Information Technology Paper
What are the impacts of Information Technology on today’s society?
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Title: Impact of Information Technology in today’s society
This paper addresses the impact of information technology on today’s society. It addresses four main areas where information technology exerts the greatest influence: business and market structure, private life, education, and the workplace. With the rapid pace of information technology advancements, it is expected that many more social and economic aspects of human lives are going to be transformed in highly revolutionary ways.
Over the last few decades, a revolution has occurred in computing and communications. Today, there are clear indications that many more rapid changes will continue being experienced in the world of information technology. Many drastic changes have been caused by the power of new information technologies that exist today. This has resulted in a decline in communications costs, efficiency and competition, all of which are beneficial to today’s society.
However, although the significant technological developments witnessed today present many opportunities, they pose major challenges to the same society as well. The current innovations in information technology continue to have wide-ranging effects on all domains of society. Policymakers are faced with the challenge of acting on different issues relating to the effects of ICT on intellectual property rights, economic productivity, privacy protection, and access to information (Papaconstantinou, 2001). The choices that are being made today are going to have long-lasting consequences. Therefore, attention needs to be paid to all aspects of the social and economic impacts of information technology.
Progress in ICT has contributed to brought about many dramatic outcomes, but one of these outcomes seems to stand out: electronic commerce, or e-commerce. E-commerce is the newest way of conducting business. Although this technology was introduced just a few years ago, it is radically altering economic activities, thus transforming business and social environments (Jiang, 2009). Already, the effects of e-commerce are being felt in virtually all sectors, notably retail, banking, communications, government, insurance, security, and education. This paper addresses the impact of information and communications technology and e-commerce on society, particularly, business and market structure, private life, education, workplace, and education.
Information technology has altered the business and market structure in a significant manner. It has contributed dramatically to place utility, whereby distance is no longer a significant barrier to the carrying out of different business activities. In the majority of industries, the way in which work is geographically distributed continues to change. Software firms have contributed to the development of solutions that facilitate market penetration through the internet.
Firms are increasingly being able to outsource their different manufacturing activities to countries where labor is cheap while at the same time being able to follow up on the progress of these activities. These arrangements take advantage of the existing time differences, such that different aspects of the same projects can be attended to round the clock (Eatock, Paul & Serrano, 2008).
Today, firms have ICT at their disposal whenever they want to convert their production activities into formats that are wholly dependent on telecommunications, particularly in areas of research and development. In such activities, it is easy for distribution teams to keep in close touch with all manufacturing groups. This creates many opportunities for the division of labor to exist among countries. Consequently, the relative demand for various skills in different countries increases significantly.
Through technology, it is possible to decouple various types of employment. Firms are getting greater freedom in terms of location of their businesses, thereby facilitating competition among regions where previously, none existed. This has resulted in scenarios where there is a balance in the utilization of factors of production such as labor, infrastructure, land, capital and resource markets.
Furthermore, information is opening up doors for businesses to engage in regulatory arbitrage. Today’s firms find it easy to choose the tax authorities and regulations are applicable for their businesses (Maxwell, 2001). Communication technologies also promote new forms of production and distribution that are market-like. Through today’s ICT infrastructure, businesses benefit from 24-hour access to products and services. Customers get information on prices of the products that interest them whenever they want to access this information. In other words, information barriers in the world of business and in the marketplace are virtually non-existent. A pursuant to this infrastructure has been the effecting of efficient real-time transactions, which eliminate the need for stockbrokers, sales clerks, and travel agents.
The removal of intermediaries leads to a reduction in the costs of production and distribution value chain (Shaikh, 2008). The middlemen who act as information links between buyers and sellers are eliminated from the system, thereby removing redundancy. This transformation has ushered in a revolution in the form of mail-order retailing, whereby it becomes easy to order products over the internet. The supply part of the revolution is facilitated through integrated transport systems that are extensively reliant on computer networks for controlling their operations. For non-physical goods, shipping is done electronically. This eliminates unnecessary backlogs in the transport systems.
The impact that information technology exerts on the cost structure of firms is very significant. Costs are reduced through e-commerce, whereby one does not have to set up the traditional store, complete with physical structures, customer support systems, inventory carrying facilities, and distribution channels.
Although it is expensive to set up and maintain a website for e-commerce purposes, these costs are much lower than those incurred in physical sores because a website is easily accessible globally, always open, and has very few variable costs. Moreover, it is much easier to maintain only one store instead of many of them, which end up bringing about duplication of inventory costs. Moreover, through e-commerce, it becomes very easy for new customers to be attracted. Advertising becomes far much cheaper. It also becomes easy for e-commerce merchants to check every order in order to ensure that its details are consistent with those details that have been provided internally.
