Virtual organizations may be defined as supple networks of sovereign entities connected by information technology in order to allocate skills, facts and admission to others’ know-how in non-convectional means. Davenport (1997) indicated that Virtual organizations may also be defined as type of cooperation concerning businesses, institution or persons distributing manufactured goods or services on the foundation of a general business perceptive.
The units play part in the partnership and present themselves as integrated organization. In actual fact, Grenier (1995) showed that virtual organizations do not need to involve the entire populace in a single location so as to distribute their services. The organization is usually present but you cannot observe it. Basically, it is a network and not an office as such.
Technologies Sustaining Virtual Organizations
The common technologies which sustain virtual organizations consist of the internet, World Wide Web, telecommunications and electronic letters. Gascoyne (1997) stated that these technologies basically have been developed to some extent in the recent past. The last kind of visual technologies is the knowledge management. This technology also sustains virtual organizations. Knowledge management has been termed by the global center for applied studies in information technology as a tactic of obtaining the correct facts from the exact individuals at the correct time and assisting people in the distribution of information. Further, the global center for applied studies has termed it as the putting of information into deed in means which endeavor to progress organizational performance.
Some of the knowledge management technologies which sustain virtual organizations consist of mutual technologies, extensible rack up language such as XML, Intranets and extranets. Others include personal devices, wireless technologies, virtual reality and portals. Mutual technologies are separated into two groups; asynchronous and synchronous. Asynchronous tools are such as manuscript and newsgroups.
Mutual tools consist of virtual meeting rooms and joint whiteboards. Others include request sharing and video or audio conferencing. Nonaka (1995) stated that extensible rack up language basically is a meta-markup language used in the recitation of structured data in a particular setting. On the other hand, Hypertext Markup Language (HTML) is employed in exhibiting statistics and graphics over the World Wide Web.
Intranet is defined as a system of networks enclosed inside a venture and secluded from the exterior interruption through firewalls. Intranet allows the division of corporation information and computing assets amongst directors, departmental managers and subordinate staff. Illustrations of intranet applications consist of manuals, events, inner job contributions, documents, worker information and programs. Others include date books, records and scheme management. Extranets authorize supplementary ease of access. Within an extranet, the intranet is widened to exterior stakeholders. For example, clients, purveyors and trading associate. Illustrations of extranet applications consist of association, data allocation, scheme management, information and teaching.
Personal devices are such as digital assistants and other Internet connection accessories. These devices facilitate staff to have a bureau anyplace and an extended contact to both administration and customers. Wireless technologies consist of blue tooth.
Bluetooth is a computing and telecommunications parameter which illustrates how cell phones, computers and individual digital assistants can effortlessly hook up with every other by means of a wireless link through a radio frequency. Several kinds of virtual reality exist and consist of immersive experience. The user crisscrosses a globe through an appliance such as the goggles or data glove worn on a particular part of the body and interrelates with that globe as if he/she were really part and parcel of it.
The second type of virtual reality is the desktop systems. They are cheap in terms of cost. The third kind is the telephone presence technology. With this, the client vaguely manipulates a mechanical manipulator to carry out various actions or discover several features of a world. The last type of virtual reality is the use of CAVE. This refers to a situation where a person is surrounded by several screens forming a cave. It comprises of numerous screen setting, which surrounds the user. Portals are preliminary web sites for consumers to obtain the facts content they require. Illustrations of information resources which can be combined and obtained using a portal consist of hunt engines, electronic mail, web links and records from different sources and task rolls.
Key Characteristics of Virtual Organizations
The first key attribute of virtual organizations include the fact that they are discrete networks of talents and abilities. Lespang (2001) stated that the organization structure of a virtual organization is dispersed between various places and the outcome is the potentiality of conveying a broad band of talents and capabilities. The second attribute is the utilization of telecommunications and computing technologies.
These technologies act as the facilitator which permits a visual organization to be present. It is rather easy for anybody to suggest that visual organizations have always been there. For instance, express sales employees, outsourced employees and even employees laboring at their dwellings. Nonetheless, the aspect that is new is the fact that technology has greatly facilitated the sustenance of dispersed work groups. This is due to the faster speeds associated with it. The stumbling blocks of geographical distance and time have been defeated by technology.
Other aspects of visual organizations according Nonaka (1995) include flexibility, vibrancy and impatience. Organizations nowadays are no longer limited by the conventional stumbling blocks of location and time. Visual organizations do sustain vibrant amendments to the business enterprise including staff member’s surroundings and dispensation structures. Another aspect of visual organizations is integration.
Once diverse persons, teams and organizations come collectively in a visual organization, they want to interrelate jointly to attain a certain accomplishment. This means larger ranks of partnership, collaboration and faith. Integration influences the synergy of persons.
Opportunities and Challenges Posed by Virtual Organizations to Management
The uniqueness of virtual teams have undergone significant amendments because of the changes within organizations and the characteristic of the jobs they perform. Organizations have become more dispersed athwart topography and athwart firms. Relations amongst individuals within an organization and those formerly deemed external such as clients, suppliers and administrators of organizations are increasingly turning out to be more significant.
