IT Infrastructures play a vital role in the success of any company today. This is because IT Infrastructures filed cover almost all the computers physical hardware used in connecting the computers and different users of the company. In a company, IT Infrastructures may typically include things such as the transmission media, telephone lines, repeaters, satellite antennas and aggregators among others. Similarly, IT Infrastructures also include software used either in receiving or sending messages. The important aspects of any business include email connectivity, firewall uptime and website accessibility that were taken care of the IT Infrastructures to ensure smooth running and trouble free of all business processes. This is a comprehensive report to Chief Information Officer (CIO) of Shore & More Bicycles about a new IT system. The proposed system will include a technology that can grow with Shore & More Bicycles business and support its entire operations including internal operations, supplier orders and communications, retail store operations and customer internet orders.
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Identify 8–10 key aspects of the IT infrastructure that must be in place to support the growth strategy of the company.
It is posited widely that to leverage functionality of information technology (IT), IT investments and business operations should be coordinate and strategically and aligned closely (Lederer & Sethi, 1988]. To exploit IT fully, the business strategy of a firm must be integrated with the IT strategy. Furthermore, to fully leverage functionality of IT, technological and organizational infrastructures should be aligned and integrated. This section of the report will identify key IT infrastructure aspects that must be put in place to support the company growth strategy. IT infrastructure offers the shared foundation of the capabilities in IT for building business applications
IT infrastructure having an enabling or supporting function
This means that an IT infrastructure is designed in supporting wide range of activities and is not only tailored to one activity. The IT infrastructure is enabling in that it is a technology with an intention of opening up a field of new activities, and not just automating or improving something that is existing to support the growth strategy of a company. This is in contrast to specifically designed to supporting one way of working within a particular field of application (Hanseth & Monteiro, 2015).
Having an enabling and supporting function also implies that it should be flexible. The current uncertainties in the environment gives rise to gives rise to the need for IT infrastructure flexibility. Organizations must frequently change more than in the pat so as to adapt to the new opportunities. Technology according to Das, Zahra & Warkentin, 1991) is also expected to exhibit more versatility and flexibility in acquisition and processing of information, and in reduction of time for response required in adjusting changes in the definition of markets by the company.
An IT infrastructure that is shared by a collection of user groups or users or a larger community
An IT infrastructure is shared by collection of users or members of a community in that ts one infrastructure that is used by all of them despite it appearing differently. User involvement also refers to the users’ psychological state which reflects the beliefs of the user that a system personally relevant and important, and performance of the user is described as an attitude or behaviour during use of systems (Hartwick & Barki, 1994). In this way, IT infrastructures are seen as irreducible and which cannot be split into different separate parts being used various users or groups independently. For instance, an email, which is an IT infrastructure is one such shared unit that is irreducible. While different word processors installations may be used completely independent of each other, of course, an infrastructure may be decomposed into various units for design or analytical purposes (Hanseth & Monteiro, 2015).
The enabling and shared aspects of IT infrastructure have made the concept very popular in supporting the growth strategy of a company. Just as in the case of IT infrastructure’s role that is believed to be essential as its enabling characters points to what may be applied or kept as a stable basis in the increasingly more dynamic and complex world (Hanseth & Monteiro, 2015).
IT infrastructure that are open
This aspect ensures that IT infrastructures are open in that there no limits on the number of stakeholders, users, nodes in the network, vendors involved and other technological components, network operators and application areas. The defining characteristics of this aspect does not necessarily imply that it has an extreme position that everything absolutely is included in every IT infrastructure (Hanseth & Monteiro, 2015). However, it implies that one cannot define a strict border indicating that there one IT infrastructure on one side of the border and other IT infrastructures on the other sides of the border and that these IT infrastructures have no relevant or important connections.
For instance, from the case study, Shore and More Bicycles is exchanging information with other dealers in bicycles, even in other regions. It is exchanging information with financial information’s and other institutions in the private and public institutions and even ordering goods from different companies. Similarly, these companies are also exchanging information with other different institutions and companies. The company sharing information virtually with other societal sectors and the information exchanged among various partners overlap. Therefore, drawing a strict line, for instance, between electronic commerce infrastructure and the company is impossible.
