Potential of technology systems

Unit 1: The potential of technology systems

Activity Sheet 1

Legacy systems and emerging technologies

Legacy systems are either software systems or socio-technical computer-based systems combining hardware, software data and business processes, as illustrated in 1.

A legacy system usually stays in use because the system is meeting the needs of the organisation, but it may also be because the organisation does not want the cost or disruption of replacing or redesigning it. There may also be issues such as staff training, security and backup to consider.

Replacing an existing system can be very difficult because of the complexity of keeping the business running whilst the system is switched over. The legacy system may be in use continually, for example a banking system or a nuclear power plant, where safety is paramount.

Legacy systems can cause problems for the organisation. The system may be difficult to maintain: it may run on slow or even obsolete hardware and, as with many older machines, spare parts may be difficult to replace. There may be no one who fully understands how the system works if the system designers are no longer available, especially if there is no adequate documentation or system manuals. It may also be difficult to improve, expand or integrate with newer systems. New software is likely to be incompatible with the legacy system.

1.1 Legacy systems

l Research legacy systems.

l Describe an example of a legacy system in use by an organisation.

l List the key components of the legacy system, e.g. central server, workstations, etc.

l Explain how the legacy system meets the organisation's objectives.

l Explain the reasons why the legacy system may be difficult to replace.

Skills profile

Activity 1 provides opportunities to develop the following skills:

Skill

Personal, Learning and Thinking Skills (PLTS)

Independent enquirer:

n Identify questions to answer and problems to resolve.

n Plan and carry out research, appreciating the consequences of decisions.

n Analyse and evaluate information, judging its relevance and value.

Unit 1: The potential of technology systems

Activity Sheet 2

Legacy systems and emerging technologies

Organisations need to operate efficiently, offer good service, have modern communication systems and be cost-effective. In the private sector an organisation's main goals are to increase profits and remain competitive. Technology is important in helping organisations meet all of these objectives.

There are many different types of emerging technologies that are revolutionising the way technology is used, how organisations operate and the services they offer: online services such as Mash-ups, new communication methods such as VoIP, RFID tags used for tracking, etc.

Some organisations may have legacy systems and emerging technologies working together, for example a legacy database for customer records with emerging technologies that offer new online services such as ordering and 3-D product images.

In the public sector cost is a priority because local or national government pay for the technology systems. Unfortunately, there are many examples of costly systems being unsuccessful, as you'll discover later. However, successful technology enables organisations to work efficiently and offer new services.

2.1 The role of legacy systems and emerging technologies in the public sector

Work in pairs to investigate a library technology system:

l Identify the library's objectives.

l Identify the data input and output methods.

l List the library members' data inputs and outputs.

l Categorise the hardware, software and data parts of the system (you could create a diagram to illustrate the system).

l Describe any online services offered by the library.

l Describe whether the library is making use of a legacy system and emerging technologies.

l Explain how the technology system helps the library to improve its service.

l List the benefits for the library users.

Skills profile

Activity 2 provides opportunities to develop the following skills:

Skill

Personal, Learning and Thinking Skills (PLTS)

Independent enquirer:

n Identify questions to answer and problems to resolve.

n Plan and carry out research, appreciating the consequences of decisions.

n Analyse and evaluate information, judging its relevance and value.

Unit 1: The potential of technology systems

Activity Sheet 3

Emerging and converging technologies

Emerging or converging technologies are terms used to cover the emergence and convergence of new technologies. There are many emerging technologies; some are in the early stages and are not in wide use; others are more familiar: e.g. location-aware applications, sensor-mesh networking, multi-processor server hardware, Voice over IP (VoIP), mobile enterprise mobility systems, General Packet Radio Service (GPRS) over Private Mobile Networks (PMX), robotics, artificial intelligence. ‘Web Mash-ups' combine and remix the data and services on two different websites, sometimes competing ones, to produce an entirely new web service.

3.1 The role of legacy systems and emerging technologies in the private sector

In the private sector, organisations are competing in a global market. Technology is used to improve the services they offer and thus remain competitive. Customers increasingly shop online and emerging technologies are used to provide new online services such as video podcasts or 3-D views of products. Some websites enable users to upload their own photograph and then dress an image of themselves using images of the clothes that the retailer sells! Investigate an online retail website that uses emerging technologies:

l Describe the online services offered.

l Identify the retailer's business objectives.

l Explain how technology helps the retailer to improve its service and remain competitive.

l List the benefits for the retailer and the customers.

Skills profile

Activity 3 provides opportunities to develop the following skills:

Skill

Personal, Learning and Thinking Skills (PLTS)

Independent enquirer:

n Identify questions to answer and problems to resolve.

n Plan and carry out research, appreciating the consequences of decisions.

Analyse and evaluate information, judging its relevance and value.

