Innovations in electronic communications technology spurred the Information Age, a time period featuring fluid, almost instantaneous information transmission. The digital world offers interfaces such as email, instant messaging and chat rooms that help with simultaneous transference of information to a large number of people. For many organizations, electronic communication has become a necessity for participation in modern commerce. Electronic commerce has opened up many opportunities because it allows large-scale global collaboration.
Electronic communication allows the rapid transfer of goods, money and ideas. This eliminates the need for employees to physically transfer ideas, through the mail, in person or over the phone. This also happens on a larger scale -- for example, sending a dozen email messages saves the worker the time it would have taken to make 12 phone calls or send 12 memos. To stay competitive, modern workplaces must work at the same speed as rivals, using the Internet and electronic communication.
Information is a valuable commodity to many organizations. Certain attributes, such as accuracy, accessibility, application and rarity, make information more valuable. Information that can be used to aid employees in decision-making is also valuable. The ability to communicate this information quickly adds to the value of the data. Employees who research and share are able to come to more informed decisions faster than if they used non-electronic communication.
Information systems use electronic communication to collect, process, store, retrieve and distribute information. These systems aid the employees in organization and collaboration. An office inflation system is comprised of the physical components, called hardware, and the programs that create user-friendly communication interfaces, called software. Computer files called databases store company, employee and research information. Computers connected through hardware and software are called networks. Networks are convenient tools for workplace information sharing and collaboration.
In some cases, such as e-commerce, communications systems are needed to enter the market. In other cases, the company uses electronic communication to keep up with or gain an advantage over competitors. A well-run communications system keeps the workplace more efficient by providing fast correspondence and aiding in the decision-making process by offering easy access to relevant information. Some companies use electronic communication to aid in administrative functions such as scheduling, transaction processing and tracking employee time sheets. Electronic communication also can help with collaboration across departments linking planning aspects such as development, marketing and strategy.