Managing Information Technology in Small Business: Challenges and Solutions

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9781930708358: Managing Information Technology in Small Business: Challenges and Solutions
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Introduction to “Managing Information Technology in Small Business: Challenges and Solutions”

In many countries, small businesses comprise over 95% of the proportion of private businesses and approximately half of the private workforce, with Information technology (IT) being used in a majority of these businesses. Governments around the world are placing increasing importance upon the success of small business entrepreneurs and are providing increased resources to support their success. There are a number of key differences in the use of IT between small and larger businesses. These include: small businesses generally have fewer resources available to devote to IT, they have very little control over forces that are external to the organisation, they generally do not have their own separate IT department and small businesses generally have less formalised planning and control procedures for the adoption and use of IT. Small business entrepreneurs are thus often placed in the situation of knowing that IT can support their business in some way, but they lack the expertise and resources to know how it can be effectively applied.

Up until a few years ago, research into the use of IT in small businesses was almost non-existent when compared with the amount of research being carried out for medium and large-sized businesses. Recently, an increasing amount of research has been conducted into this important, emerging field.

The main purpose for Managing Information Technology in Small Businesses: Challenges and Solutions is to showcase the wide variety of research being carried out in the area of small business and IT. In doing this, the book examines the challenges facing small businesses in their use of IT and the solutions that are being proposed. The book is separated into two major parts, research that deals with IT and small business in general and research that deals with the rapidly expanding field of e-commerce.

Chapters in each part fit into one or more sub-themes. The first sub-theme relates to Studies that are breaking new ground in the field. Even though the amount of work being done in the area is rapidly increasing, we still do not know enough about the manner in which small businesses use IT. The second sub-theme is Frameworks and Models. Much work is being done to provide frameworks and guidelines that will allow us to direct small businesses to use IT effectively. The final sub-theme is Challenges and Solutions, examining some of the current challenges facing small businesses in the use of IT and the available solutions.

A brief overview of the book follows.

The first chapter, by the Editor, provides an introduction to many of the areas covered in the book.

Part One: Small Business and Information Technology

Chapter Two, by Linda Duxbury, Yves Decady and Angel Tse, examines the impact of company size on the adoption, use and perceived impact of computer technology in Canadian businesses. It also compares and contrasts small, medium and large businesses with respect to their use of computer technology and its perceived impacts.

Chapter Three, by M Gordon Hunter, analyses an information systems development project which is considered by the users to be “completed” yet, unsuccessful. It concludes with a discussion of how the framework may be useful in understanding information system success or failure within a small business context.

Chapter Four, by Aurelio Ravarini, Marco Tagliavini, Giacomo Buonanno and Donatella Sciuto, suggests that small businesses could benefit from a tool that supports the business in monitoring information systems adequacy and making competent choices about information systems development. The purpose of the chapter is to provide such a tool.

Chapter Five, by Arthur Tatnall, suggests that the introduction of a new information system into a small business, or the upgrading of an existing system, should be seen as an innovation and so considered through the lens of innovation theory. The chapter considers the well-known innovation diffusion theory, but argues that another approach, that of innovation translation, has more to offer in the case of innovations that take place in smaller organisations.

Chapter Six, by M Gordon Hunter, Monica Diochon, David Pugsley and Barry Wright, explores the unique issues faced by small businesses regarding the adoption of information technology by examining ten small businesses in Nova Scotia. The discussion is presented relative to major themes which emerged during interviews with the ten small business managers. A series of recommendations are made for the major stakeholder groups.

Chapter Seven, by Ye-Sho Chen, Robert Justis and P. Pete Chong, looks at small businesses involved in franchising. The chapter suggests how IT can be used to help develop the working knowledge that is, disseminated throughout the franchise system. This is achieved by organising previous studies into a framework to provide a comprehensive view of the franchising business operations and the role IT plays in enhancing the effectiveness and efficiency of the franchise system.

Chapter Eight, by Yanqing Duan, Russell Kinman and Mark Xu, is concerned with current practice in relation to decision support systems (DSS) in small businesses. The authors identify managers’ needs for computer-based support, and explore if and how computer-based DSS could be better developed and utilised to meet these needs. Factors that hamper the utilisation of DSS in small firms are also discussed.

Chapter Nine, by Borut Werber, examines basic computer security problems and the use of IT in 122 small Slovenian businesses. The purpose of the study was to assess why some Slovene small business do not use IT, what kind of security measures are used, how many and what kind of problems they had with computer hardware and software and how they managed to solve those problems.

Part Two: Small Business, the Internet and Electronic Commerce

Chapter Ten, by Kristy Lawrence, discusses the advantages of electronic commerce and the potential of collaborative, or industry-based practices, to encourage the adoption of electronic commerce technologies among small businesses. The Tasmanian Wine sector was investigated in order to identify issues that may inhibit the development of collaborative, industry-wide electronic commerce adoption programs...

Review:

This book is a timely addition to the literature in the field of small business. -- John Green, Victoria University

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