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Computer Technology and the Networked Organization, Case Study Example

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Words: 839

Case Study

Introduction

The integration of information technology in the workplace continues to change how organizations operate in the modern business environment. Increasingly high-tech office furnishings make information technology integration almost invisible to end users. This research describes how Oticon Corporation (Oticon), an international hearing aid technology firm headquartered in Denmark, successfully integrated information technology in their office environment, as well as their daily business processes. The role of IT in organizations is also explored, with a particular focus on how IT is a catalyst for organizational change and enabler of long-term business success. This study also considers and supports other technology integration initiatives organizations can implement to increase employee loyalty, reduce workspace costs, improve productivity and collaboration, and foster greater quality of life. Finally, a personal opinion on the technology enabled office of tomorrow is examined, bearing light on the desired technology attributes that would make a facility a desirable place to work.

Oticon Integrates IT

On August 8, 1991, hearing aid manufacturer Oticon Corporation embraced the dawn of a new technology integrated day. On this date, Oticon rolled out a “broad package of innovative and radical initiatives in organizational structure, job design, information technology, and physical layout. Oticon was [re-branded] as a networking organization and became the world’s technologically leading audio logical company” (Larsen 2002).

As part of the re-organization, Oticon relocated its headquarters location to a three-story building in Copenhagen. At a time when the IT enabled business applications in use today were still in the nascent stages of development, Oticon pioneered the technology integrated, collaborative workspace. The new headquarters location was selected, in part, due to the technological flexibility it offered. As such, abundant facilities for information technology were engineered into the building’s design. Further, to enhance the technical aptitude amongst its workforce, as well as provide options for alternative computing, Oticon’s headquarters staff were all provisioned with a home computer. Oticon also implemented an automated electronic information system that scans and stores digitized copies of paper-based documents important to the company. Nearly all correspondence within the company is electronic. Oticon’s office design standard was beneficial for two reasons: It provided illumination around the company’s current work processes and taught Oticon’s staff new and innovative ways to work.

Oticon is a model example of how to integrate information technology into the work environment. By adapting its organizational model to leverage technology integrated solutions, in both the company’s daily business operations and in the development of new technologies for the hearing aid industry, Oticon successfully transformed itself into a global market leader. Evidence of Oticon’s technological successes includes its agile and productive workforce, its recognition as the world’s second largest hearing instrument manufacturer, and its continued profitability as a revenue-generating business entity.

Role of IT in a Global Business Environment

IT plays an increasingly crucial, albeit dynamic, role in organizations. Technology enables efficient, automated processes that allow organizations to continuously improve and respond to the needs of their stakeholders. Electronic messages are acceptable forms of communication, and technology enables the unified messaging solutions that keeps companies connected to their customers and suppliers. Technology helps workers achieve work-life balance by providing a means to work from home, or anywhere via a virtualized environment. In the context of security, IT governs the computing environment and protects it from viruses, hackers and other threats. From instant access to instant messaging, IT noticeably improves the business value of technology and operational resources, while also being a conduit for long-term business success.

IT & the Office of Tomorrow

IT will continue to be an important element in workplace design. Much like Oticon, I would promote a work environment that leverages technology to facilitate increased productivity. Understanding, however, the challenges in achieving work-life balance in the modern business environment, I would put more of an emphasis on those IT initiatives that enable greater flexibility.

Polycentric work environments and the increasing adoption of technology will boost employee productivity while enforcing flexible work arrangements. According to a recent report, titled [email protected] Work, by the Regus Group and Unwired Ventures, six areas are influencing the design of the future workspace: culture and work style, transportation, people, real estate, technology, and cubicles sustainability (Bawaba). Virtualization will give employees the freedom to choose where and when they want to work; and with knowledge readily available at one’s fingertips, the transition to a paperless work environment becomes more prevalent. The report elaborates on the increased adoption of technology, stating that “the combination of Wi-Fi connectivity, better mobile devices, high-speed networks and new, software-led connectivity have, in effect, sounded the death knell for the desk phone and the desktop computer” (Bawaba).

As a future member of this technologically integrated, agile workforce, I can only see the benefits of working in an environment where IT makes it possible for me to communicate, collaborate and work, effectively and efficiently, from any place of my choosing.

References

Bawaba, Al. (2010, March 29). The future of workspace: R.I.P cubicles. Mail Today (New Delhi, India), Retrieved from http://in.news.yahoo.com/248/20100329/1610/tls-the-future-of-workspace-r-i-p-cubicl_1.html

Larsen, Henrik Holt. (2002, December 1). Oticon: unorthodox project-based management and careers in a “spaghetti organization”. Human Resource Planning, Retrieved from http://www.allbusiness.com/public-administration/administration-human/407672-1.html

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