Unit 1: The potential of technology systems

Activity Sheet 4

4.1 The role of legacy systems and emerging technologies in voluntary and non-profit organisations

Voluntary and non-profit organisations use technology systems but their priorities are not competition or profits; they are to keep running costs low, provide reliable services and easy access to those services. High street charity shops rarely use any type of technology but they are often backed by large international organisations that depend on technology systems to operate, such as Oxfam and the Red Cross. There are also many non-profit organisations that use technology systems to operate effectively, such as the Duke of Edinburgh's Award Scheme.

l Use the Internet to investigate a voluntary or non-profit organisation.

l Identify the organisations' objectives.

l Identify the technology systems you think they use.

l Describe how the technology system helps the organisations meet their objectives.

Skills profile

Activity 4 provides opportunities to develop the following skills:

Skill

Personal, Learning and Thinking Skills (PLTS)

Independent enquirer:

n Identify questions to answer and problems to resolve.

n Plan and carry out research, appreciating the consequences of decisions.

n Analyse and evaluate information, judging its relevance and value.

Unit 1: The potential of technology systems

Activity Sheet 5

5.1 The role of emerging technologies in the public sector

Public sector services are being revolutionised by the use of emerging technologies; science and medicine are progressing with the use of technologies such as biotechnology and nanotechnology. Identity theft is an increasing problem and organisations are using technology to try and overcome this. Facial recognition systems are being installed in airports and new UK passports use biometrics to counter identify fraud. A National Identity Scheme will also use biometrics.

Visit the UK passport website (www.ips.gov.uk) to:

l Investigate the National Identity Scheme.

l Identify the technologies that will be used to implement the scheme.

l Identify how the technologies will be used.

l Describe a ‘biological footprint'.

l List the advantages and disadvantages that the technology provides.

Skills profile

Activity 5 provides opportunities to develop the following skills:

Skill

Personal, Learning and Thinking Skills (PLTS)

Independent enquirer:

n Identify questions to answer and problems to resolve.

n Plan and carry out research, appreciating the consequences of decisions.

n Analyse and evaluate information, judging its relevance and value.

Unit 1: The potential of technology systems

Activity Sheet 6

6.1 The role of emerging technologies in marketing

Google has developed from its beginnings as a simple search engine to become the ubiquitous online tool, but there was some controversy when they started to store users' searches to try to match the services they provide to the individual's needs. However, Google Analytics engineered solution to marketing is in demand by business organisations.

Using the website http://www.google.com/analytics/case_studies.html as a starting point:

l Research two of the Case studies on the website.

l Describe how this emerging technology is being used by businesses.

l Discuss whether users should be concerned that their data is being stored.

l Highlight the benefits and risks of these technologies for the organisations and their customers.

Skills profile

Activity 6 provides opportunities to develop the following skills:

Skill

Personal, Learning and Thinking Skills (PLTS)

Independent enquirer:

n Identify questions to answer and problems to resolve.

n Plan and carry out research, appreciating the consequences of decisions.

n Analyse and evaluate information, judging its relevance and value.

Unit 1: The potential of technology systems

Activity Sheet 7

7.1 Organisational innovation

Technological innovations are used by organisations in many different ways and for many different purposes. Services are constantly being updated and created with the progression of technology. The innovations in technology used by organisations have enabled them to offer web-based services such as:

l online product descriptions and visual images;

l online ordering;

l online banking.

Organisations such as Amazon and Dell operate their retail business solely online:

l Define the term ‘e-commerce'.

l Explain how e-commerce make a business competitive.

l Describe the services that a business using e-commerce can offer that they could not using traditional retail methods.

l List the benefits that it gives to the business.

l List the benefits for the customers.

Skills profile

Activity 7 provides opportunities to develop the following skills:

Skill

Personal, Learning and Thinking Skills (PLTS)

Independent enquirer:

n Explore issues, events or problems from different perspectives.

Unit 1: The potential of technology systems

Activity Sheet 8

8.1 Individual innovation

Technical innovation has changed the way people socialise and use their spare time; no doubt you will have your own experience of some of these technologies, for example social networking and music download websites. Technology has also changed the way people work. Consider how mobile communication has changed the way employees can communicate with their organisation.

u Mobile Computing

Imagine that you are a modern-day sales person working for an international company.

You are based at home and use technology to communicate with the office but sometimes you attend the office for video-conferencing meetings and you need to keep in contact with the office when on the road and when staying away from home (unless you are on vacation!). You have a hand-held device to use for entering sales data.

l List the devices that you may use.

l Identify the technology systems that you may use.

l List the benefits for the organisation.

l List the benefits to you.

l Explain whether there are any disadvantages for either yourself or the organisation from working this way.

Skills profile

Activity 8 provides opportunities to develop the following skills:

Skill

Personal, Learning and Thinking Skills (PLTS)

Independent enquirer:

n Explore issues, events or problems from different perspectives.

