Role of access to 'real-time' information in the survival of enterprises

Van Biljon, Sharon Susanna (2004-12)

Thesis (MPhil)--Stellenbosch University, 2004.

Thesis

ENGLISH ABSTRACT: The rise of the network economy had a resounding impact on the world economy. Business remains transfixed between choosing between hierarchical organizational structures suited to a control and command mindset or transforming to an organizational structure intent on sensing and responding. Flexible and adaptive enterprises are more suitable to an increasingly volatile business environment. Current business trends worldwide seem to point in this direction. This may be an indication of the way in which organizations strive to avoid running the risk of business insignificance. Driven by business volatility, organizational structures are turning increasingly to naturally occurring ‘organizations’ to construct their own malleable versions. The redesign of an organizational structure is as important as reviewing information flows, optimizing technology and most importantly, finding the right type of employee to set the wheels of a real-time enterprise (RTE) in motion. Any discussion pertaining to real-time will touch on time. A reflection on hierarchical organizations highlights their stability, but also their inflexibility and sufficing information practices. It then becomes clear that the new business direction in an intensely competitive environment will have little tolerance for any measure of organizational rigidity. But how driven and fast can information really be processed and still enhance the value of an enterprise? The RTE is not a fully automated enterprise. Its employees may be less involved in its everyday tasks, but remain part of its decision-making process. To what degree does the RTE business model then facilitate value-adding information processing by both automation and manual interventions? Do limits exist where speed and time wastage in business are concerned? Is speed at all costs the only concern of the RTE? The aim of this paper is to answer these questions conceptually. Cognizance was taken of the impact of the volatile business environment on organizational structures influencing the current understanding. The highlighted business trends are based on recently published global and authoritative industry papers, business analyses and academic interpretations. Some of the best material was sourced from professional journals discussing the infinite angles of real-time information. Castells’s work on the network society proved to be extremely valuable to gain a holistic understanding. The latest developments were obtained from well-established research companies. During the investigative phase of this paper, the author encountered one thesis on real-time information focusing on information technology. It was evident that more research is required to answer the questions posed. The eventual findings were in line with the complexity and scope of the subject. The current demands of a global network economy necessitate agile and adaptive networked enterprises, not hierarchies. Roles are becoming more important than positions in the organizational transition phase to a networked, flat structure. A failure to start with such a transformation programme will result in a failure to survive in a fiercely competitive global business environment. It was clear that the RTE is dependent on the establishment of a balance struck between business entities in their interactions with one another as parts of a whole, replete with conditions and requirements. It is only in this sense that access to real-time information could be seen as a differentiating factor in global business.

AFRIKAANSE OPSOMMING: Die ontstaan van die netwerk-ekonomie het ‘n beduidende invloed op wêreldhandel gehad. Besigheid het nog nie uitsluitsel verkry tussen twee soorte organisatoriese strukture nie, naamlik, ‘n hiërargiese organisasiestruktuur wat pas by ’n beheer-en-regeer denkwyse en die ander, ’n veranderende organiese struktuur wat aanvoeling en reaksie belangriker ag. Buigsame, aanpasbare organisasies is uitstekend aangepas by ’n toenemend onsekere besigheidsomgewing. Dit wil voorkom of organisasies tans in hierdie rigting neig om die risiko van onbeduidenheid in die hedendaagse sakewêreld op dié manier te systap. Onsekerheid in besigheid noop organisatoriese strukture om hul toenemend te wend na organisasiestrukture wat natuurlik voorkom, ten einde ‘n eiesoortige buigsame weergawe daarvan te skep. Organisatoriese herstrukturering is ewe belangrik as die hersiening van inligtingsvloei, die optimisering van tegnologie en bowenal, die soektog na die regte soort werknemer wat dryfkrag aan die ‘real-time enterprise’ of RTE sal verleen. ‘Real-time’ besprekings sluit noodwendig die tydskwessie in, terwyl enige nabetragting oor hiërargiese organisasies sal fokus op stabiliteit, maar ook op onbuigsaamheid en ontoereikende inligtingspraktyke. Die nuwe besigheidsrigting in ’n uiters mededingende omgewing laat min ruimte vir enige mate van organisatoriese onbuigsaamheid. Die vraag ontstaan egter hoe vinnig en gedrewe inligting verwerk kan word ten einde besigheidswaarde te vermeerder? RTE’s is nie volledig geoutomatiseerde organisasies nie. Hoewel werknemers nie ten volle betrek word by alledaagse werk nie, is hulle steeds deel van die besluitnemingsproses. Maar vergemaklik die RTE-besigheidsmodel inderdaad die verwerking van inligting deur gedeeltelike outomatisering? Hoe word spoed en tydsvermorsing in organisasies hanteer? Sou spoed byvoorbeeld ten alle koste die enigste belang wees van die RTE? Die doel van hierdie proefskrif is om hierdie vrae in beginsel te beantwoord. Die invloed van besigheidsonsekerheid op organisatoriese strukture wat die huidige denkwyse beïnvloed, word erken. Die aanduiding oor organisatoriese ontwikkeling is gebaseer op internasionale, gesaghebbende spesialisgeskrifte, besigheidsontledings, sowel as akademiese vertolkings. Voortreflike literatuur is bekom in professionele joernale oor die ontelbare nuanses van ‘real-time’ inligting. Castells se werk oor die netwerkgemeenskap was van onskatbare waarde vir ’n oorsigtelike insig, terwyl die jongste ontwikkelinge verkry is uit artikels afkomstig van gevestigde navorsingsinstansies. Die skrywer het gedurende die navorsingsfase slegs een proefskrif teengekom oor ‘real-time’ inligting met inligtingstegnologie as die hooffokus. Dit is duidelik dat toenemende navorsing steeds ontbreek. Die uiteindelike bevindings het ooreengestem met die ingewikkeldheid en omvang van die onderwerp. Die eise van ’n internasionale netwerk kan slegs beantwoord word deur ratse en aanpasbare netwerk organisasies, allermins deur hiërargieë. ’n Rol, pleks van ’n aanstelling, raak van toenemende belang in die organisatoriese oorgangsfase na ’n plat struktuur wat deel is van ’n netwerk. Versuim om te begin met so ’n oorgangsprogram sal mislukking tot gevolg hê in die geweldig mededingende besigheidsomgewing wat dwarsoor die wêreld heers. Die RTE is afhanklik van die daarstelling van ‘n balans tussen besighede as dele van ’n geheel in hul omgang met mekaar wat die nodige voorwaardes en vereistes insluit. Dis slegs binne hierdie raamwerk dat toegang tot ‘real-time’ inligting beskou kan word as ’n unieke faktor wat aan besigheidsorganisasies wêreldwyd gebied word.

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