The explosion of technology innovations within recent years has created a multitude of new and exciting ways for companies to conduct business. We now have technologies such as robotic manufacturing, electronic mail, online videoconferencing, and global networks to connect everyone and everything. Small and medium businesses are now able to cross all traditional boundaries that limited them in the past. Technology has fundamentally altered the way businesses are structured and changed the ways in which managers perform their duties. Communication is essential for any business and for a business to survive in this modern environment managers must effectively manage all of these technologies (Robbins, and Coulter 60).
In the past, business would be conducted in person; face-to-face with the people you are working with. Employees would show up to an office to complete their work. Sales people or other company representatives would travel to distant locations to take care of business. Often they would have to find a phone or simply wait until they returned home to communicate the latest news. Business meetings would be scheduled weeks in advance and accommodations would have to be made for people to travel and stay for a few days. Documents would be passed around from person to person for changes and updates. To send documents out of the office to partners or customers, they would be sent using “snail mail,” which could take several days. Today this is no longer the case.
Dozens of technologies have become commonplace to allow a variety of different communication options as well as some non-traditional work schedules. Cell phones enable global communication. Company websites, blogs, and wikis allow a business to directly communicate with customers. The Internet allows employees to telecommute and work from remote locations. Executives from different countries can use videoconferencing to meet without ever leaving the office. Online document services such as Google Docs and Microsoft Office Live Workspace allow documents to be created, edited, and stored online for collaboration by multiple people in multiple locations. Web 2.0 innovations including social networks and wikis are being utilized to support this interaction. Employees no longer have to be chained to a desk in an office building from the hours of nine to five (Bughin, Chui, and Miller; Robbins, and Coulter 196-197).
While all of these technologies have enabled exciting changes and opportunities for businesses, they have also created a unique set of challenges for business managers. Chief among all concerns about technology is the issue of information security. It seems to be almost a weekly occurrence to see a news article about yet another breach of security and loss of sensitive data. Many people will remember high profile data breaches from companies such as T.J Maxx, Boston Market, Sports Authority, and OfficeMax. In the case of T.J. Maxx, a data breach resulted in the loss of...