Technology and Organization Structure
Technology has invaded every aspect of our lives. In the past new technologies were meet with resistance that has since subsided and in many ways have become a part of standard operating procedure in our daily lives. The business world has not escaped the advancements of technology; in fact many companies have embraced the innovations and use them to their benefit. Employees in one office can communicate with their counterparts, clients and others almost effortlessly and in real time in other offices, states, and on other continents.Olsen & Pedersen (2009) postulate that modern technology is enveloping, multifaceted and rapidly changing as is evident in every area of our lives. As a result leaders have used technology in a variety of ways ranging from conducting long distance meetings to making informed decisions about the organization, and allow employees to work in teams irrespective of their locations.
Organizations in many industries are face with the decision of how best to incorporate technology into their organization’s structure.
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While technology is available to an organization, it is most effective when the technology enhances the organization’s strategy, structure, communication, employee relationships and the company’s overall performance. Technology today has moved from what Henderson & Venkatraman (1993) refers to as a “back office” position to a more focal and significant role that has brought about change and has the potential to bring about greater transformation. Technological advancements could possibly bring about new strategies for some organizations and change the way they conduct business.In some instances companies are started because of the specific technologies. One example of this is a small business in near my office that creates, hosts, and maintains websites. If it were not for technology there would be not websites therefore it would be reasonable to assume that there would most likely no need for such a business.
Organizational structures My organization is based on a centralized management structure. The leaders of SWRC have a vision for our organization and they do not stray from this vision or what is referred to as “their tried and proven strategy”.As a leader it is my responsibility to carry out the vision of the leaders, positively influence and empower employees, help the organization move forward, and elevate my leadership skills. My input is welcomed and sometimes implemented once it does not stray from the organization’s core beliefs, mission, and strategy. Hence leaders below the CEO had limited decision making powers. A&M on the other hand operates under more of a decentralized company structure. According to a leader (Mr.
Phillips) in that company the decision making process is more shared; this approach has played a major role in A&M’s success. Mr. Phillips expressed that empowering leaders has brought out the best in the leaders within his company. Additionally, these leaders have in turn empowered employees creating a sense of ownership in the company, which translates to greater commitment to the company and increased employee self worth. Mr. Phillips’ sentiment on leadership and the empowerment are shared by Lashley (1995) who asserts that employees who are empowered tend to be more committed to success.Literature Review In the 1970s Mohr (1971) expressed that the relationship between technology and organizational structure was not clearly established.
Technology forth years ago was limited in scope especially in comparison to what is available today and what is on the horizon. It is almost impossible to imagine what technology will encompass forty years from now in general or within organizations. Mohr (1971) postulated that both organizational structure and technology are not simple concepts to address, and this is certainly evident even today as the definition of technology varies.Despite the varying views on the technology’s extent, it is evident that technology exists and plays a role in our private lives, the business world, science, education, philosophy, politics, ethics, and will continue to become more expansive in the future (Olsen, Pedersen & Hendricks, 2009). One major aspect of the relationship between technology and organization structure is efficiency. There is growing consensus that their needs to be a strategic alignment between technology and organizations.Henderson and Venkatraman (1993) suggests that their needs to be a connection between promising technology and strategic management and “continuous adaption and change” (p.
4). This idea is valid because with the rapid changes in technology, the changing needs of organizations, and the constant demands from the public both the organization and their technology should be cohesive and equipped to change. McCullough’s (2004) compiled data from 110 companies in two emerging markets to determine whether or not there is a relationship between organizational effectiveness and technology.The study found that among the firms examined information technology positively influenced the organizations’ effectiveness. Comparisons of technological interactions between organizations The first of the two organizations is an international multifaceted non-profit that provides a wide array of services to disadvantaged individuals and families across the world. For privacy purposes this organization will be referred to as SWRC. Contrary to popular belief and many other non-profits, my organization pays close attention to the many advancements in technology.
As a leader within my organization (SWRC) I am a part of a forward thinking group of individuals who while conservative, they embrace advancement and remains relevant. The second company which I will refer to as A&M is much less conservative in their operation and leadership and is also a forward thinking for- profit organization. A&M is a multinational consulting firm specializing in Turnaround and Restructing, Performance Improvement, Dispute Analysis and Forensics, Transaction Advisory and Tax Advisory.According to the company’s website the firm’s clients include 95% of AmLaw 100 firms, 25% of the S&P 500, 40% of all Fortune 100 companies and 18 of 20 of the largest banks in the U. S. The firm employees approximately 1700 employees and last year’s billings approach $1 Billion dollars. The corporate structure of A&M plays a very important role in the firms’ technological needs.
