IT and Business Essay Example

  • Category:
    Business
  • Document type:
    Case Study
  • Level:
    High School
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    4
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    2316

11IT AND BUSINESS

IT and Business

IT and Business: Singapore E-government

Introduction

In the last decade use of Information Technology has increased tremendously in the government institutions. The advancement of technology has played a key role to the success business more so in the private sector in the past. In fact, it has been essential for organizations to integrate technology so as to survive in the ever-changing business and operational environment and to enhance their competitiveness. Public sector has learned this secret from the private sector and is now adopting IT in their service provision (Jennifer, 2006, P.794). According to Wern (2006), information technology has the most significant influence on the enhancement of the organization. Due to this reason, Singapore has adopted IT so as to improve service provision. However, adopting technology in the complex business setting is challenging and needs numerous processes and management tools so as to integrate changes which take place (Wraikat & Iaeng, 2010). Based on the information, this case study will analyze the use of Information Technology in Governance by the Singapore government. This paper will also analyze a particular legal, ethical or social issue associated with Information Technology in the modern business world

Overview of the use of IT in governance

Wraikat & Laeng (2010) argue that in the last decade, several government institutions have become leaders in Information technology due to its impacts on operations and governance. In the past, only private companies had recognized the benefits of information technology to their business. For its success in private sector, many governments have implemented IT infrastructure to help increase efficiency (Weiling & Wei, 2004). Singapore is one of the developing economies that has embraced Information in its public service and storage of its confidential information. Information has become the foundation of governing. Li et al. (2004) claim that Singapore government now uses information to guide its decisions and processes small and large data about governance.

To this extent, it has led to the rise of the term “electronic government” popularly known as E-government. The availability and accessibility of the affordable network, software and hardware by early 90’s has made it possible for the government computers to be connected to international information infrastructures commonly known as the ‘Internet’ (Lin, 2006). Together with considerably reduced costs of telecommunication, the developments have presented the foundation for providing public services through electronic means.
Frequently referred to as ‘electronic government,’ this online provision of public service has been perceived as the next phase of development after the ‘‘electronic commerce’ towards the building of an informed society (Kuno, Lukas & Bernhard, 2004). In early 2000 Singapore had devised its electronic government approaches. Consultants made themselves busy, helping their government adopt striving strategies and benchmarking adoption successes.

Kuno, Lukas & Bernhard (2004) assert that they suggested Electronic government, that would change rapidly by means of defined phases, starting with the web presence for most public agencies and institutions to a way for publics to communicate with those institutions to providing public services online to the public daily seven days of the week at the convenience of their residences (Lee, 2005, p.45). Hence this led to the transformation of the Singapore public sector. The series of phases was portrayed as inevitable, driven by the technology, economic realities and citizen within the public sector.

Case Study

A brief description of the case study

According to Lin (2006), Singapore has incorporated its online public service platform into a simply accessible and available web portal, by which its citizens using the smartcard can do transaction securely with the government, decreasing citizen data entry and search costs. According to the Infocomm Development Authority of Singapore (IDA), the Government of Singapore claims that they developed a “world-class electronic government” which makes publics to “be empowered, be a pacesetter and be involved” (Kuno, Lukas & Bernhard, 2004). The Singapore citizens thus is claimed to hold equal opportunities of accessing and involving themselves with e-Users and e-Services through IT skills and knowledge via online feedback.

Environment and context

The environment and situation in which the government realized they need change was a frustrating one. Singapore citizens wanted to be offered proper services, their questions on governance be answered and to always be in touch with their government (Goldsmith & Eggers, 2004). The public had to travel to the cities where government institutions were located to get their services. Similarly, the Singapore government was also experiencing inefficiencies, loss of data and lack of integrity and openness. Ha &
Coghill (2006) claim that at that point, Singapore was being ranked among the third world countries grappling with poor provision of public services, inadequate information to its citizens and lack of transparency in government deals. It should also be noted that some government agencies had the websites and portals, but were not effective because they were operated using old and weak servers and databases (Lee, 2005, p.79).

The servers could not protect sensitive private data, and this made it prone to unethical issues such as hacking and access of government sensitive information. The adoption of the IT in governance by the Singaporean government was to win the trust of the public. Individuals have a feeling of greater control and confidence over applying traditional services. Hence, Wraikat & Iaeng (2010) thinks that the trust of users in e-government is related to privacy and security assurances offered to the users.

Wraikat & Iaeng (2010) researched on 182 citizens to gauge the degree to which the e-government and the online interaction have thrived in improving trust in citizens employing performance metrics applied previously to the government performance. The outcome demonstrated that the success and effectiveness of e-government and building of trust among citizens are dependent on citizens’ involvement with determinedly high degree of trust, as well as maintaining an ideal government website and providing quality customer service (Wraikat & Iaeng, 2010). Before this, government institutions were marred by a lack of trust and complaints.

Actual problems

The actual cause of complaints was because of complex and unsecure IT infrastructure (Li et al. 2004, p.41). In the process, public personal were accessed by unauthorized people and making their lives at risk. At the institutional perspective, the officers were reluctant at first to embrace technology. It is a fact that the majority of the people are normally opposed to change due to the uncertainty that comes with it (Jennifer, 2006, p.802). Change enables people to be shifted and removed from their comfort zone. Another problem that was experienced by the government institutions of Singapore is the outdated hard and software with their computing systems. Lack of knowledge and skills to operate the IT infrastructure was so obvious with most public servants (Ha & Coghill, 2006).

