere on the map a person could go in search of a job that doesn’t need IT professionals in some manner. With technology consistently changing and updating, the demand is greater than ever.

A good information technology program teaches the latest in Microsoft, Cisco, Security Certified Professional and even cyber security. Prospective employers often look for and prefer individuals who are well versed in working with these programs. Not only is an information technology degree important, certifications in Cisco’s CCNA or Microsoft’s MCSE are also sought after skills.

It is not uncommon for those who work in the information technology field to eventually move on to managing their own IT division. This means the complete coordination of a company’s information technology department, from planning to directing. This is a great position for those who also have great leadership skills. It is also a position that has one of the highest salaries in the IT industry.

A Bachelor’s degree is generally the most basic qualification necessary for many entry-level IT positions. It allows one to develop basic programming skills and learn the ins and outs of different networks. Data administration and business skills are also common subjects.

One can also earn their Master’s degree in information technology. The newest cutting edge skills merge with a further understanding of market demand and other business aspects to create a well-rounded education. The higher the education, the better an individual’s earning power will be.

There is nothing more satisfying than being able to see one’s work have a positive effect and make a difference. It provides not only confidence but also a sense of accomplishment. Those who work in IT can rest on the knowledge that theirs in an industry with a strong future.

With dependence on computers growing every day, it is no wonder that so many have decided to seek out an information technology degree. While it is a chance to provide oneself with a solid future, it is also a chance to stay at the forefront and take part in the newest of technologies. For those who truly love the ever-changing world of technology, that is the best part of the job.

Information Technology Degrees Cover Many Specialties

Information Technology degrees, or IT degrees are very popular for an excellent reason: the demand has never been stronger for individuals to keep today’s complex computer networks up and running. What many people don’t realize is that as the IT field has grown, it has also become more specialized. Many companies are now looking for employees who have a specialized information technology degree that reflects their expertise in a particular area.

There is a great interest in specialization. Because information technology has become so complex, many companies have discovered that different people are needed for different areas or types of work within their IT departments. An MIS (management information systems) degree is still highly desirable for oversight of an IT department, and a bachelor’s degree in MIS is one of the most sought-after degrees by human resources specialists for companies. But they are also hiring employees who can focus on specific areas with an in-depth background such as applications development.

Operating Systems Demand In-Depth Knowledge

Corporations are also finding that they need IT specialists who have been trained intensively in particular operating systems, however, in order to keep company networks running smoothly. If a company’s business relies on the Linux platform for all operations, it’s essential that they hire IT staff that have immersed themselves in the study of Linux network administration. Some colleges now offer associate degrees specifically in Linux Network Administration to meet this need.

Other specific areas that are in demand for information technology degrees include:

Cisco Network Administration
Computer Programming
Network Help Desk Technician
Network Security Technology

The network security field is skyrocketing in popularity in today’s world of white collar crime, cyber terrorism and savvy hackers, and a degree in network security is highly prized in industries as diverse as banking, insurance and higher education in order to project personal records.

Getting a Quality Information Technology Degree

With such an incredible demand for technicians, programmers and other experts, there has been a surge in schools offering IT degrees. Unfortunately, they aren’t all created equal, so do your homework and be sure you choose a college or university that will give you the kind of training that employers are really seeking.

To be sure you’re getting a quality degree that will give you the skills and knowledge you need, look for some essentials when comparing colleges and degree programs:

Look for programs that offer a variety of options, including both bachelors and associate degrees.

Ask about how much hands-on experience you will get working in actual computer labs as well as what kind of intern and extern experience you will get while pursuing your degree.

Look for education opportunities based on different operating systems. Programs that offer certification in the most popular areas, including A+, Network+, LCP and LCA offer you definite advantages in the job market, where many companies today require these certifications.

Look for programs with relatively small class sizes and instructors that are certified in all of the major platforms and operating systems such as Cisco, Lotus, Windows and Linux so that you will get a solid foundation beyond your specialty.

Job placement assistance should be a part of your final semester at a quality college offering an IT degree. Colleges that are known for producing qualified, talented students with information technology degrees are routinely used as recruiting grounds by companies, so be sure to ask if the college you are considering will assist you in finding a job and working up an appropriate resume.

With the Internet growing at an astronomic pace, the need for specialized IT professionals will continue to grow as well. Pursuing an information technology degree will ensure you’ll always be at the forefront of the industry.

Fun Careers With An Information Technology Degree

Are you a technology junkie? Do you have all of the newest gizmos and the most modern cell phone? Do you shake with excitement and anticipation every time a new game system is released? Are you the one your friends call when they have problems with their new laptops? If you answered yes” to any of these questions, it is time put your love of technology into a fun and rewarding career. Don’t you think it’s time you received an information technology degree?

An information technology degree will give you the opportunity to turn your hobby into an exciting career. Computer programming, network security, and network engineering are just the tip of the IT iceberg. With an associate’s degree in information technology, a successful, not to mention fun filled, future is practically guaranteed.

So what are your options? Your career selection is almost limitless. There is an IT job for all individuals who want to have a fun career, as well as earn a substantial living.

The career title Webmaster has a nice ring to it. The Internet is hotter than ever. Everyone wants to be online. Whether you own a small business, such as a pet boutique, looking to expand your clientele by advertising your unique wares online, or a huge international non profit association seeking to explain your mission statement in order to solicit more donations from the tech savvy crowd, you need a web site.

