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V. Conclusions and Future Works
Generally, from the analysis of Lagos University Teaching Hospital, it is clear that the new health information system will create a new working environment that requires the organizational members to adapt and reconstruct their working style. I argue that although ICT has enabled such change, it is still through the social alteration of the organizational members that this new working environment is able to function and facilitate productivity.
Organizations have an opportunity to enhance the way in which they fulfill the communication needs of its members and stakeholders. The points on which this paper is based has shown the enormous impact that Information and Communication Technologies (ICT) can have on organizations by facilitating the integration of previously disparate systems and processes. I strongly believe these technologies can provide both an opportunity and threat to organizations. Proactive organizations can grasp the opportunity by embracing the enormous potential presented by the technologies. Organizations have adopted these technologies, with the hope of allowing them to be more productive and responsive to the changing environment. Business entities which do not articulated to technological advancement will not prosper as they will encounter numerous problems in achieving efficiencies and also delivering the correct value that characterizes the present organizational environment.
In the case of telecommuters usage achieved by primarily connecting them to a home office through fax machines, telephones, computer modems, and electronic mail enhance the organizational operations. Telework ensures the provision of cost savings to the employees by the elimination of the commutes to the central office which may be time-consuming and enhances flexibility to employees work as they can effectively coordinate family responsibilities and work. Flexible working is not, however, just about where and when a person works; it is also about the ability to work anytime, anywhere with all the resources associated with the traditional office.
Communication today is more complex and requires greater coordination and interaction among organization members due to the faster pace of work, broader work scope and processes and the increased importance of knowledge and innovation within organizations. These make communication technologies and networks increasingly essential to an organization's structure and strategy. For continuous development, global organizations need to communicate effectively across functional areas and with geographically dispersed sites. Organizations also need to integrate knowledge by coordinating across phases of new organizational requirements. Technically complex transactions and activities drive organizations with specialized competencies to gain complementary skills by developing close relationships with internal and external stakeholders like customers, competitors and even the government. Hence, ICT has an important role to facilitate knowledge creation with communication and coordination across temporal, geographical, departmental and organizational boundaries.
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I also discovered that increased usage of ICT technologies necessitates social change in the forms of culture, structure and design within organizations. However, it can also be argued that it has the potential to facilitate the achievement of the desired change. In particular, I have highlighted a number of recommendations for organizations that are embracing these technologies:
Ø ICT must be perceived as being a critical element of the organization and its environment. The reactive approach of treating ICT as a "technology" development must be replaced with an approach that embraces the Internet as a vehicle that enables a more transparent internal and external organization.
Ø There should be an acknowledgement of the need for creativity and an innovative approach to organization and management. The commitment to this concept should come from the top and cascade downwards through the organization, and is likely to have a positive knock-on effect upon individual and organizational performance.
Ø Increased usage of ICT is accompanied by a range of skill requirements; some of these are technical and are associated with the use of computers, others are interpersonal and are associated with changing job roles and responsibilities. Thus there is a need to adopt a systematic approach to the assessment of skills required, the subsequent identification of training needs and the provision of training designed to enable individuals and groups acquire and develop skills which contribute to optimal job performance.
Ø Throughout the organization there is a need to increase awareness of the value of ICT. As part of this process there should be an underlying aim to promote acceptance of, and commitment to, the use of ICT. The communication of this core message might initially require a carefully orchestrated campaign in the form of numerous formally arranged seminars for groups across the organization. However, it is likely that the informal communication network within the organization will quickly become active as a very powerful reinforcement tool in this regard. In a short time it is likely that direct experience of ICT will supersede the communication process in fostering the desired acceptance of and commitment to a new way of working.
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Ø There is a need to foster a "new view" of the role and purpose of information. This view must seek to emphasize the fact that information provides a basis for creative problem solving and decision-making activity. Collaboration and innovation are core requirements for organizational success and their achievement depends on the availability and use of information by all of those who require it.
It is likely that organizations that fully embrace ICT will achieve desired performance outcomes. As noted previously, such technologies provide a unique opportunity for organizations in particular to bring about culture change.
However, working in separate areas without physical human interaction cannot be without flaws. Portability and freedom provided by these working styles are accompanied by equally strong challenges that are affecting organizations that are adopting these styles. The biggest complaint involved in working in a virtual team environment is communication problems. These complaints fall into three different categories:
Ø Lack of project visibility - members were unclear on what tasks they were required to do, and they were vague on how their tasks fit into the project as a whole;
Ø Getting in touch with people - team members would send out questions and would never get back a response; and
Ø Constraints in technology - members had difficulty in determining the meaning of text-based messages such as e-mails, especially if the person was attempting to be sarcastic
It is still the human and social factor that can determine benefits and work on the constraints. Not surprisingly, organization members must be taught how to maintain effective communication within the constraints of this virtual environment. For example, this may require training team members to use considerably more linguistic precision in their communication. In addition, virtual team members must have superior team participation skills. Because team membership will be somewhat fluid, effective teams will require members who can quickly assimilate into the team. If assimilation does not occur, conflict will.
