Technology impact on job design - Information System
The implementation of technology into work has had a significant impact on the types and content of job that are now available. The main impacts can be summarised in the following areas:
Skills - the focus of the debates around the impact of technology on worker skill have tended to be negative with much rhetoric around the deskilling of work and the assimilation of knowledge and skill into the system - a process aided by technology. However there are other aspects to this debate. Firstly there are opportunities to develop knowledge and skill in the area of information systems in terms of it's use and it's design and operation. A new industry has grown up around this with demand for those workers that have knowledge of information systems in general but more particularly those who maybe experts in specific types of system or packages of software for example MRP/ERP.
In addition, information systems and technology in general, if used properly, should remove much of the repetition from jobs with tasks such as performing calculations and all processes related to the manipulation of data removed from the worker so freeing more time for the higher-level intellectual aspects of work. This however can only be taken advantage of if the work being done utilises knowledge and skills that cannot be replicated within the machine.
Empowerment - with greater availability of information throughout the organisation decision-making can be delegated to lower levels of the organisation so allowing more empowered working. This combined with the increased facility for communication can allow workers to operate more autonomously.
Autonomy - better support from the IS can allow skilled, knowledge workers to have more freedom from the constraints of the organisation, whether that be in terms of management control or physical location, with much of what is needed to complete the work at their fingertips regardless of where they may be located.
Socialisation - here again communication is a significant enabler making it easier to access others by a variety of communications formats. However growth in electronic communication where no physical contact is required is increasingly replacing face-to-face meetings. It is proposed that the contour of socialisation of work is changing rather than increasing or decreasing. Again within low-skill work (similar to Fordist production lines) there are cases where lower skill jobs are becoming increasingly isolated where the main interface for the worker is with the IS leaving no need for contact with other workers.
In summary, technology has the ability to have a positive or negative effect on the design of the human aspects of work. It would seem that those with skills and knowledge, working within a knowledge intensive job should benefit considerably. They will be supported by the IS and their job could become more interesting and varied as much of the drudgery is removed with the IS carrying out many of the repetitive tasks.
However it is also fair to say that those in low skill employment will become further marginalised as their role will increasingly become one that serves the machine. To reiterate there are a number of contingent factors here influencing the worker position including the: ? implementation philosophy used with the IS ?
- Type of work being done
- Type of worker within the process
- Human resource policy of the company.
The trade-off here seems to be between those that are served by the technology and those that are working to serve it. Finally it is worth considering the effect that the facility for increased communication has on the worker and mainly of on those in management roles. With the advent of pagers, then mobile phones and more recently mobile e-mailing it is becoming increasingly difficult to escape the work environment with many now 'hard-wired'.