How can a regular person evaluate ISM?

29 May 2008

Organisations may arrive at the need for an information system through a number of alternative avenues. It may be a response to an known problem, the realisation of an established ISM strategy, a result of a business process redesign (Davenport,1993), or even imitation of a competitor’s tactics. A meticulous system is initiated with specific business goals in mind, and with a set of primary objectives being sought by the introduction of the system. These objectives constitute the expected benefits that have to be comparatively evaluated against costs, in order to justify it.The costs associated with developing a particular information system are relatively easier to measure in respect to the direct one. Indirect costs arising from implementation set-backs or from organisational resistance to change are virtually impossible to assess a priority.However, in comparative terms, it is significantly more difficult to obtain hard evidence of the expected benefits than it is of the costs. Brown (1994, p. 187) distinguishes between hard and soft benefits. Hard benefits are a direct result of the introduction of the information system and are easily measured. According to Brown (1994), soft benefits include at least intangible, indirect and strategic.Hard benefits are usually related to cost reduction, such as the reduction in data-entry staff made possible by the introduction of an electronic ordering system or to revenue generation, such as the increased through-put as a result of a new production control system.Such measurable benefits are relatively easy to incorporate in traditional investment appraisal techniques. The problem of measurement discussed above is mainly related to the remaining three categories of so-called “soft” ISM benefits .Intangible benefits can be attributed to particular applications but they cannot be easily expressed in quantitative terms. Benefits of this type arise, for example, with the introduction of a decision support system. Such systems are primarily expected to improve the quality of decision making as well as the job structure of their users.


It is difficult to define “quality of decision making” and “jobstructure”. Second, even if this is achieved, it may still be difficult to assign a quantitative measure of improvement in advance (eg monetary).Indirect benefits are potentially easy to measure but cannot be wholly attributable to the proposed investment and can only be realised as a result of further investments,enabled by the new system.Strategic benefits refer to positive impacts that are realised in the long run and usually come as a result of the synergistic interaction among a number of contributing factors. They are the outcome of, for example, a new business strategy or a better market positioning of the organisation, which can only be partially attributed to a given ISM. Such benefits are  difficult to quantify in advance due to their very nature and to the risk associated with their realisation.


Summary:- It must be noted that rarely does one information system yield one type of benefits alone. Any given information system can be expected to deliver a range of various types of benefits. Moreover, different kinds of systems can produce different combinations of types of benefits,thus a regular individua apply  this approach to understand the basis of ISM.



Summary-Making the Summaries

26 April 2008

For new readers, welcome to the Summary-Makers’ Insight!  I hope you have enjoyed and/or found useful some of our previous posts.  Seeing as we have had quite a bit to say already, I figured it was about time for a summary-making of our summary-making (a little recursive summarizing, if you will).  But before I do that, I’ll give you a quick dramatic summary of what summary-making is all about:

I’m sure all of us are aware of many of the players in this complex drama we call Infomation Systems Management.  There are the Boogiemen – villains and naysayers who often nitpick the technical details and question the value of ISM, but who still bring very valid light to real problems.  There are the Question Keepers, who make sure we ask the right questions (though seem to rarely give us the answers we crave).  There are the Champions, the evangelists of the new technologies and systems ISM brings us, who can promise the world, and every so often deliver it.  We have The Keepers of the Treasure, who keep what we’ve got running, but can get a bit snippy if there’s too much change.  And we can’t forget the Script Writers, who rarely get their hands dirty from their thrones, but at least keep everyone going the same direction.  All of these actors (and more) play their ongoing roles, and fight thier battles.

We, the Summary-Makers, try to step out of the fray and see the whole picture.  We understand the value and strength of each perspective, and we take it upon ourselves to represent a broad and balanced view by using our most cherished tool: the summary.

So, without further ado, here are some summaries:

– Web services (such as Google Apps) are commoditizing basic computing for business, which will add value to the business world as a whole by decreasing the costs of ISM.

– The proliferation of integrated mobile devices will serve to increase the reliability of the web services that complement them, which business will be able to harness.  Despite the locked-down nature of these devices, the innovation and creativity of the online world will not be comprimised.

– The value of Information Systems Management is in the connections between those three concepts.

We as summary makers summarise the need to forsee, invest and understand ISM and look through the cultural perspective how its connecting people and how ISM technologies have created convinience for living beings and how as normal people we could evaluate it.

Is ISM the future?

22 April 2008

 In the emerging markets Information system technologies are changing the framework of business.According to Todd stephens we could visualize ISM 10 yrs from now .We could refer to this link




We could look at examples of industries and try and understand in the direction ISM is progressing .John Cross IT Outsourcing:  British Petroleum’s Competitive Approach,Harvard Business Review,  1995. In 1993, BP Exploration Operating Co. Ltd., the $13 billion division of British Petroleum Co. that explores for and produces oil and gas, outsourced all its information technology operations in an effort to cut costs, gain more flexible and higher quality ISM resources, and refocus the IT department on activities that directly improve the overall business. BP Exploration took a different path to outsourcing than most companies have taken. The company sought a solution that would allow it both to buy ISM services from multiple suppliers and to have the pieces delivered as if they came from a single supplier. To that end, three contractors were hired and required to work together to deliver a single seamless service. This arrangement–multiple IT suppliers that act as one–is the cornerstone of the company’s outsourcing strategy. The IT department has final accountability for ISMservices, but it is not mired in the operations.  

