Today, most organizations in all sectors of industry, commerce and government are fundamentally dependent on their information systems. In industries such as telecommunications, media, entertainment and financial services, where the product is already or is being increasingly digitized, the existence of an organization critically depends on the effective application of information technology (IT).

Information System

An information system is comprised of all the components that collect, manipulate, and propagate data or information. It usually includes hardware, software, people, communications systems, and the data itself. The activities involved include inputting data, processing of data into information, storage of data and information, and the production of outputs such as management reports.

Support Role:

Information systems support business processes and operations by:

  • recording and storing sales data, purchase data, investment data, payroll data and other accounting records.
  • recording and storing inventory data, work in process data, equipment repair and maintenance data, supply chain data and other production/operations records.
  • recording and storing market data, customer profiles, customer purchase histories, marketing research data, advertising data, and other marketing records.
  • to implement, control, and monitor plans, strategies, tactics, new products, new business models or new business ventures.

Information systems often support and occasionally constitute competitive advantages. Information systems, like business environmental scanning systems, support almost all sustainable competitive advantages. Occasionally, the information system itself is the competitive advantage. One example is Wal-Mart. They used an extranet to integrate their whole supply chain.

Information Technology

IT refers specifically to technology, basically hardware, software and telecommunications networks. It is thus both concrete (e.g. with servers, PCs, routers and network cables) and subtle (e.g. with software of all types).

IT facilitates the attainment, processing, storing, delivery and sharing of information and other digital content.

Effectiveness of IS/IT

A number of important forces affect the pace and effectiveness of progress in using IS/IT and in delivering business benefits. The relative weighting of each factor varies over time, and will also vary from one organization to another. These factors include:

o the capabilities of the technology

o the economics of deploying the technology

o the applications that are feasible

o the skills and abilities available, either in-house or from external sources, to develop the applications

o the skills and abilities within the organization to use the applications

o the pressures on the particular organization or its industry to improve performance.

Implementation of Technology via E-commerce and E- business

E-commerce can be viewed as the conduct of business commercial communications and management by using Internet technologies and through electronic methods, such as electronic data interchange (EDI) and automated data-collection systems. It may also involve the electronic transfer of information between businesses (EDI). E-business, on the other hand, has come to refer to the automation of an organization’s internal business processes using Internet and browser technologies.

In using the Internet, many organizations have looked to add more value to the tangible products they sell by providing additional ‘information-based’ services. These can include online support, order tracking, order history, etc. Many of these initiatives focus on deepening the relationship with customers and suppliers. Others have moved their trading platform either partially or entirely onto the Internet.

Success Factors

Several factors have a role in the success of any e-commerce venture. They may include:

o Providing value to customers. Vendors can achieve this by offering a product or product-line that attracts potential customers at a competitive price, as in non-electronic commerce.

o Providing a 360-degree view of the customer relationship, defined as ensuring that all employees, suppliers, and partners have a complete view, and the same view, of the customer.

o Providing an incentive for customers to buy and to return. Sales promotions to this end can involve coupons, special offers, and discounts. Cross-linked websites and advertising affiliate programs can also help.

Hindrance in Acceptance

o Concerns about security. Many people will not use credit cards over the Internet due to concerns about theft and fraud.

o The problem of access to web commerce, particularly for poor households and for developing countries. Low penetration rates of Internet access in some sectors greatly reduce the potential for e-commerce.

Applications of IS/IT and Competitive Advantage

Dell Computers

Some information systems are totally automated by IT. For example, Dell Computers has a system where no human intervention is required, from taking customer orders, to delivery of components to the Dell factory for assembly, to shipment to customers. With this build-to-order model, perfect information and tight linkage match supply and demand in real time. The company can receive an order for a personal computer (PC) directly from a customer via its own website (www.dell.com).

Ryanair

Ryanair is one of the world’s most successful ‘low fares’ airlines. Its online booking facility was launched in 1999, migrating customers away from the more expensive travel agent and call-centre channels. Customers can now search for flights online and book them with a credit or debit card. As a ticketless airline, the customers are supplied with a reference number which is given to staff at check in. Over 90% of ticket sales are now taken on the website, which is also available in a number of languages including French, German, Swedish and Norwegian.

Amazon.com

Amazon.com is an Internet venture that was launched in July 1995, and has probably become the most famous site in cyberspace. It initially started out with a mission to use the Internet to transform book buying into the fastest, easiest and most enjoyable experience possible.

Unlike traditional bookstores, there are no bookshelves to browse at Amazon.com. From the website, customers can search for a specific book, topic or author, or they can browse their way through the book catalogue and then complete the sale by entering their credit card information. Orders are processed immediately and books in stock, generally bestsellers, are shipped the same day. Customers are contacted by email when their order has been dispatched. All contact with the company is done either through their World Wide Website or by email. The company has also branched out into electronic auctions. It has also pioneered technologies such as customer profiling and ‘1-click’ shopping. The profiling technology has enabled Amazon to recommend books based on previous purchasing history and what other customers who have bought similar books are also reading. Even today, the company strives to maintain their founding commitment to customer satisfaction and the delivery of an educational and inspiring shopping experience.

Otis Elevators

In the 1980s, Otis Elevators, the US manufacturer of elevators, identified that one of the aspects of its service that would give its customers most satisfaction was a prompt lift repair service. So, it built an automated system, called Otisline, to dispatch repairmen. Where something started to go wrong with Otis’ lifts, they automatically called in their complaint to a computer–without human intervention. Otis’ rivals suddenly had to compete on quality of service as well as the price and quality of lifts themselves.

Professionals in the field of information systems are playing a vital role in managing and planning business strategies of business organizations all around the world. Business organizations are always in search of efficient, certified and qualified persons in this field. This has increased the market value of MBA in Information Systems.