Organizations have found out the worthiness of mutual work. Virtual teams have changed from set group membership to changing team membership. Majority of the teams function in several styles as well as having head to head meetings whenever probable. Running a virtual team implies supervising the entire band of communication policies and scheme management methods and in addition personal and communal processes in means which sustain the team. Additionally, teams have changed from groups managed by a lone administrator to teams which have numerous coverage relations with diverse components of the organization at diverse periods.
According to Schrage (1996) several types of virtual teams exist and include administrative teams which comprise of administrators who are part and parcel of the team owing to their status in the organization. These groups are generally semi- stable groups with the task for precise roles in the organization. Another form of team is the project teams which are composed around a precise duty. Affiliates of the team are chosen on grounds of their task and know-how relative to that task.
These teams are formed mainly for the existence of the project. The last kind of teams is the community of practice teams which sustains individuals working on general duties or in the similar skilled field and who can gain from allotment know-how. Membership on these particular teams is charitable. These teams generally do not have precise deliverables except that they are concentrated on acquisition of knowledge.
Some of the benefits that the organization may accrue from the virtual teams are, expanding and broadening improved practices quicker. The second advantage is linking island of facts into individual- organization and facts allotment networks of professional communities. The third advantage is the nurturing of cross- purposeful and cross-share partnership. The last advantage is the mounting aptitude to instigate and put in projects athwart organizational limits.
There are quite a number of things which must occur for the management to make effectual exploit of virtual teams. These things comprise of the fact that, procedures for group management and progress should be planned, made clear, piloted, experienced and advanced. Further, McMaster (1996) suggested that team managers should be trained in new team management tactics. Secondly, group members should be educated in new means of operating within the organization. Thirdly, the traditions of the organization must be reformed in order to sustain new configurations and processes.
Organizational configurations should be customized to reveal new group dynamics. The remunerations systems should be modernized to replicate latest team configurations. Latest information technology systems should be constructed so as to sustain teams. Lastly, latest administration, measurement and managerial schemes should be planned.
Case Studies of Organizations which use Virtual Techniques
Aventis, a manufacturing company based in France and which specializes in pharmaceuticals and agriculture chemicals production established a virtual organization which was structured into five tactical service groups and a single technology set was formed. This latest organization is extremely flexible, centered on client requirements and allied to business objectives. It divides technology, information and paramount practice. Another company is the Dell Computers based in United States of America. It is quickly shifting away from self-reliant, uprightly incorporated organizations to virtual units which depend on business associates to accomplish key parts of their provision chains.
This implies a corporation shall subcontract every part of its processes to companies which can proficiently, dependably and economically execute the work. Another perfect example of a company which has instituted the virtual organization aspect is the British Telecom.
In April of 2000, the firm declared a restructuring of its operations into latest, self-reliant businesses that facilitate larger organizational focus. Process reforms were instigated and this brought about the consideration of the way in which guidelines advanced through the firm. The arrangement job was performed by virtual teams whereby expertise’s from British Telecom and its specialists labored intimately. By use of internet and the extranet, British Telecom was triumphant in linking the ordering system faultlessly to all the present bequest schemes in the firm.
An example of a public sector which has instituted virtual organization is the United States of America Department of Defense. In this department, every military responsibility has been built into virtual battlegrounds. Consequently, they have been incorporated into component of their military strategy. Alongside training and undertaking practice, these battle laboratory trial weapons are yet to be manufactured. Frequently, these battlefields are dispersed and interrelate.
For instance, warfare sport partakers are situated at isolated locations and employ large-bandwidth telecommunication know-how and lofty performance computing to conjure up an armed clash. Partakers can offer online interrelation with real-time replies. The second perfect instance is the United States of America Army. Norton and Cathy (1997) stated that the Army expertise found online functions as a portal for military staff to individualize content, view web electronic mail and newsgroups. Better still, it permits them to trace other military guards, study reports, run internet functions and look for all web sites related to their service.
There are many technical demerits which hinder the implementation of a successful virtual organization according to Lespang (2001). Some of these demerits include the ability of the communications infrastructure. This has the effect of dawdling down the essential course and network among the units in a virtual organization. The second demerit is the hardware and software inconsistencies issues.
These inconsistencies frequently result in general applications not being fast or even tricky to use. The third demerit is computer safety. Owing to the various customer requests within a web-based case, there are numerous locations of probable interruption into the innermost applications and data sources of an organization. The last demerit is the vibrant characteristic of technology. This dynamic nature of technology has made the organization’s hardware and software improvement process very complicated for any information technology administrator within a virtual organization.
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Lespang, R., 2001. Understanding virtual organizations. Information Systems Control Journal, 6(2), pp. 2-10.
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Norton, B. & Cathy, S., 1997. Understanding the virtual organization. New York: Hauppauge.
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