Examples of how Technology Affects Processes in Global Business and e-Business

By: Eduardo R. Zayas-Quiñones

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Krajewski, L. J. & Ritzman, L. P. (2002) Operations Management: Strategy and Analysis, 5th edition, pp 151 define technology as "the know-how, physical things, and procedures used to produce products and services. Based on this definition, I see technology as the ever-evolving child of our individual curiosity and creativity in collaboration with others in activities that in one form or another benefit society.

With this as a point of reference, we can stand somewhere in our densely technical society, pick up a virtual compass and draw a direct line to connects each of our needs as individuals, families, communities, nations and even a planet to a particular advancement in technology. Indeed, technology surrounds us and as Scott mentioned in his lecturette, has surrounded us for a very long time. Even if I wanted to "rough-it" out in the woods as I enjoy doing, I would be very hard-pressed to do so without some sort of technology to help me survive. Let's suppose that one day I decide to listen to "the little voices" in my head and walk into the woods without the comfort of a backpack full of technology, not even shoes or clothes. The moment I start gathering kindle and rubbing sticks to build a fire, I would be making use of technology based on the concept of "know-how".

Krajewski, L. J. & Ritzman, L. P. (2002) Operations Management: Strategy and Analysis, 5th edition, pp 151 also talk about the three primary areas of technology and define these as product, process and information technologies. I will now explain the impact that some of these technologies and some of their sub-technologies in the processes associated with global and e-business.

When thinking about global business, the greatest challenge to the efficiency of processes in an organization has been in overcoming the barriers of geographical dispersion. It's funny how the applied research by DARPA in the sixties to develop a command and control system for Department of Defense sparked a combination of technologies which evolved eventually not just to support global business, but also e-.business. At any rate, it has been the advancement and proper application of all three technologies that has enabled many of the process improvements enjoyed by global companies today. Looked at from a different perspective we could say that overcoming the obstacle of connecting 2 computers in adjacent rooms was an application of technology which in turn inspired improvement in technology that overcame the obstacle of connecting 2 or more computers in adjacent buildings, in a campus, state country and eventually across the world.

Looking at product technology, we could say that engineers and researchers have with time improved upon the processes for researching and applying new technologies in creation of new products that meet customer needs and demands. At the same time we would have to think about how information technology has created through its set of sub-technologies (hardware, software, databases and telecommunications) tools that complement product technologies as well. Hardware and software sub-technologies can help standardize processes and data formats in a way that could be interpreted in a similar fashion by systems at remote locations. Telecommunications has enabled the sharing of data and the collaboration of applications or even processes at different locations. In this fashion experts in a particular manufacturing process could collaborate with another group of experts at a different location while working on the same project.

In terms of production technology, it could be said that technical advances in process-control, in machinery and even information technology have increased the efficiency and productivity in manufacturing and service areas for global companies. For example, Company X markets, assembles and sells widgets throughout the world. Widget components are manufactured at different geographic locations for economic reasons. Through the help of telecommunications, application systems at corporate headquarters can coordinate production levels at each geographic location to meet the supply needs of the assembly plant located in the US.

Global business cannot be discussed without mentioning technical advances that are enabling realization of electronic Business (e-Business or e-Commerce). Here I see the emergence of "collaborating technologies" such as telecommunications in the form of local, wide and global scale private networks and even that public artery we call Internet. These provide and enable electronic communication between all other technologies. Hardware has played a substantial role also providing scalability requirements of everything from desktop computers to high-end servers to host electronic storefronts and warehouses. Software has provided more efficient operating systems and specialized applications like web hosting, and client browsers and even computer languages like Java, which enable running of applications on different types of computers.

This, I must admit is just the tip of the iceberg. It feels sort of like ... "How do I love thee, let me count the ways". There is just too much to be said in one discussion question. But you know, it just let me realize the vast implication and impact technology has had in our lives.


References:

Krajewski, L. J. & Ritzman, L. P. (2002) Operations Management: Strategy and Analysis, 5th edition [University of Phoenix Print Version]. Upper Saddle River, NJ: Prentice Hall.

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