According to Mahmoud  M. Watad, Frank J. Di Sanzo in their case study  of Synergism of telecommuting and office automation, 2000, .A company’s sales workforce must be able to present their products and services using state-of-the-art personal computer technology. Communicating  effectively with the company’s main office and the  salesforce working in the field must be able to collect and transmit order data from remote locations. A debate of how a company combined salesforce automation with a telecommuting program to create 2 new business strategies designed to improve organizational performance is presented. A ISM framework for conducting a cost/benefit analysis is also provided. It is concluded that the start-up cost of the telenetwork program was high because the IT infrastructure was not current; however, the direct costs and savings offset each other within 3 to 4 years. This shows where ISM is trying to fill in the gap.
 Further Philip W. Yetton, Kim D.  Johnston and Jane F.  Craig in their case study of IT and strategic change, 1994.Their thought process is that in traditional theories of how ISM  is applied, a firm develops a business strategy, then chooses the structure and management processes, aligns ISM and ensures that employees are trained and their roles are well designed.  Scrutiny is presented of a case in which business transformation occurred along a different, almost reverse, path to fit, through the incremental adoption of ISM.  At Flower and Samios, a small architectural firm located in Australia, business strategy emerged gradually and was an outcome, rather than a driver, of change.  The organisation shows how individual mastery, organizational learning, and the management of risk are critical components of a strategic change in which ISM  becomes an integral part of a firm’s core business processes.

 Summary:- Only by relinquishing operations could  employees begin to focus on te core of doing business instead of just running the business.ISM peeps in to the future can gives a broader outlook.  


Web Services and the Mobile Convergence Revolution

22 April 2008

Is The Future of Web Services in Question?
Slide to Unlock...A recent post on referring to net Guru Carl Zittrain’s recent book predicts the death of the Net by tethering it to locked-down devices such as the iPhone.  The security fears and hassles of spam are quoted as pushing the regular user towards heavily protected devices and workstations, and Zittrain argues that this movement will stifle the innovation and entrepreneurship that has made the web what it is.

 While this is likely true, I believe that we’re also likely to see business consolidation online which will lead to greater consistency of web services for business users.

While much of the innovation and creativity of the internet has come from it’s unregulated and ad-hoc nature, the strength of a business paying for the development of a functional and useful piece of technology can’t be ignored, and as the iPhone itself has proven, you can’t underestimate the power of the hacker community in effecting real change on a new piece of technology.  At the end of the day, competitive advantage does and will always come to some extent from innovation, and whether that innovation originates from inside or outside the firm is irrelevant.

While there is and will continue to be strong tension between the drive for flexibility and the drive for consistency and safety in our information technologies, I don’t believe that this is a threat to the innovative and creative nature of the business.  Creative and innovative people will continue to work through and around boundaries, and when there is value to be found in their frontier work the powers that be, always on the lookout for an edge over their competitors, will pick up the ideas and bring to them the stability necessary for the masses.  In essence, there will still be a balance, and it will be expanded to include the web services that go along with integrated mobile devices.

The proliferation of the new wave of integrated mobile devices is creating a huge number of ‘normal’ users who will drive the market for consistent and stable utilities on mobile devices.  This is good news for businesses, who typically require a higher level of dependability and protection in their information systems.  Businesses will be able to integrate these new devices into their systems with a much higher degree of safety than has been present in the past.

In summary, the proliferation of integrated mobile devices will serve to increase the reliability of the web services that complement them, which business will be able to harness.  Despite the locked-down nature of these devices, the innovation and creativity of the online world will not be comprimised.  The new world of work must and will embrace this revolution.


Why do we Search, again?

22 April 2008

In this knowledge and information intense new world of work, a huge challenge is finding the information you need when you need it.  So we search.  Gone are the days of navigating linearly or alphabetically through a file system.  We use powerful search engines to hit any web-page (or internal document) with our key-words.  But why do we have to search at all?  Why can’t we just go directly to where the information we need is?  The answer is ambiguity and context.  When I say I need to find ‘oil well’, I’m not interested in “…add the vinegar to the oil and stir well…”.  I know this, but my search engine doesn’t, and that strikes me as inefficient.

