The Importance of Computer Networks In Efficient Communication
by Justin Bigger
In Chapter 2 of Management Communication: A Case-Analysis Approach, O’Rourke speaks on the informational roles that managers play and comments that many managers are now being asked to decide whether others within the organization, as well as others who are outside of the organization should have direct access to pertinent information twenty-four hours a day. While the full nature of this question is beyond the scope of this blog entry, it’s important to note how the lack of access to information can impede the flow of work within the organization and lead to redundancies and wasted time.
A friend of mine was recently hired by a land and forest management firm to implement a GIS network to aid in the dissemination of geographical and spatial information to its employees and clients. The first thing he noticed while interviewing for the job was the lack of 21st century standards in telecommunications and information technology. He described the owner of the company to me as very “old school” in his approach to business, preferring hand shakes over contracts, and preferring centralized access to information that is disseminated on a need-to-know basis. Nothing about this business could be characterized as modern. There are only a few computers in the entire building, and these computers are not networked to one another for easy sharing of data and information. My friend called me after he was hired and immediately started asking me questions about setting up a basic network, as he knows I have some experience with computer networking. To say the least he was overwhelmed by the daunting task that was in front of him.
Before doing the job he was being paid to do, he first had to somewhat modernize the operations of this business. The information that employees needed to do their jobs was all located in a series of filing cabinets in the manager’s office. While pulling through these files to organize them, my friend noticed some files that were over a decade old mixed in with updated information. An employee looking to find information about a particular client could reasonably be presented with outdated information, simply because the old files were never discarded, a problem that wouldn’t occur if the information was stored digitally. The biggest shock came when an employee came in while my friend was sorting through all these files, and remarked that it occasionally took her over half an hour to find the right piece of information she needed when dealing with a client. If the business had a reasonable network, this could be accomplished with a few mouse clicks.
Regardless of how you feel about informational transparency, it’s impossible to ignore the wasted time and redundancy of information that occurs without a functioning computer network. Everyone that needs to have access to information should all have access to the same information, and they should be confident that the information is current and up-to-date. Any business that does not utilize the most basic of computer networks is operating under a serious disadvantage in the 21st century.