How Does Technology Affect Business Decisions?

Technology makes information available to decision makers, helping to improve the quality and speed of decision making. Technology also makes it easier for people to collaborate so they can execute joint business decisions. Organizations use communication technology to update employees on business decisions and ensure the right people implement those decisions.
Technology provides the data to make informed business decisions.

Information

  • Individuals or groups who make business decisions need rapid access to information to formulate and justify their decisions. Information can include historical corporate data, customer records, market trends, financial data and competitor profiles. This information may reside in varying databases within an organization, however, making it difficult for decision makers to get a complete picture. Investing in a networked data management system enables organizations to store data in central locations that decision makers can access via a secure network.

Collection

  • Technology can also improve the collection of information needed for business decisions. Providing network links between a central database and local retail outlets, for example, enables organizations to collect the latest sales data and make decisions based on up-to-date information. Similarly, members of a supply chain can collect and share market and production data to make more accurate decisions about production and stock levels.

Process

  • Data alone cannot improve business decisions. According to Strategic Consultancy DSS Resources, data management must reflect decision-making processes. Many information technology (IT) departments believe that their responsibility is just to deliver large quantities of data to the decision maker’s desktop. Raw data, however, is unlikely to reflect the decision makers’ needs, creating a disconnect between IT and business.

Tools

  • The decision-making process consists of a number of stages including decision preparation, decision structuring, decision making, and decision management. Data requirements are different at each stage, so large volumes of raw data are unnecessary. Business intelligence software tools are available that allow users to select, analyze and manipulate data into the form they need at different stages of the process.

Groups

  • In many organizations, decision making is a group process, particularly for a project such as new product development. Technology supports decision making in a group environment by allowing all members to access essential data via a network. Groups can also use collaboration tools such as audio or video conferencing to conduct meetings between members in different locations as a way to speed up decision making.

How to Overcome Technology Barriers

It can rightly be stated that the present level of technology and innovation can be of greatest benefit to the largest number of people only when it is put to use. Interestingly, some of the barriers to using present technology are not availability or affordability but rather the fear of the unknown, the fear of learning something new. Other challenges include lack of opportunities, the education curve and “disruptive” technologies. These barriers can, however, be overcome, thereby accelerating technology adoption.
Identifying barriers to technology integration is the first step.

Instructions

  1. Identify the barriers that need to be overcome. These can be diverse and can include lack of tools and understanding of the technology as well as lack of support and motivation. Identifying and understanding the obstacles is the first step in any process of overcoming a barrier or challenge.
  2. Learn why it is necessary to integrate technology in a certain field. Consider the present and future implications of integrating and not integrating. In a classroom setting, this can be seen by considering how it will benefit the students in the future as well as the benefits to the teacher. For both groups, these benefits include increased productivity and motivation.
  3. Integrate with what is available. For example, in an organization that needs to improve customer and employee productivity, why not consider the freely available tools on the Internet and see how effective they are before moving on to premium versions? Social networks, for example, offer free productivity platforms that can be used to launch many products and services and also enhance interactions within and outside organizations.
  4. Start with small and fast projects before moving on to larger, time-consuming tasks. For example, the use of web video or Google Maps in a history class does not require huge investments of time and resources.
  5. Make technology integration a priority, and if necessary, ask for support. Use what is available to get started, and be flexible and open minded when using low-tech alternatives. During a semester or a quarter, integrate at least a new technology-based strategy, and work with others to get it adopted faster.
  6. Learn with your employees or students to reduce the learning curve. A technology that is learned within the classroom or office context tends to have more staying power than a one-shot workshop. Ask for suggestions, and let the employees or students determine how to best use the technology to improve productivity and efficiency.

How to Start an Information Technology Business

As small businesses continue to grow, many companies are choosing to forego the expense of employing a full time Information Technology department and instead choosing to utilize an information technology business to keep essential systems up and running. If you have an IT background and have dreamed of owning your own business, there are a few simple steps that will have you well on your way.