The IT infrastructures should be more than just pure technology but instead socio-technical networks
IT infrastructures are heterogeneous especially on the qualities of their constituencies. They comprise of the humans, components, institutions and organizations. This is particularly true as they cannot work without the input and support of the people. For instance, the ordering and processing systems of the Shore & More Bicycles do not work unless the personnel receive the orders and process them accordingly (Hanseth & Monteiro, 2015).
IT infrastructures should be interrelated and connected, constituting ecologies of networks
IT infrastructures should be different in various ways. The sub infrastructures are connected into IT infrastructure ecologies. The IT infrastructures are layered upon each other as components of software. Similarly, IT infrastructures are heterogeneous in that same logical function can be implemented in various ways. Heterogeneity is caused by two forms of IT infrastructures developments. That is when one protocol of IT infrastructures or standardised part of IT infrastructures are being replaced by a new one. During the transition period, an IT infrastructure will consist of two interconnected that run different versions. Similarly, another form is when larger IT infrastructures are developed by interconnecting two different and existing ones (Hanseth & Monteiro, 2015).
Connectivity is also the extent to which computer systems and telecommunications networks are compatible in supporting enterprise-wide applications (Brown & Magill, 1994). IT connectivity means interdependent technologically as is evident with large scale information infrastructure growth (Star & Ruhleder, 1996). According to Tapscott & Caston (1993), connectivity in the form of networking worldwide supports inter-organizational systems and enterprise wide applications, enables communications and cooperation.
The IT infrastructures that will develop through improving and extending the installed base
The installed base of an IT infrastructure implies that the infrastructures are considered always as existing and are not developed from the scratch. To support the growth strategy of a company, when designing new IT infrastructures for the company, they will be integrated into or replace a part of an older version. For instance, in the case of Shore & More bicycles, every single component of their IT infrastructures makes sense since they are tightly interwoven with other networks (Hanseth & Monteiro, 2015).
- Technology awareness
This entails genuine interest in information technology, both outside and inside the organization. As new innovations in technology appear in the market regularly, the researchers and the practitioners must maintain their awareness of the efforts of each other (Boynton & Zmud, 1987). Similarly, members of the organization need to be updated on the latest technologies and have sufficient technical skills and organizational knowledge in making the best possible investments in technology for their companies (Boynton & Zmud, 1987).
- Distributed computing
Many companies are restructuring their technical resources to a more decentralised structures of businesses in an effort of increasing their effectiveness and efficiency and to streamline their operations. This aspect of IT infrastructure should be in place to support the growth of the company by decentralising computers and to increase efficiency and effectiveness (Hanseth & Monteiro, 2015).
This involve the required knowledge and capabilities to managed technological infrastructure effectively. To support the growth strategy of a company, adequate skills is significant in operating the install IT infrastructures and maintain them appropriately. Skills are also central to the technological infrastructure operations such system development and maintenance, and control and monitoring systems. Skilled persons in the company also manage the IT architecture which consists of the data, applications and technology and are articulated in terms of configurations of software, hardware and communications (Allen & Scott, 1994, p.155).
B. Perform a gap analysis of the company’s current IT infrastructure and future IT infrastructure needs for the aspects identified in part A.
Gap analysis is a mode of assessing the performance differences between information systems or applications of a business to determine whether the requirements of the system are being met, and if not the needed steps to do so. The report will use SWOT analysis that will review the strengths, weaknesses, opportunities and challenges for IT in Shore & More Bicycles with main objective of identifying gaps in the IT support and services
Shore & More bicycles’ mission is to design and build affordable light weight bicycles for the people desiring to ride along the road, shore or tackle mountain trails. Their bicycles are made to last longer with wear resistant parts and welds.
- Current state
Shore & More Bicycles is in the initial phase where its IT systems needs to be integrated so as to design files and to share documents securely with the other locations. The company is also using currently the 3D software on a standalone machine. Furthermore, all the files of the company need backing up to prevent loss and for storage in case the computers of the company malfunctions.
