In the End, Does IT Really Matter?

It starts with one thing: Information Systems. What about it? What makes it relevant in businesses? Who takes responsibility for it? Why do we even have to learn Information Systems and how does it affect my daily life? What does IT have to do with my life? All these and other IT-related questions were boggling in my mind during the first day of our class in Management 286 – Management Information Systems.

All I know is that technology-related matters are interesting since technology becomes a necessity, especially for us millennials, as it provides ease and comfort in our everyday tasks, whether at home, office, basically anywhere in the world. And for businesses, IT becomes an investment that provides an advantage over competitors thus managers have the responsibility to identify opportunities to apply IT, smoothing its successful implementation and mitigating the various risks associated with it. Before investing into information technology systems, every business must have a strategic plan. How will IT impact the company’s vision and mission? Is the system in line with the company’s goals and objectives? With these, managers set strategies such as outsourcing to achieve lower costs, improve organizational focus, and increase the probability of IT success.

It’s so unreal not to have problems regarding information systems, numero uno of which is security. Since information systems contain a lot of the company’s viable data, some even rely heavily on there is structure, good internal controls and management accountability must be embedded in the organization to avoid these risks. There’s always an argument as to who is accountable for such risks. It must be emphasized that the responsibility of IT governance is not shouldered by the IT management but of the executive management. We learned that good IT governance will help managers achieve high value from their IT investment while managing the associated risks.

Communication must not be ignored as it is one of the factors in the success of an IT project. The use of collaboration tools, wireless networks and other business intelligence tools enable people to communicate and interact with one another anywhere effectively. Aside from effective communication, knowledge can also be shared. Some business practice knowledge management to increase awareness, foster learning, expedite collaboration and innovation, and exchange insights. Because IT will not work without the people utilizing and implementing the system, and that not everyone gets to stay in the organization for so long, the company must be able to pass their expertise to those who will replace them.

Going back to the factors of success in IT implementation, no matter what business collaboration tools organizations use, internal controls they establish, without a solid foundation everything else will be useless overall. Enterprise architecture provides the foundation for achieving the company’s vision and mission. It requires defining a future structure for an organization’s process, information systems, and personnel so that they align with the organization’s core goals and objectives.

Our Management Information Systems subject ended with the topic on computer ethics and responsible use of social media. Aside from what is generally accepted in the society, it is important to set rules within the organization to establish discipline and proper use as well as avoid risks. Users of social media must be responsible for their actions as each action bears a consequence that may affect not only themselves but other people or even the organization.

To answer the question ‘does IT really matter?’, in the end IT DOES MATTER. You are wrong Chester Bennington (refer to Linkin Park’s ‘In The End’ song).

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Reference: Information Technology for Managers by George W. Reynolds

Social Media – The New IT

Image result for social media meme black and whiteI could still remember when “Connecting People” was the famous tagline for the ever-famous Nokia phones. It was then when calls and text messages became popular, enabling us to keep in touch with our families and friends. Today, we have the world at our fingertips. Literally, with the touch of a fingertip or with just a click of the mouse, we can be connected to anyone to any country. With the introduction of Social Media, everyone is available 24/7 and long distance communication becomes less of a hassle now. To say the society we live in is technologically advanced would be an understatement. With everything becoming available to us, it seems as if anyone can document, broadcast, and stream just about anything.

As I have previously mentioned several times, technology never ceases to amaze us. The list of innovations goes on and continues to evolve out of need, convenience, satisfaction, and even just for fun. Social media paved way for anyone—everyone to use the power of interaction and communication, and as Ben Parker from Spiderman would say, “With great power comes great responsibility”. Yes we do have the freedom to post anything within the walls of our accounts but let us not forget that whatever we post on the Internet becomes available in the Internet. Unknowingly, by uploading photos, videos, and documents we actually share ownership of such to the public. This is why we have copyright and piracy issues nowadays because it is now difficult to trace the origin of these files. With more than a billion users active in social media, you’ll never know how many times your pictures have been copied and shared or who and how many people have seen them. With just your computers or smartphones in front of you, you’ll never know who’s on the other side, who’s stalking you, who’s peeping on your profile, who’s sharing your videos which could only be seen by a certain group of friends.

