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Business Communication &Technology Context

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BUSINESS COMMUNICATION
BUSINESS COMMUNICATION AND THE TECHNOLOGY CONTEXT

You are sitting at your computer when you hear the familiar musical chord that announces an incoming message. You activate your interview line, and the communication manager of your company appears in the comer of your screen. "Thought you would be interested in this memo from headquarters," she says. "regarding the new communication system we're installing. Soon we'll be completely wireless, and you'll be able to receive and transmit images that can fill your screen rather than sit in the corner of it," She chuckles. "That's assuming you want a larger image of whoever you're talking to!" You chat for a few minutes while the copy of the memo is being sent. Within a minute or two, your printer gives you a copy of the memo. You say goodbye and deactivate your interview line.

Why Managing Information within Organizations?
The growth of information technology over the past 30 years has transformed the way business is transacted throughout the world. Obvious effects of the new technologies include a marked increase in the amount and availability of information and greater speed in sending and receiving it. Other, less obvious effects are changes in organizational structure from the diminishing importance of physical location in running a business. Additional changes involve requirements in computer literacy even for entry‐level positions and changes in individuals' work demand and expectations. All these factors may generate more stress as the amount and speed of available information eliminates the time for reflection that older, slower systems allowed. Information technology is also changing the conventions of written communication, favoring more direct and informal style and promoting more collaborative types of communication.

Internationally, the instantaneous availability of information has communicated and influenced social, political, and economic event. Internationally the instantaneous availability of information has communicated and influenced social, political, and economic events, such as the detailed coverage of the Syrian War and the earthquake in China. Information technology has generated a new international economy. Each day throughout the world, more than $1 trillion is transferred electronically, and more than $300 billion by foreign exchange transactions. To put these numbers in perspective, the total world trade in physical goods is about $4 trillion a year. (Figures are three years old) All these advancements makes it mandatory for the managers to have ample knowledge on managing information within organizations, using the new and developing technologies with special emphasis on E‐mail‐its systems, uses, etiquette, costs and benefits, and security. Also techniques in managing information outside the organization, such as how to deal with the news media, how to be a good company spokesperson, and how to prevent avid control corporate crises.

History of Technological Developments

All methods of communication beginning with the development of language itself can be considered technological developments. However, the inventions toward the end of the nineteenth century and the beginning of the twentieth, such as the telegraph and the telephone, marked the beginning of the rapid growth leading to today's ever‐changing information technology. Telex machines, the direct ancestor of E‐mail, are not used much anymore. Faxes are widely used, and their use increases daily. Faxes are also precursors of today's E‐mail and networking systems. In the 1960s, some companies became attracted to computer technology to handle data processing. The computers used by these progressive companies were huge mainframes, with tubes and reels of storage tape; they were so big that they often filled a large room. Terminals‐video screens with keyboards were hooked up to the mainframe. Programming had to be done from scratch because there was no packaged software, and computer programmers, often people with no expertise in business or management, owned the technology.

By the 1970s, more people had computer terminals that had access to central information on large mainframes. Some packaged software was developed so that certain tasks did not have to be programmed from scratch. Flow ever, computers were expensive, and costs rose as companies without clear needs for them were persuaded to invest in information technology. The transformation of telecommunications in the 1980s, with the development of fiber optics, local area networks, and satellite technology, along with the new. more powerful personal computers, facilitated the growth of information technology in organizations. Organizations now have laptop computers, desktop publishing capabilities, electronic spreadsheets, and word processing programs to gather, store, and communicate information. Turmoil and change are the norm for information technology, and they reflect and influence the concurrent changes in business organizations on structure, profits, people, and society

Challenges to the Organization Made by New Technologies As future business leaders, you will need to understand and manage the transitions facing you in business operations. According to some researchers, the problem is not so much technical since the technology itself has become increasingly easier to use, but rather organizational because new structures must be set up to manage information in a world forever changed by it. Those of you who can enter the global marketplace with a knowledge of information technology and an ability to manage change will be / are the successful business leaders of the twenty‐first century. Additionally, there is the question of control over content. During the time of carbon copies, it was relatively easy to oversee who received what and when. Those days are gone. With computer hackers invading electronic databases, and even employers eavesdropping, control over that data is becoming increasing difficult. What we thought was secure is, sadly, now easier to access. All these issues affect both the form and the content of messages.

