Overview of information technology and business advancement
According to Wu, Mahajan and Balasubramanian (2003), the role of information technology in the contemporary business environment cannot be overemphasized.
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Information technology is one of the vital tools that are being deployed by business organizations as a means of increasing efficiency and effectiveness in business activities, as well as the reduction of business costs.
As of today, a substantial number of firms have adopted e-business practices that are being utilized to discharge business practices, thereby improving business performance.
Information technology results in newer paradigms of management that aim at fostering a highly productive environment in business firms (Lindh 2006). The ability of firms to relate with other firms and thrive in the market is highly boosted by information technology (Tsai 2002).
However, it should be noted that information technology only benefits firms in a business environment where technology is highly embraced.
This means that information technology infrastructure has to be established in a given business environment in order to develop the capacity of information technology adoption in business practices (Ruey-Jer, Rudolf & Daekwan 2008).
The question that is often asked while talking about information technology deployment in business organizations concerns the payoff in the business environment in which the firm is located.
While information technology is seen as a key driver of performance in business organizations, it is argued to impact negatively on the wider economy.
For instance, it results in the layoff of employees in cases where an organization fully embraces information and communication technologies in discharging its business functions (Rogovsky, Sims & International Labour Office 2006).
The deployment of Information technology systems in business organizations in Oman
According to Al-Wohaibi, Masoud and Edwards (2002), it is quite challenging to adopt technology in advancing business since it presents both risks and challenges to firms.
The challenges and risks come from the costs that are involved in the acquisition and installation of information technology systems, as well as the technical issues that result in the continued usage of information technology systems to drive business.
The risks and challenges that are involved in technology adoption require a certain level of preparedness and capacity on the side of the firm that aims to deploy technology in its practices.
There is variation in the factor to consider in technology adoption in the developed and the developing world.
Oman falls within the developing world, with an economy that is classified as an upper middle income economy together with other countries of the GCC like Saudi Arabia (AL-Shoaibi 1998). This reiterates the increase in the economic ability of the country.
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The developed world is often at an advantage when it comes to the deployment of information technology in discharging organizational functions.
The rationale behind the observation is that unlike the developing world, the developed countries have the required resources that enable them to develop strategic visions concerning the development of information technology infrastructure for organizational enhancement.
Therefore, the management of the associated risks and challenges is quite easy for the developed countries as opposed to the developing countries, like Oman, which are still struggling to set and realize the strategic vision of information technology deployment in the organizational environment.
In spite of the fact that that the Oman government finds it challenging to deploy information technology in government organizations, the government still pursues a substantial number of strategies that are aiding in the full realization of Information technology adoption in government organizations.
The deployment of information technology in government organizations is a desirable step as far as the journey of advancing the business environment through technology is concerned.
The Omani government has not fully instituted the environment for technology adoption, a factor that hinders technology adoption in both private and public business organizations in the country (Naqvi & AL-Shihi 2009).
Government organizations often act as the main pillars of business functions in the country through the discharge of the vital business services to businesses.
It can, thus, be said that there is a realization about the worth of information technology platform in advancing business practices (Al-Wohaibi, Masoud & Edwards 2002).
Information technology still remains to be one of the key priorities of the Oman government as it keeps planning on how to advance the business environment in the country.
The opening of the trading environment that allows for the entry of foreign firms in the country highly boosts the development of IT infrastructure (U.S. & Foreign Commercial Service & U.S. Department of State 2012).
As observed in the preceding paragraph, Oman is transforming into an upper middle economy. This implies that the country economy is transforming from a weak to a strong economy.
The infrastructural capacity for information technology adoption and utilization in business organizations is often determined by the level of economic growth. The growth of firms results in the improved growth and performance of the economy of the country.
The rate at which technology adoption is taking place in business organizations in Oman is quite impressive and depicts the worth of information technology in business development.
One thing that should be asked is whether the information technology landscape in the country is adequate enough to back information and communication technology deployment in business organizations in the country.
A review of this concern brings in the technical and capacity problems and how such problems affect business firms in their quest to enhance performance through the use of information technology (Al-Wohaibi, Masoud & Edwards 2002).
Challenges and progress of in information technology adoption in business firms in Oman
Al-Hajri and Tatnall (2008) observed that in spite of the critical value of the banking industry to economic development, there is a low level of utilization of information technology for advancing baking services in Oman.
This means that most of the banks in the country are still using the traditional methods of discharging services to the customers. The methods are deemed inefficient and ineffective in the contemporary economic environment.
In the investigation of the role of information technology in advancing services in banking organizations, Ayadi (2007) observed that one main reason for the advancement of the banking industry in the developed world is because there is a high level of embrace of information technology in the banking industry in the developed world.
This speeds up the discharge of financial services in the economies, thereby promoting the rate of investment in the economy.
The quicker the pace at which the banks can discharge their services through the installment of automated information technology systems, the quicker they reach and serve a wider section of their customers and the higher the levels of business outcomes (Al-Hajri & Tatnall, 2008).
The realization of the value of information technology in the banking industry in Oman has resulted in initiatives by a substantial number of banking institutions in the country to adopt information technology.
While the value of internet technology adoption in the discharge of banking services is highly valued by managers in the Omani banking industry, the rate of deployment of internet technology still remains low due to the difficulty in internet technology adoption and usage in the country.
A substantial number of researchers also denote the security threats of internet usage and the ability to control the threats as impeding factors for technology adoption in business organizations in Oman (Lavender 2004; Held & Bowers 2001).
Carr and Snyder (2007) opined that the complete securing of data has posed as a great challenge to a substantial number of firms across the world. However, organizations that have already adopted internet technology are already showing positive prospects of performance (Molla & Licker 2005).
However, most business organizations in the developing world have a constrained capacity, which bars them from developing the information technology infrastructure even amidst the realization of the long-term payoffs of technology usage (Kapurubandara & Lawson 2006).
The control and management of flow and the management of knowledge and information is one of the key factors for promoting business in business firms. Al-Gharbi and Naqvi (2008) observed that most organizations in Oman embrace the management of knowledge and information.
In this way, they find technology, and intranet to be specific, to be a critical tool. Intranet advances the rate at which business organizations receive and pass information to potential customers.
This conforms to the argument by Hills (2007) that marketing activities are eased in business firms that keep adopting and enforcing the use of technology.
However, Temtime, Chinyoka and Shunda (2003) affirm that the use of information and communication technology in most organizations in the developing world is often affected by the unsustainable management of technology, which emanates from the low level of knowledge and capacity to do so.
This contradicts with the pace at which SMEs are adopting and thriving in the markets of the developed countries through the use of information and communication technology (Morikawa, 2004).
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