E-commerce shops to do not require many employees. Rather, one skilled professional can successfully undertake all the tasks of responding to orders, handling and processing payments without any delays. The speeds involved in the placement and processing of orders removes the need for large inventories. Although shipping costs lead to increasing in prices of goods bought through e-commerce, the ICT-based system reduces costs drastically for financial services, digital products, travel business, and software trade (Andam, 2003).
Electronic has been blamed for the disintermediation of certain intermediaries. However, on the other hand, it has created an increased dependency on other intermediaries that were previously being underused. Moreover, it leads to the introduction of new intermediaries into the chain of distribution of online products.
Change of lifestyles
Information technology has led to changes in the way information is provided, duplicated and distributed. The low unit cost of transferring information has made it easy for people to access a vast amount of data, some of which may raise privacy concerns (Joyce, 2000). This has brought to the fore the issue of regulation of internet usage by different demographic segments. Incidentally, children, adolescents, and adults alike interact in cyberspace, and some of the content shared could be of pornographic nature. Alternatively, people may have their confidential information accessed by the public. Such situations have led to the liberalization of modern societies, and the conservative values are not as strongly held onto as before.
The internet provides a new frontier where people can work, for social networking groups, exchange experiences, date, court, and attend teleconferences. This virtual cyberspace alters the traditional conception of the social space and values and norms that go with this space (Güvenen, 1998). In such a context, many issues involving regulation of content and free speech have emerged, whereby the debate on whether objectionable content ought to be controlled rages on. In such matters, it is already proving to be difficult to arrive at a conclusion that satisfies all stakeholders mainly because of the different vested commercial interests that accompany all internet-based activities.
Commercial interests aside, some observers say that it is difficult to filter online content with regard to decency without attracting inappropriate filtering of content for other reasons, such as unfair competition, price-war activities, and political censorship. In light of these challenges, e-commerce experts recommend that it is upon consumers to seek information before making the decisions that enable them to avoid objectionable content.
Privacy concerns are being expressed in both the private sector. Many potential users of e-commerce both the private and public sectors are reluctant to get into the ICT world because they fear whether their privacy will be compromised and frauds committed. For such players, it is better to delay entry into the cyberspace until such a time when they are sure that no one is going to hack into their online computer networks and steal data and information.
Information technology is being used at all levels of education. It is being used to complement the traditional teaching methods and practices, and activities. Learners are being subjected to technology-assisted learning today than at any other time in the past (Saldarin, 2003). Many universities have launched online degree programs, which do not requires students to attend brick-and-mortar lecture rooms. Instead, they use various online resources in order to participate in classroom activities, to consult their lecturers, and to interact with other students. They also use internet-based communication channels to do examinations, carry out research and hand various academic tasks.
Today, computer-assisted instruction is a popular teaching approach that enables learners to reap the best possible outcomes. However, for some learners, the physical presence of the teacher can never be fully replaced by any form of computer assistance. This is because of the emotional contact that an instructor maintains with learners, something that is impossible with an inanimate object such as a computer.
Today’s information technology still contains the immense potential of increasing the level of productivity of the time that is spent away from the classroom. For instance, internet networks make it easy for reading materials to be accessed with ease. The learners save money since they do not have to run to the nearest bookshop in order to buy a book or to the local library in order to access it for research purposes. All they need is a computer, an internet connection, and, in some cases, some access rights to the school’s online library.
The internet has made the traditional practice of distance learning highly expandable in terms of coverage and improved delivery of instruction (Ram, 2010). ICT makes it easy for text to be complemented with video, and audio for enhanced interactions on a real-time basis, mainly during discussion groups and email correspondence. These improvements have tended to coincide with increased demand for upskilling and retraining among people who are unable to attend traditional classes because of family and work demands.
The distance learning activities that are based on modern ICT have a high potential of complementing the existing schools and universities, especially in prestigious universities where demand is always high. Students who would otherwise have had to attend local facilities benefit from the degree programs of these institutions of higher learning without having to set foot into the local facilities of these institutions.
Such e-learning activities have made the modern workplace to be knowledge-intense, thus making the task of continually upgrading one’s professional skills a vital economic and career undertaking. Such changes have also contributed greatly to the development of the concept of life-long learning. Modern technology has been instrumental in meeting the increased demand for training and education needs in diverse areas of academic and vocational specialization. Today’s information technologies are highly versatile and possess unique capabilities for meeting this educational demand. Online training ranges from self-study courses to classrooms that are conducted entirely via an online platform. These programs offer flexibility in the way skills are acquired. Moreover, they are much more affordable and increasingly relevant compared to traditional courses and seminars.
