I would like to start with the definition of information technologies. So,
“information systems are implemented within an organization for the purpose of improving the effectiveness and efficiency of that organization. Capabilities of the information system and characteristics of the organization, its work systems, its people, and its development and implementation methodologies together determine the extent to which that purpose is achieved” (Silver et al., 1995).
From this definition, it is rather clear that information systems are very sufficient in developing business. Information technologies are almost brand-new way of holding business. They provide organization with different facilities that were unavailable without electronic support.
Another sufficient point is areas subject to information technologies. They
“include data management issues as presented in the principal international database conferences (e.g. ACM SIGMOD, ACM PODS, VLDB, ICDE and ICDT/EDBT) as well as data-related issues from the fields of data mining, information retrieval, internet and cloud data management, web semantics, visual and audio information systems, scientific computing, and organizational behavior” (Shasha et al., 2010).
Thus, it is clear that the facilities that provide informational systems are very wide-ranged and are sure to bring a lot of profit to any kind of organization. Easy access to information, wider customer range – all these cannot but attract new people who want to make money out of the Internet. Electronic money gain more and more popularity, so why not to try to make business better with the help of information technologies?
In a broad sense the information system is set of technical, program and organizational maintenance, and also the personnel, intended in due time to provide appropriate people with the appropriate information.
According to one authors, IS in a broad sense includes the personnel, its maintaining, according to others — is not present.
In narrow sense information systems name only a subset of components IS in a broad sense, including databases, DBMS and specialized applied programs.
In any case primary goal IS is the satisfaction of concrete information requirements within the limits of a concrete subject domain. Modern IS are de facto inconceivable without use of databases and DBMS, therefore the term «information system» in practice merges on sense with the term «system of databases».
On degree of automation IS are divided into: automated IS (partial automation) and automatic IS (full automation).
On character of data processing IS are divided into: directory, or information retrieval IS in which there are no difficult algorithms of data processing, and the system purpose is search and information delivery in a convenient kind; and IS data processing, or solving IS in which the data is exposed to processing on difficult algorithms. Such systems, in turn, share on the automated control systems and systems of support of decision-making.
As IS are created for satisfaction of information requirements within the limits of a concrete subject domain to each subject domain (application sphere) there corresponds the type of IS. To list all these types makes no sense, as the quantity of subject domains is great, but it is possible to specify following types IS as listed below: economic information system — the information system intended for performance of functions of management at the enterprise; medical information system — the information system intended for use in medical or treatment-and-prophylactic establishment; geographical information system — the information system providing gathering, storage, processing, access, display and distribution spatially-coordinated data (the spatial data).
Aalsmeer Flower Auction is an auction in Netherlands which offers plants and flowers to the global market. As contemporary world tends to hold electronic business, the auction must change its business strategy. There are several reasons for them. The first is that the auction should enlarge its customer base as it will bring more profit which is rather sufficient in the conditions of today’s economic crisis. Another point is that electronic markets gain their popularity as they are much more comfortable for people. They can look offered goods through without leaving their homes, sitting in comfortable chairs and, besides, electronic catalogues reduce time of a customer. He or she can set necessary parameters and then search for matching goods. Electronic catalogues are good not only for customers, but also for business partners. Having such a catalogue will lead to greater popularity of the auction, as it will be in easier access for everyone through the Internet. And the last reason is that making business through the Internet becomes more profitable nowadays. Having created a website once, the auction won’t ever need to hire some sellers, to rent some premise for holding it, etc. Yes, it is necessary to rent a hosting and pay for domain, but that is much cheaper, than points listed above.
So, to survive in changing environment and fast growing popularity of electronic access, there are some points that should be considered in developing information strategy for Aalsmeer Flower auction.