Weather has also affected the productivity with two sites losing electrical power for the whole day. For those who were working at the workstations and also those who used desktop computers lost their data.
The current performance management systems and personnel are on standalone machines
- Future State
The team at Shore & More Bicycles is working to complete these online options for customers for Shore & More Bicycles.
- Expand their orders to internet orders and making deliveries at dealerships that are licensed for adjustments to the owners
- To create an online system for simulating the bicycle appearance to be orders and any apparel or accessories
- To a develop a system for the customers to make a follow up from the time they make an order to the delivery point with processing timelines and bicycle images at the stages of completion
Furthermore, the proprietors of Shore & More Bicycles, Jan and Jon, are very much prepared for the work involved in creation and development of a prospectus SEC filing in accordance to Rule 424(b)(4). The investors will be completing an online form to receive updates on the company’s IPO announcements.
The company is also planning of integrating energy systems that are renewable into the electrical systems. These systems will need management capabilities and IT monitoring.
The company is also considering integrating performance management systems for all access to the site that is similar to the self-report payroll system.
- SWOT analysis
- The payroll system which allows self-report by the employees and approval by manager for the hours worked and the time for vacation. The system currently the company size needs
- 3D engineering design and testing can view the bicycle designs in 3D, make a 3D model using a prototype printer and finally test the design limitations on the computer
- The performance management system has human resource record information on their servers that are only accessible to their site in United States headquarters
- They have a company made database for storage that is adequate for their size
- The payroll system will not be adequate for any growth of the company in future
- 3D engineering design and testing which allows for single user only to design the styles hence cannot share the program functioning with other sites. Moreover, it has a limited view only through screen share
- The email system for the company has a capacity of up to 100 users. Additionally, it has limited speed and space by amount for filtering of more than 100 users
- trainings and evaluations of Dealership are recorded using a standalone machine on their database and are not integrated
- Customer orders are primarily made at dealership sites and on phones. The orders are sent through an email with a monthly report which is reconciled to make sure all orders are in process
- Their financial system has documentation of their financial records at their headquarter sites on inaccessible servers to from other sites hence resulting to duplication of reports and even lacking integration for analysis
- Financial systems records are limited to backups per week to an external hard drives at the company site the computers of the employees still use the operating systems were in operation when the computers were bought. Moreover, loading of the software is done one at a time for every machine
- The current call centre system is limited to only 50 seats. Moreover the waiting time currently may extend up to 20 minutes for a customer care executive to attend to a customer.
- The number of people commuting to work using bicycles is expected to rise as many places of work install locker rooms, showers, bike racks and other facilities for changing room. Additionally, communities are designating bicycle lanes to improve safety
- The number of persons riding bikes for leisure is expected to increase since communities are continuing to invest in bicycle route plans, creating bike trails, and installing bike paths and amount of time for leisure is increasing
- Consumers like having light bicycles which they can carry and are easy to pick if necessary especially in areas that are not conducive for riding or pushing bicycles
- Consumers wish to be able to carry things while riding their bikes hence making it a necessity to have racks and baskets for attaching bags
- Consumers have real more disposable income
- Consumers living in regions that are hilly have indicated that a device which enable them easily choose gears or a power assist feature on a bicycle would be very helpful when riding uphill
- Economic conditions for some areas may make commuters to opt for bicycles for travelling since automobile ownership is difficult
- Bikes are very popular in areas that re heavily congested where bicycling reduces the time for commuting
- Regions are increasingly developing travel plans for bicycles to improve safety
- Communities are gaining areas are gaining accessibility to internet through expansion of telecommunication and may be ordering their goods and services for home delivery
- Currently their internet access is through a local provider and the system is not robust. This is because the connection is lost whenever there is technical difficulty with a router or modem. Moreover, they are using a wireless router which cannot support applications that uses high bandwidth on their current level of subscription
- There is also no encryption for hard drive data on the employee computers. The tech support team must be physically be having the machine for any repairs
- Several low end bicycles are sold in department stress and box stores that are easily accessible and recognised by shoppers.
- There have been many high end bicycle firms that have been in operation in the market for over two decades making entry into the market quite competitive.