Unit 1: The potential of technology systems

Activity Sheet 9

9.1 Successful or unsuccessful innovation?

Private sector organisations are using technology to provide more secure services both in store and online. Websites provide security using specialist software and the introduction of chip and pin was meant to provide secure payment services. However, there have been instances of the chip and pin technology being used by thieves. Using various sources (e.g., the Internet, magazines, visits or work experience) research the use of chip and pin.

l Investigate what the chip and pin technology is and what it does.

l Describe how the technology is used.

l Investigate cases when chip and pin technology has been used for theft.

l Use the table below to list the benefits and risks for organisations that use chip and pin:

Benefits

Risks

l Use the table below to list the benefits and risks for consumers:

Benefits

Risks

Skills profile

Activity 9 provides opportunities to develop the following skills:

Skill

Personal, Learning and Thinking Skills (PLTS)

Independent enquirer:

n Identify questions to answer and problems to resolve.

n Plan and carry out research, appreciating the consequences of decisions.

n Analyse and evaluate information, judging its relevance and value.

Unit 1: The potential of technology systems

Activity Sheet 10

10.1 Unsuccessful innovation

The introduction of new technology or change to existing technology systems should bring benefits, such as increased efficiency, improvements in communication and services or the provision of new services.

There are many examples of success and failure in companies' exploitation of technology. Technology is usually associated with a business's success; it offers exciting and challenging ways to interact with customers and the public, as well as changing business and working methods, communication and social interaction has been transformed.

There are many ways that technology can fail and many reasons why. It may be a technical reason such as a hardware failure or the original systems analysis or testing was not correct or adequate. It may even be because of legal reasons, as well as general laws that apply to every business there is specific computer and data legislation to consider when setting up a business.

When the implementation of a technological system is unsuccessful the consequences can be serious and devastating to the business. Remember the chaos that the BAA baggage-handling system caused at London's Heathrow Airport in 2008? In this section you will need to identify the failures, for example one of the many government-funded computer system failures like the London Ambulance Services system failure that sent ambulances to the wrong place!

Case Study: In 1992 the failure of the London Ambulance Service Computer-Aided Dispatch System led to unnecessary deaths. Investigate this case study and the factors that led to the system failing. Produce your own report as to why technology systems fail with appropriate examples, outlining:

l the technology;

l reasons for failure;

l the effects of the failure;

l lessons learned.

Skills profile

Activity 10 provides opportunities to develop the following skills:

Skill

Personal, Learning and Thinking Skills (PLTS)

Independent enquirer:

n Explore issues, events or problems from different perspectives.

n Consider the influence of circumstances, beliefs and feelings on decisions and events.

n Support conclusions, using reasoned arguments and evidence.

Unit 1: The potential of technology systems

Activity Sheet 11

11.1 Successful Innovation

Organisations want to exploit individuals' innovative use of technology to increase business. The media is an example of this with the provision of new online services offered by broadcasters such as the BBC, for example RSS (Really Simple Syndication) newsfeeds and Podcasts, iplayer, blogs, podcasts, downloads, as well as various methods of interaction with listeners and viewers, through telephony and digital TV, mobile telephony, websites and message boards.

l Produce a user guide with instructions showing how to use one of these services.

l Describe the equipment needed to access these services.

l List the benefits for the organisation.

l List the benefits for the users.

Skills profile

Activity 11 provides opportunities to develop the following skills:

Skill

Personal, Learning and Thinking Skills (PLTS)

Independent enquirer:

n Explore issues, events or problems from different perspectives.

n Consider the influence of circumstances, beliefs and feelings on decisions and events.

n Support conclusions, using reasoned arguments and evidence.

Unit 1: The potential of technology systems

Activity Sheet 12

The solutions lifecycle

The solutions lifecycle refers to the course of creating a technology solution from its conception to end of life. This is usually illustrated as a circular process using project and change management methodologies and comprising business analysis and requirements specification; solution design; solution development; test, implementation and evaluation; and operation and maintenance, as depicted

12.1 Business analysis and requirements specification

l Investigate the methods used to carry out a business analysis.

l Describe the methods that you would use to find out the client and users' needs.

l List the information that you need to ask about business processes.

l Explain what is meant by ‘requirements specification'.

Skills profile

Activity 12 provides opportunities to develop the following skills:

Skill

Personal, Learning and Thinking Skills (PLTS)

Independent enquirer:

n Explore issues, events or problems from different perspectives.

n Consider the influence of circumstances, beliefs and feelings on decisions and events.

n Support conclusions, using reasoned arguments and evidence.

Unit 1: The potential of technology systems

Activity Sheet 13

Benefits and risks of introducing a new technology system

A technology system should help an organisation to operate efficiently, improve service and, if it is a business, remain competitive.

