Technology: Any equipment, tools or operating methods that are designed to make work more efficient.
Suppose you need information on how well your department is meeting its production standards. A generation ago you probably would have had to submit a requisition to the operations control department. Their response may have taken a couple of weeks, and the information would have been in whatever format the operations department dictated. Today, however a few key strokes on your computer will get that information you want which may be entirely different from the information one of your colleagues needs on a similar account.
Since the 1970s, US companies such as General Electric, Citi group Global Technologies, Wal-Mart, and 3M have been using automated offices, robotics in manufacturing, computer assisted design software, integrated circuits, microprocessors, and electronic meetings. These technological advances make the organizations more productive and help them create maintain a competitive advantage.
Technology includes any equipment, tools, or operating methods that are designed to make work more efficient. Technological advances involve the integration of technology into a process for changing inputs into outputs. For example, to sell its goods or services, and organization must first take certain inputs – labor, raw materials, and the like and transform them into output. In years past, many of these transforming operations were performed by human labor. Technology, however, has made it possible to enhance this production process by replacing human labor with electronic and computer equipment. For instance, assembly operations at General Motors rely heavily on robotics. Robots perform repetitive tasks, such as spot welding and painting, much more quickly than humans can. And the robots are not subject to health problems caused by exposure to chemicals or other hazardous materials. Technology is also making it possible to better serve customers. For example, Asian Paints offers over 1,000 shades of paint at “Color World” in its chain of retail outlets, where customers mix different colors on tinting machines to get customized shades. This allows dealers to stock limited shades, and manage inventories efficiently. Technology however, is not used only in manufacturing enterprises. The banking industry has been able to replace thousands of tellers with ATM machines and online banking systems.
Technological advances are also used to provide better, more useful information. Most cars built today have an onboard computer circuit that a technician can plug in to determine operating problems, saving countless diagnostic hours for a mechanic. And at Wal-Mart, technology has meant getting and timelier information. Company representatives are able to instantly obtain warehouse logistics and inventories. As a result, Wal-Mart has increased its efficiency by more than 20 percent.
Technology enhances the production process by replacing human labor with electronic and computer equipment. Believing that robots can do the job more reliably than humans, Honda uses robots extensively on its auto assembly line. The only jobs at Honda’s assembly plants requiring human labor are inspection, adjustments, and repair of defects.
Technological changes, especially those related to information technology (IT), have had an continue to have a significant effect on the way organizations are managed. For instance, Dell Computer Corporation designed its newest factory without any space for inventory storage. ERP implementation at Hero Cycles has allowed the company to significantly reduce raw materials and finished goods inventories. The use of 3D Design software has reduced the new product design time to as low as 2 days for simple models, bringing it down from 30 days in the days of manual design. Both of those decisions and actions were made possible by IT. In addition, IT has created the ability to circumvent the physical confines of working only in a specified organizational location. With notebook and desktop computers, fax machines, high speed modems, organizational intranets, and other forms of IT, organizational members can do their work from any place, at any time.
What are the implications of this vast spread of IT? One important is that employees’ job skill requirements will increase. Workers will need the ability to read and comprehend software and hardware manuals, technical journals, and detailed reports. Another implication is that IT tends to level the competitive playing field. It provides organizations (no matter what their market power) with the ability to innovate, bring products to market rapidly, and respond to customer requests. Companies such as India Mart for example, have made it possible for small exporters to access global markets directly through the medium of the Internet by providing online directories or online search engines for the searching of products. One of the greatest phenomena we’ve witnessed in business today, however, is the proliferation of activities over the Internet – commonly grouped under the term of the e-organization.