The way companies of all sizes do business is changing largely because of advancements in information technology. From new technological devices like tablet computers, PDAs and smartphones, to increasingly advanced applications, software and communication networks, the workforce is becoming a more global entity that puts more companies on equal footing with access to information anywhere in the world.
Networking has always played an important role in business, and information technology makes communication and sharing of ideas with colleagues around the world almost instantaneous. In addition, more recent social networking sites such as LinkedIn, Facebook and Twitter allow businesses an unprecedented level of contact and communication with their customers. By harnessing this part of information and communication technology, companies can share information virally. This means as each customer or worker shares information about the company online, the number of people who are exposed to the information grows exponentially.
This new way of networking also means a new approach in marketing. Successful marketing depends on understanding what customers need, want and expect, and social networking allows their voices to be heard by fellow customers and the company itself. If a customer finds a product poor or unsatisfactory, he or she can voice this opinion online and possibly affect the decisions of other customers. Businesses can use this part of information technology to study what works, what doesn't and how best to market their products to potential customers.
Chain businesses have always been exposed to more customers than smaller, independent businesses. However, as more companies not only create an online presence with a website, but begin selling their products and services online, independent businesses may gain more equal footing. By putting themselves and their products and information online, businesses reach a large audience. Of course, these businesses would have to have the same supply as larger businesses to actually meet that large of a demand. However, in the case of a big company potentially putting a smaller company out of business, the smaller company can potentially find customers in other cities and stay in business thanks to information technology.
Workers are becoming increasingly equipped with devices like laptops and PDAs, which give them constant access to information and communication technology. This helps companies by introducing new ways to conduct business. For example, video conferences not only help companies include more members in important decision making, but allow workers more flexibility in their schedules because they no longer must be in a specific location to get work done.
While there are many ways in which information technology helps business, it can be broken down into three perspectives, according to a study from the Center for Information Systems Research at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology. Those perspectives are from a worker interested in improving the quality of a business, in besting the competitors or in choosing which specific part of the business industry to enter.