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|کد مقاله||سال انتشار||تعداد صفحات مقاله انگلیسی||ترجمه فارسی|
|13089||2000||13 صفحه PDF||سفارش دهید|
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Publisher : Elsevier - Science Direct (الزویر - ساینس دایرکت)
Journal : Information & Management, Volume 37, Issue 5, August 2000, Pages 257–269
In this study, 308 small business executives were interviewed and asked to identify the single most important thing they had learned about managing the use of information technology (IT) in their firms. The most common response was staying current/keeping up with changing IT. The training/education of end users, the ability to get information quickly, and accurate data were also given as things the executives had learned. The small business executives interviewed were from a variety of industries including the computer industry, the health care industry, engineering, consulting, manufacturing, insurance, accounting, and law. Ninety-two percent of the executives had acquired new hardware and 89.9% had acquired new software for their firms since their firms had first started using computers. In approximately 90% of the firms, the number of users of computers had increased and the majority of the new users were classified as both managerial and clerical. Again, approximately 90% of the firms had increased the number of functions for which computers were used within their firms with applications in accounting having the greatest increase.
Information technology (IT) has formed an integral part of the operational and competitive environment of large organizations for many years. IT perspectives have evolved from mainframe environments of the 1960s and 1970s, to the small, so-called minicomputer era of the latter 1970s and early 1980s, to the PC era of today. And even the PC phenomenon has been transformed from the standalone models of the mid 1980s to the integrated, network-based systems found today. Indeed, the continuing evolution in hardware and software technologies has brought about a spiraling decline in costs for all organizations, such that even the smallest of business organizations can afford to purchase needed IT. Therein, however, lies part of the problem. The majority of IT research has been done with large firms  and . And although hardware and software costs are significantly lower today, thereby making it possible for organizations of any size to purchase IT, the research findings, i.e., problems, solutions, benefits, etc., that relate to the larger organization may not necessarily apply to smaller firms. Small businesses employ 54% of the private working population, and they contribute 52% of all the sales in the US . Admittedly, small businesses play a vital role in the economy of the US, and therefore, warrant more study tied to IT than has been conducted previously. Many smaller organizations contain many of the same functions and activities as their larger counterparts, albeit on a lesser scale. These include sales and marketing, manufacturing, accounting, etc. It should be of interest to information systems (IS) researchers and to the business executives themselves to learn more about how these firms have acquired IT, or perhaps upgraded their systems, as well as to gain a deeper understanding of many important problems and managerial issues that have evolved. It should also lead to additional research that could provide for comparisons with larger organizations; similarities, if any, as well as markedly different areas could be identified. The overall purpose of this research is to assess how IT is used in smaller organizations. This examination includes the identification of the different functional areas of firms. Additionally, the results of what small business executives say they have learned about managing IT are presented. In the next section of this paper, we discuss some of the previous research dealing with smaller businesses, drawing attention to the fact that it does not provide either IS researchers or business executives with significant information about IT uses. Following that, the research method is presented. The paper concludes with a discussion and suggestions for additional research.
نتیجه گیری انگلیسی
This study is one of the first projects, if not the first, which has examined extensively the expanding uses of IT in a wide range of industry types within the small business community. It is strengthened by the fact that only senior executives in each firm, e.g., CEO, President, Manager, and Director of IS, provided information about their organizations. That too is important because it is generally regarded that these are the same individuals who decide on IT investment decisions, or at least are the ones who participate in this decision process. One of the purposes for conducting this research was to investigate possible differences between smaller and larger organizations related to acquiring and using IT. It is apparent that even smaller firms experience similar pressures related to IT investment decisions, as reported above. In itself, this is enlightening for both IT researchers and small business executives because it has not been examined extensively before, nor has it dealt with the topic from the directions addressed in this research. The issue related to the growth in the number of computer users is probably not too surprising. It is, however, revealing that, compared with the study by Cragg and King , the extent of growth of users involved with clerical activities has increased in just a few short years. Executives and IS researchers must not exclude any groups of users today as they investigate the many factors that impact firms today, such as system success, competitive advantage, and globalization. In part, this has no doubt occurred because hardware and software costs have declined dramatically since the so-called PC revolution began in the mid 1980s. In addition, the expanding range of applications, their ease of use, and the increased general IT knowledge by many individuals today would tend to give rise to large numbers of new users. However, what is perhaps more important are the reasons for this growth and the possible implications of it to the firms. Are smaller firms experiencing operational pressures to increase the number of computers and computer users? Perhaps like their larger counterparts, competitive