Organizations are now spending major part of their budgets to maintain the Security of this information called (specifically I.T Security). New job lines are created for this purpose, e.g. Information Security Officer New specializations are introduced in the curriculum e.g. CISA (Certified Information Systems Auditor) New technologies are developed to cope with the concept of IT Security

THE BIG BLAST
Internet
 The invention of the telegraph, telephone, radio, and computer set the stage for this unprecedented integration of capabilities  Between 1961to 1965, the Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT) started to research sharing information in small, phone‐linked networks. This was the beginning of development of Internet.  In 1991, World‐Wide Web was introduced, developed by. Tim Berners‐Lee, with assistance from Robert Caillau  The Internet has revolutionized the computer and communications world like nothing before.

 The Internet is at once a worldwide broadcasting capability, a mechanism for information dissemination, and a medium for collaboration and interaction between individuals and their computers without regard to geographical location.  The Internet represents one of the most successful examples of the benefits of sustained investment and commitment to research and development of information infrastructure.

E‐MAIL
Although E‐mail used to be limited to major universities with computing resources, it is now growing in use in companies throughout the world. With the development of PCs that can be networked worldwide, software programs that make communicating easy, and less expensive hardware and software, E‐mail is beginning to dominate day‐to‐day communications in business organizations Several basic components make up E‐mail systems, including users, messages, senders' and recipients' addresses, protocols, messaging transports, gateways, value‐added networks, and directory systems. Users are often people, but users can also be other computer application programs. A message is the actual information sent by one user to another. Part of the E‐mail information included in a message is the addresses of both sender and receiver, which include their unique identification codes along with another identifier such as the E‐mail system, the mailbox number, or the‐ organization. Each E‐mail system uses a protocol that describes the structure of the message, generally with a header of TO:, FROM:. and SUBJECT:, followed by the body, which may include text, images, graphics, video, and audio.

Email and the technologies it has generated are changing the landscape of business communication.. The distinguished features of email are:  More readily available  Interoperable between systems  Available world‐wide  Inexpensive  Much better known – reached a critical mass where one can expect others to have an email address  Much easier to use

E‐mail combines some of the characteristics of writing and speaking. As a user, you have the immediacy of communicating directly to your receiver along with the advantages of being able to compose and revise a written message. E‐mail can save your time in printing, copying, and distributing your messages. You can use E‐mail to send and receive faxes and telexes. You can reach groups as well as individuals and share files of data, spreadsheets, videos, music, and anything else you can store on a computer. Computer programs themselves can use E‐mail to monitor such things as inventory levels and communicate to a person or another computer the information. Writing conventions for E‐mail are still developing, but one characteristic appears to be a more informal approach. Most business people handle their own E‐mail, and because most of their messages are read only and not printed on paper, they tend to drop the formalities of traditional correspondence. Punctuation and capitalization can vary from one E‐mail user to another, with some people omitting all punctuation and capitalization except for periods at the ends of sentences. The immediacy and perceived informality of E‐mail tempts many people into composing rambling messages.

Effective communicators, however, will analyze the situation to determine the degree of formality' needed in the message and will often put the important information "up front." Because of the limitations of language in E‐mail systems, users have developed some interesting conventions to show emotion. For example, consider the following message: WHEN DID YOU SAY YOU WERE DOING THAT JOB? I CAN'T BELIEVE IT'S TAKING so LONG? This message is the E‐mail equivalent of shouting.

Email Etiquettes
 Watch your tone: Avoid being too casual  Be concise: Long, rambling messages are ineffective  Send a message only when there is something very important to say  Forward the email to appropriate address if you are not the intended audience  Be polite. Do not provoke, insult or comment too much about something that is irrelevant and tasteless.

1.Voice Mail 2.Groupware 3.CD‐ROM Databases 4.Teleconferences 5.Faxes

E‐mail developments and the popularity of E‐mail use have led to additional communication technologies, including voice mail, groupware, CD‐ROM databases, and teleconferencing. Faxes, which have been around for several decades, are also still common in business communication.

