Research and development over the years has changed the world drastically in the last five decades. Information technology is considered at the centre of all of these, make it one of the most important areas for development for any organization. This assignment deals with information technology and systems, its utilities, requirements of information at each level of management, the systems used by management and the security measures in place in regards to information technology and systems. This projects also analyses the latest development of cloud computing. This project is also based on information systems that are in place and used by Dell Computers. Certain information is also given relating to the systems in place so as to improve security.
This assignment is a compilation of information searched and gathered from numerous books on information systems from different authors, educational journals, internet links and direct contact with employees of the "Dell Computers".
Introduction to Information Technology and Systems
Computer technology is encountered in a variety of places today and in a number of different forms. "Information is an act of informing or the condition of being informed, the communication of knowledge derived from study, experience, or instruction" (Curtin, 1999). Technology on the other hand is the application of sciences in an industry or other commercial establishments.
Information Technology more often referred to as IT refers to the creation, gathering, processing, storing and delivering the information and the processes. Information Systems basically comprise of two major aspects i.e. Hardware (physical equipment in the system e.g. keyboard, screens, printers etc) and Software (a list of commands that guide the hardware to perform its duties).
Information systems or management information system is a process that provides necessary information to effectively manage an organization. An Information System has five basic elements i.e. timeliness, accuracy, consistency, completeness and relevance (management information systems, 1995). So it can be said that information system is a channel of communication between different levels of the management to effectively control and overview the entire firm accurately, on time, consistently and completely.
The Information System and the information it generates are extremely necessary components of practical and rational business decisions. An Information System should have a well defined framework of standards, guidelines, policies and procedures for the organization which must be followed throughout the organization.
While developing an information system within an organization, information needs at all the levels must be taken into consideration i.e. corporate, teams or divisions and the individual. The needs at all levels must be looked into if an effective and coordinated solution is to be sustained in the future. Failure to meet the requirement of any of these levels would result in the area finding their own solutions which might not fit into the strategic goals of the organization.
Three levels of information
At the peak is the corporate information which is helpful for the entire organisation. This 'global' information is normally fairly well addressed by the corporate intranet. E.g.:- phone directory, policies and procedures, online forms, HR information, etc.
Team, division and business unit:-
The middle level is one of the most interesting levels and it covers all the information shared between teams, divisions and business units, etc. This information may be vital for the daily activities of the group, but of little interest to the remaining organisation. E.g.:- business unit specific content, meeting minutes, project documentation, etc.
This level is generally poorly-served within organisations, while "collaboration tools are increasingly being used to address team information needs. It is also being recognised that it is this 'local' information that may be the most valuable, in terms of driving the day-to-day activity of the organisation" (Robertson, 2005).
At the bottom level are the personal information needs relating to staff throughout the organisation. E.g.:- correspondence (both internal and external), spreadsheets and reports. In many organisations, staff has to struggle with using the e-mail to meet their information needs. While staff generally recognises the shortage of e-mail, they have few other technologies or approaches as their options.
Information systems used by the management
Regardless of the technique used, an analysis of information requirements is performed by an information and instructional designer as one of the first activities in any development, design and delivery process. The requirements analysis focuses on how training and documentation is developed in the most effective ways to meet the target customers.
Traditional methods of information systems involve the following steps i.e. first to discover all the requirements, then analyze these requirements, indentify the possible solutions and then production and delivery of the findings. Regardless of the method in use or plan to use in future a firm must make sure that the data would provide all the necessary information you need to examine the organizational analysis and people analysis. For better understanding we can use a diagram as shown below:-
There are four major types of information system used:
Executive support system, (ESS)
Executive Support Systems recognize how to achieve success during technology, and understand how to apply this knowledge to help in creating business solutions to benefit the company. It is commonly considered as a specialized form of a decision support system (DSS), which takes decision. Decision must be made in context of the world outside senior executives face is very fluid, always changing. So the system must be flexible and easy to control.
Decision support system (DSS)
A decision support system (DSS) is a computer program application which analyzes business data and presents it in a way for users to make business decisions more easily. It is an "informational application" and not an "operational application" that collects the data in the course of normal business operations. Examples of typical information that a decision support application would gather and present would be as follows:
- Relative sales info between 1 week and the next.
- Future profits info based on new product sales forecast.
Management information system (MIS)
MIS Refers to a computer-based system that helps managers with the tools for, evaluating, organizing and well run their departments. In order to provide past, present and forecast information, an MIS can include software that helps in decision making, data resources such as databases, the hardware resources of a system, decision support systems, people management and project management applications, and any computerized process that enable the department to run efficiently.
Transaction processing system (TPS)
Transaction processing system is basically a complete system. Basic business systems that serve the operational level, a transaction processing system provides tools to ease and automate applications while programming, executions and admistration. TPS supports a network of devices which would submit queries and updates to the application.
Dell Computers - Introduction
Dell Computers was founded in 1984 by Michael Dell. Dell Computersis a leading manufacturer of personal computers, computer spares, and software. Dell sells its products directly to customers through the Internet and mail-order catalogs rather than through retail outlets. The company is based in Texas, USA.
By 1986 the company was so successful that PC's Limited had distribution offices in Europe. In 1991, Dell Computer Corporation was listed as one of the Fortune 500 companies. With experience in mail order telephone sales, Dell was one of the first companies to offer computers for order through the Internet. The Dell Coupon program made it cheaper than other brands, and continues to be popular today.
Dell needs no further introduction, as they are one of the most successful computer manufacturing companies in the world. They manufacture and ship about 120,000 computer systems worldwide, from notebooks to servers.
