Information Systems As Integrators

Information systems, aside from serving as critical elements in any enterprise in such domains as accounting, inventory control, proposal preparation, mar keting and sales, have had the salutary effects of bringing people closer together and reducing the time it takes for a broad range of communications. Communication networks, in particular, interconnect computers that previously were in stand-alone configurations. This interconnection capability is itself integrative by its very nature.

Networks used by organizations include local-area networks (LANs), wide-area networks (WANs), and metropolitan-area networks (MANs). With the introduction of the Internet, exchanges of information with the world at large has been greatly enhanced. Being able to sit at home or in the office and have access to vast amounts of information has, indeed, constituted a revolution in human and organizational behavior.

A related example is the relatively simple technology associated with email. Previous early morning behavior within an organization included getting the mandatory cup of coffee and sitting down to plan the activities of the day. In today's interconnected world, the early hours are often taken up with going through one's e-mail messages and responding to them. To that extent, we are now all ''on call'' most of the time between the capabilities of our voice mail and our electronic mail systems.

Integrative management has also been supported by a class of software known as Groupware, as referred to earlier in Chapter 12. This type of software is used in meetings between groups of people so as to assist in a variety of group processes ranging from tactical problem solving to strategic planning. Systems of this type have been available from Ventana Systems, IBM, and others. Groupware is sometimes also referred to under the general category of group decision support systems (GDSSs).

Integrative behavior and exchange of information have also been facilitated by previously discussed domain-specific information systems such as systems and software engineering environments. An example is the I-CASE (integrated computed-aided software engineering) initiative presented in Chapter 12. In this situation, the integration is specifically focused on the interoperability of several software tools that support software engineering. Through this type of technical information integration, it is presumed that the inter-connectedness and productivity of software teams will be increased.

Clearly, entry into the new ''information age'' has great potential for enhancing integrative behavior and management. It appears likely that we will continue to receive great benefits from our information systems in terms of the rapid conveyance of large amounts of information in extremely short periods of time. It is important, however, to assure that the human side of our organizations is not trampled in the process.

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Project Management Made Easy

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