Module 2: Managing Information Technology

Introduction to the Module

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This module introduces students to the application of Strategic Planning methodologies for the management of advanced Information Technology, in the context of a Systems approach to defining and solving real world problems, particularly in relation to engineering and technology based organisations.

The basic principles and concepts of managing Information Technology are introduced and discussed. Particularly in relation to the introduction of advanced information and communications technology into industrial organisations, the application of IT, its organisational impacts and its strategic value in relation to continuing industrial development in both developed and developing economic environments.

The teaching strategies used in the module are designed to encourage students to explore existing literature and published case studies relating to the introduction, use and management of Information Technology and to consider the value of developing strategically focused Corporate IT Policies.

Learning Outcomes

Upon successful completion of this topic you will be able to:

Identify and understand the general construct of Information Technology (IT)
Identify the various factors influencing the need for effective IT management in contemporary industrial organisations
Explain the general constructs of strategic planning and strategic management
Describe the potential of IT as a strategic management tool
Describe the role of IT in enhancing competitiveness
Explain the relationship between the business, Strategic Information Systems (SIS), Management Information Systems (MIS) and Data Processing (DP)
Apply the 3 era model of IT systems to contemporary organisations.


A rationale for the introduction and large scale implementation of technology to organise and manage complex data and information banks may be dated back to the invention of the punched card and associated mechanical tabulating equipment, by Herman Hollerith in the late 1880’s. This was successfully developed for and used in the US 1890 census.

By the early 1940’s electromechanical ‘computers’ were in widespread use, whilst in 1945 John Mauchly and J.P. Echert at the Moore School of Electrical Engineering at the University of Pennsylvania developed ENIAC, the world’s first fully electronic computer. Nine years later in 1954, UNISYS installed the first computers for business applications. Today, many tens of millions of electronic computers around the world operate the information backbone of companies and governments alike.

Figure 1. Impact of Information Technology

The rapid and continuing development of Information Technology (IT) in industry also needs to be seen in the context of increasing pressure worldwide for smarter, faster, more powerful and increasingly user-friendly technology. Indeed, current projections by IT corporations show strong continuing developmental growth in the underpinning and enabling technologies that collectively form IT systems.

This module endeavours to assist students to identify practical and effective strategies for determining the role of IT and appropriate implementation practices and approaches. In doing so, it focuses on the core stratagem of using strategic planning methodologies to assist in positioning IT products and services within an organisation. It also develops the construct of a Strategic Information System (SIS) as a significant management tool.

Background Skills and Knowledge

Before commencing Module 2. you should have completed manu1381 Module 1. No other specific knowledge or skills are assumed apart from basic computer literacy. Module 2. is structured as having three core Topics of study as follows. It is recommended that you work through them in numerical sequence.

Please refer to the list of references at the end of each Topic for a selection of recommended readings. Note: All recommended readings are available through the RMIT Library. A number of selected readings are also available through the electronic resources in the RMIT Library.

Module 2. Topic 5. Information Technology: Definition, Scope & Strategic Impetus Module 2. Topic 6. Strategic Planning as a Management Tool in Industry Module 2. Topic 7. Strategic Approaches in Information Technology Management

Topic 5: Information Technology: Definition, Scope and Strategic Impetus

Introduction to the Topic

A critical concern for managers today is how to cope successfully with the rapid changes occurring in IT, its application and management.

In this Topic the basic principles and concepts of managing IT are introduced and discussed. Particularly in relation to the introduction of information and communications technology into commercial and/or industrial organisations.

Specific reference is made to the evolution of key IT service characteristics and the specific role and function that IT plays in modern organisations.

Learning Outcomes

Upon successful completion of this topic you will be able to:

Identify, list and discuss the functions performed by IT in a modern organisation.
Identify and discuss the key benefits that IT can offer organisation
Identify, list and describe the key characteristics of IT applications as identified in the 3-era model.
Identify, analyse and differentiate the various mechanisms that characterise effective IT systems in an organisational context.

Activity 5A Roles played by IT in a modern organisation
First, read and reflect on Ward and Peppard (2002) chapter 1, the module Introduction.Then work through this Independent learning guide and the power point presentation materials at the end of the topic.Also work through the recommended readings listed at the end of the topic.Consider the question: What can IT systems do for an organisation that manual systems cannot, if anything?

Session 5.1 IT in a Modern Organisation

A Definition

The following definition whilst certainly subject to semantic argument about whether or not it is sufficiently precise or explicit enough, provides a useful basis for discussion on the nature, purpose and potential value of Information Technology (IT) in a contemporary technology-based organisation.

Note that it is boldly suggestive of IT as being used to specifically address the strategic planning construct of establishing the necessary conditions for, and being focused on, outcomes that lead towards achieving ‘competitive advantage’.