Voice Mail
 Voice mail has become popular in many offices because it eliminates “telephone tag”  It records a message in a computer disk for later retrieval by the receiver  When an incoming call is not answered, the system guides the caller how to record the message.  The receiver then either listen to the recorded message upon returning to the office or access the message via telephone.

Groupware
Groupware allows supervisor to manage workflow of a department via computer It allows several people to use software at the same time to create documents, keep track of projects, route messages, and manage deadlines. Groupware enables a supervisor to manage workflow via individual computers instead of physically moving people from place to place or having face to face meetings.

CD‐ROM Databases Compact Disk‐Read Only Memory (CD‐ROM) are very popular data storage device. It is a powerful tool for putting masses of information in a form that is easy to digest. Some kinds of information typically found on CD‐ROMS are encyclopedia, dictionaries, telephone directories, and articles and abstracts on various subjects. Multimedia applications, including video, audio, graphics, and text, are making CD‐ROMs storage of information essential.

Teleconference

Teleconferencing is the emerging technology that allows group of people not only talk with each other but allows group of people but also see their video images.

Faxes
 A facsimile machine scans a printed page, converts it to a signal, and transmits the signal over telephone line to a receiving fax machine.  The oldest type of machines had to be connected to a machine of the same type. Today’s fax machines do not require the same kind of machine at the receiving end, and they can transmit a page in less than 1 minute.  The newest fax machines use digital transmission, which makes it possible to use computer program as a receiver.  And these new machines are much faster than previous generation machines.

Internet and E‐mail and the technologies it has generated are changing the landscape of business communication. Our discussion is only an overview of a complex subject. Several problems need to be addressed as we continue to explore these new technologies. In addition to the problems of expense and quality of electronic messages, there are problems; of security of the transformation of culture the technology requires, and of the very nature of information itself Certainly the day is over when only information systems specialists know about and can operate electronic communication systems, Communication technology is something we all need to be comfortable with.

Managing Information Outside Organization
News organizations are responsible for most of our knowledge of what goes on in the world

In 1982, Johnson and Johnson's Tylenol brand of 'analgesics outsold the next four leading analgesics combined and contributed about 7 percent of 1981 sales and 15 to 20 percent of profits. Johnson and Johnson executives expected Tylenol to take 50 percent of the market by 1986. However, sometime in the fall of 1982, someone replaced some of the Tylenol Extra‐Strength capsules with cyanide‐laced capsules, resealed the packages, and put them back on the shelves of at least a half dozen pharmacies and grocery stores in the Chicago area. On September 29, the first of seven people died of cyanide poisoning after taking an Extra‐ Strength Tylenol capsule. With no warning. McNeil Consumer Products Company which makes Tylenol. and its parent company Johnson and Johnson, were plunged into a crisis that could have destroyed not only the product but the company as well. McKeil and Johnson and Johnson executives took aggressive steps to handle the crisis, and as a result, the ensuing damage did not destroy either product or company.

However, the easy access and transmission of information by the news media put Johnson and Johnson executives in a spotlight in which almost every step they took was known and scrutinized by the public In fact, it was a reporter from the Chicago Tribune who first alerted company officials of the problem. This discussion focuses on how to manage information outside the organization, how to deal with die news media, how to create tools for managing corporate news, what to do if you're a company spokesperson, and how to control a public company crisis. Managing corporate news invokes not only knowing how to deal with crises but more often involves handling the day‐to‐day information that is disseminated to the public through interviews, press releases, conferences, and other channels of communication.

Managing the News Media
What we refer to as “the media” are simply channel of information, ,everything from newspapers, radio, television, magazines, journals, and newsletters. News is generally characterized into two types: Hard News vs. Soft News. –Hard News is out of ordinary, is timely, and is most often public needs to know. Plane crashes and fires are hard news. –Soft News stories are timeless; that is they can be used within a wider framework of time, and most often they have a positive rather than a negative slant. Within business organizations, hard news includes such things as annual meetings results, quarterly earnings or announcements of a new product. Soft news includes material that can inform or educate readers or viewers about company, its vision in the world, and its community, and its community activities.