The first which comes to mind is creating Aalsmeer’s own website. On this website all the information about goods that offers the auctions will be placed. All the goods will be divided into categories, which will make the search of necessary issue easier. These categories will be placed on the top of the site for easier access of the users. Also, search on the site will be present. A user will have the opportunity to enter the words, points and characteristics of goods they need, and searching machine will reflect obtained results for them. Also, each good will have the full description of it, which includes not only text with characteristics, but also it will include several photos of it, and the information will be followed with small pictures advertising satellite goods that are often bought or are in use when used with this good. Also, on this website Aalsmeer Flower auction can put advertising of its growers and partners and some other advertising banner. In other words, the auction will lease some free place for advertisement which will bring additional profit. Except for the information about goods, on the website information about the auction itself must be present. One page of the website will be devoted to the article about auction including contacts with it, etc. this will attract new customers who are unfamiliar with this auction. Here on the website dates of auctions can be set. That will also attract new customers to buy some goods. Except for real auction, internet auction also must be provided. Internet auctions and shops tend to gain higher popularity within customers for several reasons. The first and the most important reason is that it is much more comfortable to buy thing from home, without wasting time to go or drive somewhere, to ask shop-assistant about qualities of this or that good, to wait until the shop-assistant will find necessary model to show it up for you. All this disappears in electronic markets and auctions. A customer just enters the internet address of the store or market or auction, then logs in and, using searching machine, looks for necessary goods. Then he or she marks those that are necessary, adds to cart and fills in the order blank. Voila, the purchase is made. The only thing left is to wait until a courier will bring the order. So it is quite clear that a lot of new customers will be attracted to the auction by providing internet auction.
Also, this internet auction must have different ways of payment. These may include different banks, electronic-money providers, payment thorough mobile phones, etc. I ca state that electronic money payment, using services of such corporations as PayPal, Web Money, etc will be of great popularity. Today electronic money is very popular among people. It is a much more comfortable way to pay bills. And people give their preferences to electronic payments than to payments through real money. So this service also should be provided on the website.
Another benefit of having a website is that it is always registered in internet searching machines such as Google, Yahoo, Aport, AltaVista, etc. And when a potential customer will enter necessary words in the searching field, he will be returned results with the name of the auction. This also attracts new customers.
Another efficient point in attracting new customers and thus surviving in the severe economical conditions is advertising. It can be different – on JPG-banners, GIF-banners, flash banners, pop-up windows, etc. All these small things are very important in advertising goods provided by the auctions. These pictures, banners and windows attract attention of the positional customer and he or she clicks on them in order to get acquainted with the electronic catalogue of goods provided on the website. These types of advertisement can be placed on websites of partner-auctions which will bring them money and the Aalsmeer Flower auction too, as business partnership is also a profitable thing.
As it was mentioned above, the electronic catalogue should be provided on the website and it must be available to download from the website. It is necessary, for example, for customers, who want to look the offered goods through not online, but in some other place or they just want to show something to a friend and there’s no internet there. Or, perhaps, the potential customer wants to have some pages printed from the website and there’s no printer at the home. So it is necessary to save some information on external memory devices and print in some other places. Besides, having an electronic catalogue is a good manner as it is shows the reliability of the auctions making it a little bit more prestigious.
Also, some motion pictures of Aalsmeer Flower auction should be made in order to make it more popular in the Web. The Internet is a great field to search for new customers. A lot of people are connected to the internet and a lot of them need to buy some goods. So all the markets, auctions and shops are doomed to be profitable if they have their internet analogues. This is in case if they are reliable and have good reputation. This means that no cheating must be present in the work of the auction. Among other benefits, the internet auction can work in 24/7 regime that is also a very good thing for the financial state of the auction. This means that people can buy goods at any minute enlarging the scale of sold goods. Besides, placing some web-advertisement and creating a web-site is sure to attract foreign customers. So, shipment also must be provided in the auction. Foreign customers pay a little bit more to the auction because of the delivery. This extra fee will add to financial benefit of the auction.
Internet is a big new world where to find necessary things and appropriate prices is much easier than in real world.
All these facilities will make the contact between suppliers and buyers easier and faster than it is in conditions of real life. Suppliers have easier access to registering their goods on the auction, proving it with all necessary information with less time and money costs, and buyers have the possibility to find necessary goods faster and they have greater variety to choose from.
Nowadays social networks, such as Facebook, MySpace, etc are very popular and a lot of people use them. So it would be rather silly not to provide advertisement of the auction there. All types of banners can be put in these social networks. Also, it will be sufficient to create a group dedicated to the Aalsmeer Flower auction where people can exchange with their opinions, can tell their thoughts about the auctions and what they liked and didn’t like in its service. It will also increase customer base and will make the auction popular among many new people.
Also, some short video clips about Aalsmeer Flower auction should be made. They will popularize the auction within TV-audience which is also very large. Some audio information about the company should be present in radio shows.
Another bright facility that can be provided by information technology to make Aalsmeer Flower auction popular is 3D catalogue. In this catalogue customers will be able to see each point of sale from every side, see its advantages and disadvantages. Besides, 3D catalogue is a rare thing that is not provided by many auctions and companies. So it will be a new great attraction for people.