As a Webmaster, you will always be in demand. This is why an information technology degree will guarantee you a gratifying career. It’s really that simple. With an IT degree as an Internet Webmaster, you will be qualified to build, fix, and expand sites on the Web.

Graphic designers are artists who use mostly computer technology to design marketing materials, magazine layouts, websites, logos for businesses, and much more. So, as long as there are magazines, newspapers and web sites, graphic designers will be in demand. In fact, according to some researches, graphic designers are among the five design professionals that are anticipated to have the newest positions available through 2014.

Some individuals are employed as graphic designers after receiving their bachelor’s degree, but to receive the best paying, more technical jobs, an information technology degree is necessary. By attending a school that offers an IT track, you will receive all of the software certification necessary to become proficient graphic designer.

Do you love playing video games? Why not use your imagination and skills to create your own games? With an IT associate’s degree you could concentrate on designing your own video games. When you choose this field, your will be offered a well rounded curriculum that teaches the basics of artist design, project management, digital content creation as well as the more advanced courses in 3D modeling and character design. Imagine playing video games as a career. It is definitely possible when you assert yourself and earn your IT degree.

As fun and exciting as all of these fields of information technology are, earning your degree is hard work. You need to be dedicated to the world of IT because there are always going to be other people fighting for the same jobs you will be striving for. However, the IT world is expanding daily, and more and more jobs are becoming available. Be a part of the web and earn your information technology degree today.

The Benefits Of An Information Technology Degree

Imagine a job market so robust, you had to actually turn down offers. While most people searching for a job struggle just to get one offer, or even a call back, those with an Information Technology degree find the market to suit their needs perfectly. The benefits of having an IT degree are great, and as you are about to find, can literally change ones life.

Having an Information Technology degree is arguably one of the best certification style degrees being obtained today. There are so many companies looking for people with Information Technology degrees, it can almost be a walk in the park looking for a job. The reason for this circumstance is the great amount of companies wanting to go online, or upgrade their online presence. This is coupled with the fact that people with an Information Technology degree would be qualified to upgrade intranet networks within the company for better communication amongst employees. All of this creates a robust job market for those holding this certification.

Further, software, and the Internet are constantly changing, requiring people, and companies to make relative adjustments. This means that your job will rarely be in jeopardy because there are always new installs to do, and new websites to build. The more one learns about information technology, the more people realize that having this degree is a good idea.

The next benefit is the fact that you can do something that you love. Not many people enjoy going to work every day. In fact, over 50% of Americans have noted in a recent survey that they do not look forward to going to work. Some don’t like having a boss, while others simply don’t like their day to day duties. When one has an Information Technology degree, and consequently an IT related job, he or she is not held down by these factors. Instead, the employee is working with computers, and in many cases, acts as their own boss. This means less daily frustrations with the work environment, and more time to do what you love, and enjoy work.

Another benefit of having an Information Technology degree is the pay. Most jobs start out paying just enough to pay the rent, and buy dog food. Not enough to raise a family on. In fact, the average worker spends nearly half of their monthly income on food, and housing. With an Information Technology degree, your job status goes up, and so does the pay. Typically, besides management, IT employees receive the highest pay in the company, and that doesn’t include any freelance work they will do on their own time. This means for the first time you will have more than enough money to take care of your family, and even some to spend on a hobby, or save for your children’s college education.

The list of benefits for having these credentials could go on, and on. It is truly one of the most marketable degrees that one could earn. Coupling that with the fact that most can earn this in less than two years makes this degree choice a really smart move. Whether you are simply engaging in the technology of your dreams, or searching for a job that pays well, this is the type of degree that allow your dreams to become a reality. Having an Information Technology degree will catapult ones career to new heights, without taking 10 years to achieve. As society is changing, and technology starts to take an ever important role in the way we as a public work, this degree is bound to become more popular.

Get Great Grades While Pursuing An Information Technology Degree

An information technology degree can help you land a number of exciting IT and computer-related jobs. From cyber security careers to careers involving animation, IT courses can set you up for future success. However, your degree will likely involve hours of work and study. To get the most from your education, take a look at these tips from successful students:

Tip #1: Get hands-on experience

While pursuing an IT degree, make sure that you combine in-class learning and with practical learning. Not only will employers be looking for actual experience, but also actually doing what you are reading about will help you understand the material much more effectively. By combining practical learning with theoretical learning, you’ll get a better understanding of computers and information technology overall. If your school offers volunteer positions, tutoring positions, or other ways of gaining practical experience, pursue this. It will help you improve your job search and it can help you achieve good grades. Balance work and studies and you will be far more attractive to prospective employers and you will be able to understand the practical applications of what you are learning.

Tip #2: Set goals

Most students who succeed in any field of study set goals for themselves. It’s not enough to want to do as well as possible in your courses. You should be aiming for a specific grade or grade point average. Where possible, write your goals down and keep them where you will see them often. Refer to goals so that you are reminded of what you are aiming for. Be sure to set some long-term goals, as well. These will keep you motivated while you pursue your studies. If you want to eventually land a great job in an animation field, for example, be sure to write that down. When you can’t get motivated to study, the thought of that great job may be the one thing that keeps you working.