Instructions

  1. Have solid credentials. This means both knowledge and formal education. A degree in computer science will be helpful, as well as degrees in related fields of computer technology. Know what systems and software are in common use today, as well as some of the lesser known equivalents. Being able to articulate the range of your knowledge to prospective customers will help to build confidence plus also make it possible to appeal to a wider range of clients.
  2. Obtain a business license. This is usually not difficult to do. In most jurisdictions, the business license for starting up a service related business such as IT support requires filling out a few forms and paying a fee. Having the business license will provide you with a degree of legitimacy in the local business community and may open some doors as well.
  3. Set up an office. Even though much of your day will involve site visits to clients to run diagnostics on servers and related components and troubleshooting minor problems, you still need a permanent location with a phone, a desk, and a couple of chairs. The existence of the office, however humble, tells potential clients you are permanent and ill be around for the long haul.
  4. Acquire your own testing equipment and hardware. This will include portable devices you can use on site, as well as equipment that you keep at the office and use when it is necessary to bring a monitor, hard drive, or server into the office for more detailed work. Also, make sure you have the proper tools to open casings and work with motherboards and other internal components without constantly having to run out to buy something.
  5. Establish your basic fees. Many IT support businesses offer one to three packages of service for a monthly fee. The packages will specify what your normal and standard services will be each month, as they relate to maintenance, repair, consultations, and other IT related functions. Offering more than one package will make it possible to earn clients with varying ranges of support needs.
  6. Network in the community. Proactively ask existing customers for recommendations. Join the local chamber of commerce and show up at gatherings. Leave business cards posted on bulletin boards and other places where business cards are routinely collected. Find a few other small business owners in the area who are willing to pass out your cards and contact information in exchange for you returning the favor.

How Does Technology Impact Communication?

Technology is constantly altering the way we live our lives. From how we eat to how we travel and work to how we entertain ourselves, technology has become an integral part of our day. However, the aspect of our lives that has been most impacted is likely the way we communicate with one another. These changes have been for both better and worse, but have unequivocally impacted the way we interact with the people in our lives.

Technology is changing the way we communicate.

SpeedTechnology has amplified the rate at which we communicate with the world around us. Developments like email, instant messaging, texting, cell phones, Twitter, social networking sites like Facebook and Myspace, and video conferencing have allowed us to connect with each other at breakneck speeds. This has helped us in some ways by allowing us to get in touch with each other quickly for both business and emergency needs. However, with speed sometimes comes recklessness. In a heated moment, people may send a text or email they later come to regret, but can’t take back because it was sent in a matter of seconds.

A photo being posted to Instagram.

AccessibilityTechnology has changed how when contact each other, when, and where. With cell phone service being much more consistent than it was in the 1990s, and a growing market of smartphones with mobile internet and email access, messages can literally be transmitted anywhere at any time. This is uniquely helpful in a professional sense, because it allows you to stay in touch with colleagues when on a business trip or out of the country. Unfortunately, this accessibility can also become a burden. Blackberry phones have earned the nickname \”Crackberry,\” referencing a growing addiction to connectivity and a fast-paced lifestyle, perhaps distracting from other important communicative processes.

Constant accessibility can be a professional advantage, but a personal burden.

EfficiencyTechnology has greatly impacted the efficiency of our communicative acts. Instead of having to have a long conversation with a client about his kids and home life before asking a quick question about an order, a brief and to-the-point email can be sent to accomplish the same task. While this has made some business interactions a little easier, our reliance on technology to communicate with one another can sometimes lead to conflict. There is no nonverbal context to a text message or email, which means that sarcasm or jokes can sometimes be misinterpreted, leading to hurt feelings

Emails can be misinterpreted.

Family ConnectionsTechnology has made it easier for families to stay in contact with each other. Instead of having to rely on physical photographs being sent every couple of months, new parents can now send photo text messages (MSM) to proud grandparents every day. Video telephone calls made with platforms like Skype can let parents on overseas business trips talk to and see their kids. Members of the military can keep up to date with their family affairs and receive encouragement via email while deployed. The only time this becomes a problem is when technology becomes the only mode of connection, which can make more traditional family members feel isolated.

Technology can both help and hurt family connectedness.

NewsTechnology has exploded access to news for the public. We are able to communicate about events as they happen with platforms like Twitter or news tickers that can be downloaded to your desktop. Moreover, the internet has changed the way we communicate news by giving literally anyone a voice with blogs and websites. This free flow of information serves as a check on public figures sometimes, but can also lead to misinformation and confusion.

