IT Matters: The “It” Thing of Today

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Photo courtesy of appliedtech.iit.edu

Have you ever imagine what our lives would have been without cellular phones, computers or the internet? Life would have been so simple yet a little less convenient than what we currently have.

Things like cellular phones, computers, the internet and many others are all products of various applied knowledge brought about by information technology (IT) as discussed in my previous blog entries. Information technology as defined by Reynolds (2010) includes all tools that capture, store, process, exchange and use information.

So, does IT really matter? My answer to this would be yes. IT is the “it” thing of today. Information technology has evolved to become the basic unit of our everyday lives – in organizational and personal growth and development.

More and more organizations nowadays continue to thrive and exist because of a solid information system – infrastructures in IT that integrate employees and company procedures as previously discussed. Companies invest a lot in their information systems as they know they will be able to harness great returns on these.

Office tools, the more popular ones under the brand of Microsoft Office, and the like help employees in improving their productivity. The use of word processors, spreadsheets and many others hastened jobs such as reports and presentations.

Companies also made use of tools to improve communication and support collaboration within the organization. Wireless networks paved way for employees to work on assigned tasks even outside their designated workplaces or even in the comforts of their own homes. They have made use of various collaboration tools to make this possible. These include web conferencing, instant messaging, and online forums amongst others. As the company’s main concern is to get tasks done by employees whenever and wherever they maybe, these tools are every company and employee’s best buddies.

IT also drastically altered the business landscape. Business models have changed because of the advent of the internet. E-business emerged; this created a wider market scope and audience reach that made organizations adapt it to cope with competition. Business and trade have become more convenient with just a click as your usual brick and mortar store’s products are now made available on the internet.

Now that a borderless marketplace has been created, organizations became more efficient in delivering products and services to their clients. IT also paved way for companies to develop their own enterprise resource planning systems. ERPs help organizations in such a way that they can easily access business data, so work is more efficient and work processes are streamlined (Reynolds, 2010). To illustrate, when a customer purchases a product on the internet, the order processing department can easily detect the number of inventory left, if the product being purchased is available or not. At the same time, the procurement department can also see the number of inventory left so when the time comes that they need to re-order, the system automatically sends a prompt thus out-of-stock situation is minimized, if not eliminated. ERP systems mostly adapted and customized to fit an organization’s operation are SAP and Oracle amongst others.

The stiffer the competition has become, organization have also become more resourceful in order to know what the market wants and how to best appeal to them. IT also covers the area of business intelligence where various applications and practices are used to extract data from various customer touchpoints. These are maintained in databases of companies and processed to produce information that can be used to predict future actions of their target market as well as support management decisions.

Likewise, organizations maintain a set of experts that are usually considered a competitive advantage. These experts have knowledge that were gained through experience in the field. This is known as tacit knowledge. In order for an organization to maintain its level of operation, this tacit knowledge should be shared. Thus, organizations nowadays resort to knowledge management. Companies make use of IT that support knowledge management: Web 2.0 Technologies which include blogs, forums, RSS feeds and wikis which were also discussed in the previous blog posts.

Also, one of the products of IT that has greatly influenced they way we live is social media. Who in this age haven’t heard of Facebook, or doesn’t have a Facebook account? Facebook is only one of the numerous social media sites that foster knowledge and information sharing and collaboration. Social media sites such as Linkedin amongst others also presented new opportunities that can better improve an individual’s career. Companies nowadays heavily rely on social media to create awareness and interest and induce desire and action towards the products and services they offer. Social media has become a platform for marketing and advertising for most companies. It is a gift to everyone who knows how to use them according to their needs.

Information technology has come a long way that we have become very dependent to what it can offer, both on personal and organizational growth and development. Responsible use of IT will surely make our lives more convenient . As managers, IT should be befriended considering that it has become a core tool in today’s business process and landscape, it can make or break an organization.

IT is not the next big thing anymore. It has become the generation’s “it” thing that life can become unimaginable without it.

Reference: Reynolds, GW. Information Technology for Managers. Course Technology, Cengage Learning. 2010

 

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Social Media Lurker-No-More

Lurker.

Root word, “Lurk” which means, in computers, to read messages written by other people on the Internet in a newsgroup, chat room, etc., without writing any messages yourself, as defined by Merriam Webster Dictionary.

