The Impact of Technology in Organizational Communication
The relationship between technology and communication in today's organizations is significant. Technology can even change the way organizations are structured when a new system is introduced. Moreover, in many organizations, new IT systems have complicated the way people communicate by adding complexity to the organization structure. This could be the case for financial systems such as SAP, which are designed to meet requirements of one exclusive part of the organization.
However, new IT systems can also reduce organizational complexity. Technology can be designed to fit any requirement of a particular organization. A new technology could be flexible enough to simplify power relationships and processes. When information is well organized and access is easy, communication improves between and within areas.
IT systems are imperative in present organizations and it is not mandatory to invest in sophisticate technologies. Small systems can also be used to manage internal information within areas. Local structured databases such as MS Access and common files in the shared server can play a crucial role in the organization processes.
The implementation of a new technology involves the creation of networks and communication systems between different areas and individuals among with the system mechanism by itself. When SAP was implemented in Bellsouth Colombia, it had a significant impact in the existing organization structure. In order to introduce the new system, the company experienced structural, technological and cultural changes. (1)
The structural changes are always the most visible among employees. "Its effect is to alter the configuration of relationships, the distribution of resources and the operation of command and control procedures. One largely unplanned and incremental structural change is the emergence of new functions." (2) In the case of BellSouth, structural changes were different in size and impact. Policies and procedures were re-defined. Organizational arrangements were required along with new functions and positions. In every area of the company, it was required that at least one employee be involved in the project and therefore be responsible for the SAP management in his or her area. Even a new area emerged as a need for the project's development and it last two more years after the project was finished in order to support the new system practices. The existing communication system was re-evaluated. However, the political structure of the organization was not altered.
According to Information Technology and Organization published by Oxford University Press in 2000, "IT systems are political in nature." The development and implementation of IT systems is mediated by the political relationships and exercises of power within organizations." (insert footnote) SAP was implemented at Bellsouth following the political structure of the organization. Its...