Technology has exploded access to news for the public.

How to Watch Fox News Live Stream on Your Computer

You’re at work, yet you want to keep up with the latest goings-on around the world. Stream Fox News live through your computer to view the latest happenings while you’re engaged in your 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. grind.
Stream Fox News live through your computer to track the latest news.

Instructions

  1. Turn on your computer and open a Web browser. Go to FoxNews.com.
  2. Click the “Watch Fox News.com Live” link on the right-hand side of the Home page.
  3. Download the appropriate plug-in if your computer prompts you to do so.
  4. Minimize the screen, and click and drag the window to adjust the size so it’s in a corner of your screen.
  5. Bookmark the page so you can quickly access it daily.

How to Become a Technology Consultant

A technology consultant provides support and system design expertise to companies and businesses looking to implement or upgrade an information technology network. To become a technology consultant, you can either get the proper training to qualify for internal, permanent positions with consulting companies or work for yourself on a contract basis.

Get the Training

  1. Do a 4-year bachelor’s degree in a technology-related field, such as computer science, information systems management or electronics. Since the focus of your consulting career is going to be providing technological support, you don’t need advanced, formal business training.
  2. Go on to take specialized courses in information technology once you graduate from college. Available through professional schools and other accredited institutions, IT education is a key way to signal yourself as a true professional in a world of “do-it-yourself” individuals without hard credentials.
  3. Consider adding a graduate degree to your education portfolio to give yourself an edge in the workplace.
  4. Keep your skill set up-to-date at all times as you get your career off the ground by enrolling in inexpensive technology classes at your local city college. Information technology changes fast. Change with it.

Start Working

  1. Do small-scale technology consulting on a freelance basis for independent businesses looking to implement some IT to their workplace. Advertise yourself locally, and work at reduced (or even free) rates until you have built up enough experience on your resume to start applying for jobs.
  2. Expect that you’ll need at least a couple of years of proven experience before you’ll start turning heads in the professional world as you try to become a technology consultant.
  3. Know that the technology consulting industry is roughly broken up into three categories: professional services, staffing companies and independents. Professional services companies are large IT consulting firms who employ a large, steady workforce to meet the needs of their clients. Staffing agencies, on the other hand, outsource IT professionals on a contract basis according to market demand.
  4. Keep an eye toward going into business for yourself, once you have built up an impressive enough resume and have access to a steady client base without the aid of an agency or consulting firm. To become an independent technology consultant, expect to work professionally for a period of at least 3 to 5 years before you’ll have the know-how to go out on your own.

How Does Technology Improve Customer Service?

Customer service is the lifeblood of any organization, and it is not just a department but must be the attitude of the entire company. Employees can be trained to provide the best service possible to the customer. However, if the technology is not adequate, customers, and employees, will quickly become disheartened and frustrated. A frustrated customer (or employee) can lead to lower company revenues through lost sales or lost productivity. Technology, used properly, can help employees work more efficiently and ease customer frustrations. There are various ways technology can be used to improve customer service.
How Does Technology Improve Customer Service?

Increased automation

  • Contact centers are increasingly using voice recognition and call-routing technologies. The customer can speak to a computer or press keys that will route him or her to the appropriate department to handle the request. Call routing improves customer service by allowing the customer to go straight to the person that can handle his or her needs. This saves the customer from repeating the request to numerous representative and ultimately saves time for the customer and saves money for the organization. Research technologies and consultants can help automate routine processes. Visit similar businesses to understand how they have implemented technology in their operating processes. Interview other businesses to discover how automation has impacted their business positively and negatively.

Customer empowerment

  • Technology also empowers the customer. With technology, the customer can get what is needed from the company. Self-checkout lines have become popular in retail outlets. The customer goes into the store to get what is needed and can check out without interacting with the company’s associates. The customer is satisfied because he or she can quickly get exactly what is needed, purchase and pay for the item without a long wait. The customer may also choose not to self-checkout and prefer to use a cashier line. This, again, increases customer service because he or she has an option. The customer has control over how he or she interacts with the organization. Look to see what the company can allow the customers to access themselves. When evaluating, be prepared to change or completely eliminate some processes. Simplify the processes to make it easier for the customer.

