In line with the main priorities set by the URBACT Information Society Network, this theme focuses on business development and the role of ICT as a means of tackling economic restructuring and promoting employment and in doing so fostering social cohesion and economic inclusion.
The purpose of this brief document is to act as a guide for colleagues when preparing material or presentations on this topic and to provoke discussion on the issues raised in it.
Business Development and its relationship to ICT?
Business Development is the process of improvement that enables a business to become more efficient, profitable, and thereby creating or safeguarding jobs. Business development therefore does not only concern marketing and sales departments, but all parts of a business which constitute its value chain and requires effective communication and co-operation within a company.
Over the last 20 years ICT has increasingly been identified as a major contributor to the process of business development and improvement and it has been identified that “ICT …. is responsible for around half of productivity growth in modern economies. It drives improved efficiency and better services and products across the entirety of the private and the public sectors.” (Viviane Reding, Member of the European Commission responsible for Information Society).
What has been the impact of ICT on Business?
The use of ICT and technology has affected every aspect of business, transforming not only the way that business is conducted but also creating new business sectors and jobs. The creation of companies like Google and e-Bay which did not exist 10 years ago, was only made possible by advances in technology and the changes that this has created in the way that people behave (currently Google is valued at £44billion – Source BBC 5th June 05).
Some examples of the nature of this change include:
Marketing: The use of websites has allowed companies to develop new and cheaper ways of reaching new markets, offering customers the opportunity of buying goods and services whenever they want and often at reduced cost, whilst also enhancing the level of customer service.
This has been coupled with the expansion and use of e-mails which again has been used by business to market their goods and services directly to potential customers, as well as communicating with existing customers and suppliers.
Increasingly the marketing campaigns of businesses include the use of technologies such as Contact Management Systems that allows them to co-ordinate, monitor and report on various aspects of their marketing campaigns in new ways making these campaigns more targeted and effective.
Finance: Practically all companies now use software programs e.g. Sage or Excel to manage their accounts. This has allowed them to look at financial information when required, monitor and respond to their customers purchasing patterns by e.g. offering discounts and overall improve the management of their finances. The result of this has been for many companies a reduction in their accountancy fees.
Out of office working: For many businesses the need for staff to be away from the office attending meetings etc. or to be based in another geographical location has grown alongside employee demands for more flexible working patterns. However effective communication and ability to access information etc. remains critical to the productivity of these staff members. Therefore through the use of technology many companies now use a range of technologies to enable this. These include mobile phones, e-mail, broadband, laptops, etc. Thus ensuring that companies are able to be flexible and adaptive depending on their business needs.
Networks: Virtually all businesses now have or have access to a computer. The existence of two or more computers in an office almost always leads to the creation of a network. The main advantage of...