IMPORTANCE OF IT STRATEGY FOR COMPETITIVE ADVANTAGE
DISCUSSIONS ON ORGANIZATIONAL IT STRATEGY (A CASE THE ICT UNIVERSITY)
IMPACTS OF IT POLICY AND STRATEGY ON AN ORGANIZATION
PURPOSE OF IT POLICY AND STRATEGY IN THE ORGANIZATION
The paper aims at reviewing the importance and various aspects of Information Technology (IT) policy and strategy formulation as well as the impacts of IT policy and strategy for competitive advantage in the organization.The paper reveals that information technology which is a vital too used for a more effective and efficient communication, is advancing at great pace at and poses great threat to organizations and employees right of privacy.The paper upholds that IT policy formulation is one of the best ways, to ensure effective IT standards, procedures, that protects organizational IT resources and controls information sharing.The article goes further to show how IT strategy formulation helps organization (using the Information and Communication Technology University as a case study) to achieve its set objectives through policies which controls mission critical activities.The Authors reviewed a total of 23 peer reviewed articles from prominent journals. The article addressed the following sections: The topic, abstract, introduction, literature review as well as summarized concepts of IT policy and strategy, Importance of IT strategy for business competitive advantage, discussions of organizational IT strategies with case study, impacts of IT policy and strategy on organization, purpose of IT policy and strategy in the organization, summary and conclusions/ findings.The study revealed that IT strategy formulation offers six key advantages which are;Creation of new IT services or products, Improved or quick decision making, Customer and supplier intimacy, Operational excellence, Competitive advantage, and Business survival.The ICT University was used as a case study.The study concluded that IT policies and strategies must align with the organization’s vision, mission critical activities, in order to realize set objectives. It was recommended that any organization that succeed, should first set visions, adopt IT strategies, formulate IT policies in order to have a good sense of business direction for competitive advantage.
In accordance to (Kalpana Mathur, Akanksha, Berwa, 2017), Information Technology (IT) is advancing at a great pace. This advancement poses great threat to organization and businesses. Information sharing using technology, is a mission critical activity in the organization. This is because the technology adopted for information sharing and the controls put in place determines the survival of any business or organization. Consequently, the use of information technology must be guided by IT policies with strategic objectives. The purpose of IT policy is to protect the dynamic valuable resources of an enterprise. This is done, through the formulation of appropriate policies, strategies, procedures, standards, and guidelines.
It is important to access the business needs, adopt suitable technologies, and set policies, and strategies. In view of (Christine, Holyland A., Kevin, Adams M., Andreas Tolk, Li Xu D., 2014), policy and strategy must not be in conflict with organization’s mission and vision. This implies that, policies and strategies must align with the business vision and mission (Llanos Cuena, Andres Boza, Angel Ortiz, 2011). Therefore, this paper examined the importance of IT policies and strategies for business competitive advantage using the ICT University, Yaoundé Cameroon as a case study.
IT POLICY: According to (Tripwire Guest Authors, 2017), Policy is an elite statement requirements that is binding through standards, which is been carried out through procedures. The (University college Cork, Ireland, 2012) defined policy as a high-level of overall IT plan that covers the general goals and rules on how to exploit information technology and data within the University, the IT policy sets a path in which IT resources are utilized. Pointing to (Wanganui District Council, 2010) definition of policy; policy is a well-designed and constructive statement of position on an ongoing matter or duty that guides any response or action, and has been adopted by resolution by a body or institution. A policy is a broad statement that outlines the government’s major goals and concern, that works hand in hand with the country’s constitution and can be applied to a particular sector (e.g. primary education sector policy) or narrowed down specifically to a sub-sector (e.g. primary education) which points to a definite issue (e.g. teachers enrollment). A policy defines a particular position, aiming to explore solutions to an issue, which will serve as a guide for users of the policy to meet up with the target of the institution. (UNESCO Bangkok, 2013). The ( Office of the Associate Director for Policy, 2015) Policy is a regulation, procedure, administrative action, spur or voluntary practice of governments and other institutions. Policy decisions help in application, distribution, and utilization for resource allocations. Policies in many ways influence the health sectors and sub- sectors various ways especially in the aspect of public health. Additionally, (University Of West London, 2017) Defined information security policy as an approach to the management of information which serves as a guiding principle and responsibilities necessary to protect the information system of the University in which all students and staff members shall abide by it.
With a critical assessment of the above definitions of IT policy (or Policy) from various authors: ( Office of the Associate Director for Policy, 2015), (Tripwire Guest Authors, 2017) and (University Of West London, 2017) view policy as a documented statement in which people that work or function in an institution or organization are obliged to adhere to, regularly in process of policy carrying out decisions regarding the division or subdivision of an institution or organization. Therefore, we can infer that the three authors share a common perspective. Conclusively, IT policies for end-user equipment is defined as a framework document of rules or procedures, standards and guidelines which directs the routine IT affairs of an organization.