Personally I consider myself just an average social media user. I only maintain social media accounts like Facebook and Twitter to be aware of what’s happening around me, particularly news, and Instagram because I’m a fan of photography and YouTube just so I could binge-watch random videos. I’m not really an activist who posts my opinions and rants about a particular topic, although I do enjoy reading comments about the different opinions and sentiments of people. Social media isn’t always a bad thing, or something that one should worry about constantly. Well that depends on the user. With Facebook, I’ve been able to build relationships and it has been made easier for me to contact other people, especially friends whom I haven’t met for a long time. With Instagram I am able to share my creativity and be inspired by the works of others. I learned to appreciate the beauty of things which I may not see personally but in a different perspective.

Being a responsible user, it has been my commitment ever since to think before I click. I’ve always been sensitive to my surroundings and that includes the digital environment consisting of people from across the globe with different personalities, culture, etc. I can’t help but feel bad about victims of cyberbullying and fake news thus I’ve been promising myself never to spread news and information based on hearsay and gossip.

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Lastly, I’ve been constantly reminding myself that my life is not based on likes, status, and whatever stuff I have on my Social Media accounts does not define the reality of the world I love in. I should enjoy life as much as I can living in the real world rather than spending my daily hours on Social Media. There’s more to life than the four corners of our screens. After I post this blog I’m gonna shut my computer and get a good night sleep. #backtoreality #peaceout

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References:

  1. http://www.huffingtonpost.com/katie-atkinson/social-media-should-be-us_b_4168549.html
  2. http://www.humanresources.com/1303/social-media-and-you-using-it-to-your-advantage-2/

Why Pay When IT’s Free? But is IT Actually Free?

Okay, let’s not deny the fact that we are all victims of piracy. In every corner of the streets we see vendors urging passersby of all ages to buy DVDs of the latest movies in “Blu-ray” format and hard-coded Chinese subtitles. People nowadays can download movies, music, games, and even software programs from the Internet without cost. Software piracy has becoming to be a serious, pervasive issue affecting not only software companies but users of technology as well.

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According to a global study conducted by the Business Software Alliance, about thirty-nine percent (39%) of software installed on PCs around the world was not properly licensed with over 52.2 billion dollars’ worth of unlicensed software being used, most of which came from the Asia-pacific. It is alarming that countries with developing economies, including the Philippines, are the victims of using counterfeit software. The most common reason for such is the actual trade cost of purchasing license software. The price of computer software is just too much for a middle-class worker who has bills to pay, mouths to feed, etc. Why pay when there’s free alternative, right? But little do we know the impact of this, most of us think that this is a victimless crime; that we won’t get caught; that almost everybody does it. Well we can’t blame people from choosing the comfortable, easy life. We can’t blame the poor people forced into piracy acts. Blame the rich and greedy people then? There’s no point in blaming. Life is naturally unfair. #Reality

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Using pirated software imposes a great risk not only to individuals but enterprises as well. Apart from the legal consequences, pirated software does not have any warranty to protect itself as well as it increases the chances of not functioning correctly. It increases the risk of exposure to malware and data loss. It does not only violate copyright laws it also puts smartphones, tablets or PCs at higher risk of security threats and possible damages. Software companies should be able to provide measures to avoid software piracy and ensure tight control of the digital environment in the office by distributing software policies and clearly stated rules on proper use of company software to all employees. There are software companies running several anti-piracy programs in different countries from time to time to warn customers about the dangers of using counterfeit software.

Educating the public about copyright laws and tougher law enforcement may help reduce piracy. Consumers should also take their part in fighting piracy by being responsible and cautious in using software.  While it is a true fact that an individual’s attitudes towards piracy are directly related to the level of punishment, imposing sanctions to consumers against the illegal use of legitimate software could be one important approach to combat the growing software piracy. Such programs should be focused on long term goals as social change does not happen instantaneously, but takes a period of time to bring about effective changes.

