Information Management: The Strategic Dimension

Information Management: The Strategic Dimension

Information Management: The Strategic Dimension

Information Management: The Strategic Dimension

Synopsis

These essays, by leading academics and businesspersons from around the world, describe the current state of the art in information technology, a resource with increasingly important implications for managers and management students. Drawing on case studies from Ford, ICI, Volvo, and the U.K. Inland Revenue, the contributors discuss the place of technology in corporate strategy, its use in gaining competitive advantage, the formulation of information systems strategies, competitive dynamics in the use of value added networks, end-user computing, leadership in information management, and the development of information technology human resources.

Excerpt

Information Technology has become a strategic resource. Whilst observers and forecasters describe and predict the oncoming of an information society, or information economy, firms and their managements have been investing in information technology (IT) to seek strategic advantage. A number of well known exemplars have had headline impacts as they create apparent competitive edge, produce significant productivity and performance gains, or provide new ways of managing and doing business. The exploits of Merill Lynch, American Hospital Supply, or American Airlines in the USA, and Reuters, Thomson Holidays, and the Nottingham Building Society in the UK have excited or alerted even the sternest critic of computing and IT.

Behind this 'hype' and vision however, lie a multitude of management Challenges--issues which worry IT professionals and general managers alike, and questions which puzzle researchers and consultants. It was obvious therefore that the first annual Oxford PA Conference on information management should address 'the strategic dimension.' Jointly sponsored by the Oxford Institute of Information Management and PA Computers and Telecommunications, the conference brought together 40 leading IT Directors and academics from around the world to share and discuss the state of the art in IT and strategy. A principal objective was to identify areas in need of further research; perhaps where business and the universities could work together. An important step therefore was to publish the papers.

I believe we have produced a valuable collection of theoretical, practical, and investigative papers which not only document the state of the art, but also suggest the ways ahead for research and practice. The papers are organized in thematic sessions. To begin, the connection between IT and strategy is examined, together with the emerging conceptual frameworks for understanding it. Next, the reality rather than the rhetoric of strategic exploitation of IT is presented, based on empirical studies and accounts of IT in use. In the third section, the core problem of how to formulate IT strategies is examined, including the issue of how to discover competitive advantage opportunities via IT. The practical problems of managing and implementing IT strategies are discussed in the next section, with prescriptions on how to succeed. Some of the organizational issues arising in the strategic era of IT are analysed in the next section, at the levels of the firm, the department, and the individual. Finally, the editor, some months after the conference itself, reflects on what might be the major issues and lessons which may guide practitioners, consultants, and researchers in their endeavours--

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