Definitions of Technology In a broad sense technology is the application of knowledge to solve human problems. We will use a narrower definition of technology that has a focus on technology as a set of processes, tools, methods and equipment used to produce goods and services. The choice of technology in the firm will have implications for many areas of the firm.
The Computer I began teaching in 1987, yes 1987!, and I started with a piece of chalk and a blackboard. I would take notes that I prepared beforehand and put stuff up on the board. 21 years later the computer has been an asset to me in that I can store notes from the past (I could keep my handwritten notes, as well), and I can make notes available to the students. Plus, I can easily make changes to details in the notes. The same kind of transformation has happened in many areas of production. We will spend some time here becoming familiar with terminology.
CIM and ERP Computer Integrated Manufacturing is a situation where through the use of a computer system the firm is using computer aided design (CAD), computer aided manufacturing (CAM), robotics, and a manufacturing planning and control system. When accounting, order entry and sales information is added to the system the result is an enterprise resource planning system (ERP).
CAD & CAM Computer aided design is computer support of the engineering design function. Essentially blueprints of what needs to be made are computerized. This has simplified the process of making changes and products can be updated more rapidly. A full CAD system will include design calculations, parts classification and a link to manufacturing. Computer aided manufacturing is a use of the computer to design production processes, to control machine tools, and to control the flow of materials in batch manufacturing. Of course the point of CAD and CAM are to speed up the flow of product. Why is this important? This would mean in any time frame more could be made and thus more profit could be generated.
Robotics A robot is a computer controlled machine programmed to do various tasks. As advanced as they are, they still perform relatively simple tasks. We have yet to get robots that can see and think and make decisions. Some benefits of robots are 24 hour operation, performance of hazardous tasks, and more uniform quality.
Implementation The author suggests computerization of production is an ongoing process. “Islands of automation” occur at various places in the facility and ultimately all the islands are linked through a common database. In the same way manufacturing is being automated, office work and services are also being automated. The automated office has computer networks for handling messages, e-mail and other functions.
Production Line Approach to Service Think about postal service, restaurants, barber shops, repair shops and other service companies around the country in terms of there business set-up. They are basically the same at any location. This is the production line approach to service. Here services are standardized and delivered in an efficient and (hopefully) cheerful manner.
Employee Centered The author mentions a study at the bottom of page 101. Write in the four points of the study here. 1. 2. 3. 4. Do you think this approach will break the cycle of poor service by training, motivating, and rewarding the people who deliver the service within the context of a well-designed system?
Enterprise Resource Planning Systems Financial Systems Operations and Logistics Sales and Marketing HR The thinking is that with all areas of the business put into one system the firm will be able to track transactions from their origin through production and accounting until the transaction is complete. Plus decisions made in one function will be apparent to other functions. Another use could be that over time sales data will lead to projecting future sales and operations can gear up production for those sales.
E-Business Recently I went to the Sears internet site to order a wheel for a lawnmower. When I put in my mower serial number and model number I could then go look for parts. Well, the front wheels are different from the back wheels (I do not know why they have to be, but they are). On the web site I could not see a difference in their listing of wheels so I did NOT order. I thought I would call. Well, when I called the operator said she could NOT see a difference either. It occurred to me that companies that have automated their businesses might as well put it all on the internet and let us just order from there. Of course the ordering there will only be as good as the internal system in the company.
E-Business E-Business includes BtoB and BtoC forms. The author has classified e-business into 4 groups. E-marketplace companies provide a vehicle for exchange between buyer and seller. Ebay is an example here. E-Service providers and E-retailers are mainly existing companies who have go online. But, new companies like Expedia.com and Amazon.com. E-Producers have customers contact them directly for the product, bypassing retailers. The focus of operations departments in these E-bus companies are to manage the systems to provide fast, efficient information. Databases and Web sites must be kept up to date.
Technology Choice I think you would find that many successful businesses have a business strategy and operations strategy that describe the vision and mission of the firm. Examples are firms may want to be the low-cost producer of a product, or they want to be a company that makes many products. A technology strategy should support the mission of the firm and act as a guide for all technology decisions. Don’t buy tech toys just to have the toys! Plus their should be some financial net benefit to have the technology. Otherwise the firm is just adding needles costs.
Technology Choice The last point about technology has to do with HR. Organizations are obviously made up of people with certain skills, backgrounds and social interactions. The author suggests technology should be introduced while taking into consideration all these factors. Firm should avoid technological determinism where jobs are determined by the technology chosen. This could lead to frustrated workers.