Customer education

  • Colleges have used technology to literally educate their customers, the students. Technology has created the ability to provide online classes to students. Online colleges tout the fact that students can learn at their convenience. Online classes are often smaller than regular, university classes. The students work in a virtual classroom with a virtual whiteboard. Companies also can educate their customers about items as simple as operating hours or as drastic as company shutdowns. Airlines and hotels use technology to send customers reminders of flight check-ins or hotel reservations. This not only helps customers by helping them remember important events on behalf of the company, but it also helps the company by providing a way to confirm the customer’s initial request. Keep the external and internal channels of customer communication updated. For example, the company websites should have the most current information; this includes external websites and the company’s intranet. Have an action plan for quickly and accurately updating the company’s information. This plan should include the use of websites, social media and phone messages.

More channels of ordering

  • The internet, telephone and even social media have helped to provide customers with increased, more efficient ways of ordering products. In addition, customers can order a product or service when it is convenient for them. Review the organization’s channels of ordering. If the customer cannot order by telephone anytime, provide other channels of ordering such as through the company’s website, blog or even through social media. Check to ensure the customer can provide payment information securely via the internet and telephone. If the customer orders via mail or fax, ensure that the organization is PCI-compliant, which also keeps customer payment information secure.

Cut costs

  • Technology means getting more done in a smaller amount of time. Use technology to increase the number of products produced or to complete more processes. For example, technology is used to create more cars in a shorter amount of time. If technology were not available, the cost to create a car would be very expensive. In turn, the price of the car would be burdensome to the average family. However, with technology, the company can create the car at a fraction of the cost and charge the customer less. Technology keeps costs low while providing a quality product to the customer. Begin using technology in those areas where there is “low-hanging fruit.” For example, instead of making paper copies to send to other departments, scan the documents and place them on a shared server. This saves money in office supplies, time in document distribution and allows the receiving departments the ability to always access the information.

Legal & Ethical Issues in Technology

The advent of technology has raised a host of legal and ethical issues that are unique to the 21st century. From personal privacy online, to the appropriate uses of new technology, to copyright and intellectual property on the Internet, the legal and ethical issues in technology are multifaceted and complex. Because of the ever-evolving nature of technology, new ethical and legal considerations are constantly arising to challenge ethicists and legal professionals alike.
New technology presents new legal and ethical issues.
Appropriate UseOne of the biggest ethical concerns, which often also becomes a legal issue, is the appropriate use of technology. As technology advances in its capabilities, age-old ethical questions are raised and brought into the realm of public discussion. The advancement of stem cell research, for example, brought with it a host of ethical and legal implications for scientists and politicians supporting it.

Earlier developments in cloning technology raised similar debates regarding the definition of “human” and the ethical obligations of the biological sciences. In the realm of non-scientific technology, the development of technology for military use has raised questions about the responsibilities inherent in creating technology that can help encourage or exacerbate war and genocide.

The appropriate use of technology is one of the biggest ethical concerns.

PrivacyPrivacy is a particularly hot-button issue in technology, considering the pervasive nature of the Internet in people’s daily lives. Many websites collect user data, from usernames and passwords to personal information such as addresses and phone numbers, without the explicit permission of users. Selling this information is widely considered unethical, but is often in a legal grey area because the user provides the data in the first place.

Similarly, the use of Internet monitoring technology in the school and workplace has raised questions about where to draw the line between personal Internet use and public resource use. On a larger scale, the use of technology by some governments to infringe on the privacy rights of their citizens is a troubling legal and ethical issue being dealt with in the legal systems of many countries.

Privacy is a hot button issue in technology.

CopyrightCopyright and intellectual property rights are also major issues that have taken the public spotlight with the advent of technology. The development of the Internet as a publishing medium created a forum where copyright infringement became extremely easy and almost unavoidable for many creators. Software piracy and the battle of copyright holders to exert control over their intellectual property is a fight that is played out on a daily basis online and in the courts.

Copyright and intellectual property rights are major issues that have come into light lately.