Information system used by Dell Computers
Dell computers basically uses a CRM-SCM (customer relationship management - supply chain management) approach. Dell uses database softwares that are effective and efficient with customer relationship management. These databases store data about clients and generate promotional campaigns. These databases include customer information, their products and interests. This helps increase profits because it contains client information that determines effective and efficient ways to segment and target the customers.
Dell's business strategy is to create one of the most effective supply chain management systems, which would simplify the supply process by linking Dell's suppliers and planners to meet the demand and customer requirements. The software that Dell uses is made by 'Hotlink'. Hotlink is a marketing software used in aiding e-marketers in "effective targeting, efficient marketing communications, and real-time monitoring of customer and market trends" (Moon, 2003). This program strengthens the SCM ensuring that better services are offered.
A second software that Dell uses is a system called "Premier Pages," which are custom-designed internet pages containing purchase data. This system is a paperless ordering process where the customer's existing configurations already uploaded. Dell states that the idea behind this is to "gain less information about customers - they already know about them - but to create a real victory situation" (Levey, 1999).
Another system that is being used to maximize CRM is the Dell South Africa's enhanced CRM system with the help of 'IS Partners', an information systems company. ProClarity offers in-depth analytical abilities, resulting in positive and negative areas of business being clearly highlighted. "Sales are also broken down by region, with an overview of each sales team, enabling Dell to measure trends and successes" (http://www.itweb.co.za). The sales, finance, management and marketing segments benefit greatly from this software. The staff have easy access to the detailed demographic information about customers, customer sales history and trade relationships. Sales management can track activity within accounts, and lapsed quotes can be acted on. The marketing department can detect customer activity, marketing mixes and product sales.
We all know how simple it is for hackers to gain control on our private information through our computers. E-mail and Internet are the tools hackers use to gain unauthorized access to our important personal as well as financial information. Dell Computers is a world leader in manufacturing of security system softwares to protect businesses, hardware, data and networking as well. With well over a decade of experience Dell today has a brand image and is considered as trustworthy.
Dell computers has its own network of intranet and all computers that are within the premises are connected to this wireless network and have full access to the Dell mainframe and information storage systems. All data is encrypted and backed up. Each computer works on smart card systems and is completely virus protected to reduce chances of a server crash due to outside viruses. The network is encrypted with its own separate firewall and security system. Also softwares to protect against spam, spyware, cookies and theft protection are also in use. This system is one of the most high tech systems in the world and more than 5 of the worlds biggest super computers work on this system and so I can say that Dell Computers has a good system for securing its information and need not be changed but only upgraded against the latest viruses and trojens so as to make it up-to-date.
Cloud Computing and its suitability to provide Information services
Cloud computing refers to a model of computing where firms and individuals obtain computing power and sotware applications over the internet. These services can be classified into 3 different categories i.e. Infrastructure-as-a-Service (IaaS), Platform-as-a-Service (PaaS) and Software-as-a-Service (SaaS). The origin of the name is inspired by the cloud symbol, often used to describe the Internet or the World Wide Web in diagrams and flow charts.
A cloud can be private or public. A public cloud sells its services to anyone on the Internet. On the other hand a private cloud is a network that supplies services to a limited number of people. If a service provider takes the help of a public clouds resources to generate a private cloud, the result is a virtual private cloud. Whether private or public, the aim of cloud computing is to provide easy access to internet resources, IT services and computing resources.
Infrastructure-as-a-Service provide virtual server instances with exclusive IP addresses and blocks of storage on demand. In this system, a company has to pay for only as much capacity as needed. Platform-as-a-service is defined as a set of softwares and product development tools available on the provider's infrastructure. The developers create applications on the provider's platform on the web. This software created by their customers cannot be moved off the provider's platform. The software-as-a-service cloud, the vendor has to supply the hardware infrastructure, the software product and also interacts with the user through a front-end portal (www.searchcloudcomputing.com).
Dell computers by itself has over 5 super computers which are considered to be some of the largest computers in the world. This company by itself was one of the first companies to start cloud computing to store data from all over the world on a single access database. Cloud computing is ideal for a company of such a stature where transactions take place all over the world and can be accessed from any corner of the world with the help of a single access code and user verification code.
This system of information service is highly recommended in a company like Dell Computers.
- Information technology; Denis P Curtin; McGraw-Hill Education (India) Pvt Ltd; 1999
- Management information systems; Comptroller of currency; journal; May 1995
- Three levels of information management; James Robertson; March 2005
- The structured analysis and design method; Edmond Weiss; 1985
- Logic and information; Keith J Devlin; Cambridge University Press; 1993
- Performing information requirement analysis; Debra Jo-Murphy; 1992
- Info World magazine; vol.23 no.22; 28 may 2001;
- http://searchcloudcomputing.techtarget.com/sDefinition/0,,sid201_gci1333074,00.html; assessed on 27/11/2009
- New dimensions in marketing/quality-of-life research; Joseph Sirgy and Coskun Samli; Greenwood Publishing Group; 1995
- http://www.dell.com; assessed on 17/11/2009
- Images are taken from www.images.google.co.uk; assessed on 02/12/2009
- http://www.macs.hw.ac.uk/modules/F24SR1/linksis/lec5_files/image002.gif; assessed on 05/12/2009
- Communications of the IIMA; volume 6 issue 3; Terrell and Mahfouz; 2006; pages 87-88
- Dell Computers: a leader in CRM; Kyle Moon; 2003
- The Visible marketer; Dells CRM model stresses transparent processes; Richard Levey; magazine published on 24th March 2006
- http://www.itweb.co.za; Dell expands CRM initiative; magazine article; 2002