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References:

  1. https://www.revulytics.com/resources/stat-watch
  2. “Software piracy: A study of causes, effects and preventive measures” by Ishwor Khadka
  3. http://portal.unesco.org/culture/en/ev.php-URL_ID=39405&URL_DO=DO_TOPIC&URL_SECTION=201.html

IT’s a Beautiful Mind

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This may sound redundant but what distinguishes the latter is that knowledge is meant to be shared. What is the purpose of knowledge if you just keep it to yourself? What good can it do then? Knowledge becomes a critical organizational resource and in order to gain a sustainable competitive advantage, organizations must in some ways rely on their employees because knowledge sharing is the main activity through which employees can contribute to knowledge application, innovation, and consequently the competitive advantage of the organization.

Knowledge sharing behavior is a set of individual behaviors involving sharing one’s work-related knowledge and expertise with other members within one’s organization, which can contribute to the ultimate effectiveness of the organization. And being employed in the government sector, which focuses more on delivering services for the public, knowledge is essential for continuing and improving the services necessary for the betterment of the country and the Filipino people.

In our office, there are more middle-aged and elderly employees than those within our age group. Soon personnel in the top-level management will have to retire and turnover not just the reports, outputs, and plans, but the skills and knowledge they acquired since their employment. Such managerial and technical skills cannot be easily copied or transferred from one person to another, thus proper knowledge management should be implemented in every organization, most especially for us in the public sector.

As much as KM is important in the organization, there are a lot of barriers that hinder its implementation. One of which I consider the biggest factor is the behavior of employees in the organization, from the rank-and-file employees to those on the top-level positions. Lack of support from employees, having insufficient information of KM, not being open-minded about its effect and the benefits derived in its implementation, and poor managerial influence deter the implementation of KM.

Knowledge management is an ongoing, persistent, purposeful process that strongly depends not only on the knowledge that is to be acquired but also on the people carrying that knowledge, and those who will inherit them.

References:

  1. https://www.researchgate.net/publication/275866706_EMPOWERED_EMPLOYEES%27_KNOWLEDGE_SHARING_BEHAVIOR
  2. Knowledge Management in Government Organizations – Module 2
  3. http://www.academia.edu/1049537/Enablers_and_Barriers_to_Effective_Knowledge_Management_The_Case_of_Dubais_Public_Sector1

The Business Intelligence Tool – Making the Most Out of IT

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As explained in Reynolds’ Information Technology for Managers, Business Intelligence (BI) tools provides a wide range of applications, practices, and technologies for the extraction, translation, integration, analysis, and presentation of data to support improved decision making. Simply stated, these are tools that enable people to transform data into information that will benefit their businesses.

Indeed BI tools are very essential in making decisions but not everyone fully understands them, nor do they have the knowledge on what data is needed to obtain valuable information and output. Sometimes these tools yield results that end up not actually relevant or beneficial to the organization. Many businesses spend considerable time and effort choosing and using a BI tool only to wonder why they’re not getting the most out of it later on. The problem does not lie with the BI tools but with the people in the organization. If the employees aren’t using them to their full capacity, they may not be deriving the greatest benefit. People go about their daily business while ignoring potentially valuable data.

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Managers should take the initiative to actively engage their employees in business intelligence so they can make the most out of collected data. Employee collaboration is the key as it ensures that team members are working together with a common body of information to make the best decisions. If people aren’t discussing what they see, there’s a good chance they don’t have a full understanding of the data in front of them.

Reward programs can enhance employee motivation to share knowledge. To achieve this, rewards may be given to employees who spend their time facilitating and working with other members in the workplace. Reward programs can also create a sense of obligation among employees in collaborating with one another. I believe “incentives” such as pay raises will effect a change in the behavior of the employees to participate in BI activities, thus I think there is no need for a punitive type of program for such.

Engagement is a two-way street. If employees are supposed to be looking at business intelligence data on a regular basis, then leaders need to do the same. Managers should ask questions and spark discussions around the latest data, encouraging a results-centric dialogue among departments. Business intelligence should become an active part of the culture instead of just a set of numbers on the sidelines.

