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The business environment has transformed drastically since the advent of new technology and Industrial Revolution became a period of radical change from manual work to automated technology and advancement, which kept making life simpler with time. Some of the greatest organizational and socioeconomic revolutions in history occurred as a consequence of innovations in communications technology and media. The contraption of the printing press, for instance, in the mid-fifteenth century by the German typographer Johann Gutenberg initiated the knowledge revolutions in science and technology, commerce, engineering, law, and politics.
Ultimately, the print medium gave rise to the market economy based on paper and given to the industrial revolution. The development of electricity in the nineteenth century instigated a series of other revolutions that transformed industrial society in reflective ways. It led to an extensive range of electrical and electromechanical inventions, including the light bulb, the dynamo, the electric motor and hundreds of electric machines based on it, as well as the telegraph, the telephone, radio, and television.
These diffused all through the economy, influencing the nature and location of production, the structure and operation of business organizations of Europe in 1900, including offices and factories and the marketplace itself. Eventually, they came to comprise the technological underpinnings of the hydroelectric and communications and transportation infrastructures we know today. These, in turn, inclined the evolution of the mass production, mass consumption, and mass communications society of the twentieth century.
Business organizations have undertaken extreme restructuring by modifying their means of communication and synchronization of work activities. New technology has made it promise for companies to work on a real-time basis, whereby products and services are conveyed to the right place at the right time. Since then, information technology has propagated and has undergone significant improvements. Costs have sustained to decline as these new technologies have emerged.
A business not supported by a network of computer systems (primary information technology) is more or less destined to fail, since it will be incapable to compete efficiently in today’s complex and dynamic environment. The invention of the telegraph instigated the first truly electronic communications revolution and gave rise to the age of instantaneous global electronic communications. Besides representing a thriving commercial business itself, the telegraph became the foundation of a number of significant new business ventures.
One of these was a printing telegraph invented in 1855 by David Hughes in which messages were typed out at the transmitted and receiving ends. It provided the incentive for P. J. von Reuter in Aachen, Germany, to form his own company in 1849 to transmit commercial intelligence including stock market information across Europe. The telegraph had an unusual impact on business in the late nineteenth and early twentieth centuries.
By making information obtainable instantly across the markets of the world, it integrated local, national, and international markets, thus obliterating the monopoly power and control that numerous business organizations had over local and regional markets. The telegraph transformed the spatial and temporal organization of economic activity all through the world and came to synchronize the social, economic, and political activities of one and all across space and time.
The telegraph “provided the crucial and cumulative break of the identity of communications and transportation,” wrote James Carey, author of three books and over 100 articles and essays on mass communications and the media. The telegraph became “a model of and a mechanism for the control of the physical association of things, specifically for the railroad… [It]… brought a decline in arbitrage, [that is,] the buying cheap and selling dear by moving goods around in space . . . [and it affected] the practical awareness of time through the erection of standard time zones.
” (Carey 133-137). The development of the telephone precipitated the second electronic communication revolution in the late nineteenth century. Because it was a two-way medium and as it carried voice, the telephone initiated a more publicly and economically considerable communication revolution than the telegraph. The telephone is a wonder of technical and engineering design and operation, and it became the first true worldwide, instant, global, and personal, information, and communications medium.
These days, the telephone system interconnects hundreds of millions of people around the world and provides them with the means to communicate instantaneously by voice, written message, computer, and facsimile whether they are at home, in the office, or in a car, a truck, or an airplane. The telephone became one of the most significant social and economic technologies in history by providing a medium for exchanging personal and business information, coordinating social, economic, and political activities, facilitating decision making, and merely keeping in touch.
In addition, it does this with little or no human involvement. Developments in radio communications ushered in the age of commercial public broadcasting after the First World War. For nine months commencing on February 23, 1920, Guglielmo Marconi, commonly referred to as the “Father of Radio”, broadcasted a regular news service from his transmitter at Chelmsford in England.
These developments are significant in retrospect because they are not unlike the wave of mergers and acquisition and strategic alliances that leading manufacturers, network operators, suppliers of software, content, and services are implementing today in an all-out effort to create and dominate the electronic superhighways of the future. The postwar period witnessed the spread of telephone networks into the rural and remote regions of industrialized countries and the linking of all of them into a nationalized telecommunications infrastructure.
At the same time, this infrastructure was ongoing to undergo transformations as a consequence of major innovations in switching and transmission systems, many of which were developed by the Bell System— also known as “THE telephone company”. One of the biggest technological breakthroughs was the prologue of automatic, electromechanical switching. As it was automatic, it was faster and more efficient than manual switching, and it transformed the telephone business from an extremely labor-intensive to a highly capital-intensive one; one of the consequences was the drastic cut of telephone operators.
