The ICT Revolution and Technological Advancements
The technological revolution has affected every aspect of human life. Technological changes have influenced the mode and speed of business operations globally (Conti and Giordano 2014, p.85). Advancement in computer technology has significantly transformed business operations in the whole world. Increased discoveries in information communication technology have facilitated the process of communication in international businesses. Through ICT revolutions, multilateral companies can efficiently and effectively manage their branches in overseas countries (Conti and Giordano 2014, p.86). Communication has been facilitated through teleconferencing and video calls. Technological advancements have led to theintegrationof critical business operations such as production, distribution, and supply chain functions. Multilateral organizations have made use of technological advancements to create a competitive advantage in the international market. The innovations in the field of ICT has been associated with both strengths and weaknesses (Conti and Giordano 2014, p.95). This paper discusses such strengths and weaknessesin relation to international businesses.
Strengths of technological change for international businesses
Improved communication systems
Technological revolution brings about changes that make a business enterprise to have a better hand in the production process (Munyua and Adera 2009, p. 4). One of the significant changes brought by technological revolution is animprovement of the communication system. Communication is a critical component of a successful organizational structure. Effective communication is essential for the performance of primary functions of the management such as planning, coordinating, organizing, directing and controlling. It ensures a good interaction between the management and the employees of an organization.
Communication is also essential in giving orders and instructions to the business operations. Before the industrial revolution period, the mode of communication in business operations was mainly by word of mouth and simple written communication (Brynjolfsson and Hitt 2003, p. 800). However, as the industrial revolution took place, towards the end of 15th century, the process of communication changed due to the invention of paper and wax culminating in the development of the printing press. The 18th century was marked by various technological changes characterized by the significant discoveries in electronic means of communication. The 18th century was characterized by more innovations that improved the process of communication in an organizational setting. For instance, the typewriter was discovered in the 1800s. In 1838, thetelegraphwas invented. Ten years later, the telephone was discovered. In 1896, both the radio and the computer were invented, making the process of communication even more effective (Conti and Giordano 2014, p.71).
According to Conti and Giordano(2014, p.86), the impact of technological change in international businesses was significantly felt in the 19th-century technological innovations. For example, the television was discovered in 1927. The discovery of the television facilitated international trade because multinational business organizations could use the television to monitor demand and supply trend in the global market, hence making it possible for such businesses to make informed decisions pertaining purchase and sale of products. In 1893, the internet was discovered. According to Brynjolfsson and Hitt 2003, p. 794), the discovery of the computer networks and the internet paved the way for the development of more convenient, faster and efficient modes of communication. Through the internet, the management electronic mail, messaging and video calling were developed. The internet also facilitated the development of video conferencing applications through, which the management of multinational business organizations could effectively communicate to management teams in satellite branches at the touch of a button (Chai-Arayalert and Nakata 2011, p.220).
Speed and cost are the two major strengths associated with technological changes in the ICT (Nolan, Zhang and Liu 2008, p. 35). In the pre-Information Communication Technology times, communication to overseas countries required the sender to type and retype the desired number of copies needed. Later on, the typed letter could then be sent through postal services. This method was very slow and costly too regarding the money required to buy apostage stamp and the time taken to convey the mail. Moreover, the method was associated with increased risk of loss or manipulation of the information before it reached the target recipient. However, the invention of computers and the internet has made the communication process faster and less costly. The technological changes have led to adrastic reduction of the time take and the cost of sending messages (Nolan, Zhang and Liu 2008, p. 37). The management can easily prepare, reproduce and send messages to hundreds of people all over the world in a matter of minutes via the internet.
Improved business operations
The strength of technological change in international businesses has also been identifiedthrough revolutionized business operations. The business processesfor international organizations has development over time from complex and slow operations into simple, fast and efficient operation systems (Schwab and Sala-i-Martin 2011). Technological innovations have led to theimprovement of business operations through advancement in machinery and operationprocesses and procedures. The invention of more effective machines and equipment has significantly improved the day to day operations in a business hence leading to increased productivity. As discussed in the section above, technological change has been associated with improved communication. With improved communication, there is usuallya good interaction among the employees of all cadres and management levels. The workers carrying out technical roles can communicate well with the management and the support team. This makes the operation systems to be smooth with minimal interruptions and operational risk (Bustos 2011, p. 330).
The ability of a multilateral organization to make use of the ICT innovations in communication may significantly place the business at a better hand in producing optimally at the lowest cost hence gaining a competitive advantage in the international market (Porter 2011). Technological innovations have also led to theinvention of better, faster, efficient machines that improve productivity. For instance, the invention of the robotics has led to increased productivity in all field in, which it has been applied. Based on computer and ICT innovations, the robotic system works in the same manner as a human being, except the fact that it is controlled and manipulated by man. This technology has been technically manipulated to suit unfavorable conditions hazardous to man, such as in warfare and astrology (Munyua and Adera 2009, p. 5).
Business organizations have often competed in inventing new machines and equipment so that they can gain a competitive advantage in the global market (Nolan, Zhang and Liu 2008, p. 35). The organization that can effectively utilize changes in the ICT to produce more goods or services at the lowest cost can get the lion share of the global market since it can offer the same quality of products at lower prices and attract more customers (Bustos 2011, p. 321). International organizations have also made use of ICT to make their functions more cost efficient as compared to their competitors in other parts of the world. For instance, automation of production process has seen business reduce the number of employees who could have carried out the same function manually. Consequently, automation of business functions leads to reduced labor cost hence resulting in low production cost. In most cases, low production costs are translated into therelativelylow price of the organization’s goods and services hence doing the business to become more competitive in the market (Bustos 2011, p. 330).