Business intelligence can yield incredibly valuable information, but if not handled properly, it can also be incredibly overwhelming to many employees. By taking the right steps to engage with the employees, the business can harness the full power of big data and create a more productive working environment.

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References:

  1. http://middlemarketexecutive.com/5-ways-encourage-business-intelligence-engagement-employees/
  2. http://www.baass.com/blog/motivate-and-innovate-encouraging-employees-to-use-business-intelligence-systems
  3. https://www.elegantjbi.com/blog/business-intelligence-tool-engendering-employee-collaboration.htm
  4. Business Intelligence: Concepts, Methodologies, Tools, and Applications Book

IT’s Time to Shop

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It’s an often-asked question: Is it better to buy online or shop in store? Sometimes the answer is the former, sometimes it’s the latter and sometimes a combination is best.

Even shopping has been made very convenient with just a few clicks on your computer or a tap on your phone. Online shopping started way, way back before we even realized it exists. The concept of online shopping is heating up like crazy—a trend that has spread like wildfire globally and it is no surprise why! With millions of e-commerce stores available today, the convenience to shop at the comfort of your home, and the ability to dodge the crowd during midnight and clearance sales are all good reasons why people switch to online shopping. Taking advantage of the widespread use of Internet, almost everything can be purchased online—from small toys to large appliances—the list goes as far as one could imagine.  The Internet has made it possible for us to buy virtually anything we can imagine, regardless of how ridiculous it may be.

With online shopping, you don’t even have to get up. Just stay in bed. Shop while doing the dishes, painting your nails, whatever you’re doing right now won’t be interrupted. Say yes to procrastination! No need to go on an expedition across several aisles. All the categories you need are in one place.

In some cases though, shopping in-store may be better than purchasing online. Clothes and shoes may be better to purchase in-store to try them on to know for sure. You can’t just rely on a tape measure to truly know how they’ll look and feel. To see is to believe, they say. Quality is also a critical factor in considering purchasing items online. There are a lot of bogus sellers claiming their products are authentic and will attract customers through cheaper prices, discounts and freebies. You’ll never know who these people are behind the screen, better check forums and reviews from other customers.

Having these pros and cons about online shopping, here are three products which I don’t have hesitation in purchasing online:

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Books. Books are becoming quite old-fashioned these days and there aren’t many bookstores around anymore, considering the fact that the amount of individuals currently considering reading and education in general as an important activity is decreasing globally. Yet, many consumers still use books for relaxation, enlightenment, and enjoyment. And I think it’ll be hard searching for every bookstore just to find the one you’re looking for. I say just search the title or author of the book on any online store site and you’ll find what you need.

Grocery Items. Do you really have to go out every week or two just to buy the same coffee, noodles, canned goods and toiletries? Maybe it’ll be a breeze if you have a car to drive back and forth. How about those who don’t own cars? Those with health and mobility issues? Senior citizens? How convenient it may be to, instead, have groceries delivered straight to your doorstep, right?

Music. Why deal with all the hassles of buying and maintaining a music library when you can get nearly everything you want online, sometimes even for free? CDs, vinyl records and mp3s consume space while you can have the files available in whatever location you want, whenever you want, in the cloud storage. Old records may be give a vintage vibe, maybe sentimental to some, but some things just don’t last forever.

Meanwhile, these are some items I might have to think twice before buying them online:

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Apparel. Although online shops have wider selection of clothing from different brands, there may be some differences in their size measurements. And for me, size definitely matters. My clothes are of different sizes and I have to try them on to see if they are a good fit for me. You may also be unsure of the quality of the items being displayed online. Reality vs. expectations, anyone?

Shoes. Same with clothing, there are shoes that are of not of the same fit even though they have the same size. Although there are shops that offer free return shipping if the shoes don’t fit, it could be a hassle returning them. Online shops give big discounts though. Very tempting indeed.


Consumer Electronics.
Why buy? Big discounts. New products are usually released earlier online than in stores. Why you shouldn’t buy? There may be defects upon shipment of the product, or it may be of poor quality. Check warranty policies and make sure retailers offer free returns.