- Their competitors’ sponsor racers and racing evens making their logos quite visible by spectators on the track and also in the media during their coverage.
- Consumers fear riding on roads with cars because of their safety concerns
- Foreign markets may be subjected to changes in currency exchange, duties and tariffs or import restrictions
- The perception of mountain biking is that it is an extreme sport and their rugged tires are not viewed as trail friendly.
- Some media portray riding bicycles as something done in under developed countries and not in developed countries.
- Gap analysis
There is an existing gap between the company’s current and future state. As much as the company has an elaborate system for ordering, Shore & More Bicycles to expand their ordering system and embrace internet based ordering system. There is also a widening gap in the payroll system because the company has growth plans and therefore the current system may not be adequate in case of growth. The gap in their mode of design and testing is also paramount since the existing gap is widening. The gap in the email system will continue to increase if it is not updated to be able to handle unlimited number of emails. With new strategies and aggressive marketing, their email system will fail the company. The gap in the internet access can be eliminated when the company invests in reliable internet service providers, but for now there is an existing gap. The gap in the financial systems especially on documentation of financial records will continue to rise as long as the company will continue centralizing documentation. Similarly, the wide gap in employee computing is critical and needs to be addressed. Outdated software found in computers when purchased if are still in use then an overhaul is eminent. Lastly, the gap in the call center is another widening gap as long as nothing is being done to upgrade the call center as the company continue growing.
C. Propose a project to upgrade and reorganize the IT infrastructure (e.g., systems) across the company that will address the company’s future technology needs (i.e., The Gap) identified in part B
- Internet Access For Staff
All employees of Shore & More Bicycles should be provided with free internet accounts automatically with usernames and passwords. Moreover, there should be other attached features to it such as primary email address, wireless access, and unlimited hours for usage and download quota allowance.
- Payroll system
Shore & More Bicycles should adopt a payroll system that can handle an expanded company in future. Moreover, it should be password protect to ensure no tampering with information. The software should also be flexible and compatible in addition to functioning well with other business systems of Shore & More Bicycles and will grow with it. The system should also be credible from well-known brands and enables the employers to have control with an option of viewing historical information and reports
- 3D engineering testing and designing
Shore & More Bicycles should acquire this software program that can share the functioning with other sites and can have unlimited view through different screens. This will enable use of the program in multiple sites for approvals and collaborations.
- Email system
Shore & More Bicycles need to update or acquire new emailing system to manage increased number of received emails and also increased quantity of filtering the spam. This will be helpful in avoiding missing any messages due to filled space in the email system
- performance management system
Shore & More Bicycles requires an enhanced performance management system that can record dealership performance, record employees, training and other needed categories. This will lead to financial gain. Motivate workforce and also improve management control.
- customer order systems
Shore & More Bicycles should put in place an online ordering system in addition to their existing methods of ordering. The online ordering system will be available for any potential customer with access to internet, is dependable and flexible. Moreover, there will be no need of having single system for customer’s orders and this will also reduce possibilities of order duplication and loss.
- Employee computers system
Shore & More Bicycles need to have in place high speed performing computers with faster operating systems. Moreover, the computers should be interconnected with remote access by the administration for repairs. Similarly, more security measures needed to be put in place especially by creating passwords and encrypting of data used in hard drives.
- call center system
Shore & More Bicycles need an online call center in addition to the normal telephone calls. Their website needs a section for Frequently Asked Questions (FAQ) to provide responses to common questions. Moreover, the online system should be developed to be more efficient and timely in accessing the customer care representative to take an order or answer questions. Online chat system can also be efficient when implemented by the company.
D. Create a report for management that presents important information they will need to approve the IT infrastructure Upgrade Project Proposal.