The use of ICT in marketing
As a are a result of the stiff competition in the global market, multilateral organizations attach a lot of importance to marketing as a way of attracting more customers as well as maintaining loyalty with the current clients (Dunning 2013). Technological changes have relived international businesses from the slow and costly methods of print advertising (Rohm et al. 2004, p. 273). The invention of the internet has facilitated online advertising platforms, which are more efficient to use (Petersen, Ogden and Carter 2007, p. 18). Due to the extensive use of social media, online marketing has been an effective way of finding the target population for the organization’s goods and services. Marketing on online venue ranges from basic informational websites to search engines, to online product sale (Chong and Shafaghi 2009, p. 373). International businesses have extensively used online marketing to inform the potential buyers of the existence of the goods and services they offer as well as changes that may be integrated into the process. In this case, the international businesses make use of the strength of ICT innovations to attain an extensive market and increase its sales volume (Brynjolfsson and Hitt 2003, p. 794).
Weaknesses of technological change for international businesses
The ability of international organizations to fully exploit the strengths of the technology changes discussed above depends on their capacity to readdress the weaknesses associated with technological revolution (Koomey et al…2011, p. 47). The shortcomings of the technological changes refer to the obstacles that accrue to technological innovations. The weaknesses of the ICT revolution are discussed in the following section.
The ICT and technological revolutions have invented the cloud server system in which a large amount of data is stored. Though this technology has the strength of storing large data, it is also risky to cybercrime (Marston 2011, p.177).Security breaches involving the ICT may be as a result of illegal access to login credentials, attack by computer viruses or software hackers who manipulate the security setting of software from a remote point to gain access. Once unauthorized access is obtained, sensitive information about the business organization may be leaked out to the business competitors, an act that could lead to business failure. The ICT system may also be attacked by a computer virus leading to loss of sensitive information. Even though reliance on the ICT systems may boost the business productivity through increased speed of operations, accuracy, and efficiency, the companies cannot entirely depend on them due to the risk of security breaches (Srivastava 2007, p. 60).
Davis (2003, p. 201) states that cybercrime entails a variety of devious illegal practices that target to breach an organization’s ICT security. The purpose of the cyber attacker to break into an organization’s ICT system may be to get away with the organization’s financial information or its customers with the aim of stealing from them. The crime may also focus on denying the business service to the website or with an evil purpose of installing a virus that destroys the company information, or that monitors its online activities (Nolan Zhang, and Liu 2008, p. 30). Security breaches on ICT have three main effects on the international businesses. One of the effects associated with security breaches is the added cost of protection (Aspara et al. 2011, p. 627). The international businesses incur the cost of identifying risks, establishing new and safer operating procedures and installing protective software such as anti-virus programs. Moreover, the ICT systems require being tested regularly to ensure that they are potentially secure from cybercrimes (Fu, Pietrobelli and Soete 2011, p. 1205). Secondly, ICT security breaches may also lead to achange of business operations. The international businesses must keep on changing its operational procedure to prevent registering a track of events and processes, which can be emulated by cyber criminals. Worse still, competing businesses may also get access to the business information system with an ill motive of knowing some of the secrets it uses as a way of edging the business out in competition (Oosterlaken and van den Hoven 2011, p. 66).
Prone to mechanical and technical defects
The more advanced the ICT technology is, the more prone it may be regarding technical breakdown or occurrence of mechanical defects (Munyua and Adera 2009, p. 4). Though modern technologies focus on this ideal, the weaknesses cannot be adequately redressed. This exposes the business in theproduction of faulty products. The system failures may be caused by poor development practices, poor interface, and faulty hardware (Taffel 2012, p. 17). Due to thecomplexity of modern software, failure to adequately test the software may lead to system failure. A good user interface facilitates then interaction between the computer software and the user. However, a poor user interface may cause significant user challenges that may make the user input the wrong system data hence leading to system failure. Under such cases, even if the developer of the system had created the system with minimal chances of failing, it will eventually fail since the cause of the failure is the user and not the software (Abubakar and Tasmin2012).
High purchase and installation cost
According to Carpenter and Petersen(2002, p. 300), the cost of buying new ICT machines is usually very high due to the technological input used to manufacture the machines. Installation of the ICT machines is also very high due to the technical expertise required to assemble and install the machines in the business’ premises. For instance, the cost of a webserver for a small business may range from $499 to $1,000 and $4,000 for an enterprise edition operating system. This accountsfor approximately 20% of the total amount of money required for installation, upgrading, and maintenance of the web server. This cost is relatively high for small businesses established with a focus on expanding to other parts of the world. Consequently, only international companies with significant capital may be able to facilitate, the purchase, installation, upgrading, and maintenance of ICT machines (Fu, Pietrobelli and Soete 2011, p.1205).
Since the industrial revolution era, innovations in Information Communication and Technology has evolved through thediscovery of various machines and equipment. The inventions in ICT have resulted in an increased level of production within international businesses. This has been as a consequence of the high speed and convenience associated with modern ICT technology. The invention of computers, computer networks, and the internet are the fundamental changes that have witnessed a shift in business operations leading to increased competition pressure in the global markets. This paper discussed the strengths and weaknesses associated with the changes that have occurred over time on ICT and technological innovations. Some of the strengths associated with technological strength include improved communication systems, improved business operations and the application of ICT in marketing. On the other hand, the weaknesses related to technological changes include security breach, high cost, and susceptibility to mechanical defects and system failures. The ability for an international business to optimally utilize the strengths of technological revolution and redressing the associated weaknesses is one of the ways in, which such organization can thrive in the competitive global market.
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