Tip #3: Stay organized

While pursuing your information technology degree, you’ll probably have to take several courses, study for multiple exams, and complete many projects. Juggling all of this can be challenging, so get a good daily planner and be sure to use it regularly. Write down all your assignments and all your obligations so that you won’t forget anything. If you have a deadline coming up, make sure that you log it into your planner, reminding yourself every few days to work on the project.

Tip #4: Stay focused and motivated

You will get much more out of your information technology degree if you can stay motivated to do your best. This will help you focus on your studies, rather than frittering your time away on television, answering email, and other distractions. To stay motivated, consider what you will get out of your degree. Figure out what it is that you want and picture achieving it. This will help you stay motivated on those nights when studying doesn’t seem as fun as you had envisioned.

Tip #5: Get help

While pursuing your Information technology degree, make sure that you investigate your school. Check out the sort of resources it offers. Many schools offer valuable resources, such as job-hunting workshops and study skills seminars. Be sure to sign up for all the help you need in order to hone your study skills so that you can get great grades.

An information technology degree can help you land a great job, and when you follow these study tips in order to achieve great grades; you improve your chances of success even more.

What Drives Information Technology

Information technology generally refers to all forms of technology used in the creation, storage, exchange and utilization of data, conversation and all multi-media forms of communication. With computer technology constantly changing and improving, businesses are being driven with the need for the right system that is based on the requirements and goals of their enterprise. They are considered business allies in an information-based economy.

What drives information technology is competition within the business environment and the progression of computer technology that it is a part of. The systems of technology involve varied shapes of many state of the art devices that help in the transmission of information to managers translating such information to their decisions in the organization’s operations.

There are many forms of information technology like computers, sensors, robots and decision support systems. The newest one being used in the market today are handhelds to help managers and subordinates to support their daily operations in the office. Due to the emergence of varied accounting system technology, Electronic Data Process Auditing now also known as Information Technology Auditing was launched to also cater to the need for technology control and as a response to utilize computers’ capacity for attestation services.

Information technology has revolutionized business operations. In shaping the structure and functions of work organizations, plants, and office, modern information technology is considered one of prime movers among many industries. When one talks about technology, it brings up a whole exciting world of computers and the Internet. It also prompts terms like server, intranet, security, firewall and network. Other terms in its jargon are Ethernet, VoIP and more.

Information technology has not always alluded to computers, but referred to the oldest information processor, which is the brain. Technology is perhaps man’s scientific attempt to imitate the brain’s efficiency in functions of communication and information storage. Thus it is essentially the communication, storage and processing of information that would suit the purposes of users.

Through the use of high technology in the form of state of the art computers and software systems, communication is well managed. Some companies refer to its Information Technology Department as MIS or Management Information Services. Large companies have bigger requirements for the Information technology departments with bigger responsibilities in information storage, information protection, information processing, information transmission, and even information retrieval. IT contributes to the success of these businesses as it works along side its human resources in accomplishing the organization’s tasks while reducing costs and opening new possibilities that have never been tried before by the company.

When the best of both science and technology is combined, what results is as powerful as today’s advancements in technology. So powerful it is that it is not only a part of man’s life — it dominates it. It makes him realize every second of his existence

How Critical Is Information Technology Training To Your Future?

Information Technology (IT) is as important as any other discipline like marketing, accounting, human resource etc. Information Technology is a very essential component of almost every business in this world. Having proper Information Technology training means that you are able to differentiate yourself from your major competitors and hence attain a competitive advantage over them.

Effective IT training consists of giving in-house workshops or training sessions, many universities and schools also organize such workshops to train students the most effective information technology skills. Information Technology training means helping managers and firms adapt to various business processes and changing circumstances. Such training focuses on the ways that emerging new technologies affect how business is conducted on a high level or large scale. IT training courses help provide knowledge and information about the use of technologies in different IT areas, which results in making quick informed decisions, yield profit for your organization, improved customer satisfaction and ensures survival of your organization in this increased competitive world. Some of the roles that professional are interested in the area of IT in getting training are mainly

• Management such as MIS (Management Information System), PM (Project Management) etc.

• System Administration
• Business Intelligence
• Support Operations
• IT Development
• DBA (Database Administration)
• Graphics and spreadsheets
• Word processing

There are various Microsoft training and programming languages courses available. Various training courses are provided in the most popular programming languages such as C, C++, Java courses, PHP, Microsoft visual studio courses etc. Moreover; Database management training is a part of Information Technology that helps develop your skills and understanding of data management, for example: MySQL, Oracle etc. Cisco training courses provide you in-depth knowledge on Cisco Networking Technologies.

Importance of Information Technology training

The technology department of any organization should be aware of the changes that are taking place on daily basis in different technological areas in order to sustain and survive competition. The purpose of IT training is to prepare an organization to effectively manage its information and resources. Proper Information Technology training can increase productivity and efficiency of the employees of the firm. IT training in the areas of computing such as getting training on how to manage flow of information by using new technologies and computer systems can have significant impact on the company’s as well as its employee’s performance. Out-dated and old methods of computing, managing data and flow of information can be time consuming and can produce delayed results and outputs. IT training in the areas of management such as ERP (Enterprise Resource Planning) or SAP which is the latest data integration module can increase effectiveness and efficiency of the firm. Apart from that, the main importance of IT training is increased customers satisfaction and customer loyalty, as customers are always interested in getting quick, fast services and deliverables.