Specifically, most of the employees are analysts who spend a significant amount of their billable time at client sites.Therefore every employee, even support staff who spends all of their time in-house, is issued a laptop. There are no desktops in the environment. The mobility of the staff drives the need for secure remote access to resources back at the corporate headquarters or the specific local office. VPN technology is therefore of utmost importance. Even with remote access provide some client site, for secure purpose, do not allow VPN access from their site. The technical staff of A&M therefore turned to a VPN technology that utilized commonly allowed web protocols.
Mobility of the workforce also required a means to secure the information that is stored on the analyst laptops. A&M deployed a laptop encryption technology to protect against stolen or lost laptop revealing private data. In addition the data contained on the laptop needed to be backed up in case of accidental or intentional destruction of that data. The firm chose an online service that allowed the data on the laptops to be backed up and restored when necessary. Mobility of most of the firms’ employees almost drives the adoption of mobile phones and mobile messaging.Both these needs are achieved with the use of Blackberry mobile messaging devices. The analyst and support staff needs to be able to respond to emails from any location at almost any time.
The blackberry devices provide mobile access to the firms email system and with a service offered by the mobile provider, a call to a desk phone simultaneously rings on the mobile phone. Therefore, the analyst will not miss a call or an email unless they are not in a coverage area. Analysts also travel and work for short and extended period of time in other A&M offices.With a feature of the Voice over IP technology the user can log into any phone and his phone profile, like phone number and speed dials, follows them to that phone. These are only two examples of how the corporate structure of A&M determines the type of technology it uses. Technology serves as an enabler for the structure of A&M. Scott and Davis (2007) suggest that technology is one of the means by which an organization accomplishes their work.
Securing documents, financial and other record, etc of A&M as well as their clients is vital to them remaining reputable in their line of business more so than some other companies.SWRC’s success is hinged on their ability to meet the needs of the disadvantaged and their aggressive fundraising; technology plays a significant role in attaining these accomplishments. My organization also uses technology to respond to emails, on desktop computers, laptops and mobile devices; however the need for swiftness and being attached to an electronic leach is not at the same level. Advance technologies have opened up new methods of communications, fundraising, advertising, reaching the community, and improved efficiency for the employees of SWRC.My organization’s client list is not listed on our website nor is it widely discussed throughout the organization. Complex technologies have also created opportunities for business development at A&M through greater collaboration, increased accessibility to information, and information sharing. According to an article in Business Week back in 1995, technology has a large appeal and when designed well leads to people and organizations more efficient, profitable, and knowledgeable.
Conclusion The three articles used in this paper indicate that technology has played a significant role in organizational structure for several years.Both of the organizations discussed have experienced increased effectiveness, broaden the channels of communication, responsiveness to customers and clients, and has improved employee productivity as a result of technological advancements. While the two organizations discussed are of differing organizational structures, technology has played a significant role in each. A&M is certainly a more technology savvy company than my non-profit organization with more advanced technology needs and systems, but both organizations’ structures are enhanced by their respective technology configurations.It is important that my non-profit organization be prepared to continue to move with the projected technological advancement in the interest of remaining relevant.References Lashley, C. (1995).
Towards an understanding of employee empowerment in hospitality services. International Journal of Contemporary Hospitality, 7, 27-32. McCullough, J. (2004). Effects of organizational structure and information technology capability on organizational effectiveness in emerging markets. Journal of Academy of Business and Economics. Retrieved from http://www.
allbusiness. com/technology/300264-1. html Mohr, B. L. (1971). Organizational theory and organizational structure. Administrative Science Quarterly, 16, 444-459.
Olsen, J. K. B. , Pedersen, S. A. , & Hendricks, V. F.
(2009). A companion to the philosophy of technology Malden, MA: Wiley-Blackwell. Scott, W. R, Davis, G. F. (2007). Organizations and organizing: Rational, natural and open systems perspectives.
Upper Saddle River, NJ: Prentice Hall.