I admit. I was once a social media lurker. I have accounts in various social media sites, from Friendster back then, to Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, Pinterest, Foursquare and a whole lot more. I created all of those just for the sake of creating them – so I won’t be left behind by my peers and with what’s “in” without actually using them such as participating in conversations, posting photos, and all other things that should be done by an active social media user.

I never really believed in the promise that’s brought by social networking and social media. My defense back then would be “Why would I invest most of my time in something that is virtual when I can do all of those things personally?” in reference to making new friends, chatting and the like.

However, it is our nature as humans, especially young ones that we adapt to constant changes especially that the advent of various technologies pushed us to do almost all of the things in a more convenient way using the internet. So, I gave in. I came to befriend and make the most of what a social media site can offer.

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Photo courtesy of socialmediatraining.in

As a social media user I have discovered that more than making new friends, sharing experiences and interests, social media sites can provide me with benefits and advantages:

  1. On finding better opportunities. Social media sites such as LinkedIn serve as platforms for professionals to showcase their online resumes to prospective companies. Companies also maintain pages and accounts in these sites for recruitment and company updates. I see to it that my LinkedIn account is updated and in place so it can come handy in case I need to use this. 🙂
  1. On catering to my professional and academic needs. I usually join professional groups and forums. I usually read topics and discussions related to my field of expertise and interests such that I could be up to date to various news and issues. I also seek for assistance of other group members whenever I need grad school references – for my outputs and papers. I find them reliable such that I can easily check on their LinkedIn profiles and companies to which they are connected. I get good insights from them most of the time. Me and my grad school classmates also maintain a group where we share our notes and report materials for reference of everyone.
  1. On learning something new of my interest. Learning something new seems to require so little effort when you incorporate them in your social media sessions. I always browse articles of various topics usually “Do-It-Yourself” ones, video tutorials, or just anything that captures my attention. I maintain a Pinterest account for all of these and other times I download them and store in my archive for future use.

The benefits and advantages I have mentioned above have made me outdo the lurking and convert this to discovering and learning.

As a social media “lurker-no-more”, here’s my personal commitment on its responsible use:

  1. I will use social media more for my personal growth and development
  2. I will not post things that are of sensitive and highly confidential information
  3. I will maintain strict and high privacy settings on all my social media accounts
  4. I will maintain being a good social media citizen – no to foul language and cyber bullying
  5. I will post only things that matter.

‘Coz there are better things to do in social media than lurking – it’s learning!

Choose Freeware. Choose Original!

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Photo courtesy of http://www.nytimes.com : Pirated copies of MS Windows XP and computer software sold in China

When I was about 8 years old, there’s this distorted lyrics of the Christmas Song “12 Gifts of Christmas”. It goes like “On the 5th day of Christmas, my true love sent to me, limang pirated CDs…” As a kid back then, I know what a CD is but the word “pirated” sounded foreign to me. I went to ask my aunt who was a lot better in explaining things. She said pirated means not original, a copycat but looks, sounds, and feels like the original but cheaper than the original and went to show me a pirated copy of her favorite movie “The Parent Trap”.

As a kid, I said to myself then, if that’s so, pirated maybe good only to find out later that it’s the other way around.

By definition, the act of illegally copying someone’s product or invention without permission or the unauthorized use of another’s production, invention or conception especially infringement of a copyright is known as piracy (Merriam-Webster, Inc., 2016). Products created by this act are what we call pirated ones like the mentioned earlier, a pirated CD.

Pirated products can be a CD of your favorite movie, a copy of your favorite online game and the like. One of the most commonly pirated objects nowadays are softwares of our personal computers and/or gadgets commonly manufactured by software companies such as Microsoft Corporation and many others.  This is another type of piracy known as software piracy.

Pirated softwares are cheaper that the market for these kinds of products continue to thrive. Original ones usually are twice to five times the price of the pirated copies thus customers would opt to buy pirated softwares. Though good for the customers, adverse effects are evident to software companies that a big part of their supposed to be income are eaten by this pirated software manufacturers. This is true mostly for countries that lack a comprehensive piracy policy and implementing agency such as our country, the Philippines.

However, there are also software manufacturers that offer these products for free known as “freeware”. Take the case of Microsoft Office application we usually use as office tools for reports, etc. Open Office.Org had already released its version of this office application that we can use. Open Office tools are free and most of all original. So for those who still choose to use pirated softwares I think, it is their choice to use pirated copies instead of original ones.