If employees and management are not given proper IT training regarding new systems, it might disrupt the business processes, it can result in unsatisfied customers, delayed tasks, improper decision making, and reduced profits.

Information Technology Management, A Brief

Information technology is an engineering discipline. It is directly linked with computers and telecommunication usage for the retrieval of important data, its transmission and for storing purpose. Management in IT is a branch wherein all the technological resources of any firm are managed according to its priorities and needs. The resources include the entire stall hired to manage and maintain tangible resources like networks, software, computer hardware, data and data centre facilities. Within a company, the management of these responsibilities is directly linked with much other basic functionality like staffing, organizing and controlling, and budgeting. Other than these, there are many other aspects quite unique to technology software designing, change management, technical support, network planning and much more.

There is a visible difference between management information system and management technology information. Management technology information, as stated before, is linked with the entire IT related management activities within an organization. On the other hand, all automation or human support decision making are influenced by MIS. It involves all the methods that mainly focus on all business aspects. It has a very strong input in any business or organization’s technological phase.

IT And Value Creation

All thanks to technology, value creation was made quite possible. A prime focus of management technology information is this value creation. A unique blend of business strategies and technology is required for this purpose. Where value creation involves a very strong internal and external environmental bonding of an organization, technology on the other hand serves as an important source to improve the overall value chain of that particular organization. However, for successful outcome, the increase of business and management technology information requires collaboration, creation and synergistic to work as a team rather than a whole.

The IT Infrastructure

The Information Technology Infrastructure Library v3 state the management technology information infrastructure as a combined set of software, facilities, hardware, and networks so as to test, develop, monitor, deliver, control and support IT services. But, in the ITIL context, the people involved in the process, the process itself and all associated documentations are not a part of IT infrastructure.

IT Managers

The management technology information managers have a lot in common when it comes to project managers. There is one main focus that differentiates the two. When it comes to project manager, the responsibility and accountability factors are both confined to a certain project that has a starting and ending date. The instructions for the entire project completion and beginning are quite clear and restricted. Whereas management technology information is responsible and accountable for any program that is ongoing involving IT services. A large number of programs related to IT are created in a way to educate managers and develop them in a way in order to make them efficient enough so they can easily manage the design, planning, selection, use, implementation, and administration of any converging and emerging information and communication technologies.

There is a list of things an IT manager should be able to do after the completion of these programs such as explaining all important facts, terminologies, principles, concepts etc. that are used in IT management. Applying these concepts, facts, terminologies etc. while analyzing factual situations and to integrate them while developing solutions

Data Arteries – Enabling Business Strategy Through Information Technology

Regardless of size and industry, every enterprise is dependent upon information technology, and must have a strategy for how to employ it, especially as the internet becomes more pervasive. Information technology strategy is an enabler of business strategy. Not only must an enterprise manage relationships with its constituencies, but it must be able to connect with them electronically through data arteries – information supply, value, and demand chains. The information supply and demand chains are external; the information value chains are internal.

An information technology strategy is a special case functional strategy because every function in the enterprise requires electronic information delivery capabilities, and many require electronic process control also. In very large enterprises, strategy may be formulated at both the enterprise and organizational unit levels.

As websites such as Facebook, LinkedIn, MySpace, Plaxo, and Twitter become more pervasive in business, linkages between application systems and databases and social networking websites will be more important to enable constituencies to communicate both collaboratively and cooperatively. Just as email has become a primary method of communication between enterprises and their constituencies, so will social networking sites especially for advertising and ecommerce.

Business intelligence information can be used to identify opportunities for competitive advantage. However, information technology itself can be an enabler of competitive advantage, especially when there are opportunities to digitize products or deliver information products electronically. In such cases, business strategy is inseparable from information technology strategy.

Information technology comprises the analytical and operational application systems, databases, and technical infrastructure (hardware and networks) of an enterprise. Not all computer technologies are information based. Computer technology is used for process control applications in special purpose equipment. However, connectivity is essential as applications become more integrated. As digital construction and manufacturing practices develop through such technologies as computer-aided design/computer-aided manufacturing (CAD/CAM), the processes, the control of processes, and the products and/or services delivered by processes all rely upon information technology for connectivity.

For example, in the manufacturing industry, not only can design and manufacturing work be conducted through integrated CAD/CAM processes with electronic linkages to carriers, such as FedEx and UPS, but the entire project and process management activities can be monitored electronically from ideation to product delivery.

Through technologies such as electronic data interchange and electronic funds transfer, data and both digital and information products flow through information supply and demand chains in parallel to material supply and product and/or service demand chains. Within the enterprise, data flows through information value chains from supply chains and to demand chains.

Developing an information technology strategy document is essential for describing the requirements and for educating users because:

The impact is enterprise or organizational unit wide and other elements of strategy cannot be implemented without it
Administrative activities, such as legal, finance, and human resources, and operational activities, such as research and development, procurement, manufacturing or equivalent, distribution, marketing, sales, and service depend on information technology – analytical and operational systems support both administrative and operational functions
The time frames, expenditures, risks, and magnitude of efforts are usually larger and more complicated than other initiatives and must be clearly understood; information technology projects have a tendency to go out of control and under deliver – therefore, contingency plans are always necessary
The subject matter can be complicated if not well explained

Information technology strategy is usually packaged as a separate but related document to the strategic plan. It is deployed and executed through specific programs and projects that develop new or enhance or maintain existing application systems, databases, and technical infrastructure.