PROCEDURES: According to the (Asia Pacific International College, 2016) defines procedure in purpose statement as guidelines for the administration of information technology resources and assets within its institution. Furthermore, procedures are detailed step-by-step activities or processes that should be performed to achieve a certain purpose. That is they spell out how the policy and the supporting standards will actually be executed in an operating environment (University college Cork, Ireland, 2012). Haven reviewed the literature above, in simple term procedure can be seen as a well-defined rules and regulations which guides the use of IT in the organization.
STANDARDS: The (University college Cork, Ireland, 2012), asserts standards a documentation which provide some directives that ensure that specific technologies and business applications are used in a certain manner across the University to meet a defined or set goal. Standards regulate how hardware and software products are to be used. In summary, standard refer to mandatory controls that governs the all IT resources (both hardware and software usage) in the organization.
GUIDELINES: Following (University college Cork, Ireland, 2012), guidelines is a target that streamline particular procedures according to a set repetitive or sound practice. From its definition, following a guideline is never mandatory. Distinctively guidelines in contrast to standards, guidelines refers to a non-mandatory control or best practices pointing at specific IT processes, operations, and resources.
IT STRATEGY: According to (Wanganui District Council, 2010), strategy is a set general trend set for the organization or institution to achieve an anticipated goal, which comprises the necessary phases to get to reach the target. In addition, the target to be met can either be a long-term or short-term target. (Zelenkov, 2015) Explains IT strategy as a long term comprehensive plan which helps an organization to actualize its set objectives through the adoption of suitable technologies, processes, and creation of new services or products and models, as well as modification of existing ones for business continuity and competitive edge. Examples of strategy includes; partnership, diversification and innovation. Following (Mekhala, 2016), information technology (IT) strategic plan is a document that specifies the comprehensive information technology(IT)-enabled business management practices an organization uses to guide its operations. It represents a guide as to how decisions that are related to IT in the organization made, carried out and applied to tasks using the plan as a charter. In view of (Nikols, 2016), he defines and gives insight on strategy as a group of complex network of ideas, perceptions, goals, knowledge, and prospects that provides a guidance for a particular action in order to meet up with a particular target. He further explained strategy as a general framework that provides guidance for actions that will be carried out and, at the same time, is fashioned by the actions taken. From an aspect of information system (IS) strategy, ( Daniel Q. Chen, Martin Mocker, & David S. Pretson, Alexander Teubner, 2010) define information system strategy as standpoint or perspective of an organization or institution on the investment in, deployment, use, and management in order to achieve an effective or efficient running of the information system. (Neelambal M. Govender & Marius Pretorius , 2015) Described strategy as a plan that organizations intend to trail in order to achieve certain desired objectives that offer an advantage over their rivals. More importantly, it refers to the organization’s aims and the activities it pursues to attain a sustained existence to clinch its market environment.
After reviewing (Mekhala, 2016) and (Nikols, 2016), they both agree and state that IT Strategy sets a guide on how decisions regarding IT are carried out within an organization. They also share the same view by stating that, IT Strategy gives a sense of direction for a good running of an organization in order for it to reach its target or objectives. However, (Mekhala, 2016) and (Zelenkov, 2015), describe IT Strategy in common by sustaining that IT strategy is a well thought and designed (or comprehensive) IT management proposal that serves a means to reach a particular purpose.
IMPORTANCE OF IT STRATEGY FOR COMPETITIVE ADVANTAGE
In modern times, IT strategy formulation has been found to be the backbone for the survival of any new or existing business. This entails that any organization that will flourish or have cutting-edge over others must st rategize periodically. According to (Laudon, Kenneth C., Laudon Jane P., 2015) IT strategy is important for the following basic reasons:
- Creation of new IT services or products
- Improved or quick decision making
- Customer and supplier intimacy
- Operational excellence
- Competitive advantage
- Business survival
Creation of new IT services or products: for any business to thrive today, it is important to create new IT products or services. For instance, (Johnson Katherine, Li Yang, Phan Hang, Singer Jason, Trinh Hoang, 2012) asserted that, Apple Incorporated changed the music world, through an IT strategy. This strategy changed the distribution of music from CDs, tapes, cassettes, and other digital contents through the use of third-party digital content delivery system of legal online distribution of not only music, but applications and as well as other digital contents based on its iTunes technology strategy. The company has also included innovative IT strategic distribution of books with the innovation of iBook store for sales and purchases of books via the same iTunes platform services as well.
Improved or quick decision making: initially, companies were relying on the traditional methods of getting customer feedback or complaints about products and services provided which required physical contact with the customers. Conversely, in recent times IT companies have adopted modern IT strategies through provision of digital dashboard, which gives real-time information on customer’s complaints or challenges and as well offers rapid solution. For example, Hp has integrated a digitalized platform where customers can lay their complaints and response is given to the customers immediately. This can help the company to understand some of the lapses in their products and services, thereby immediate corrective measures are taken for better customer experience.
Customer and supplier intimacy: nowadays, nearly all sectors are in close contact with their customers through a reliable application of IT Strategy. The bank customers receives immediate bank transaction alerts via e-mails and short message services (sms). Those in the tourist sector are not left out, as travelers now get immediate travel updates, online hotel or flight booking reservation are now available for the customers even from their bedrooms. Suppliers to shopping malls can now get inventory alerts and know when to supply products.