Software companies can also help lessen if not eliminate the use of pirated softwares and products. For instance, companies can at least lower the price of their products so those who really want to avail them can get a bigger chance of doing so. Another is, software companies who develop freewares should actively promote and extensively advertise their products highlighting the benefit of acquiring the product through “free downloads”. This may be reinforced by free banner ads in commonly visited web and social media sites such as Facebook and the like. Software companies just need to be creative and innovative in marketing these products.

In the Philippines, I know that we are not guilt free when it comes to patronizing these pirated products and softwares. Even, I cannot say that I haven’t done it but at least through various blogs like this and discussions on the internet, we can be aware that piracy is more detrimental to companies in the long run than beneficial. After all, we Filipinos wouldn’t want to end up in top list of the worst in the world again, right?

So, cliché as it sounds, Stop piracy! Choose original! 🙂

Or better yet, Choose freeware! Choose Original! 🙂

 

 

 

Creating Successors Through Knowledge Management

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Photo courtesy of gettyimages.com
“Kaya nga tinatawag ang isang taong successful kasi meron siyang maituturing na successor!” This may sound like a play of words from one of my personal mentors and idols in my previous organization but truth is told, you can never really say you have attained ultimate success when you don’t have something to leave behind – some may call this their legacy. My mentor also added “Yung confident ka, na umalis ka man, alam mong meron at merong papalit na kasinggaling mo na makakagawa ng trabahong maiiwan mo.”

Though indirectly, my mentor was already talking about knowledge management (KM) – a practice concerned with increasing awareness, fostering learning, speeding collaboration and innovation and exchanging insights as according to George W. Reynolds (2010).

We all know that the people in an organization are one of its most important assets. However, unlike any other asset, people come and go. Also, they are hard to replace in terms of expertise because not all knowledge they have gained are well documented (explicit knowledge) but most of these were gained from experiences and are often hard to convey and explain (tacit knowledge). KM’s ultimate goal is to transfer tacit knowledge from an expert to a novice so the impact of a lost expert is minimized or convert this tacit knowledge into explicit knowledge so knowledge is shared throughout the organization.

Through the experiences I had in my previous and present organization, I can attest that KM will surely benefit every organization.

  1. Preserve expertise of individuals leaving the organization for various reasons such as retirement, resignation, transfers, and many others. I have personally experienced being left on my own to do a work that I am not really familiar with. This was because my senior was fast tracked for promotion. I was left with no choice but to cope with the sudden increase in job scope. Though there are databases which can guide me through the “dos” of the job, I struggled in some of these which were not disclosed in the database. What I did was to call my senior every now and then to clarify these undisclosed matters. With proper KM initiatives, these could have been prevented. KM initiatives may range from a simple mentoring every after office hours or a buddy system between a senior and junior / an expert and a novice. Whereby little by little, the expert can be able to reveal to the novice how he/she does it best.
  2. Enhance expertise of people in the organization. In our organization email trails pertaining to various “consulta” especially legal ones are circulated to employees of concerned departments which served as their basis on how to deal with these situations when they arise.
  3. Exchange of ideas within the organization. Wouldn’t it be nice if a knowledge chat room will be implemented in our respective organizations? In this way, we can ask questions to expert employees and likewise received instant answers that we can apply in our daily work.

As beneficial as it is, certain barriers also prevent us from doing KM initiatives in our organization. Listed below are for me the biggest barriers in doing so.

  1. Time constraint. Competition is tougher nowadays that a day’s work of 8 hours is not enough. KM is a challenge when every employee hastens and aims of beating deadlines instead of sharing knowledge.
  2. Human nature and Competition. Sharing our tacit knowledge may deprive us the chance of having that competitive advantage over our peers and co-workers. That’s human nature and a strong barrier towards KM.

Knowledge management may need to overcome these mentioned barriers for an organization to continuously excel and preserve organization knowledge, skills and expertise. Surely when doing so, organizations can continuously excel and maintain the level of efficiency of employees, and the company more likely will succeed.

Time and time again, we should ask ourselves, what is success when you do not have a successor? Hone successors and make use of knowledge management.

“Knowledge is power but knowledge sharing is empowerment”.  Someone having the knowledge is someone who is always ready for battle being that knowledge as his/her weapon. While sharing that knowledge to someone is like giving him/her a weapon so he/she will be ever ready to any battle, with or without you.