Large information technology development projects are usually cross-functional, and may be part of a broader initiative sponsored by multiple functions collectively. Broader initiatives that have information technology components include:

Market research and development
Product research and development
Infrastructure research and development for processes and information delivery

For example – for the development of a:

Digital manufacturing system integrating both research and development and sales and production activities (sponsors: Manufacturing and Sales functions – impact is on Research and Development, Procurement, Manufacturing, Distribution, Sales, and Service functions)
Financial, managerial, and regulatory accounting and reporting system (sponsor: Finance function – impact is enterprise wide)
Human resource management system (sponsor: Human Resources function – impact is enterprise wide)
Sales tracking system (sponsor: Sales function – impact is on all salespeople enterprise wide)

Some projects can be solely for the Information Technology function, in which case it is a customer of itself.

Steering committees should be established for major programs and projects representing the various impacted functions in order to resolve cross-functional barriers. Major programs should come under the review of a planning and policy committee at the enterprise level.

Information technology strategy formulation is a project in its own right at the enterprise or organizational unit level. Very large projects are grouped as a program of inter-related components under a program manager. Projects can be stand alone also. A single project can deliver one or more application systems and related databases and technical infrastructure, or multiple projects may be required depending upon complexity.

For example, when launching a new product, it may be necessary to conduct marketing, product, and infrastructure development projects that include the delivery of new systems, and upgrades to existing systems. However, if an addition to the product line is launched at a later time, a new project or set of projects may be required to enhance or maintain the current systems, or even develop new ones.

The work breakdown structure for downstream development, enhancement, and maintenance projects decomposes into planning, analysis, design, construction, implementation, and performance measurement phases. The performance measurement phase can be conducted in parallel with the other phases, and each must end with a performance review. A feedback loop to future planning activities must be established so that lessons learned from the past can be reflected in future initiatives.

Meeting the cost and schedule requirements is always a major consideration. Hence, “meeting the date” is a frequent requirement for project success. However, after implementation, the scope of what was delivered and its quality is usually remembered more than when. In anticipation of the need to make changes after implementation, an adaption project may be necessary to tune, standardize, and integrate the deliverables.

The planning phase is conducted at the enterprise, organizational unit, or program levels for one or more projects depending upon size and complexity. However, each application system and related databases and technical infrastructure is delivered through a project with distinct analysis, design, construction, and implementation phases. Each phase always begins with a detailed planning activity to ensure that resources are allocated appropriately. The work breakdown structure does not preclude the use of iterative methodologies within each phase for rapid application development and prototyping. Development, enhancement, and maintenance of websites can be very rapid, and heavily interactive with user involvement, when the appropriate tools are used.

Key questions and deliverables by information technology strategy project and downstream phases include:

Strategy project (enterprise and organizational unit levels):

Key questions:

How does information technology enable business strategy?
What are the investment priorities?

Deliverables include:

Information technology architecture (applications, data and databases, and technical infrastructure)
High level project phasing and plans

Planning phase (enterprise, organizational unit, and program levels):

Key questions:

What are the administrative functions’ systems and information needs?
What are the operational functions’ systems and information needs?
What are the priorities for the candidate analytical systems?
What are the priorities for the candidate operational systems?

Deliverables include:

Process models
Function models
Data models
Information models
Economic evaluation
Scope of analysis projects and schedules

Analysis phase (project level):

Key questions:

How do processes, functions, and systems fit together?
How do systems processes and functions relate to enterprise processes and functions?
How do systems processes and functions and enterprise processes and functions fit together?

Deliverables include:

Functional requirements
Economic evaluation
Scope of design projects and schedules

Design phase (project level):

Key questions (by system):

What are the system’s functional requirements?
What are the system’s technical requirements?
What is the total cost of ownership and benefits (tangible and intangible)?

Deliverables include (by system):

Application system specifications
Data and database specifications
Technical infrastructure specifications
Scope of construction project and schedule
Total cost of ownership/benefit analysis

Construction phase (project level):

Key questions (by system):

Is the system being constructed according to design?
If not, what change orders are required, and why?

Deliverables include (by system):

Tested application system and interfaces, databases, and technical infrastructure
Trained users

Implementation phase (project level):

Key questions (by system):

What are the costs and schedule relative to plan?
What is the scope relative to plan?
What is the quality relative to plan
When will the benefits be realized relative to plan?
What adjustments for tuning, standardization, and integration are required relative to plan?
What are the current anticipated enhancement requests?
What are the current anticipated maintenance requests?
What are the lessons learned for the future?

Deliverables include (by system):

Working application system and interfaces, databases, and technical infrastructure
List of enhancement requests
List of maintenance requests
Performance measurement report

As enterprises become more dependent upon the internet for connectivity with constituencies, it is essential to develop, enhance, and maintain the information technology strategy on an ongoing basis. The strategy must emphasize connectivity through the data arteries as digital and information products become more pervasive.

Impacts of Information Technology on Society in the New Century

In the past few decades there has been a revolution in computing and communications, and all indications are that technological progress and use of information technology will continue at a rapid pace. Accompanying and supporting the dramatic increases in the power and use of new information technologies has been the declining cost of communications as a result of both technological improvements and increased competition. According to Moore’s law the processing power of microchips is doubling every 18 months. These advances present many significant opportunities but also pose major challenges. Today, innovations in information technology are having wide-ranging effects across numerous domains of society, and policy makers are acting on issues involving economic productivity, intellectual property rights, privacy protection, and affordability of and access to information. Choices made now will have long lasting consequences, and attention must be paid to their social and economic impacts.

