Rethinking the Role of the IS Function
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Finnegan P. and Golden W.,1994, Rethinking the Role of the IS Function. Executive Systems Research Centre, University College Cork, Ireland; Research and Discussion Papers, 10/94, pp 1-17.
This paper proposes that IS managers need to review what they regard as their core competencies if they are to be a valuable asset to organisations in the 1990s. The authors start by questioning whether the IS function has strayed away from information management in support of organisational functioning and become too occupied by strategic management, organisational design and competitive positioning. They compare the concerns of IS managers in western countries with those of their counterparts in developing countries and conclude that, even though they both face generally similar organisational conditions within the global economy, that they are focusing on different IS support mechanisms. IS managers in western countries are striving for strategic information systems and the redesign of business processes, while their developing counterparts are focusing on more infrastructure based issues that were important to western IS managers in the past. The authors examine a number of these western concerns and conclude that while they provide western IS functions with good organisational visibility they may not be of most benefit to the main organisation. The authors propose that IS managers need to be aware that changes in organisational environments require that organisations be more flexible, fleet of foot entities. They also note that strategy makers are now more concerned with emergent strategies than with traditional mechanistic strategy formulation. They believe that what such entities require is a more invisible IS function that proves to be strategic, not because it proactively chases competitive advantage, but because it provides an effective underlying flexible technical and information infrastructure that mirrors an organisation's dynamism. They propose that the Japanese Kaizen model is a good example of what such invisible efforts can achieve. Essentially, IS managers will have to tackle issues that they would have considered solved in the past because operating conditions have dramatically changed since. This will probably prove an unwelcome suggestion to some IS managers who have been working for a high organisational profile over the last decade, but should prove beneficial to the organisation.