And these are some I swear I won’t buy online:

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Large, Bulky Furniture/Appliances. The same discounts and delivery offers usually apply both in stores and online retailers. But it’s definitely worth seeing what you’re paying for and inspecting the quality of materials and build. Plus, salespeople can help explain differences in models and features to help buyers decide which they should buy.

Luxury Items. Before clicking that “Add to Cart” button, are you 100% sure that it’s the real deal? How would you know? You might assume that it’s a great way to get a pricey designer handbag for a bargain, not knowing it’s actually fake. Unless you don’t really care whether it’s leopard skin or rubberized fabric, then it’s your call. If I buy a very expensive item I better make sure it looks, smells and feels expensive and 100% authentic.

Medicines. You can blame my trust issues but never will I buy medicines online, especially from sites I know nothing of. You’ll never know what you’re getting, maybe illegal drugs or out-of-date prescription pills (insert Ed Sheeran’s Save Myself). I’ll just head to the nearest pharmacy, most of them are available 24/7 anyway.

Though online shopping has significantly raised the convenience factor when it comes to shopping in general, some items are better purchased at a store than over the Internet to get the very best deal. At the end of the day, the decision to purchase online or in store often depends on the circumstance as well as your decision-making.  In the end, it comes down to the preferences of the buyer. Some people are die-hard online shoppers, some avoid online purchases at all costs or don’t know how to use the internet, and some are somewhere in the middle. As for me, I better save first before shopping.

Shortest horror story ever: SOLD OUT

References:

  1. https://www.nerdwallet.com/blog/shopping/5-buy-online/
  2. http://www.clark.com/drawbacks-of-online-shopping
  3. http://metro.co.uk/2014/02/20/10-reasons-why-online-shopping-is-infinitely-better-than-shopping-in-real-life-4305137/

Now You Can Use IT Anytime, Anywhere!

Wireless networks have revolutionized the way we can use computers and mobile devices, both at home and in the office – and when we are out and about. Because of heavy reliance on internet, the needs of homes and many work spaces call for a greater and more versatile internet coverage than just having a single PC, or group of PCs wired up to a router with cables. Thus wireless networks enable multiple devices to use the same internet connection remotely. These allow mobile devices—laptops, tablets, smartphones—to move around within the network area freely and still maintain a connection to the internet and the network. We can say wireless networks offers more accessibility and convenience for users and lower set up costs for network providers. In our generation, the Wi-Fi has become a necessity for us millennials driven by the need for instant information and updates about people, news, trends, etc.

At work, wireless technology has been a great use for people in the office as it enhances productivity and allows quicker access to information as well as dissemination of reports. In my case, due to the scope of our work we are situated at different offices, hence the need for readily available network for sending and receiving reports, memoranda, and other information. It’ll be a hassle to leave your work station and report back to the main office just to receive a memo when it can be done via email.

Despite the convenience wireless technology brings, there are some issues, mostly security loopholes, associated in its usage thus there must be a set of guidelines for proper utilization. For me I think these are the very relevant to ensure safe usage of wireless networks.

  1. Don’t share any single wireless access point with more, say twenty (20), users. The more users sharing an access point, the slower the wireless network can become, defeating the purpose of it being convenient to use.
  2. Secure network access through data encryption and user authentication. Use a strong password for Wi-Fi use. Longer passwords made up of a combination of letters, numbers and symbols are more secure.
  3. Limit the access for visitors and guests. Change the network password once or twice a year to prevent them from automatically connecting to your network.
  4. Provide control systems which protect the devices that use the network. Don’t leave your computers, laptops and other devices unattended. Turn off your wireless router when it will not be in use for any extended period of time.

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The best thing about having a wireless network is that it is, well, wireless. It eliminates the need for costly (and could be dangerous) wires around the house. You can access the Internet upon waking up or during the wee hours of the morning, alone in your room or when you’re around with friends. You can do it in areas impossible for wired connection. With wireless network you’ll always be available anytime, anywhere!

To be happy in this world, first you need a cell phone and then you need an airplane. Then you’re truly wireless.

— Ted Turner