One of the most significant outcomes of the progress of information technology is probably electronic commerce over the Internet, a new way of conducting business. Though only a few years old, it may radically alter economic activities and the social environment. Already, it affects such large sectors as communications, finance and retail trade and might expand to areas such as education and health services. It implies the seamless application of information and communication technology along the entire value chain of a business that is conducted electronically.

The impacts of information technology and electronic commerce on business models, commerce, market structure, workplace, labour market, education, private life and society as a whole.

1. Business Models, Commerce and Market Structure

One important way in which information technology is affecting work is by reducing the importance of distance. In many industries, the geographic distribution of work is changing significantly. For instance, some software firms have found that they can overcome the tight local market for software engineers by sending projects to India or other nations where the wages are much lower. Furthermore, such arrangements can take advantage of the time differences so that critical projects can be worked on nearly around the clock. Firms can outsource their manufacturing to other nations and rely on telecommunications to keep marketing, R&D, and distribution teams in close contact with the manufacturing groups. Thus the technology can enable a finer division of labour among countries, which in turn affects the relative demand for various skills in each nation. The technology enables various types of work and employment to be decoupled from one another. Firms have greater freedom to locate their economic activities, creating greater competition among regions in infrastructure, labour, capital, and other resource markets. It also opens the door for regulatory arbitrage: firms can increasingly choose which tax authority and other regulations apply.

Computers and communication technologies also promote more market-like forms of production and distribution. An infrastructure of computing and communication technology, providing 24-hour access at low cost to almost any kind of price and product information desired by buyers, will reduce the informational barriers to efficient market operation. This infrastructure might also provide the means for effecting real-time transactions and make intermediaries such as sales clerks, stock brokers and travel agents, whose function is to provide an essential information link between buyers and sellers, redundant. Removal of intermediaries would reduce the costs in the production and distribution value chain. The information technologies have facilitated the evolution of enhanced mail order retailing, in which goods can be ordered quickly by using telephones or computer networks and then dispatched by suppliers through integrated transport companies that rely extensively on computers and communication technologies to control their operations. Nonphysical goods, such as software, can be shipped electronically, eliminating the entire transport channel. Payments can be done in new ways. The result is disintermediation throughout the distribution channel, with cost reduction, lower end-consumer prices, and higher profit margins.

The impact of information technology on the firms’ cost structure can be best illustrated on the electronic commerce example. The key areas of cost reduction when carrying out a sale via electronic commerce rather than in a traditional store involve physical establishment, order placement and execution, customer support, strong, inventory carrying, and distribution. Although setting up and maintaining an e-commerce web site might be expensive, it is certainly less expensive to maintain such a storefront than a physical one because it is always open, can be accessed by millions around the globe, and has few variable costs, so that it can scale up to meet the demand. By maintaining one ‘store’ instead of several, duplicate inventory costs are eliminated. In addition, e-commerce is very effective at reducing the costs of attracting new customers, because advertising is typically cheaper than for other media and more targeted. Moreover, the electronic interface allows e-commerce merchants to check that an order is internally consistent and that the order, receipt, and invoice match. Through e-commerce, firms are able to move much of their customer support on line so that customers can access databases or manuals directly. This significantly cuts costs while generally improving the quality of service. E-commerce shops require far fewer, but high-skilled, employees. E-commerce also permits savings in inventory carrying costs. The faster the input can be ordered and delivered, the less the need for a large inventory. The impact on costs associated with decreased inventories is most pronounced in industries where the product has a limited shelf life (e.g. bananas), is subject to fast technological obsolescence or price declines (e.g. computers), or where there is a rapid flow of new products (e.g. books, music). Although shipping costs can increase the cost of many products purchased via electronic commerce and add substantially to the final price, distribution costs are significantly reduced for digital products such as financial services, software, and travel, which are important e-commerce segments.

Although electronic commerce causes the disintermediation of some intermediaries, it creates greater dependency on others and also some entirely new intermediary functions. Among the intermediary services that could add costs to e-commerce transactions are advertising, secure online payment, and delivery. The relative ease of becoming an e-commerce merchant and setting up stores results in such a huge number of offerings that consumers can easily be overwhelmed. This increases the importance of using advertising to establish a brand name and thus generate consumer familiarity and trust. For new e-commerce start-ups, this process can be expensive and represents a significant transaction cost. The openness, global reach, and lack of physical clues that are inherent characteristics of e-commerce also make it vulnerable to fraud and thus increase certain costs for e-commerce merchants as compared to traditional stores. New techniques are being developed to protect the use of credit cards in e-commerce transactions, but the need for greater security and user verification leads to increased costs. A key feature of e-commerce is the convenience of having purchases delivered directly. In the case of tangibles, such as books, this incurs delivery costs, which cause prices to rise in most cases, thereby negating many of the savings associated with e-commerce and substantially adding to transaction costs.