Clustering search algorighms are currently a hot topic on the Web.  Clusty says they’re working on a context and language-sensitive search algorithm that will allow you to dis-ambiguate a topic right up front, and then search for it.  The real test of it, however, would be if it could be used within the context of an individual user, or even within an organizational culture.  There is already a dearth of data on my computer, even just within my browsing history, giving a high level of context to the searches I’m doing.  This needs to be properly harnessed.  Taking this a step higher, every organization has its own unique culture, vernacular, and context.  When I search for contact info for Dave at the Ministry of Health, I’m likely looking for the same Dave that my company has dealt with in the past (otherwise how would I know it is Dave I’m looking for?).  I shouldn’t have to wade through the list of Daves in alphabetical / divisional order at the Ministry!

Of course, there are limits to this.  After I’ve spent a few minutes searching for a birthday present for my niece, I don’t want my search engine to be forever sending me to Pony Tales sites when I’m looking for “low horsepower engines”…

At the end of the day, many of us bloggers rely on ambiguous searching to drive people to our sites who may have no good reason for being here, so I’m not trying to rush the future.  On the other hand, I’m tired hitting innapropriate marital-aid websites when I’m actually trying to find out why a newly drilled well found no oil and was a “dry hole”…

Connecting ISM and Organizational Culture

20 April 2008

How is Information Systems Management accomplished when cultural change of an organisation is attempted and, what does this accomplishment mean for those touched by it?

Efforts of this kind are being made in the UK National Health Servise (NHS), where modernisation programmes involving technological rationalisation and change are aiming to make the NHS more reponsive to contemporary public demands. The largest and most appraised of English services, the London Ambulance Service (LAS) is a good specific example, with a history of information systems implementation efforts over 20 years.  Culture is people.

A perceived need for cultural change involving the use of advanced information technologies is pervasive in managerial and ministerial discourses about modernising the health servise, yet the way that ambulance services are regulated and monitored has given rise to a modernisation programme in which cultural change and ISM have been conveived largely instrumentally in terms of achieving performance targets. Moreover, goals to which the modernisation efforts aspire are at most partially realised. Organisational change is uneven, and the performance improvements achieved are contradictory, and this is not only true in London but elsewhere in the UK.

Drawing from organisational theory and critical social theory, past Information Systems implementation efforts at the LAS can be reinterpreted in light of recent developments, with contributions to theory and practice in mind. The theoretical contribution rests in exploring how emotion as well as rationality may be conceptualised to examine historically and culturally constituted working practices. Implications for practice address how ISM can give rise to cultural fragmentation, and also how professional identity can constrain information systems innovation.

We need to focus on the nature and development of organisational culture research without very specific reference to the broad range of practices and symbols in organisations that were addressed by the studies.  Also, we need to be able to take a cultural perspective to study IS development, management, and use in organisations, and also to study high technology corporations and software consultancies as organisational cultures based around ISM, rather than the other way around.

Summary / conclusions needed

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Web Services: Commodified Computing and Value Adding

8 April 2008

With Google’s recent release of Google Apps, suggestions that web services are a move towards the idea of the ‘comoditization of computing’ are flying.  Nick Carr elucidates this idea well with a strong comparison to the historical centralization of the generating of electricy and Marshall Kirkpatrick over at ReadWriteWeb tries it on for size as well.  The question is, however, what does the commoditization of computing through web services really mean for Information Systems Management?Steel, the quintessenital commodity.

A commodity is a thing of value which has lost it’s price differential across the entirety of a market.  Functionally, a commodity bought from any supplier is effectively identical to that from any other supplier, and the price commanded will also be identical.  In the physical world, a buyer simply buys from whoever is closest, and a seller can only increase profit by driving down costs.  In the virtual world, the internet provides a relatively homogeneous environment for delivery, (for the westernized and plugged-in business environments, at least), so it would seem as though web services for basic computing is ripe for a move towards commodotization. 

If Information Systems Management follows this trend, it means that everyone will be able to do the same basic computing at the same price.  As develloppers jump on, identical engines will be embedded in even the most specialized software.  The ability to handle the basics of computing will be taken for granted, but only as long as you want your business to do exactly the same as everyone else.  For those who are quirky enough to do something different, the relative cost of doing business will rise.  This view of the new world of work worries some, who say that this opens the door to monopolization of a business necessity (by Google, of course…), and additionally will have the effect of stifling creativity and innovation in digital technology.

Remember that an Information System is still just a model of the business.  The basic computing tasks we speak of are a small part of the model, just as is a recruiting system, the fax machine, or even the supply closet.  In the early days of business, and I mean the very early days, a firm’s ability to acquire, distribute, and use writing paper, quills, and ink could be a distinctive advantage.  Nowadays, paper and pens are a commodity.  Every business has them and scarce thought is given to them.  Having them is no longer a source of advantage, and they are simply part of ‘the cost of doing business’.  And of course, very few would argue that having pens and paper in the business world has led to anything but general benefit.

In summary, web services are moving towards commoditization, which will add value to the new world of work as a whole by decreasing the cost of doing the basics.  The Boogiemen worry that creativity and innovation will be stifled, but metaphors of the past have provided little evidence for this.