“INFORMATION ANXIETY is produced by the ever-widening gap between what we understand and what we think we should understand. It is the black hole between data and knowledge, and it happens when information doesn’t tell us what we want or need to know.” So wrote Richard S. Wurman in his book Information Anxiety. “For a long time, people didn’t realize how much they didn’t know—they didn’t know what they didn’t know. But now people know what they don’t know, and that makes them anxious” (5). The result is that most of us may feel that we should know more than we do. With the flood of information coming our way, we pick up little pieces of data. However, often we are at a loss as to what to do with them. At the same time, we might suppose that everyone else knows and understands much more than we do. That is when we become anxious!
David Shenk argues that excess information has become a pollutant that creates “data smog.” He adds: “Data smog gets in the way; it crowds out quiet moments, and obstructs much-needed contemplation. . . . It stresses us out” (As cited by Wurman, 6).
It is true that too much information or an overload of material can induce anxiety, but the same is true if we have insufficient information or, worse still, incorrect information. It is much like feeling lonely in a crowded room. As John Naisbitt puts it in his book Megatrends, “we are drowning in information but starved for knowledge” (2).
Indeed, the statements mentioned above are the main reasons why Information Technology and its determinism as well as enthusiasm has been much of an issue when it comes to the acceptance of several business firms with the system of transactions introduced through Information Technology. In the paragraphs to follow, the arguments of several writers and IT specialists shall be uncovered to give a brief overview on how IT could become an asset for the business institutions.
The Introduction of IT
The beginning of computer inventions have been such a big leap for technology and a revolution for the human society. Indeed, the existence of information technology had been much accepted as a part of a growing and developing civilization in the world. However, not everyone was happy of the “big change” in the information processing activities, which took over the traditional ways of data transfer. Moreover, among the ones who had much of a hard time in accepting changes were the traditionally based business organizations.
One of the problems, which business executives believed to have come from the introduction of IT is the production issues. According to Erik Brynjolfsson and Lorin M. Hitt of the Association for Computing Machinery Communication of the ACM, the fact that computers are doing a great job concerning Information and Data transferring activities for many business firms, this alone is not enough for a company to invest in the said field. Truly, not simply because of other’s success on using the new system of business strategies should a manager base his or her decisions regarding the investments that a company should make.
Contrary to what Kling points out in his ideas that “Information Technology brings so much chaos and unnecessary changes to the society than it really should” (As cited by Wurman, 7), White says that “a new device merely opens a door and does not compel one to enter” (White, 28), meaning “changes”, especially in technology is actually designed to give ease to the more complex activities of man. It does not drive away the traditional ways of doing things; instead, it simply upgrades the old process of getting things done.
IT, the Business Industries and Politics
As IT entered the scene, business firms also took a lot of advancements as well. One of the examples to this is the fact that there came to be some virtual organizations, and many stock investors began to be opened in accepting the new trend of business in the new era. But along with this, the issue on business politics getting in the way when it comes to business activities make it harder for company IT managers to decide on whether the implementation of IT in their firm would do them better or not.
The Smart Business as described by White is the process of turning a traditional business set-up into becoming an organization, which is ready to take risks, and willing to accept fine results (White, 29). This is indeed the attitude that a manager for IT should posses. It must be clear to everyone in an organization that taking a new step or a new concept for the organization does not necessarily mean that it has to leave the old ways behind. Instead, it simply denotes a certain upgrade of strategies and ways of getting the best possible result out from a business firm.
The influence of higher division of employees should be entertained and yet weighed regarding their importance to the organization, as the main decision should actually come from the one who knows who is at stake. This is to ensure that the company would be taking and making decisions based on a strong reason and not simply because of the fact that the manager is politically controlled by a firm’s administrative body.
Making IT work
True, in investing in IT, a considerably large amount of money is at stake. Also, the whole business organization, which is basically rooted from the traditional setting, may also be faced with risking the process of business transactions, which the organization had already been used to for years, meaning a huge change in training employees should also be obtained. However, if the necessary steps in making this change have been carefully taken into consideration, the rewards of all the hardships would all be worth it.
It must also be noted that alignment of the processes should be considered by the management (Louftman and Brier, 109). As Stephen Kidd mentioned, there are four necessary things to be considered in taking the big leap of IT adaptation in a business organization:
- Technology is an enabler of change
- The technology must be appropriate
- Identify and act on critical success factors
- Every problem is unique, not every solution has to be…
(Source: Kidd, 12)
Certainly, any organization could be able to successfully make good IT management decisions. As long as the business firms are open to change and are ready to face challenges, as well as optimistic enough to see the possible positive results of the change, the firm would most likely receive worthy rewards in the end.
John Naisbitt. (1998). Megatrends. Oxford University Press.
Richard Wurman. (1995). Information Anxiety. Blackwell Publishing Companies.
Erik Brynjolfsson, Lorin M. Hitt. ( August 1998, Vol. 41 Iss. 8)Association for Computing
Machinery. Communications of the ACM. New York.
Stephen Kidd. (Summer 1997). The Government Accountants Journal. Arlington.
Jerry Luftman, Tom Brier.(Fall 1999). California Management Review. Berkeley.
Sean White. (2003). Socio-Economic Applications of Geographic Information Science.
CRC Publishing Company.