With the Internet, e-commerce is rapidly expanding into a fast-moving, open global market with an ever-increasing number of participants. The open and global nature of e-commerce is likely to increase market size and change market structure, both in terms of the number and size of players and the way in which players compete on international markets. Digitized products can cross the border in real time, consumers can shop 24 hours a day, seven days a week, and firms are increasingly faced with international online competition. The Internet is helping to enlarge existing markets by cutting through many of the distribution and marketing barriers that can prevent firms from gaining access to foreign markets. E-commerce lowers information and transaction costs for operating on overseas markets and provides a cheap and efficient way to strengthen customer-supplier relations. It also encourages companies to develop innovative ways of advertising, delivering and supporting their product and services. While e-commerce on the Internet offers the potential for global markets, certain factors, such as language, transport costs, local reputation, as well as differences in the cost and ease of access to networks, attenuate this potential to a greater or lesser extent.

2. Workplace and Labour Market

Computers and communication technologies allow individuals to communicate with one another in ways complementary to traditional face-to-face, telephonic, and written modes. They enable collaborative work involving distributed communities of actors who seldom, if ever, meet physically. These technologies utilize communication infrastructures that are both global and always up, thus enabling 24-hour activity and asynchronous as well as synchronous interactions among individuals, groups, and organizations. Social interaction in organizations will be affected by use of computers and communication technologies. Peer-to-peer relations across department lines will be enhanced through sharing of information and coordination of activities. Interaction between superiors and subordinates will become more tense because of social control issues raised by the use of computerized monitoring systems, but on the other hand, the use of e-mail will lower the barriers to communications across different status levels, resulting in more uninhibited communications between supervisor and subordinates.

That the importance of distance will be reduced by computers and communication technology also favours telecommuting, and thus, has implications for the residence patterns of the citizens. As workers find that they can do most of their work at home rather than in a centralized workplace, the demand for homes in climatically and physically attractive regions would increase. The consequences of such a shift in employment from the suburbs to more remote areas would be profound. Property values would rise in the favoured destinations and fall in the suburbs. Rural, historical, or charming aspects of life and the environment in the newly attractive areas would be threatened. Since most telecommuters would be among the better educated and higher paid, the demand in these areas for high-income and high-status services like gourmet restaurants and clothing boutiques would increase. Also would there be an expansion of services of all types, creating and expanding job opportunities for the local population.

By reducing the fixed cost of employment, widespread telecommuting should make it easier for individuals to work on flexible schedules, to work part time, to share jobs, or to hold two or more jobs simultaneously. Since changing employers would not necessarily require changing one’s place of residence, telecommuting should increase job mobility and speed career advancement. This increased flexibility might also reduce job stress and increase job satisfaction. Since job stress is a major factor governing health there may be additional benefits in the form of reduced health costs and mortality rates. On the other hand one might also argue that technologies, by expanding the number of different tasks that are expected of workers and the array of skills needed to perform these tasks, might speed up work and increase the level of stress and time pressure on workers.

A question that is more difficult to be answered is about the impacts that computers and communications might have on employment. The ability of computers and communications to perform routine tasks such as bookkeeping more rapidly than humans leads to concern that people will be replaced by computers and communications. The response to this argument is that even if computers and communications lead to the elimination of some workers, other jobs will be created, particularly for computer professionals, and that growth in output will increase overall employment. It is more likely that computers and communications will lead to changes in the types of workers needed for different occupations rather than to changes in total employment.

A number of industries are affected by electronic commerce. The distribution sector is directly affected, as e-commerce is a way of supplying and delivering goods and services. Other industries, indirectly affected, are those related to information and communication technology (the infrastructure that enables e-commerce), content-related industries (entertainment, software), transactions-related industries (financial sector, advertising, travel, transport). eCommerce might also create new markets or extend market reach beyond traditional borders. Enlarging the market will have a positive effect on jobs. Another important issue relates to inter linkages among activities affected by e-commerce. Expenditure for e-commerce-related intermediate goods and services will create jobs indirectly, on the basis of the volume of electronic transactions and their effect on prices, costs and productivity. The convergence of media, telecommunication and computing technologies is creating a new integrated supply chain for the production and delivery of multimedia and information content. Most of the employment related to e-commerce around the content industries and communication infrastructure such as the Internet.

Jobs are both created and destroyed by technology, trade, and organizational change. These processes also underlie changes in the skill composition of employment. Beyond the net employment gains or losses brought about by these factors, it is apparent that workers with different skill levels will be affected differently. E-commerce is certainly driving the demand for IT professionals but it also requires IT expertise to be coupled with strong business application skills, thereby generating demand for a flexible, multi-skilled work force. There is a growing need for increased integration of Internet front-end applications with enterprise operations, applications and back-end databases. Many of the IT skill requirements needed for Internet support can be met by low-paid IT workers who can deal with the organizational services needed for basic web page programming. However, wide area networks, competitive web sites, and complex network applications require much more skill than a platform-specific IT job. Since the skills required for e-commerce are rare and in high demand, e-commerce might accelerate the up skilling trend in many countries by requiring high-skilled computer scientists to replace low-skilled information clerks, cashiers and market salespersons.