Electromechanical switching progressively gave way to fully electronic switching in the sixties and seventies, and these ultimately to the computerized switching systems of today with their highly automated, software features that give them the capability to process voice, data, and image communications, route traffic optimally throughout the network, and to monitor, detect, diagnose, and repair problems as they arise. Both local and long-distance communications were further transformed as a result of innovations in multiplexing and microwave radio and coaxial cable transmission systems.
Both of these developments increased transmission competence and also improved economics by orders of magnitude that resulted in major reductions in the price of long-distance telephone service as well as stimulating a consequent increase in the demand for service. Multiplexing, invented by Bell Telephone Laboratories in 1927, was a way of modulating higher frequency transmission signals with lower frequency voice signals so that copper, for example, could carry several voice conversations concurrently.
This meant a reduction in the use of copper and in the cost of local and long-distance services. The former transatlantic radiotelephone link was installed by AT&T between the United States and England in 1929, and radiotelephone links were also recognized between North and South America. In 1933, European engineers began using microwave communications to transmit telephone signals across the English Channel, a distance of a dozen miles.
But radiotelephone communications were not very reliable, and the quality of the signal was often poor for very long-distance transatlantic or transoceanic communications. A mass production, mass consumption culture, however, could not have advanced without the development of mass communications. Radio, television, newspapers and magazines, and advertising brought information, news, entertainment, and cultural content to an information-starved society, but all played fundamental roles in creating a mass consumption and mass production society.
One of their most significant effects was through advertising. In the book, Communications in History, William Leiss, Stephen Kline, and Sut Jhally wrote, “The developed phase of the market industrial society is the consumer society… What marketers had realized was that, with the population as a whole having far greater discretionary income, leisure time, and employment security than ever before, work was no longer the focus of everyday life. The sphere of consumption could take its place.
By linking consumption through electronic media to popular entertainment and sports, marketers and advertisers eventually fashioned a richly decorated setting for an elaborate play of messages, increasingly in imagistic or iconic form, about the way to happiness and social success” (Leiss, Kline, Jhally 176). To keep their factories operating at maximum capacity and efficiency, in effect, to “move the goods” cascading off their assembly lines, business had to increase its selling efforts, and this meant tremendous investment and expenditures on advertising.
Advertising played a big role in creating a consumer society in the early twentieth century. According to Daniel Pope, an expert on the history of American advertising, marketing, and consumer culture, as early as 1920, “the lead in advertising had passed to manufacturers of nationally distributed brand-named goods… it was in the formation of the national consumer market that the advertising industry as we know it these days was born and nurtured” (Pope, 1983). Companies are not the only ones who have gained from advances in modern information technology.
Consumers and interest groups have created strategic alliances and now capable to coordinate their activities as well as exchange ideas and thoughts through a number of database and network systems. For instance, owners of personal computers can subscribe to a computer network and, without difficulty, retrieve information concerning the products and corporations online. Such information can also be transmitted to other users without problems. This huge use of technology by both consumers and companies affects the way business is run today.
These consumer strategic alliances know no geographical limitations; oftentimes, they are global in nature, particularly among the industrialized nations. As companies can get in enormous profits from the better coordination, greater product elasticity, improved quality, leaner production, and more time-based competitiveness that information technology offers, they also facades the threat that can come from these consumers’ strategic alliances. For instance, corporations can no longer ignore consumer demands for constant product quality, reliability and respect for the environment, or timely delivery of services.
As we move towards an increase in advanced technologies, the labor force must be retrained. This training must not only expose workers to the technical matters adjoining the new process, but also to the new focus of the organization. They have to be made responsive of the importance of advanced technology in improving work methods and in remaining competitive and therefore employee compulsion to the new process is imperative. Advanced technology by itself adds little or no value to an organization. There should be organizational, as well as employee dedication, to exploit the technology to the maximum level.
For instance, with an ever-increasing use of computer-integrated manufacturing systems, and the stream of technical documentation that accompanies it, employees have to be skilled in recognizing the critical information at the right time. Once that information is recognized and properly interpreted, there must be an organizational dedication to use the information to make better decisions. Without this potential, the organization cannot take advantage from new technologies. Human resources’ management, therefore, will persist to be a critical factor in the survival of any organization.
We sum up the influence of information technology on human resources as follows: • Information technology transforms the mode of communication and work processes. • Custom or standardized operations are replaced with skilled and multi-skilled workers. An extremely trained labor force is desired to manage information technology. • Worker motivation and satisfaction might improve since workers are no longer restricted to routine operations, enjoy management powers, and can contribute to developments in their work processes.
