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Posted on August 30th, 2012, by

Information technologies have become an essential part of our life. We live in the time when contemporary world could hardly be imagined without internet, computers. It is essential that business is developing and changing their management and marketing strategies according to the new conditions. As we live in the cyber era the conditions are significantly influenced by the information technologies (traditionally called IT). It is a well known fact that IT has become deeply integrated in all the spheres of business life and managerial approaches of strategic planning are also seriously influenced. The development of strategic approaches including informational technologies as a part of it was started in the 80-s of the twentieth century and scientists and investigators suggested a number of approaches suitable for the realities and connections of IT sphere and business of those times. It will be not surprising that present day researches came to the conclusion that traditional approaches in information technology strategy suggested for example Michael J. Earl theories. Personally I think that his theories suggest some reasonable ideas in the field dealing with cooperation of strategic management and IT sphere.

“Both general managers and IT managers, if they accept that significant change if required in corporate information management, often demand to know what tangible, managerial actions are required. It is useful therefore to have a model by which different situations or postures can be compared. It also helps to understand how different business and sectors should respond. Finally, it could be valuable to have a model of leadership required to manage the transition. This section develops three frameworks which address these issues” (Earl, 1989). This short passage shows that even 1989, when computers were not as widely spread as now, Earl thought that future of business directly depends on the development of IT technologies. The cooperation of general managers and IT managers has become a significant part of inward organizational life. The newest software and technical decisions are used to take up successful business solution.  In present day we can observe strong correlation between the strategic management and IT management. It would be very hard to take up significant decisions without using modern technologies. I think that the main idea suggested by Michael Earl generally corresponds to the needs of present day Information Technologies strategy.

“Turnaround management therefore requires a directional emphasis in planning the use of IT. Focusing on major opportunities, threats and critical success factors is a typical posture for firms who discover that the strategic importance of IT in the future far exceeds that of the past. The IT function has to be re-structured, built up and given new profile. The most important aspect of control is to sort out, prioritize and put focus into IT resource allocation, driving a few major projects very hard. Established technology policies have to be re-thought and new technologies and networks embraced. For some years may be, IT expenditure grows in stepped amounts. The scale, importance and pace of all this turnaround activity requires the drive experience and status of an executive level manager, perhaps director in title and reporting to a senior board member. In the turnaround period, the major concern of top management and perhaps the easiest way of evaluating performance is the difference in visibility of IT awareness and activity in the organization Crucial to turning round the application and delivery of IT is investment in management education, Probably it is the first time that IT has been aggressively addressed by widespread management education in the firm” (Earl, 1989). It will be very hard to disagree, that IT strategies approaches described in this part could be applied in the modern world and well developed countries. We do not forget that this book was written in 1989 and the abilities and level of integration of IT in business was much lower that now. It is essential that time does not stand still and at the present moment the approaches Michael Earl suggested for cooperation and regulating the relations between the IT managers and general managers. The educative aspect is also among the unacute ones. Nowadays Information Technologies have become essential for every company. Every manager could hardly imagine his work without a computer, with a number of software suitable for his work direction.

Without knowledge of how to use these software or computer itself, he could hardly obtain the reasonable position in contemporary corporation. Re-education of the ”˜old staff’, who started working before the IT integration in business life, is also very interesting question.

Contemporary software is developed in such a way, that it could be easy used by a child. Especially, when we speak to standard office software, Internet browsers. It is natural that 20 year difference between publication of Earl’s book and present day situation with IT Strategies differs a lot. A number IT unqualified workers lessened to minimum, according to historical factor. It is essential that people retire and on their places come new staff, who knows more and able to use the newest software and technologies. I think that the ideas suggested by Earl 2o years ago could be perfectly used 20 years ago in the well developed countries, but now they are suitable for the countries that have not still reached the level of scientific and technical progress. Still I am sure that the approaches suggested by Michael Earl could be studied as a historical aspect in the field of cooperation of strategic management and IT sphere. It will be very useful to learn more about development process and decisions suggested to improve and make the business work more efficient. IT technologies actually helped to realize and optimize many great ideas. I think that such a guideline suggested by Michael Earl could be used in the third world countries, where low income does not let some companies (even successfully working) to integrate the IT in order to improve their strategic and managerial systems.

“For professionals and managers already in organizations (in-service education), four sets of requirements exist.

1. Refocusing – the raising of executive management awareness and understanding of how important IT is for the business and exploring what needs to be managed differently.

2. Retooling – developing management or application skills and knowledge to follow up any new initiatives identified in refocusing.

3. Reskilling – educating and training the IT specialists on technology, management, and business skills for the IT era.

4. Reinforcing – building top management understanding, confidence and commit­ment to support the effects of the other re-education programmes.

All of these reasons for management education identified earlier were non-technical. Although it is still common to see and hear of ”˜educators’ teaching senior managers how to program or give executives ”˜hands-on experience’, these exercises are peripheral to the major concern. If senior managers want to use computers themselves, then they can be helped by proper tuition and support. If they do not want to, there is no reason why they should be forced into it” (Earl, 1989). All these ideas and methods increasing computer knowledge are well developed, but still already unacute as I have mentioned before. But still all these methods could be used for education, showing the development process of IT technologies and their corresponding to managerial and business work. I think that ideas and thoughts Earl suggested in his book should be used in contemporary world to imp[rove knowledge of the ”˜old school’ workers in order o assist them in better understanding and using for efficient business. I think that all these educative strategies are still very important. Almost everyone have personal computers in our homes. But I could hardly imagine a worker that spends long hours in order to cope with the new software invented by the leaders to raise the efficiency of corporation. I think that reskilling and reinforcing are still very important methods of education as both could be used for present day Information Technologies Strategy. Modernization is not a modern invention, and in our cyber era, when information technologies and managerial strategies go hand by hand, it has become one of the most significant parts. The serious influence provided by IT technologies on the business life caused permanent modernization of software that provides new abilities for the user and tries to make his work easier and more efficient. It is essential that people need some time to get used to the new version of software product and accommodate to it. If the directors want to lessen the time undertaken for exploration and learning how to use updates and new software should organize the process in such a way that the product accommodation undertake less time and would be used in the shortest time. Educative and preparatory courses should become an essential part in many organizations; they should help to re-organize work.

“A few IT directors, chief executives and line managers have been the heroes pioneering the management of IT for strategic advantage. The purpose of this book has been to build on their experiences and experiments in order to encourage and guide the information managers of today and tomorrow” (Earl, 1989). I would like to summarize my investigation with his phrase to emphasize the attention of the researches on the fact that this book did not have a purpose to provide a guideline for generations. But at certain time the necessity in such a literature grew. Michael Earl had an aim to bring the idea of cooperating with IT in masses and he succeeded. I think that the achievement of such researches as Michael Earl and many others in the fact that they showed the abilities of IT. They insisted that the future generations will choose progressive technologies that could ease the task and provide quick solutions for complicated task. Calculator is better than counting frame. It is essential that future development of IT strategies will go hand by hand with business, providing efficient and successful decisions. We should not forget that the books by Earl and Porter were written more than 20 years ago. Their ideas and suggestions were innovative at those times. It is essential that a time passed and IT develops on the huge speed. Many ideas of these books were successfully realized in a number of organizations. It is essential that present day technologies suggest easier solutions for the same problems. I also would like to introduce a model for Information Technologies strategy approaches suggested by Bournemouth University. It corresponds to present day facilities and includes deep understanding and historical development of the process itself.

 

This diagram was suggested by Dieter KrÀftner, head of IT services at Bournemouth University. It includes development of the question from 2006 till 2010. It suggests the ideas that were realized in this period.

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