Shore & More Bicycles Information Technology Plan (FY 2015 to FY 2018)
The purpose of this plan will be to document the role IT plays in fulfilling the mission of Shore & More Bicycles as well as objectives and goals defined for three years.
|Recommended IT infrastructure upgrades||Rollout schedule||Business justification for implementation|
|Internet Access For Staff||6 months to 1 year||Shore & More Bicycles will be a comprehensive data transmission facility that will link servers, desktop workstations, shared printers and services throughout the company. This infrastructure upgrade should be implemented so as to improve services for the users to have reliable, timely and cost effective access to systems that are automated when needed. Moreover, upgrade of this infrastructure will enhance its network and system monitoring tools trouble shoot problems quickly and to restore services or even reroute communications hence helpful in preventing outages before they occur. Other benefits and justification for its implementation greater bandwidths, adoption of a network topology, faster data access, greater reliability, improved accessibility, service commitment tracking and automated reporting|
|Payroll system||3 years||Shore & More bicycles should contract National Finance Center (NFC) for payroll and personnel services since it can maintain the current and the historical data of the employees. The office of the comptroller will enter the payroll documents while the employees enter their timecards. Moreover Front End Systems Interface of NFC will be used to transmit automatically the actions completed in the Human Resource ERP systems to the NFC payroll system. Moreover, the interface will be also be used in updating their database with generated auto actions|
|3D engineering testing and designing||3 years||The 3D engineering testing and designing infrastructures should also be implemented since it will make the designers to use it in their modelling and designing new produces. More, it will increase efficiency and provide aesthetic beauty on the designs. Further, implementation of the 3D engineering testing and designing plan will enhance speed, precision and control, scenario visualization reduced time on designing.|
|Email system||1 month||The email system will increase the capacity of email space for the company. Moreover, subjecting each email to security checks, virus scanning and content inspection will ensure integrity of all received email messages by only accepting emails from well configured trusted email servers. It will also decrease SPAM in addition to eliminating inbound viruses trusted through email|
|performance management system||3 years||The Electronic Performance Management System (EPMS) of Shore & More Bicycles will use Halogen eAppraisal software in automating their performance management process. The EPMS will be used by the managers and the employees in defining performance, tracking midyear progress and in conducting end year evaluations and ratings. Moreover, the EPMS will provide automated email reminders informing all stakeholders when they have upcoming tasks or even when they are late in completing their activities|
|customer order systems||3 years||The customer order system will online based where the potential clients will make their bulk ordering through the internet. The system will have a capacity of monitoring the status of the orders. The single order system will create uniformity and reduce possibility of order duplication or loss|
|Employee computers system||3 years||Shore & More Bicycles will deploy work stations, desktop computers, local printers and network printers to their employees, fellows and supporting contractors. The computers will be very helpful and be used for variety of functions including research, collections management, web access, email, spreadsheets, word processing, human resource and financial management and purchasing. Additionally, the computer systems will enable Shore & More Bicycles to reduce and manipulate data sets, analyze and produce high resolution images of their products in their design stages, and lastly runs latest software packages.|
|call center system||6 months||The call center desk will use HEAT system in supporting the personnel in the company in tracking and managing reports of problems in computer as well as IT services requests. The system should be implemented since it will be containing the records of information about customers and the nature of the requests of problems and then stored in an SQL database. Moreover HEAT system will provide a companywide method of recording and tracking IT incidents and service request hence will allow all IT staffs to share information on requests and problems in addition to serving as a knowledge base.|
Shore & More Bicycles will need to add IT personnel for the plan to be successful since some of the recommended IT infrastructures may not be known to some of the staff members. Similarly, more staff training on the proposed infrastructure can be beneficial and improve the growth of the company especially on the call center and payroll systems (Ohtaki & Bucknall, 2005).
The recommended IT infrastructure upgrade will also improve help in supporting Shore & More Bicycles globalization in many ways. By embracing technology and usage of internet, potential customers in different parts of the world will be able to access their websites and browse through their products and services. Moreover, the proposed online ordering system will make it easier to ship ordered products without customers physically coming to the company. Similarly, with the email system, Shore & More Bicycles is able to communicate with customers both locally and internationally (Business Expert Press, 2010).
The emerging technology of using the 3D engineering testing and designing can enable Shore & More Bicycles to provide new products and services to the customers. Through design, they are able to design and come up with aesthetic, durable and pleasing products to the customers compared to their competitors (Öchsner, Silva & Altenbach, 2013).
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