 

How to Use Technology to Save Time

When time is money, apps and software can help you conserve it.
Whether you’re spending too much time getting bogged down by email or your life seems to revolve around meetings, there’s no doubt that you could stand to shave off mindless minutes at work. Modern time-saving technology goes way beyond word processing and spreadsheets. With the use of a smartphone and a few computer applications that help you hold meetings, manage your tasks or keep you from time-wasting social media, you can make better use of the precious few hours in the workday.

Scheduling and Task Management

  • Use basic scheduling tools such as your Outlook calendar to lay out your daily tasks. Having a set schedule not only helps you stay on task, but it also alerts others you work with — such as a secretary or your staff — to when you’re available for impromptu questions, and when you shouldn’t be disturbed. This saves the time of having to contact everyone individually. To ensure you’re using your allotted time wisely, set a timer for each task. Apps such as TomatoTimer or Toggl help manage the time you spend on each item.

Manage Social Media

  • If you’re using social media to promote your company, you can spend a lot of time sending tweets, posting photos to Instagram, or checking in on Facebook. To save time, download a social media management tool that lets you check on multiple platforms — and post from them — all at once. Buffer, HootSuite and SproutSocial are some of the options to try. If you find yourself wasting way too much time on social media for personal use, download a blocking program, such as AntiSocial or LeechBlock, that only allows you access to your feeds during certain hours of the day.

Meet Electronically

  • Personal interaction with clients and customers is valuable, but it can also really eat up time. Instead of meeting face-to-face with that important client every week — which requires a drive across town — use an application such as Skype or Apple’s native FaceTime to meet via video chat. The same goes for meetings you have with co-workers or colleagues. Instead of spending time walking across the company campus and then waiting for everyone to assemble, spend five minutes checking in via WebEx or GoogleHangouts.

Automate Where You Can

  • If you’re a business manager or owner who spends time paying office bills, managing inventory or scheduling staff, you owe it to yourself to automate those systems. If you own a bakery, for example, it might take some time to break down your ingredients into recipe sizes and enter them into an inventory system to manage your baking inventory. But in the end, it will save you time by helping you assess how much inventory you need on a daily or weekly basis. Apps such as Inventory Tracker and Lettuce keep track of goods you have on hand and let you know when it’s time to order more. This saves you from having to sort out every detail on your own. You can also save time by setting up automatic payments for your bills so don’t have to spend time writing out checks.

How Does Information Technology Affect Health Care?

Health care is one of the last large industries to widely adopt information technology (IT). Health-care businesses are steadily automating business, clinical and diagnostic processes and using the resulting information to help diagnose and treat patients. According to Dr. Leroy Hood, director of the Institute for Systems Biology in Seattle, health care will become primarily an information science in the first part of the 21st century.
Information technology and health care

Claims Processing

  • The first widespread use of information technology in health care was automated claims processing. Electronic processing of medical claims by care providers and insurance companies speeds up the approval of claims and payments to clinicians.

Electronic Health Records

  • Electronic health records (EHRs) allow patient data to be shared across the care spectrum by primary care physicians, nurses, labs and specialists. Diagnosing and treating illness require the patient’s medical and treatment history to be available for anyone who sees a particular patient. EHRs save clinicians time by not having to search for information or duplicate it in multiple locations.

Diagnostics and Disease Management

  • IT enables faster, more accurate diagnosis of disease. Using IT, clinicians can assemble data about all aspects of a patient’s care, consult with specialists remotely and get evaluation of lab data and images by specialists around the world in real time. IT can also assist patient safety by automating the cross-checking of information like drug interactions and set up reminders for follow-up with patients who have chronic diseases.

Social Media

  • As health care becomes more information based, personalized and even consumer driven, social media play a larger role in information sharing. Social media outlets allow patients with specific diseases to share information about treatments and outcomes with one another and with clinicians. As the data sets at social media sites grow, they have increasing clinical value for research.

Genomics

  • The sequencing and publishing of the human genome on the Internet opened a new field of genomics and personalized medicine. An individual’s genetic blueprint contains information about susceptibility to different types of disease and disease bio-markers for specific diseases like Lou Gehrig’s disease. As science learns to turn different genes on and off, new gene-based therapies for a wide variety of diseases become possible. IT speeds this effort by enabling remote collaboration and information sharing among researchers.