In most cases, public servant were political appointees without much emphasis on their education background. Lack of coordination between five business applications including transaction processing systems, executive information systems, management information systems, decision support systems, expert systems were observed (Weiling & Wei, 2004, p.97). The situation caused link poor link between the users and the operators leading to confusion. The company was using old and worst operating systems. Further setting hurdles for implementation IT model is lack of completely mature business architecture (Goldsmith & Eggers, 2004).

Lee (2005, p.84) posit the research also found out that most IT departments had had inadequate funding which could not help improves its equipment. The IT managers lacked of control over Information Technology funding, limiting the department capability to consolidate expenditures to attain cost savings and propel enhancements in the IT service delivery. Complicating the issue further, institutions’ decision making process under the government contract was extremely bureaucratic and had to pass throughout several levels of institutions of management consisting of the Contracting Officer, the information technology management Board, the end-user Service office and the organization’s chief information officer (Weiling & Wei, 2004, p.96).

Solutions to the problems

When the road to improving Singapore and making it a developing nation these information technology problems identified in its institutions had to be rectified. According to Li et al. (2004, p.34), the first solution the government settled on was to employ competent staff with hands in technology to handle use of IT in governance. It was complimented by bringing IT consultant on board to work with Chief information officers, managers and IT officers to develop safe and secure IT infrastructure. The next was the formation of IT which would see the development and implementation of IT infrastructure in all government agencies (Lin, 2006). The Chief information officer was also empowered. The government reviewed CIO’s roles to make sure that the office holder would lead in the formulation of budgets.

Lin (2006) contends that centralization of the IT operations and implementation at the IT departments also enhanced Singaporean institution’s capability to adopt effective Information Technology governance. The institution CIO in collaboration with IT board was given the responsibility of developing IT system security procedures and policies, and executing organization-broad IT infrastructure plan (Lin, 2006). The new powerful and sophisticated servers were bought and integrated with the IT team. Today, Singapore institutions IT setting is diversified several networks operated and owned by these ministries.

Ha & Coghill (2006) claim that every ministry or institution is allocated budget and fund their computer systems, networks and CIO have the responsibility for IT risk and security determination. Moreover, the IT managers and officers, determines how to make their networks secure outside the company. The IT team in every company is responsible for securing their firms networks and standardizing it within and across the company (Lin, 2006). Li et al. (2004, p.33) maintain that the government institutions networks now consist of several hardware and software configurations and numerous operating systems at differing security levels and versions which facilitate securing the institutions’ portfolio of IT infrastructure complex.

Discussion

The result of reforms in governance has led Singaporean government to change the way it thinks, look and acts. Lee (2002) claims that its determination to IT and governance reforms were recognized when Singapore was ranked amongst the top five effective countries of world with regards to e-Governance. There is an increase in use of the information technology, particularly the website and government portal to provide public services which is efficient, convenient, cost-effective, and customer-oriented in a better manner (Li et al. 2004, p.47). Public companies now have the capability of securing their networks. The IT department also has the authority over their budget so that they can be their own IT assets and even have inventory (Lee, 2005).

The qualified IT executives employed in government ministries currently stress on the significance of securing networks and improving the privacy of the systems throughout the use of IT to ensure public personal information is not tapped by strangers or hackers. Business application within the department is now coordinated to provide a reliable output and solve citizen problems (Jennifer, 2006). For instance, paying land rates, power bills and water bills are now reliable and public do not have to queue at the banking halls to do their transactions.

The ranking of Singapore among the top five effective adopters of e-government confirms the efficiency of the public company IT departments and cyber security governance and accountability (Lin, 2006, p.797). However, the advancement of Singapore e-government has undergone threats and challenges owing to the rapid technology development in addition to vulnerability of the international environment. Because of the situation, Singapore dropped to position 11 in 2005 (Ha & Coghill, 2006). The highlight of these challenges is the series of cyber attacks the Singaporean government website that was observed in 2013. In that case, One James Raj was charged in court for the offence in June 2013. The action demonstrated some of the ethical challenges the country is facing and is likely to face in future.

Conclusion

In summary, Singapore has fruitfully designed and developed a great foundation for the use of IT in governance. The country has muscled financial support and invested sufficient resources and shown commitment to enhance the offering of public services on the online platform. The institutions have laid out sound policies; strategic planning and clear objectives which have contributed to the success of e-government. The government is employing skilled workers who can manage IT infrastructure to create accountability and openness within the public service. Numerous strengths and opportunities now drive the of e-Government development in Singapore like political willingness, sound economic practices, robust hiring and training system to build tech-savvy employees and low cost of operations. Nevertheless, Singapore also experiences fresh challenges and threats like the considerable rise in cyber crimes, privacy and security concerns that they must prepare to tackle.

References

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Jennifer, L. (2006). Managing change and innovation in public service organizations. Public

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Kuno, S., Lukas, S. & Bernhard, S. (2004). Managing the Electronic Government: From Vision

to Practice. Secretary for Commerce and Economic Development. Retrieved on 11th June

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Lin, F.M. (2006). Looking for true e-Government? Singapore gets it right. CRMGuru.com

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Li et al. (2004). E-Government in Singapore: Demographics, Usage Patterns, and Perceptions.

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Technology Agency. Retrieved on 11th June 2014 from http://www.dsta.gov.sg/Home/DisplayPage/ContentPage12.asp?id=3016

Wraikat, M.M & Iaeng, M. (2010). Information Technology Governance Role in Enhancing

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on Engineering and Computer Science 2010 Vol I WCECS 2010, October 20-22, 2010,

San Francisco, USA