3. Education

Advances in information technology will affect the craft of teaching by complementing rather than eliminating traditional classroom instruction. Indeed the effective instructor acts in a mixture of roles. In one role the instructor is a supplier of services to the students, who might be regarded as its customers. But the effective instructor occupies another role as well, as a supervisor of students, and plays a role in motivating, encouraging, evaluating, and developing students. For any topic there will always be a small percentage of students with the necessary background, motivation, and self-discipline to learn from self-paced workbooks or computer assisted instruction. For the majority of students, however, the presence of a live instructor will continue to be far more effective than a computer assisted counterpart in facilitating positive educational outcomes. The greatest potential for new information technology lies in improving the productivity of time spent outside the classroom. Making solutions to problem sets and assigned reading materials available on the Internet offers a lot of convenience. E-mail vastly simplifies communication between students and faculty and among students who may be engaged in group projects. Advances in information technology will affect the craft of teaching by complementing rather than eliminating traditional classroom instruction. Indeed the effective instructor acts in a mixture of roles. In one role the instructor is a supplier of services to the students, who might be regarded as its customers. But the effective instructor occupies another role as well, as a supervisor of students, and plays a role in motivating, encouraging, evaluating, and developing students. For any topic there will always be a small percentage of students with the necessary background, motivation, and self-discipline to learn from self-paced workbooks or computer assisted instruction. For the majority of students, however, the presence of a live instructor will continue to be far more effective than a computer assisted counterpart in facilitating positive educational outcomes. The greatest potential for new information technology lies in improving the productivity of time spent outside the classroom. Making solutions to problem sets and assigned reading materials available on the Internet offers a lot of convenience. E-mail vastly simplifies communication between students and faculty and among students who may be engaged in group projects.

Although distance learning has existed for some time, the Internet makes possible a large expansion in coverage and better delivery of instruction. Text can be combined with audio/ video, and students can interact in real time via e-mail and discussion groups. Such technical improvements coincide with a general demand for retraining by those who, due to work and family demands, cannot attend traditional courses. Distance learning via the Internet is likely to complement existing schools for children and university students, but it could have more of a substitution effect for continuing education programmes. For some degree programmes, high-prestige institutions could use their reputation to attract students who would otherwise attend a local facility. Owing to the Internet’s ease of access and convenience for distance learning, overall demand for such programmes will probably expand, leading to growth in this segment of e-commerce.

As shown in the previous section, high level skills are vital in a technology-based and knowledge intensive economy. Changes associated with rapid technological advances in industry have made continual upgrading of professional skills an economic necessity. The goal of lifelong learning can only be accomplished by reinforcing and adapting existing systems of learning, both in public and private sectors. The demand for education and training concerns the full range of modern technology. Information technologies are uniquely capable of providing ways to meet this demand. Online training via the Internet ranges from accessing self-study courses to complete electronic classrooms. These computer-based training programmes provide flexibility in skills acquisition and are more affordable and relevant than more traditional seminars and courses.

4. Private Life and Society

Increasing representation of a wide variety of content in digital form results in easier and cheaper duplication and distribution of information. This has a mixed effect on the provision of content. On the one hand, content can be distributed at a lower unit cost. On the other hand, distribution of content outside of channels that respect intellectual property rights can reduce the incentives of creators and distributors to produce and make content available in the first place. Information technology raises a host of questions about intellectual property protection and new tools and regulations have to be developed in order to solve this problem.

Many issues also surround free speech and regulation of content on the Internet, and there continue to be calls for mechanisms to control objectionable content. However it is very difficult to find a sensible solution. Dealing with indecent material involves understanding not only the views on such topics but also their evolution over time. Furthermore, the same technology that allows for content altering with respect to decency can be used to filter political speech and to restrict access to political material. Thus, if censorship does not appear to be an option, a possible solution might be labelling. The idea is that consumers will be better informed in their decisions to avoid objectionable content.

The rapid increase in computing and communications power has raised considerable concern about privacy both in the public and private sector. Decreases in the cost of data storage and information processing make it likely that it will become practicable for both government and private data-mining enterprises to collect detailed dossiers on all citizens. Nobody knows who currently collects data about individuals, how this data is used and shared or how this data might be misused. These concerns lower the consumers’ trust in online institutions and communication and, thus, inhibit the development of electronic commerce. A technological approach to protecting privacy might by cryptography although it might be claimed that cryptography presents a serious barrier to criminal investigations.

It is popular wisdom that people today suffer information overload. A lot of the information available on the Internet is incomplete and even incorrect. People spend more and more of their time absorbing irrelevant information just because it is available and they think they should know about it. Therefore, it must be studied how people assign credibility to the information they collect in order to invent and develop new credibility systems to help consumers to manage the information overload.

Technological progress inevitably creates dependence on technology. Indeed the creation of vital infrastructure ensures dependence on that infrastructure. As surely as the world is now dependent on its transport, telephone, and other infrastructures, it will be dependent on the emerging information infrastructure. Dependence on technology can bring risks. Failures in the technological infrastructure can cause the collapse of economic and social functionality. Blackouts of long-distance telephone service, credit data systems, and electronic funds transfer systems, and other such vital communications and information processing services would undoubtedly cause widespread economic disruption. However, it is probably impossible to avoid technological dependence. Therefore, what must be considered is the exposure brought from dependence on technologies with a recognizable probability of failure, no workable substitute at hand, and high costs as a result of failure.

The ongoing computing and communications revolution has numerous economic and social impacts on modern society and requires serious social science investigation in order to manage its risks and dangers. Such work would be valuable for both social policy and technology design. Decisions have to be taken carefully. Many choices being made now will be costly or difficult to modify in the future.