Often a company manager in charge of media relations will ignore the soft news of the organization, believing that the dedication of a new park sponsored by the company or a piece on its child care facility is not newsworthy. However, soft news can present a company's message effectively and build a foundation of goodwill for its customers.

Managing Corporate News Several useful tools for communicating to the media are available to you as a company media manager. The most commonly used tools are press releases, interviews, conferences, op‐ed pieces, letters to the editor, and talk shows

A press release is an information memo from your organization to the news media to get your message to the public The pitfalls of interviewing can be avoided by careful preparation and knowledge. Opinion articles by private organizations can often be found opposite the editorial page in newspapers. Letter to the editor must be short, clearlywritten, and signed. Many letters are written to: –Clarify an issue –Refute a charge –Correct a mistake –Point out needed change –Offer an opinion –Or, react to the situation

Call‐in talk shows, whether on radio or television can offer your organization channel for communicating your message to the public. Talk shows are, however, less predictable than any other kind of media. Managing Information Through Company Spokespersons Companies often select one person to be the main spokesperson. This strategy allows for a consistent answer, a single contact, and a decrease in response variance. The spokesperson should be a: –Knowledgeable about the company’s overall objectives and strategies. –Well‐prepared to speak on issues under consideration. –Comfortable speaking in public and to groups and fielding questions deftly. –Assured of full confidence of the company’s management

Managing Crisis Communication
When emergency situations occur in business, the worst thing you can do is take a closed, "no comment" attitude toward the media. Bad news will not go away, and in fact, the worse it is, the more sensational the coverage in the media. Environmental issues, nuclear energy, falling profits, employee layoffs, and disasters and other catastrophes can cause problems for your company. How your company manages the crisis can have a long‐term effect on profits. Although Johnson and Johnson had no formal crisis contingency plan when the Tylenol incident occurred, the general opinion is that company management did a good job of handling the situation. The strategy of openness to the press helped the company get its message across and portray itself as willing to do what was right regardless of cost. After the immediate shock was over, the Washington Post wrote: "Johnson and Johnson has effectively demonstrated how a major business ought to handle a disaster.”

As the result of the Tylenol crisis and other disasters that have marked the past 15 to 20 years, many organizations have developed permanent crisis contingency plans. These plans vary according to the organization, but each group generally has a permanent, recognized crisis team designated to handle the public and the media in the event of a crisis as well as a set of procedures in place to handle negative news. Part of this strategy may be to cultivate relationships with the media during ordinary periods so that if a crisis occurs, the company has a point of contact. It takes time to position yourself as a credible person in the eyes of the media, but this credibility is necessary' when a crisis strikes. As in all other forms of communication, being prepared is the key to success.

SUMMARY
Managing information inside and outside organizations has become one of the major concerns of business. Technological developments are, to a large extent, responsible for the transformation of today's world into a global village with all its accompanying problems. Effective communication has never been more important on a national, organizational, and personal level. Each person who joins a company in the next few years will find himself or herself in a world of groupware communication, teleconferencing, and information gathering and sharing via computer. The person who is comfortable with these new technologies will have an advantage. Organizations will always have to deal with the public, and when the news is bad, it will always be underlined by the news media.

But this channel of information goes both ways: You can deliver your message while responding to public concerns. Careful preparation is imperative when your company is facing a crisis. Choosing your company spokesperson and preparing that person to communicate your message can help your company deal with crises. All companies must take into consideration the current access of information and realize that nothing will go unnoticed. Because of the growth in information and in the media interest in organizations, companies must be concerned not only with how things are but also how they will appear. Effective communication is your key to dealing with these issues.

EXCERCISE
To Censor or Not to Censor.
Your school has hooked up to the Internet and is eagerly exploring the many uses found there. One popular innovation has been the setting up of a school wide public bulletin board on which anyone in the school can post messages. You have been chosen administrator of this bulletin board. It is your responsibility to review all the messages and alert school administrators of any potential problems. Early this morning when you looked at the new messages, you saw one that was clearly racist in content and language. As administrator, you have the authority to delete this message, but if you do, will you be breaking a First Amendment right? Or will you be protecting the school from scandal? Should the sender of the message be identified and/or punished in some way? Discuss the issues in this situation and how you would handle the problem.

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