Figure 5.1 Information Technology: a Definition

Note also that the definition does not refer directly to the individual technology components that must eventually be collected together into a coherent ‘system’ in order to implement an IT environment. Rather, it more closely reflects a ‘management’ related view of the purpose, role and application of IT systems. It should have you thinking along the lines of: Why have IT systems in the first place, if they do not achieve these kinds of outcomes?

On the other hand you may want to challenge this approach with thoughts about the more technical application of IT! Yet, is there really any difference? If IT systems are to be of real commercial value to an organisation then perhaps we should indeed think and specifically plan that they meet these kinds of outcomes? In effect, our selection, acquisition, implementation and management of IT systems in an economically competitive environment, will demand that we address these kinds of issues.

Clearly, computer based technologies and associated applications may play many diverse roles in an engineering or technology based organisation, including facilitating design, improving speed and accuracy of calculations, and implementing real-time equipment control systems. However, this study module concentrates on the use of IT in supporting corporate information management systems, as a particular exemplar for the application of strategic thinking and strategic planning approaches.

Ward & Peppard (2002) give a worthwhile overview of the development of IT systems and their relationship to contemporary management practices and approaches, as businesses endeavour to “anticipate, create and use technology for economic advantage” (Betz, 1993).

Scope & Strategic Impetus

In the context of an increasingly global economy, Information Technology today also incorporates to a large extent the integration of modern communications technology, information processing technology, and multimedia capable technologies, as essential components in the design and implementation of strategically focused corporate information management systems.

While the application of IT and associated systems varies with both the maturity of a given organisation’s needs and the level of complexity of it’s operations, most organisations can be categorised in terms of the scope of their IT operations, against the ‘3-Era Model for Information Systems & Technology’. This model was first proposed by C. Wiseman (Strategy & Computers) in 1985 and is discussed in detail in Ward & Peppard (2002).

Figure 5.2 3-Era Model for IT Systems

Throughout Chapter 1. Ward & Peppard (2002) discuss the shift through the 1980’s from earlier highly structured / departmentally ‘control’ oriented / data processing based approach towards IT systems, to the development of a more ‘open’ information-management systems approach to organisational management in general and the management of IT systems in particular.

Central to this transition are the significant shifts in organisational attitudes and behaviours that become apparent, with an increasing emphasis on improving management effectiveness through providing more relevant, accurate and timely information. The Management Information Systems (MIS) era had arrived.

Yet even this significant era of change and the evolution of sophisticated MIS in both corporate and government organisations, effectively developing through the late 1970’s and 1980’s, was only a further (albeit necessary) step towards the construct of creating Strategic Information Systems (SIS).

Ward & Peppard provide a very worthwhile discussion of Information Management strategies in the context of developing a strategic management approach to MIS.

Recommended Readings (Topic 5)

Boar, Bernard (2001) The Art of Strategic Planning for Information Technology, 2nd Ed., John Wiley & Sons, New York.

Chapter 1. Strategic Planning for Information Technology

McNurlin, Barbara C. & Sprague, Ralph H. Jr. (2004) Information Systems Management in Practice 6th Ed., Pearson Prentice Hall, Upper Saddle River, NJ.

Chapter 1. The Importance of Information Systems Management.

Turban, Efraim. McLean, Ephraim. & Wetherbe, James (2002) Information Technology for Management: Transforming Business in the Digital Economy 3rd Ed., John Wiley & Sons, New York.

Chapter 1. Information Technology in the Digital Economy

Ward, John & Peppard, Joe (2002) Strategic Planning for Information Systems 3rd Ed., John Wiley & Sons, Chichester. 

Chapter 1. The Evolving Role of Information Systems and Technology in Organisations: A Strategic Perspective.

Activity 5B SAQ

Consider what differentiates Data Processing (DP) operations from Management Information System (MIS) and Strategic Information System (SIS).To what extent may DP and MIS operations be involved in a SIS strategy?Select an organisation familiar to you and/or the group and consider/discuss the current status of IT application in the organisation, with particular reference to the 3-era model.

Activity 5C Roles played by IT in a modern organisation

Information Management strategies or simply Information Control? Where lays the difference? Or is there any?The introduction and application of new Information Technology has been on both government and the international corporate sector’s political agenda for at least the past 40 years or more…. So what’s new?Apart from variable political and corporate agenda, what other driving forces are apparent in the continuing evolution of Information Technology?Consider various organisations that you are familiar with…. How many currently operate genuinely ‘strategic’ Information Systems? How do they go about it? What corporate achievements may be attributed to their operation of a Strategic Information System (if any)? If not, why not?

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Module 2: Managing Information Technology was first posted on August 31, 2020 at 1:34 pm.
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