Technology has been defined as the application of scientific knowledge for practical purposes. It is associated with the industrial arts, applied science, engineering and with physical science.
Technology has changed the face and the pace of how we do business. Business processes have been modified and organizations are now working much more efficiently than ever. At the same time, technology has opened a new way of communication, allowing businesses to communicate and collaborate beyond borders.
It is apparent that the technology has transformed many organizations and industries in an astonishing way. Mobile devices like smartphones and tablets combining with the power of internet have revolutionized the way we work. E-mail communication has replaced nearly all written memos, phone calls, and faxes. Smartphones and tablets can connect you to your business network while you are out of the office, allowing you to respond quickly official matters. Storing the important files on a cloud computing system rather than your PCs, for instance, has made information easily accessible at anytime and anywhere.
Technological environment is associated with the external factors that impact on business operators. It also relates to the development of technology which affects business by way of new inventions of productions and other improvements in techniques to perform the business. The changing technological environment may pose threats or present opportunities.
The competitive nature of business environment and globalization has made it imperative for manufacturing organizations mostly to work hard towards identifying business strategies that will give them an edge over their competitors.
Strategic Planning is an organization’s process of defining its strategy or direction and making decision on allocating its various business analytical techniques. What can be used in strategic planning include SWOT analysis (i.e. Strength, Weakness, Opportunities and Threats), PEST analysis (i.e. Political, Economic, Social and Technological), STEER analysis (i.e. Socio-Cultural, Technological, Economic, Ecological and Regulatory Factors) and EPISTEL (i.e. Environment, Political, Information, Social, Technological, Economic and Legal).
Below are six innovations technology has brought into the business landscape.
Technology has obviously increased productivity in Nigeria. One of the initial driving forces supporting the adoption and use of computers were insinuations that increased productivity could be realized, thus allowing us more time to attend to do other things. Indeed, the use of computers has transformed the workplace as we know it. It has driven down the cost of data processing, and the ease with which large volumes of data can be manipulated by and transferred between various units within the organization. Moreover, this increasing processing power, along with the broad range of off-the-shelf and customized hardware and software that are available, have resulted in changing employer and client expectation of work quality and throughput both at the employee and organizational levels.
In situations where persons might not be in office physically, e.g. due to teleworking arrangements or offsite work assignments, and even to interact with clients, technology is offering collaboration tools that facilitate continued discussion and synergy among teams. Options can allow for real-time or non-real-time interaction and can also be integrated into specialist workspaces to allow access to and use of different tools and features. The word cloud below shows only a small sample of the collaboration tools that are available.
Apart from the impact technology has been having on productivity, it is also changing the way businesses are resourced. Two key examples of this are
- Cloud computing, which allows a broad range of resources, such as software applications, hardware and infrastructure requirements, such as storage and processing power, to be accessed online, and
- Outsourcing, where, thanks to technology, companies can devolve or delegate different aspects of their business to either affiliate or third parties, but still remain connected and have critical inputs to processes that have remained in-house.
These two examples highlight the changing view on how operating resources are deployed and managed, and more importantly where such activities occur e.g. online, offsite and even offshore. Organizations are becoming increasingly hesitant to absorb large upfront (especially capital) costs for facilities and services that might also have high operating costs, but for which more cost effectively, but reliable alternatives exist. Hence business models have been changing on the basis that it is no longer necessary for the supply of many of those needs to be resident in-house; but they must be accessible as and when required, which current technology does facilitate.
- Interaction and participation
This point is readily evident through the impact of social media in business. In addition to the providing organizations with another platform for marketing and promotion, and to disseminate information, social media offers consumers and the public a large, a voice. Many organizations are beginning to capitalize on the opportunities to secure feedback on their products and services, and even to use the collaborative environment that technology now fosters for crowdsourcing initiatives, such as crowdcreation, crowdvoting and even crowdwisdom.
- Cost management
Invariably, increasing competition is fostering an ever-growing need to manage cost and streamline operations. Management is continually being asked to get the most bang for the buck, and in these trying economic times, to control spending and realize savings. Once again, technology is providing cost-effective alternatives, such expertise/labor and computing resource outsourcing, and also with respect to in-house solutions that can improve the efficiency, productivity and performance of the individual employee, and ultimately, that of the organization.
- Efficiency and optimization
Finally, this point is a natural, but very important consequence of many of the earlier points, since there is a greater thrust towards organizations becoming more streamlined. Traditionally, one of the greatest challenges that businesses have faced is that although they might be very clear about what their core objectives might be, considerable attention – financing, manpower, management, etc. – had be given to supporting activities and processes to the core business. However, thanks to technology, companies have more options through which to reallocate their efforts towards critical processes and functions that they must manage, thereby increasing productivity and outputs.
Where the technology is working properly, performance will increase.