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More so than in a traditional team, the virtual team, in addition to having members from different geographic locations, may also include contingent workers from outside the organization. Also, virtual team members will be challenged to adapt to the telecommunications and informational technologies that link its members. And, finally, virtual team members will have to learn to use effectively new telecommunications systems in an environment where an important client or coworker is frequently never physically present.
In many organizations, membership will cross national boundaries, and a variety of cultural backgrounds will be represented on the team. This heterogeneous work group will experience complicated communications and work interactions and will require additional team member development in the areas of communication and cultural diversity. The virtual team provides the opportunity to build teams out of personnel who could not possibly work together under traditional circumstances. If the potential of virtual teams is fully realized, organizations will have the opportunity to expand access to expertise, overcoming constraints that might have been prohibitive in the past.
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Again, the example of the virtual team is used explain on why the social change is the key factor of success in implementation. Although termed virtual, telecommuting and virtual teams are still made up of organizational members that act as the center enabler of those new technological innovations. Without their ability to work within the new framework, organizations cannot profit from the portability and flexibility of the new working environment.
The connectivity that automatically results from Internet technologies can exert a very powerful influence in encouraging a free flow of ideas around the organization, permitting individuals and organizational units to converge and cooperate. Undeniably, the "open" systems nature of Internet technologies can facilitate greater co-operation and communication across organization units both internally and externally. There are significant benefits to be gained from employing Internet technologies at the interfaces between the organization and other organizations and stakeholders. A number of organizations have adopted Internet technologies, which in has allowed them to be more responsive to the needs of members, customers and stakeholders. In the future, the expectations of the individual will continue to rise with increasing demands for online accessibility to organizations.
Although there are considerable barriers to the full implementation of Internet technologies, the connectivity of the Internet presents organizations with an immense opportunity to enhance productivity. I find that Internet technologies affect organizations almost permanently as it involves all level of organization's membership. Among them are:
Ø The implications of Internet technologies for the management of people and the organization;
Ø The perceived potential of Internet technologies in enhancing individual and organizational performance; and
Ø The implications of Internet technologies for the interaction patterns with publics, other organizations and stakeholders
With these influences, decision makers cannot but ignore the fact that internet is now a necessity mediator for organizational operations. What is important is for organizations to familiarize the members with the cyberspace. Sufficient introduction and training is vital to overcome barriers to internet. Like any organizational innovation, the introduction of internet will create challenges and obstacles:
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Ø Cyber phobia - although many people are comfortable with computers, there may be a significant number of valuable employees who are uncomfortable with computers and other telecommunications technologies. One challenge is to bring these valuable employees into the online environment.
Ø Trust - organizations must establish a policy regarding communication privacy and then must strictly adhere to that policy.
The organizations greatest task with regard to online systems is to overcome these challenges and have good control of the use of internet. With the advent in online technologies, organizations also need to be careful with how the facility is being utilized by the organization members especially the employees. Many issues have risen from Internet use, among them are hacking, pornography, copyright and privacy violation. If not too careful, organizations can be penalized for wrong done by its employees under its supervision. In Malaysia for example, strict laws on pornography and copyright are imposed on all individuals and entities. Laws like the Communication and Multimedia Act 1998 and the Copyright (amended) Act 1998 are formed specifically for the purpose of protecting online activities.
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Ethical issues like supervision of employee's online activities and selling of personal information by organizations are also being intensely debated by scholars and practitioners alike. Therefore, as a preventive step in order to create a safe online environment within the organization, I agree that decision makers need to give full attention on these issues and ensure that strict and practical policies that are accepted by all its members are imposed and adhered.
Internet is here to stay. Therefore, organizations need to have a long-term vision of how to incorporate internet within the organization operations. However, careful and preventive steps need to be taken to ensure that the use of cyberspace will assist the organization membership rather than burdening it.
As the current economy is characterized by diversified changes in the ways operations are being handled, it is clear that the major changes need to be incorporated by LUTH management. The management should deploy the effective team of personnel who will be able to efficiently handle the changes experienced in the economy. For the entity to be competitive the organization need to be technological savvy and IC T plays a major role in this endeavor. The objectives stipulated in the study were achieved effectively and the management was able to effectively implement the Health Information System into their organization structure.