This particular program basically addresses the working of systems involved in business information. This is the best degree for those who have the passion to learn new technologies, latest systems and their working in business environment. Today, many renowned institutions are offering online masters degree programs in this field, providing excellent opportunity to learn further without attending regular classes and disrupting your job or any other routine.

Benefits

IT and computers have become integral part of a business organization. This degree provides you knowledge about IT and computers in detail. It develops an understanding about the effects created by dissemination of information. Ethical issues involved in transferring of information are also taught at the same time.

The master’s degree program offers an opportunity to learn latest advancements in this field and prepare you with the expertise and acquaintance of technologies to excel in the field.

You learn pros and cons of latest technologies and their involvement in the information system of an organization. This course enables you to have a keen eye on its implications on the business.
Added advantage of the course is that you also learn about handling and managing the technical staff involved in the chain to run the system effectively. It also gives you a qualification on human resource management as well.

There is a whole technological Ecosystem developing before our eyes, that we can either ignore; adapt to slowly at our own pace (recommended!); or race to embrace. These new methods of network marketing provide us with everything from enhanced lead generation, to high level CRM (Customer Relationship Management). Knowing that many industries are slow to move in the technological arena, I am confident that this “Snapshot” will be eye-opening to many of you!

Our Top 5 Sites for Social Networking and Micro-Blogging

These are not just communication devices to chat from, they generate leads and help close sales by increasing exposure and developing relationships. Another purpose they serve is to increase your organic ranking, as search engines are now sending traffic to your site based on these social networking “traffic sources”. Here are just a few to consider…

1. LinkedIn – Use LinkedIn for business referrals and leads. A great way to introduce men to your business. This business-orientated site is used for professional networking and has a primary demographic of males averaging 41 years of age. Your developed “connections” are people you know and trust in the business. Your connections, connections & their connections (called second degree and third degree connections) allow you to be introduced to possible business opportunities. You can join relevant alumni, industry, or professional groups of your choice.

2. Twitter – Use Twitter to notify your clients of latest business developments; promotions and business initiatives. Demographic of 35-49 is biggest. This “follow-me” site allows you to put in up to 140 characters which are displayed on your profile page and delivered to those who have subscribed to, or are following you. You can restrict or allow open access to your “tweets”. It’s free unless you use SMS (short message service). 6 million unique visitors monthly. Currently the fastest growing site in the Member Communities category for 2009. Although discovered by the media, still under 7% of the population uses it, but growth over last year was a whopping 1,382%

3. BizNik – Use BizNik to establish yourself as an expert in the spa industry through articles and content. BizNik is for people building real businesses. It’s a good place to go to share conversation about your business and entrepreneurial endeavours. The site is based on relationships, not referrals. You can teach a seminar; post on the boards; download your articles; host an online event; attend an online event, etc.

4. Facebook – Use Facebook to “tap into the fountain of youth”. Join in by city; workplace; school, etc. You can choose your friends and use privacy settings which allow you to control what type of information is automatically shared. The most popular application is the ability to upload unlimited photos. You can now also send “gifts” for $1.00 with a personalized message to your friends; and post free classified ads to those in your network. 228% growth year over year, with the fastest growing demographic being those 25 years and older.

5. MySpace – Use MySpace to recruit, educate, introduce and increase awareness of your business and industry as a whole. One of the fastest growing websites of all time, with the primary user being 18 years of age and older. This interactive network is a user-submitted site of friends, groups, videos, musicians, photos, blogs, etc. You can use “bulletins” to deliver your message; designated groups can share a common page and message board; full service classified listings are available; you can upload recordings, and much more.

Mobile Marketing

This is the ability to reach consumers on their mobile devices, “where they are”, with incentive advertising and email campaigns. Still in its early stages, perfecting mobile-friendly formats and savvy ways to deliver your message to this captive audience will require a unique approach and your research. Studies show that ad agencies big and small are all rushing to develop mobile- based promotional tools – it’s going to be huge and it’s coming fast. It’s time for you to catch up with exploding consumer online demands. Still only 19% of mobile users have used mobile marketing, but critics say that it increases consumer awareness by up to 24% and increases intent to purchase by almost 5% – that’s good… Start capturing new data, preferences and interest levels from clients now! Some stats: 3.3 billion people worldwide have mobile phones Over 200 million operate phones with text messaging capabilities in North America. Over 174 million have phones capable of browsing the web in North America.

The Virtual Office

Your office must be wherever you are – you can conduct business from almost anywhere today. If you’re on the move, you’ll need a cell phone/smart phone/personal digital assistant with wireless web. While on the go, use instant messaging and social networking sites to alert, modify, and monitor staff and client wants and needs, on the spot. Your virtual office might consist of some, or all of these: * Videoconferencing and/or teleconferencing combined with presentation software that will allow you to communicate with several people in real time, around the world;

* Live streaming video enables the user to view in real time, anything from a demonstration of spa services, to an onsite, hand-on educational program;

* Web-hosted scheduling and booking tools will allow you to manage appointments online;

* Blogs, eNews and Forums are important informational tools to help endorse your brand;

* Web conferencing (webinars) make it simple to hold live interactive seminars with anyone at any time;

* Podcasts are great marketing tools as well as a great educational means for teaching and training staff and your target markets;

* Online video has climbed 340% in recent years, as a means to introduce; learn; and sell from;

* Online sales (shop with us) are fast becoming necessary as a passive, supplementary revenue stream in the spa environment.

If necessary, consider hiring a Virtual Assistant/Cyber Assistant (VA/CA – just Google) and get help with new ways on getting things done in a cyber-environment. Enjoy!