The modern workplace has been completely transformed, thanks to information technology. Modern information and communication technologies people in the workplace a wide range of communication platforms from which to complement the traditional telephonic, face-to-face and written modes. Today there are emails, chat messages, teleconferencing services, Voice over internet protocol (VOIP) call services and audio-visual platforms. In other words, information technology provides the workplace setting with a multimedia approach to not only intra-organizational communication but also networking on a global scale.
The modern communication platforms support real-time information-sharing platforms for individuals, groups, organizations and entire fraternities. As a result, there are very many opportunities for virtual interactions in the modern workplace. This has led to an improvement in relations among peers as well as between superiors and their subordinates. These new communication approaches have also provided organizations with an opportunity to carry out an overhaul of the existing organizational culture and structure. The specific areas that have achieved a major boost are those involving the coordination of activities and sharing of information.
Email communication makes it easy for communication barriers to be overcome at the workplace, especially between senior managers and low-cadre employees. Likewise, supervisors and their subordinates share information freely. In this process, communication barriers are overcome.
Moreover, some employees may prefer to telecommute, a factor that alters the residence patterns of many professionals. Rather than work in centralized and crowded workstations, many employees prefer to work from home. This is one of the reasons why residential preferences are fast-changing, with many professionals preferring to live in areas where they can perform office tasks in the comfort of their homes in an efficient manner.
The consequences of telecommuting are likely to increase as information technology becomes increasingly accessible to many professionals. For instance, such developments have a high potential of leading to a shift in employment from suburban areas to highly remote areas. In areas where such trends are being experienced, property values are rising in the preferred destinations while they are falling in the suburbs. As a result, many of these rural areas are losing their historical and charming features as new threats to the new areas continue to emerge.
In most cases, those who telecommute are highly educated as well as those who are in the higher income brackets. Such people have the potential to influence development in rural areas by increasing demand for various high-standards services, thereby creating business and employment opportunities. For the professionals who telecommute, the flexibility of the working environment is amazing. They tend to find it easy to work on flexible schedules, to share jobs, to do part-time work or to hold many jobs simultaneously.
In the context of telecommuting, changing an employer does not necessarily require one to change the place of residence. For this reason, telecommuting increases job mobility while at the same time speeding career advancement. The increased flexibility is also a great way of reducing job stress while increasing task satisfaction. In most modern workplaces, an individual’s job stress level is a dominant factor that determines his state of health. With an increase in job satisfaction, individuals are able to achieve improvement in their health, thereby reducing health-related costs.
The information and communications technology have far-reaching impacts on today’s society. ICT impacts on many social and economic aspects of human life. As advancements in information technology continue to take place, more transformations are going to be experienced in the workplace, in people’s lifestyles, in learning institutions, as well as in the business and market structure.
Andam, Z. (2003) e-Commerce and e-Business, e-ASEAN Task Force UNDP-APDIP, Retrieved from www.apdip.net/publications/iespprimers/eprimer-ecom.pdf on October 10, 2010.
Eatock, J., Paul, R. & Serrano, A. (2008) A Study Of The Impact Of Information Technology On Business Processes Using Discrete Event Simulation: A Reprise, International Journal Of Simulation, 2(2), 30-40.
Jiang, Y. (2009) An Analysis for the Impact of E-commerce on Corporation Strategy, The Sixth Wuhan International Conference on E-Business, retrieved from http://it.swufe.edu.cn/UploadFile/other/xsjl/sixwuhan/Paper/EB414.pdf on October 10, 2010.
Joyce, D. (2000) Exploring the Impact of Information Technology on Society, Proceedings of the NACCQ 2000, Wellington NZ, www.naccq.ac.nz
Güvenen, O. (1998) The Impact Of Information And Communication Technologies On Society, Journal Of International Affairs, 2(4), 61-66.
Maxwell, J. (2001) Marketing and Information Technology’s Revolution and Impact on Entrepreneurs and Entrepreneurial Educators, Presented at: USASBE/SBIDA Joint Annual National Conference February 6-10, 2001, Coronado Springs Hotel Orlando, Florida.
Papaconstantinou, G. (2001) EU Structural Funds and the Development of the Information Society in Greece, Journal of Information Technology Impact, 2(2), 39-42.
Ram, S. (2010) Impact of information technology on society: Visakhapatnam in India as a case study, Indian Journal of Science and Technology, 3(4), 475-482.
Saldarin, R. (2003) The impact of technology-induced anonymity on communications and ethics: new challenges for IT pedagogy, Journal of Information Technology Impact, 3(1), 4-10.
Shaikh,M. (2008) Impact Of Information Technology On The Third Millennium Managers, Retrieved from www.iamot.org/paperarchive/GSFD.PDF on October 10, 2010.
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