Scientific innovations and inventions have created a business environment that calls for effective information management systems; software accustomed to certain organizational needs is continually being developed (Hongbin, 2006). Contemporary business environments are characterized by information sharing, knowledge management, process automation, shortened product life-cycle, and international trade. These new elements need to be managed effectively; to manage information and data leaders need to have effective socio-technical systems within their enterprises. The systems should ensure an effective flow of information within an organization (Bellinger, Castro & Mills, 2004). This paper discusses the concept of information networking within the framework of socio-technical systems.
The concept of Socio-technical systems
Organizations are run by people and established to fulfill specific human needs; the interrelation of the two means that societal social aspects affect organizational behavior, attitude, and culture. Socio-technical systems (STS) recognizes the interaction between people, technology, and workplaces; according to the developers of the approach/theory, Eric Trist, Ken Bamforth, and Fred Emery in 1960, the approach seeks to recognize that for an effective business environment, organizations should be structured to attain joint optimization. Joint optimization is doing business where the focus is on mutual benefit between society and the organization among other stakeholders.
With current improvement in technology, organizations are finding themselves with the burden of examining the interrelationship between people (social, cultural, and economic aspects) and technological aspects; the new developments call for changes and development of frameworks that ensure information and data get to the right personnel in the expected form. One element of effective business management is having a reliable communication channel; on the other hand, an effective communication system ensures information passage is reliable and adequate information is transmitted (Levinson, 2010). With the need for an effective communication system, there comes the need to understand the tools to be used for the communication as well as the uses/users of the information within the frameworks of Socio-technical systems (please see the appendix for a sample chart of an organizational social-technical system).
Concepts of “tools” and “uses” in socio-technical terminology
Global distances between countries have been drastically reduced by the use of technology; one can communicate with a country miles away by the click of a button; the invention of the internet and intranet has come to be an effective information tool although when not controlled can lead to information overloads and leakage. In an organization, different departments are integrated to enhance efficiency and efficacy. In the traditional business systems, information was passed through mails, notice boards, newlines, newspapers, or print material; these tools seem to have been overtaken by time although they are still in use.
Physical presence is no longer needed as people can communicate via technologies like phones, the internet, and fax. Of great advancement of late is the telecommunication and internet service; the major focus of these is improved communication between parties using them. In a business environment, there are numerous uses of information systems; they assist in deriving an overall efficiency in a company, better ways of doing business are derived, information sharing is enabled and modern marketing and advertising methods are embraced. Though a business is prone to benefit out of an information system policy; it comes with a cost.
Information within an organization is used for various reasons with the main one being making effective business decisions; when an organization maintains quality information and has effective tools of sharing the information within the socio-technical system, then decisions made are quality and responsive to current business demands. Within the socio-technical system, different departments or branches need different information to play their role in the system; they need the information when fresh and reliable. To ensure that information is put to the right use, it should have the elements of effective news which include reliability, freshness, adequacy, and high quality (Maté & André, s, 2005).
Data, information, and knowledge within Socio-technical system
According to Hongbin, 2006 data can be defined as symbols and signs that are in their raw form; according to the writers, every situation offers some data that can be effectively managed for the betterment of entries or situations. Data can be wide and not focus on a certain direction; it may be concerned about the general operation of a business or have some materials that have no relevance.
When data has been processed to have some meanings, it then qualifies to be called information; information has the aspect of four W’s (Who, Where, What, and When”, with information leaders get a start point to understand the prevailing situation as well probable solution to the issues at hand.
The information focuses on a certain aspect in human/organizational nature and interaction; it offers the background to define a problem effectively and seek solutions to the problem (Maté & André, s, 2005).
Knowledge on the other hand seeks to answer the question of how; under the frameworks of knowledge, the information and data are applied to offset business or societal problems. In the recent improvement of technology, knowledge management has taken center stage where organizations are seeking to use the information to seek solutions to different business issues. Knowledge management cannot be given a single definition but it entails a combination of issues and processes. They are intangible assets that are unique to different businesses and can be improved with experience and information interpolation. The most important factors that are considered are the human assets that a company has. Human beings have different talents and capabilities; however, tapping this asset requires strategic operation and management. Other than utilizing the knowledge and experience that the employees have, there is the need to use available information to grow and develop knowledge and expertise in employees. Information can be internal and external information and how well the information is utilized can result in the growth of knowledge; effectiveness, and efficiency in doing business. To effectively utilize information, organizations should move from information hoarding to sharing of information that they are holding for the benefit of others; this is son despite that there is some private information that a company can hold. Other than physical, financial, and human resources being available in an organization, there is a need to integrate an intellectual asset where these resources can be managed and measures developed to ensure a company has a competitive advantage. Knowledge management is a process that involves understanding the current operation, understanding the potentials and weaknesses of a company then strategies to get relevant business information and knowledge developed (Green, 2010).
Technology and the effect it has on data, information, and knowledge
With the current development in technology, information can be sorted from different sources each with its level of data integrity; some sites are offering refined data thus an organization only needs to use the information without engaging in the business of interpolating the data on its own. Sharing of information is another aspect that has been facilitated by technological tools like the internet and the internet.
Scientific innovations and inventions have led to technological advances; technology has increasingly been adopted in businesses in different areas/processes; however, there are numerous threats brought by the use of technology. The affordability of computer and computer software has facilitated the use of technology; some of the most used technological advancements within an organization are information sharing systems, enterprise reporting programs, the Internet, and e-commerce (Blair, 2010).
Although technology has resulted in the availability of information whose integrity can be questioned, when well utilized, it has to lead to effective sharing of information in the company between different departments and employees, facilitated communication both internal and external communication, development of online marketing, and advertising mechanisms which will work to the benefit of the company, improving efficiency in the businesses and ensure that customer’s needs are satisfied at any one point (Cartelli, 2007).
The world is fast advancing in information and telecommunication systems; numerous advantages accrue to an organization when the right technology is adopted; they include efficiency, competitiveness, customer satisfaction, and reduced cost business. Within an organization’s socio-technical systems frameworks, the effective passage of information is crucial for quality decision-making. Information quality and integrity should be the center stage of an effective communication strategy as it determines organizational behavior, culture, and attitude. Leaders should ensure they have effective mechanisms to manage data, information, knowledge, and wisdom (DIKW) in their organization, by so doing they will create an environment of invention, innovation, and job satisfaction.
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Green, P. (2010). Social Media Is Challenging Notions of the Data, Information, Knowledge, Wisdom (DIKW) Hierarchy. CMS Wire. Web.
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Maté, J., & André,s, S. (2005). Requirements engineering for sociotechnical systems. New York: Idea Group Inc (IGI)