pressures, such as the need to increase or at least maintain customer satisfaction, could be a driving force behind this growth. The implications to the smaller firm could be dramatic. In general, smaller firms may lack the extensive IT infrastructure and support structure that larger organizations have, and they may experience pressures for extensive training and retraining of older employees. Training issues could also extend to the population of potential new hires as well who, because of a lack of a strong IT support infrastructure in some smaller firms, might be expected to acquire specific new skills on their own prior to entering the job market. It is probable that the term ‘computer literate’ has escalated to the point that, to be considered literate, a new hire must have extensive knowledge in products such as Microsoft Office, financial modeling tools extending beyond today’s spreadsheets, and web page authoring and development tools to support the fast increasing pace of electronic commerce. Support for this may be found in the fact that nearly 45% of the responding firms both replaced older hardware as well as purchased new hardware to add to the firm’s portfolio of uses. At the same time, nearly 50% of the respondents had replaced and enhanced software as well, and more than 40% of the organizations experienced growth in both clerical and managerial users. Correspondingly, smaller firms could also investigate the newer forms of IT training, such as general types of computer-based training (CBT) or even CBT that is more intelligent, such as products that contain expert-like capabilities, to guide the trainee. The attention to additional training provided by smaller firms could also act as a marketing mechanism to help them to attract new hires as well. The findings of this study relate to the training of end users and the importance of the end users being able to use systems successfully. Montazemi  too found that end user literacy generated higher user satisfaction, and the training of end users definitely plays an important role in improving end user literacy. The other major question addressed in this research dealt with the ‘… single most important thing you’ve learned about managing the use of information technology in your firm.’ The category with the highest percentage of responses was ‘staying current/changing IT,’ with more than 11% of the respondents citing it. This is an issue that confronts large businesses daily, and it is apparent that even executives in smaller firms are experiencing the same difficulties. Perhaps, however, the problem as it pertains to small businesses is exacerbated by the fact that many of these organizations lack much of the IT infrastructure, such as emerging technologies groups or so-called technological strategists who can identify new and forthcoming technologies and suggest ways for their implementation. Such limitations obviously can impact senior executives who must contend with competitive pressures, improving or expanding customer service, as well as with internally expressed needs and wants. The category that tied for third place in the ‘most important thing I’ve learned’ rankings is, perhaps, just as significant as the one which finished in first place. This category is the ‘non response’ category; it is characterized by the common response provided by the respondents: ‘I can’t think of anything.’ On the one hand, it is evident that smaller organizations are experiencing many IT pressures, such as staying current, the need for accuracy in their data, obtaining information quickly, and even having to deal with being more productive. These responses are quite similar to those discussed in the literature dealing with large organizations. However, if a small business executive responds that he/she can’t think of anything related to issues or problems regarding managing its IT investments, it should be a cause for alarm. Are these executives just following the crowd, purchasing what their employees say they want or need? Do small business executives experience the so-called ‘airline magazine syndrome’ that is often associated with larger organizations? Or perhaps some smaller firms have entered into various forms of outsourcing arrangements or have engaged consultants to help them in their IT efforts, with the result that they simply ‘can’t think of anything’ related to managing IT? The additional analyses that examined the relationships between firm sizes, industries, and the top 10 most important things learned are interesting. As stated previously, knowing a firm’s size does not indicate what important things learned would be applicable to that firm; knowing the firm’s industry, however, does tell us what lessons learned might be important for a firm. Regarding size, consultants working with smaller businesses, as well as IS researchers, might find it more difficult to focus their attention on specific issues for given firms. Said differently, regardless of size, small businesses are confronted with a diversity of issues today. In addition, this finding might also indicate some maturation perspective regarding IT lessons learned among small businesses of the sizes examined in this study. Regarding a firm’s industry, business executives, consultants, and IS researchers might find it easier, for example, to develop IS plans more closely integrated with a firm’s business plan, knowing lessons learned ahead of time. Further research into these lessons learned and industries is warranted. This research has focused on a heterogeneous sample of small businesses and identified the expanding and changing role the IT serves in these firms. Our concluding remarks have led to a number of questions as well, many listed above. These questions should serve as an invitation to IT researchers to delve more deeply into the smaller business community. Inter disciplinary studies, such as those involving small business centers and entrepreneurial institutes found in some colleges and universities could be included. More theoretically based research should be applied to the small business community. For example, attitudinal research may help provide answers to some of our questions, with Ajzen’s  Theory of Planned Behavior and Davis’ Technology Acceptance Model  serving as appropriate theories. Harrison et al.  research pertaining to competitive advantage was a positive step in this regard.