When implementing a technology-enabled solution it is important to get it right, as illustrated by Activity 9.1 ‘Unsuccessful innovation'. A systems analysis should take place, to find out in detail what the client requires the system to do. In order to determine the functions the system should perform, all user requirements need to be investigated, for example management and employees, as well as anticipating how it will be used by other potential users, such as customers. The analysis should be thorough and used to decide system requirements, for example data input/output methods, processing, data inputs/output. This will then be used to decide what hardware, devices, peripherals, or software, operating system, application or bespoke, is needed. The analysis may also consider issues such as the type of network, Internet connection methods, system security, storage and user training. The system analysis should ensure that the technology system performs all the required functions as well as being user-friendly.

u Scenario:

NewsIsUs is a small local newsagent that provides a newspaper and delivery service for their customers. They have to maintain records for stock control, their customers' personal and order details. The newsagent employs three part-time staff members so it also needs to keep records of their hours and wages. Currently the owner does all of this using traditional paper-based bookkeeping. However, to remain competitive and provide an efficient service the owner realises they need to implement a technology system.

13.1 Systems analysis

l Describe the methods that you would use to find out the client and users' needs.

l List the information that you need to ask about NewsIsUs's business processes.

l Design a questionnaire that would help you to find out this information.

13.2 Recommendations

Create a spider-diagram listing the businesses needs.

Produce a proposal recommending a technology-enabled solution.

l Identify the methods of data input.

l Identify the methods of data output.

l Describe the software and hardware requirements (you can use online retail websites to approximate the prices).

l Explain whether there are additional needs for security, storage, etc.

l Explain how the system will improve service and make the business more competitive.

Complete the table below to outline the benefits and the risks for the business.

Benefits

Risks

Skills profile

Activity 13 provides opportunities to develop the following skills:

Skill

Personal, Learning and Thinking Skills (PLTS)

Independent enquirer:

n Explore issues, events or problems from different perspectives.

n Support conclusions, using reasoned arguments and evidence.

Creative thinker:

n Generate ideas and explore possibilities.

n Ask questions to extend own thinking.

n Connect own and others' ideas and experiences in inventive ways.

Unit 1: The potential of technology systems

Activity Sheet 14

14.1 Benefits and risks of changing an existing technology system

The nature of technology is that it does not stay still, as we've seen with emerging technologies. Although a legacy system may meet the original needs of a business, business requirements often change as the business expands and new services are offered to remain competitive.

u Scenario

Milkmaid is a local milk delivery service. They currently use a technology system for stock control, their accounts and customer details. To remain competitive and attract new customers, they wish to expand the personal service they are offering by using web services such as online ordering, order changing, online payment and online communication methods, while maintaining the traditional delivery services for their existing customers.

u Systems Analysis:

l Describe the methods that you would use to find out the client and users' needs.

l List the information that you need to ask about the business.

l Design a questionnaire to carry out a systems analysis of the current system.

u Recommendations:

l Produce a spider diagram listing the business needs.

l Produce a proposal recommending a technology-enabled solution:

1. Identify the methods of data input.

2. Identify the methods of data output.

3. Describe the software and hardware requirements (you can use online retail websites to approximate the prices).

4. Explain whether there are additional needs for security, storage, etc.

5. Explain how the system will improve service and make the business more competitive.

Use the table below to outline the benefits and risks of changing the technology

Benefits

Risks

Skills profile

Activity 14 provides opportunities to develop the following skills:

Skill

Personal, Learning and Thinking Skills (PLTS)

Independent enquirer:

n Explore issues, events or problems from different perspectives.

n Support conclusions, using reasoned arguments and evidence.

Creative thinker:

n Generate ideas and explore possibilities.

n Ask questions to extend own thinking.

n Connect own and others' ideas and experiences in inventive ways.

Unit 1: The potential of technology systems

Activity Sheet 15

Preparing for work experience

Before starting on work experience, you should find out about the business where you are to be placed. This is so that on your first day there you will know what to expect and be able to talk to people in a knowledgeable and interested way. Company employees will be giving up their time to look after you and it will create a much better impression with them if you are well informed.

Complete the following checklist by gathering information from the company website, emailing or writing to a named contact at the company, or using other sources of data.

(Table continues overleaf.)

Full company name of the business

Address

Who will be meeting you on your first day and how do you keep in contact?

What do you need to bring with you on your first day?

Is it a UK or global business?

What sector is the organisation in?

What products are sold or services offered by the business?

What types of customer or client does the business deal with?

What was the value of company sales last year? (if appropriate)

Who are the company's main competitors?

How many people work on site?

What is the name of the person responsible for IT at the site?

What technology systems are used on the site?

What are the technology systems used for?

How do the technology systems help the organisation meet its objectives?

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