Business Information Systems are those systems which help in providing the information to the Management and then enable the business to make decisions ensuring proper control in the business. It can be understood as a group of interrelated components which works together to carry out various actions so that the data can be converted into information and can be used for planning, controlling, coordinating or decision-making activities. These components are people, communication, data, hardware or software.
The report is prepared to discuss the organisation, Management and technology elements of the Business Information Systems and to discuss how Cloud computing can be a feasible option for Zodiac cycle part manufacturer which is a small firm of Melbourne. The company is operating through their in-house information technology systems and need to upgrade their IT infrastructure so that their performance can be enhanced and the company can meet tough competition in the market.
Role of Information Systems in Today’s Business and Trends in the Business Environment Related to Information Systems
In the 21st century, Information systems play a very important role in managing the complex operations of the business and also help managers and leaders to take better decisions for achieving the competitive advantage. It also helps in maintaining good external or internal communication with the employees, customers and other stakeholders.
The businesses nowadays have to adopt the practices as per the global market so that they can satisfy the demands of the customers across the globe. It is challenging but also provides many opportunities for the business. As the business grows with the time, it becomes very significant to maintain global relations and information systems help the business in that. Information systems help business in achieving objectives like operational excellence, customer satisfaction, improved decision making and competitive advantage in the complex and highly competitive business environment.
According to Fayoumi (2014), in recent years, information systems have developed a lot and there are many new emerging technologies which are gaining attention in the business environment. As per Rossi (2015), the companies need more sophisticated and upgraded systems in order to survive in the current complex business environment. Some of the trends in the business environment related to information systems include Cloud computing, Internet of Things or Big data. Cloud computing is based on the service models which provides IT services and applications to the businesses and get paid in return. Internet of Things (IOT) is the communication between machines and here everything is connected to the internet. People nowadays are active on the internet and create a huge amount of data every day. This data is communicated, researched, analysed and used by the organisations for their benefits. Big data is another trend in the business environment which is the large set used to show trends, patterns and involves the interactions between humans. It helps in providing 360-degree insights in the business (Youssef, 2012).
Management Challenges in Building, Operating and Maintaining Information Systems in Small to Medium Enterprises (SME’s)
According to Zafar, et al. (2015), information systems have become a significant part of the businesses but it is a challenge for the Management to build, operate and maintain information systems in Small to Medium Enterprises (SME’s). It is because there is a lack of awareness, lack of support from IT and lack of experience. Many of the small and medium-sized enterprises do not have knowledge about the technologies which can be applied to their company and which can enhance the productivity of the business. It is also difficult for the SME’s to attract the employees in IT departments to learn and adopt the change. SME’s find it tough to retain them because the large sized organisations may offer them higher salaries. It also depends on the managers and leaders that how they adopt and implement the change in IT systems of the organisations which are again a challenge for the management. SME’s usually are not financially sound which also creates a problem in building up proper infrastructure and arranging resources for the operation and maintenance of Information systems (Kumar & Goudar, 2012).
As per Alenizi (2015), there are some operational challenges and technical challenges. Operational challenges may include bad communication, vague requirements and increase in the cost of the company like ZCM in this scenario. There can be the market pressure for adopting the marketing demands which are ever changing. There can be some technical challenges as well like learning about the right techniques, control on the quality and maintenance of security. This becomes very challenging for SME’s like ZCM to operate and manage.
What is Cloud Computing and Types of Cloud Computing which can be used by ZCM
Cloud computing can be referred as to the delivery of computer services on demand. These services can be related to servers, storage, networking, analytics or more. The companies which provide these services are the cloud providers and charge as per the usage of the services by the client. Cloud services can be used by the companies for creating new applications, backing up or storage of data, for hosting blogs or websites, for analysing the data and more. Cloud computing is beneficial for the companies because they help in minimising the costs, increases the speed and increases the performance and productivity of the company (Kavitha, 2014).
There are different types of cloud services which fall into three main categories:
Infrastructure as a service (Iaas): This is the most basic category of cloud computing services. Here, infrastructure can be rented to the cloud service receivers and they pay for it. This is managed over the internet and physical servers are provided to the companies. It manages the purchasing, installation and configuration of software’s or operating systems of the companies
Platform as a service (Paas): This is the cloud service which provides the services of developing, testing and managing the software applications of the business. It helps in creating the mobile applications quickly for the business. It helps business in reducing the expenses and complexities of buying and managing license or managing them.
Software as a service (Saas): This is the service which is used to deliver the software applications and provide a subscription to the businesses. Here, the providers of service handle the maintenance and also ensures that the business has to pay only for what is used (Bhardwaj, Jain & Jain, 2010).
Figure 1: Types of Cloud computing services
Source: Microsoft Azure (2017)
As an IT consultant, I would suggest that ZCM can use all the three types of cloud services depending on the needs, budget and performance goals. If the company has a huge budget, it can hire the entire infrastructure but if the budget is lower as it is a small and medium sized enterprise, it can buy the services or software’s and pays for only what is used by them.
Recommendations to Implement Successful Cloud Computing for SME’s
Migration of system to cloud is one of the biggest challenges. For implementing a successful cloud computing in SME’s it is recommended to the small and medium-sized organisation to be ready for the implementation. They have to analyse and identify their needs to ensure that they actually need cloud computing services or not. The companies need to ensure that from where they will receive the technical support for the service. They also have to manage the ownership and access to the data (Ahmad & Siddiqui, 2013). An integration plan should be made so that the business could handle the complex situations in the business environment. The potential of the cloud has attracted many of the businesses around the world. It helps in capitalising the speed, scale and control on the business operations. This can be understood with the help of examples. 365 cups is a small mobile ordering services company in Australia. The company founded in 2011 and its co-founder Simone Eyles shares that they adopted cloud services in their company in its struggling period and the company handles everything through cloud now i.e. from invoicing to the management of social media Management. It helps their business to operates easily without having large set up of business. They only have to pay for what they use and they could just access everything. The company do not waste money; they plan and then use the services so that they only have to pay for their usage (Porter, 2017).
Another example could be taken of Pearson which delivers education across the world. Pearson is using the cloud to establish more flexible infrastructure so that the company could deliver best educational products to the customers. With the help of cloud, the company is growing its markets and becoming digital in nature. Pearson started with the enterprise-wide cloud strategy while some other companies like 365 cups in Australia started small but plan to expand it in future a per their usage.
It can be concluded that the companies like ZCM should pay more attention to the utilisation and cost of the cloud services and then they should buy the services. Planning is very important in this case. The enterprises should focus on security, transparency and cost of the services so that they could create greater value for their business.
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