Information systems are good facilities to provide better advertisement of Aalsmeer Flower Auction as a lot of people use internet for buying and selling goods. Information systems create big field for holding business and getting instant profit in virtual world.
But information systems have another side that contacts with neither suppliers, nor buyers. This side of information systems is called office automation.
“Office automation refers to the varied computer machinery and software used to digitally create, collect, store, manipulate, and relay office information needed for accomplishing basic tasks and goals. Raw data storage, electronic transfer, and the management of electronic business information comprise the basic activities of an office automation system. Office automation helps in optimizing or automating existing office procedures” (“What Is OA?”).
So, information technologies should be provided inside the building of auction itself. Providing some LAN facilities will reduce time taken by employees to go to their colleagues and tell or show them something. Also, it will reduce expenses on telephone bills.
Information facilities inside the organization are also used to optimize the working process inside the auction and community of its employee. Some orders from top management will be accepted faster if they are sent via corporate software of instant messages. Besides, using LAN makes easier to hold a meeting among top managers, as some software for videoconferences can be used.
Also, with innovative information systems some diagrams, graphic, presentations of new goods, etc can be held much easier and more attractive.
To make a conclusion of all that was said above, I can state that if all the offered measures will be taken, the company will reach higher profits and benefits. Customer base will be enlarged due to new ways of attracting new customers and the auction will gain new partners and suppliers who will provide the company with new range of clients and who will sometimes add to goods’ variety of the auction.
Automation of many processes inside the company is of great importance as this is a good way to develop the auction. To this reproach, STS concept is very useful and essential thing. One of possible representations of STS in its internal structure is the hierarchical structure of organizational divisions of different level, each of which is formed by cooperation of social roles (places) of members of the personnel sending by means of modern technologies of specific individual (professional) activity, corresponding to these roles. This is the representation of object in the form of “organization”. The organization is a social special type of objects which is not reduced to individual activities, but to its components. Specific features of these objects are considered within the limits of the organization and management theory against which the engineering psychology in this case can lean. In our opinion, term STS is better, than the term “organization” (which besides it is used in remedial sense as the process of organizing), expresses that circumstance that systems such are first of all social, so, and is natural-artificial formations.
In such systems industrial and socio-cultural factors and relations are integrally weaved. Therefore their functioning and development as whole is caused by the given laws of the nature, and the laws of the social validity carrying historical and mediated character. Systems do not change a lot under the influence of natural factors and conditions, however many artificial — partially or completely defined by purposeful activity of the person and a society.
The basic process is not functioning (unitary or repeated achievement of the set purpose), and development. Artificial influence on system such can be successful only when it “will be transformed” to natural influence on it of one of its own elements. Otherwise this influence becomes not organizing, and the destabilizing factor.
For each of socio-technical systems, it is always possible to find many other processes, defining character and interactions of initial system. Thus, integrity and borders of such system are set not only concerning its internal, immanent characteristics, but also and concerning those systems, which include the given one. As such systems usually small, there is some integrity and some “contours” socio-technical systems.
As a rule, socio-technical systems are multilevel formations. Thus on each of levels operate specific laws. So, those from them to which individual activity submits differ from laws of group activity though groups, associations, communities exist on a material of ability to live of set of individuals. It, in turn, defines different directions, and frequently and contrast of tendencies and the mechanisms inherent in each of such levels.
The important characteristic of socio-technical systems is also that they cannot be completely created in manufacture, and include in the structure and fragments of a material of “living” activity (separate people, groups, communities etc.) on which base there is social life of system. Thus each of such fragments possesses also the “natural” self-movement. Their integration into uniform system represents organization and management process under the form.
Making the conclusion of everything that was said above, I’m sure that all these measures will bring Aalsmeer Flower action to prosperity. Applied STS will make the staff of the auction act as a one whole which sure to make a united organism from the auction. And team work is, as it is widely known, the best way to profitable business.
Another point is advertising and attracting new clients by means of information systems. These are sure to open new doors for the auction. The more new clients the auction has, the more suppliers it attracts. This is the clear fact. So I consider all offered measures to be essential and sufficient. To my mind, following to them will make the auction popular, profitable and will help to survive in severe conditions of economic crisis.
Shasha, Dennis et al. (2010). Information Systems. n. p.: Elsevier Ltd.
Silver, Mark S. et al. (1995). The Information Technology Interaction Model: A Foundation for the MBA Core Course, MIS Quarterly, Vol. 19, No. 3, Special Issue on IS Curricula and Pedagogy.
Wilkie Office Automation. (2006) What is OA? Wilkie Office Automation.