Q1. In what ways might IT strategy and alignment differ for small businesses as opposed to that of larger organizations?
A1. One of the most common difficulties companies face in strategic planning is turning their vision into a reality. To transform your organization into the one you envision takes more than great strategy and implementation, you also need to make the strategy an integral part of the very fiber of your organization. When we speak of this idea, we usually use the phrase “strategic alignment”.
Aligning everyone in your organization with your strategy is one of the most important things you can do beyond formulating and implementing great strategies. Alignment will make it much easier for your management team to push the organization in the direction you intend. Without good alignment with the strategy, every bit of forward motion will be a struggle.
As an example, consider a retail computer store. If you are running such a store, you probably want employees who appeal to specialty customers.
Helpful, cheerful and courteous employees will encourage these customers to return, even if the prices are a little higher than other stores nearby. Rude, sullen employees who don’t know how to help customers will drive customers away. If you have a good staff in a store, you won’t have to work as hard to get customers to return. If your staff is really excellent, you may even get some word of mouth advertising. While this may cost a little more in terms of the compensation you offer employees, you will get a payoff in the form of a loyal specialty customer base. Alignment between business strategy and IT strategy has been given significant attention in recent years and has been ranked among the top issues facing IT executives. Most authors suggest that IT alignment has advantages for firms. However, in practice, many firms struggle to achieve alignment. Although IT has been used significantly in many small firms, there are few reported studies of IT alignment in small firms.
Many studies have indicated that the conditions are not ripe for IT to be used strategically in small firms. Reasons could be:
* Limited resources in small firms. * Also, small firms do not perform adequate planning of the use and operation of IT. Consequently this results in * Lack of appropriate policies towards IT assessment and adoption. Furthermore, * The computing environment in very small firms (with 50 or less employees)is fundamentally different from medium-sized firms, where there is often a formal MIS department and a community of end users.
The importance of IT is hard to overstate. Getting IT ready for the future by successfully planning for or creating that future is one of the most challenging tasks facing management, including IS management. To have a longer lasting competitive advantage, it is important to develop an IT strategy that includes a wide spectrum of techniques. Those techniques can enable a company to compete (or differentiate) on price, time (quick response), service, innovation, quality, or customer service. If we speak about IT strategy, it is important to mention that it is connected with company goals and sometimes is not sufficient to develop a long-term IT strategy and not re-examine the strategy on a regular basis. A good IT planning process can help ensure that IT aligns, and stays aligned, with an organization. But for large companies-
* It is more common to do IT planning because they operate on higher level than small companies and have much more to think about. * Large companies are oriented on long term and they are more stable than small companies that are too influenced by the environment.
That’s why we can say that for large companies it is easy and cheaper on the whole to do IT planning than for small ones.
Q2. What are some of the major challenges for aligning IT in a small organization? A2. Failure to align IT to business strategy is believed to result in the failure of many IS initiatives. Speaking about small organizations alignment with the strategic objectives of the organization is an important challenge for organizations. Failure to properly align IS with the organizational strategy may result in large investments in systems that have a low payoff or failure to invest in systems that might potentially have a high payoff. For small companies such failures are more sensible than for large companies. So, to overcome these challenges, a small organization should:
* Build an IT committee
* Describe their business properly
* Identify critical IT services
* Negotiate service levels
* Create an effective action plan
Q3. What are some of the pros and cons of using large providers to meet the IT needs of small business customers? A3. Rivio business services are designed to make the flow of work, ideas and information throughout small businesses more streamlined. By providing employees the ability to quickly access, exchange and integrate information, small businesses are able to run more efficiently and produce superior results. In this case, the main advantage could be-
* The access to the large company with huge experience,
* Great client-bases and
* Proofed IT systems. It means that now small company can get the same opportunities as large one that was impossible previously. For example, companies can now use Employee communication management services, expense report management services, HR management services, payroll management services, time and attendance management services, access to Microsoft bCentral applications etc. It is also good that companies can try the service before buying it. And one more thing here is about saving time, because now companies can focus on other activities. But the disadvantage is that
* It is still not affordable for every small company. And may be large companies will use the general approach to all small companies and offer them the same spectrum of services without paying attention to the specifics.
Q4. Conduct some research on the Rivio system and make your own assessment as to whether the claim of Rivio’s chairman – that “Rivio will enable Verizon’s small business customers to more efficiently run the businesses, giving owners and employees more time to focus on revenue-generating activities” – is hype or reality.
A1. According to the case, small businesses will benefit from the following Rivio business service features: * Employee communications management services- announcements, organizational charts, policies etc are all available in a central online location. * Expense report management services-reports can be efficiently created, tracked, approved and synchronized with Intuit. * HR management services-HR has access to employee records and information from a single workstation. * Payroll management services-Rivio offers a simplified approach to payroll processing with a seamless user interface. Users can view payroll records, make adjustments and preview the final payroll reports before processing. * Time and attendance management services-Employees can manage time-off requests and project based time tracking from one centralized location. * Access to Microsoft bCentral applications-Verizon’s small business
So, this in case, it seems to be reality because small companies could benefit a lot from it. They can run their businesses more efficiently and save time for more important things like revenue-generating activities. It means that small companies don’t need to think about routine tasks and just do what they really need.