New technology also has an impact on the organization itself, as follows: • Organizational reformation is required. This reformation makes the organization flat. Decision-making powers are decentralized. • Communications are better and the organization is capable to make timely responses to its environment. • Introduction of new products and services is improved and varieties of products can be efficiently introduced and marketed by the organization. • The organization is competent to improve its efficiency, quality, and competitiveness.
Today’s advanced technology can, conversely, easily become a basic technology. A rapid increase of new technologies also brings rapid obsolescence of earlier technologies. Policies concerning technology must not be static; they must keep evolving. George Stalk Jr, a writer of the Ivey Business Journal (1988) points out that “competitive advantage is a persistently moving target…The best competitors, the most thriving ones, know how to keep moving and always stay on the cutting edge. ”
A company should be able to evaluate potential new technologies quickly. The goal must be to remain competitive, and effective management of technology is a vital step in achieving this. With an increased focus on customer satisfaction, technology is a decisive means for achieving customer satisfaction. Browning, a writer for the Economist Magazine (1990) notes that a learning organization “uses technology incessantly to refresh its knowledge of its customers’ wants and to work out new ways of satisfying them.
” This commitment to be a learning organization needs vast resources, however. For example, Browning also points out that building a learning organization “necessitates new skills, clever people and capable machines. ” Noticeably, technology and human resources should be used together for the organization to stay competitive. Vincent Barabba and Gerald Zaltman, authors of Hearing the Voice of the Market (1991), note that “hearing the accent of the market and making constructive use of it with respect to the voice of the firm is a learning progression.
” Essentially, the voice of the market has to be interpreted into facts and tasks that will lead to suitable products or services to satisfy customer needs. This is related to the application of quality function deployment, whereby the organization expands its strategic plans to assure customer needs. Thus, a learning organization should also be a caring organization. As a caring organization, its major objective is to please its stock or stakeholders, its customers, and employees, and also to be collectively responsible.
The traditional organization, with the focus on satisfying stockholders alone, is varying to this new form, with a sophisticated stakeholder group. Thus, technology and human resources’ management are recognized as key variables that facilitate an organization to improve its productivity, quality, and competitiveness. A critical constituent is the information technology, which offers both opportunities and challenges. The organization should show understanding to its environment via its policies, and be learning and caring organization, as time and reliability influence competitiveness.
Finally, organizations should innovate and constantly move to achieve new targets, particularly in view of today’s rapidly developing new technologies. This is not to deny that the extent of interaction has increased gradually over time, though the time involved has been centuries somewhat than the last few decades. The diverse industrial revolutions paced this up. Basically, once two societies trade, they become mutually dependent. The stock markets subside in New York in 1929 triggered the Great Depression in all parts of the world because of their momentous economic relationships with the United States.
Interactions were closer than they had been previously and they were to become even faster. The complex capitalist economies were tied intimately together in the long run, even if short-term fluctuations were less rapidly passed on (Aiki 83-87). Though, is speed of such enormous important? We have a global stock market today, where the information from a stock market in one part of the world is broadcasted instantly to those in others. Ever since the start of the electronic communication era this has been the case.
For example, information in London about the New York Market passed far more gradually before 1939 and even more slowly before 1914. It was slower in spreading around and was far less comprehensive than it is now. Nevertheless, big movements in the stock markets were known and reflected in the stock markets of the world. Short-term and small fluctuations are imitated all through world markets today, much more rapidly than they were in the thirties, but big and long-term fluctuations have always been reflected around the world once markets had become consistent (Collins, Porras. 1991).
We can go even a further back and argue that globalization, in the logic of a growth in interconnectedness between members of different states, is itself only a special case of something more universal. In medieval Europe, most people typically did not stray from the area they were born in. They inspired mainly local goods and primarily produced either for themselves or for a very local market (Schlossberg H. 1992). Economies were mainly local. Trade over considerable distances took place on water either by sea or river, which accounts for the inconsistent number of towns and villages that were either by the sea or on rivers.
Human beings have had a steady urge to detach themselves from the area as much as the technology of the day permitted. Certainly there have always been big movements, due to populations looking for better circumstances or due to conquerors building new empires. Under the Roman Empire, for example, large parts of Europe were ‘globalizing’ in this sense and the degree of globalization declined with the Empire’s retreat. The medieval Church could be seen as a globalizing force but the degrees of interaction and interdependence were much reduced in the so-called Dark Ages.