Sunday, November 16, 2008

Why Type When You Can Swype?

The inventor of the T9 input technology has done it again! What T9 did for mobile devices, the new Swype keyboard technology will do for devices equipped with touch screen capabilities. Cliff Kushler's Swype will revolutionize the way people input data on touch screen devices--from the Apple iPhone to tablet PCs. Instead of typing out full words, Swype allows users to quickly draw lines connecting the letters of the word. The following video provides a demonstration of this groundbreaking new technology:

Tuesday, November 4, 2008

Expert Systems Help Oil Firms Find Capital

Expert systems (ESs) strive to replace or mimic human experts in the decision making process. As one of the most widely used and commercially successful forms of artificial intelligence technology, expert systems support decision making by capturing human expertise, transfering that knowledge to a computer, and organizing the knowledge so that the system can make infrerences and arrive at conclusions.

In a recent article, I learned that oil and gas companies are employing expert systems to help them find funding for present and future exploration and production projects. The article "New Software Helps Oil & Gas Producers Find Funds" describes Commonwealth Capital Advisors' new expert system software named OIL & GAS Producer, which is part of the Financial Architect system. This advanced software is "revolutionizing the way start-up and early-stage Oil & Gas producers are raising substantial amounts of capital using the techniques of Wall Street investment banks."

Timothy Hogan, CCA's Chairman and CEO, made this statement: "We want to help entrepreneurs involved in the oil and gas industry to significantly lower the costs and increase the speed of raising equity capital. Just as important, we want to provide oil and gas producers and their professional management teams with an easy-to-use expert system that will enable them to choose the right deal structure for the capital they need, and manage those funds in compliance with federal and state securities laws, rules and regulations." CCA's Financial Architect is now the premier expert system for start-up, early-stage and seasoned companies that seek capital.

Tuesday, October 14, 2008

Organizational Learning and Memory

Just like humans, organizations must learn and grow to survive and thrive in an rapidly evolving world. A firm and its members should constantly collaborate and communicate information, as well as share, teach, and learn knowledge. A learning organization is "an organization capable of learning from its past experience, implying the existence of an organizational memory and a means to save, represent, and share it through its personnel."

The concepts of organizational learning and organizational memory are at the very center of a learning organization. Additionally, organizational learning and memory play vital roles in shaping a firm's knowledge management and its knowledge management systems (KMSs). Organizational learning can be defined as "the development of new knowledge and insights that have the potential to influence an organization's behavior." Organizational memory is simply all that the organization "knows." When faced with problems, individuals can tap into corportate memory for explicit and tacit knowledge. Individuals can turn to KMSs or company policies and procedures for any needed information. As a firm and its members learn, the new knowledge gained can be added to the shared via KMSs and, therefore, added to organizational memory. This reveals how important information technology can be in fostering organizational learning and memory development.

According to Turban, Leidner, McLean, and Wetherbe, "the ability of an organization to learn, develop, and share knowledge is dependent on its culture." Culture refers to the assumptions, values, and norms associated with a group or organization. So, organizational culture can be described as the personality of the company. A firm's culture will determine how its members approach learning, value existing knowledge, and utlize knowledge management systems.

Source: Information Technology for Management: Transforming Organizations in the Digital Economy 6th Edition (2008) by Efraim Turban, Dorothy Leidner, Ephraim McLean, & James Wetherbe

Sunday, October 12, 2008

Interorganizational Information Systems and Virtual Corporations

In today's global market, companies operate all over the world. Firms need interorganizational information systems (IOSs) to keep them connected to each other and able to efficiently run their businesses. An interorganizational information system (IOS) is a "communication system that allows routine transaction processing and information flow between two or more organizations." IOSs improve processing efficiency and support both collaboration and communication. By linking the information systems of business partners, IOSs are able to reduce costs, improve information quality, compress cycle time, eliminate paper processing, and make information exchange easier.

Four major IOS infrastructure technologies:
  1. Electronic data interchange (EDI): electronic movement of business documents between business partners
  2. Extranets: extended intranets that connect business partners
  3. XML: a companion or even replacement for EDI systems that is emerging as a B2B standard
  4. Web services: emerging technology for integrating B2B and intrabusinesss applications
A virtual corporation (VC) is an "organization composed of two or more business partners, in different locations, sharing costs and resoures for the purpose of producing a product or service." In a VC, each partner utilizes its core compentencies or special advantages to create a portion of a product or service. The modern VC can be described as a "network of creative people, resources, and ideas conncected via online services and/or the Internet, who band together to produce products or services."

Some of the most prominent types of IOSs include:
  • B2B trading systems: designed to facilitate trading among business partners
  • B2B support systems: nontrading systems that support B2B activities
  • Global systems: connect two or more companies in different countries
  • Electronic funds transfer (EFT): transfer money among financial institutions
  • Groupware: facilitate communication and collaboration between and among organizations
  • Shared databases: reduce communication time
  • Systems that support virtual companies

Source: Information Technology for Management: Transforming Organizations in the Digital Economy 6th Edition (2008) by Efraim Turban, Dorothy Leidner, Ephraim McLean, & James Wetherbe

Monday, October 6, 2008

Essentials of Enterprise Systems and Supply Chains

Enterprise systems or enterprisewide systems are systems or processes that involve the entire enterprise or major portions of it. A variety of enterprise systems can be utilized by organizations. The two most important types of enterprise systems are enterprise resource planning (ERP), which supports supply chains, and customer relationship management (CRM). Other common examples include:

  • partner relationship management (PRM)
  • business process management (BPM)
  • product life cycle management (PLM)
  • decision support systems (DSSs)
  • knowledge management (KM)
  • intelligent systems
  • business intelligence
A supply chain can be described as "a set of relationships among suppliers, manufacturers, distributors, and retailers that facilitate the transformation of raw materials into final products." Supply chains involve the flow of materials, information, money, and services from raw materials suppliers to final end users. There are three major types of flows in the supply chain: material flows, information flows, and financial flows. Material flows are all physical products, raw materials, supplies, etc. that flow along the supply chain. Information flows include all data related to demand, shipments, orders, returns, and schedules, as well as changes in the data. Financial flows are all transfers of money, payments, credit card information and authorization, payment schedules, e-payments, and credit-related data.

Supply chain management (SCM) is the "efficient management of the end-to-end processes that start with the design of the product or service and end when it is sold, consumed, or used by the end-consumer." By effectively managing its supply chain, an organization can reduce costs while increasing operating efficiencies. SCM strives to reduce uncertainty and risk along the supply chain so that lower inventory levels and cycle time, improved business processes, and enhanced customer service can be achieved. Information technology (IT) can help firms reach these goals by improving the exchange of information among supply chain members.

SCM software supports specific segments of the supply chain and concentrates on improving decision making, optimization, and analysis. When a supply chain is managed electronically, typically with Web-based software, it is referred to as an e-supply chain. Given an e-supply chain's advantage of automated information flow, many traditional supply chains are moving toward Web-based systems.

Source: Information Technology for Management: Transforming Organizations in the Digital Economy 6th Edition (2008) by Efraim Turban, Dorothy Leidner, Ephraim McLean, & James Wetherbe

Saturday, September 27, 2008

Mobile Entertainment: Fun On The Move

Imagine what that long subway ride or bus commute would be like if you didn't have your Blackberry or your iPod to keep you entertained. Today's consumers depend on a variety of mobile devices to keep us connected, informed, and even entertained. The mobile consumer services and entertainment industry has witnessed remarkable advances over recent years. Cell phones now have the ability to connect to the Internet, play MP3 files, and enable users to play games. Digital media players can combine touch technology, Wi-Fi capabilities, and m-commerce functions all in a small device that easily fits in your pants pocket.

When Apple launched its famous iPod product line, it revolutionized the way people listen to music. Soon thereafter, Microsoft broke into the portable media player market with its Wi-Fi enabled Zune. Although the iPod continues to be a leader and set the standard in this product category, Microsoft's Zune offers some unique features. Earlier this month, Apple released its latest generation of improved iPods. Amidst the buzz from the new iPod launch, Microsoft released free Zune 3.0 hardware and software updates for its portable media player.

According to the Zune website and corporate press releases, the new Zune software features several notable advances in mobile entertainment and m-commerce. Most importantly, the Zune Marketplace is now available on the go. Users can shop for music right on their handheld device thanks to enhanced Wi-Fi access to the Zune Marketplace. Users can also tag and purchase songs they hear on the Zune’s FM radio tuner. If the Zune is near a wireless signal, users can instantly download the songs.

To help users take full advantage of the wireless functionality, Zune is "working with high-speed Internet access provider Wayport Inc. to deliver Zune users free, wireless access to the Zune Marketplace from more than 9,800 participating McDonald’s®restaurants across the U.S." Dan Lowden, vice president of business development and marketing for Wayport, made the following comment about working with Zune: "Our ability to enable and manage applications and devices over converged networks creates exciting new opportunities for our clients to attract new customers whose digital lifestyle extends beyond their home and office."

Other new features of the Zune 3.0 software include audiobooks, games, and a clock. Users can purchase audiobooks through and through OverDrive-powered Web sites, an infrastructure provider for major booksellers and library systems, and then listen to them on their Zunes. Users can also now enjoy Zune's first step towards another major media segment — games. Zune 3.0 devices come preloaded with two free games, including: Hexic, a popular puzzle game, and Texas Hold ‘em style poker.

Tuesday, September 23, 2008

SaaS Fuels E-Commerce

"By 2013, 90 percent of e-commerce sites will use at least one product from software as a service, or SaaS vendors...[a]nd 40 percent of e-commerce sites will use a complete SaaS solution," according to a Gartner report released earlier this year.

Businesses no longer operate just in the physical environment. As people increasingly look to online sources for information, companies are moving into the virtual marketplace thanks to the Internet. When firms conduct business electronically, they are engaging in what is known as "e-business." E-business is a broad term that refers to the buying and selling of goods and services, servicing customers, collaborating with business partners, conducting e-learning, and processing electronic transactions via a computer network.

SaaS, which enables businesses to access applications over a network instead of purchasing expensive packaged enterprise applications, is becoming a great way for smaller firms to get involved in e-business. SaaS is also a great option for larger companies wanting to experiment in new markets. According to Richard Adhikari's article "SaaS E-Commerce Services on the Rise," the convenience and low cost of SaaS will "lure new entrants, small businesses, and departments of large corporations to e-commerce delivered as a service." Although big players in the e-business game will most likely strive to protect their unique position by custom building their e-commerce sites, SaaS provides a viable approach for others to join the e-business playing field.