Few companies ever have the resources or nerve to invest in virgin technology, even if an IT magazine advises them to do so. This is quite understandable. Just as many companies are equally loathe to invest in a proven technology until they see the benefits that other businesses have experienced.
The stakes are high for the IT manager who signs off the cheque for new equipment. All purchases are now strategic, and an ill-advised decision can be regarded as a fundamental error in planning rather than simply a waste of money.
Businesses not only check out a new technology?s specification sheet, they want to see how the products are being used on a practical, day-to-day basis. In recognition of this, Business Computer World?s Technology in Action section shows you how new systems are being put to work. This month, our reporters focus on the way in which three technologies are being applied to businesses.
Traditionally, document management meant making sure that the relevant sheets of paper were deposited in the relevant filing cabinet. Advances in digital scanner technology have brought the ideal of the paperless office one step closer. Many companies are now dispensing with traditional methods of processing incoming documents in favour of an electronic approach.
But automating such processes is not always easy. It requires careful planning and restructuring of existing work methods. However, the Consumers? Association, Gan Insurance UK and BUPA International are three companies which have undergone the upheaval and have found the process worthwhile and profitable. How did they do it, and how has it changed the way they work?
Harassed business managers will tell you that there is never enough time in the day. Maintaining control of projects and managing the time assigned to individual tasks is a major business concern because productivity is paramount. For obvious reasons, managers are also keen to ensure that projects keep to budget.
The Building Design Partnership, Roadways, and Britannia Airways have endeavoured to keep their projects on target by implementing planning and scheduling systems. Is the installation helping them to keep on track? Will a software package ensure that your teams are marshalled efficiently?
One of the industry?s hottest topics also comes under the Business Computer World microscope this month in our focus on data mining. This technology, which allows you to identify meaningful patterns and trends in data, is expected to be worth billions of pounds by the turn of the century.
The Whitbread Group, Natwest UK and the Oxford Transplant Centre are three companies which have decided not to wait until the year 2000 to invest in such technology. While you may not be interested in discovering what factors affect kidney transplant survival rates, you could almost certainly be making better use of your own data. The more traditional methods of database reporting can only tell you so much about underlying trends, whereas data mining can analyse greater volumes of data and so unearth deeper levels of understanding.
Finally, if you are using technology in an innovative way, we would be interested to hear about it. Contact Business Computer World and trade ideas. Call 0171 316 9419 or email [email protected]
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