Technology Audit Report

Introduction

Emerging technologies are items of discussion in many boardrooms. There are no specific guidelines on how they should be adopted. An organization should assess its situation and determine if there is the need for new technologies. A need for new and emerging technology can be shown by the declining efficiency compared to competition or from the customers’ point of view, a need for enhanced customer satisfaction, obsolete systems, and the need to cover a new market segment among many other reasons. 

All organizations should have solid strategies that will help in the mitigation of possible and foreseeable risks, while at the same time giving the organizations drive for operational efficiency. This paper will focus on one such strategies, which is an exploration of new and emerging technologies and their application in my current organization. The new technologies will include mobile devices, cloud computing, social media, and big data; and will be evaluated through the lens of the marketing and sales department.

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Risk Assessment 

Ideally, as Courier Company,  the company operation heavily relies on information systems. The security of these systems is also paramount in ensuring that there is a seamless flow of operations. This paper will assess the risks that pose challenges to the organization in the pursuit of its objectives. With the current developments in mobile phones and satellite technology, our clients are able to track their packages on a real-time basis and use the same technologies to validate deliveries. On this line, the said technologies must be up to standard to avoid instances of misrepresentation or wrong deliveries. The same is very sensitive when it comes to delivery of human organs or other critical deliveries, which are time sensitive. Communications between the company and the clients is also a huge factor to consider. 

In the business, client information confidentiality is critical as asserted by Klinefelter (2011). It is an aspect of the business that poses a significant risk to the organization. Information regarding the customers’ location, credit card information, names, the kind of parcels they are sending and receiving, the frequency of the same, and any other information that can be used against the customers is a treated as risky and accorded significant mitigation measures. 

Capturing data in the organization is a significant point of risk in the organization. Some of the clients, by design or otherwise, can be malicious to hand over malicious information to the data entry clerk. This can pose significant legal risks to the business. Consequently, inaccurate data capturing by the data clerks at the point of interaction between the customer and the company can lead to wrong labeling of parcels and have them sent to wrong destinations. This would lead to a significant loss of trust from the clients. As such, the right technologies need to be deployed and manned by sufficiently trained staff to deliver beyond clients’ imagination.

 To maintain the integrity of the data that is captured about the client, it is the mandate of the organization to ensure that data modification and alteration is not possible on demand. Several layers of security are required to ensure data integrity. A breach in this would see recipients and addresses of the parcels changed and this would be a loophole for theft and pilferage of customers’ items. Sufficient resources are needed to ensure that all loopholes are sealed in a way that allows the organization to authoritatively deliver to the intended clients. 

Staff and clients need to be allowed access to information that is conversant with their role in the whole business. On this, Hashem, Yaqoob, and Anuar (2015) affirm the importance of having a sufficiently availed database to the customers and staff in the organization. Data is needed in the planning of routes, weight distribution, parcel organization, and in an organization for actual collection or delivery of the parcels to the correct addresses. Such data need to be availed at the right times and on demand to ensure that confusion does not get a place in such arrangements. Downtimes or attacks on servers holding and dispensing this type of information could lead to severe losses in financial and reputation terms. With attacks, data can be corrupted or deleted and the organization would be left without reference points. Attacks may target the servers and the networks as well, and in this case, sufficient safeguards are needed against such anticipated eventualities. 

 Management of passwords and access authorization to the organization’sorganizations’ stores and systems is necessary. To ensure that staffs do not impersonate each other, One Time Passwords (OTP) are needed when logging into the system. With a state of the art systems access management system, access to databases by unauthorized persons would be curtailed to near zero. Protocols in the access of information should be emphasized among the employees. Without sufficient protocols, even outsiders disguised as employees can easily compromise data and give them access to attack the system. 

Security of information would not make sense if the physical security of the parcels is not guaranteed. Physical security of parcels is a risk that has an equal possibility of occurring and causing damage that would lead to significant losses as opined by Perboli, Rosano, and Gobbato (2017). To achieve this, smart doors and warehouse management systems are necessary to ensure that there is sufficient physical security of the parcels. This will allow the parcel to reach its intended destination in the same shape it was delivered in by the client.

It has been identified that there are several threats that waylay the organization including hacking, system failure, physical threats to customers’ parcels, insider spoofing and manipulation of data, inaccurate data capturing, delayed access to servers, and impersonation of staff. Insiders might combine forces with other individuals of ill will to execute well-coordinated data breaches aimed at causing loss to the company. The integrity of information is necessary to ensure that everything works according to design and that no loophole is left for manipulation. Networks and systems need to be secured from unauthorized access. 

New Technologies 

New technologies in the organization are necessary to ensure that there is enhanced efficiency in the delivery of services, minimize costs and risk. An organization is required to make deliberate steps that will ensure the success of its mandate besides winning the trust of clients. The next two sections will dwell on the two prominent new technologies that the organization is focusing on to deliver enhanced services while at the same time safeguarding its profit optimization strategy. 

Cloud Computing and Big Data

Cloud computing is a technological advancement in the courier business that has become very important, especially with data storage and retrieval. The technology helps in the development of safe storage of information related to the organization. Schwalbe (2015) adds that with cloud computing, information can be retrieved from anywhere anytime as long as there is an internet connection. This gives our organization the impetus to have cloud computing as a perfect alternative for storage of information.

The possibilities presented by cloud computing are immeasurable. Storage of data in the clouds is not limited in any way. As such, the exponential growth of the organization and its data generation capabilities is not limited in any way. When data is stored in the clouds, it is possible to have data analysis done on the data to make sound decisions about the organization. 

Armbrust, Fox, and Griffith (2010) provide that cloud storage is important in allowing the organization and its stakeholder’s access to data at any point. This element of cloud storage allows the organization’s employees to work remotely if their work description allows. As such, the employees get motivated since they are not required to conform to strict office hours and the stress of commuting. With cloud storage, it is possible to allow their clients’ access to information relevant to them without the challenge of distance or their location. 

With cloud storage, data security is important. It is not necessary for employees to carry around data storage devices such as hard disks, which expose data to potential loss. Cloud storage is a great way to enhance data security. Firms that provide cloud storage services ensure that their systems are secure and free from tampering or any kind of actions that can compromise data. This lifts the burden of maintaining servers and their security to contracted companies. Techniques such as encrypting are used and are important in ensuring that everything is safe and within the controls of the client who has bought space in the cloud storage system. In times of disaster, for instance, hurricanes and earthquakes, it is possible to have significant data loss if servers are not secure. However, with cloud storage, data is safe since the cloud storage company ensures data backup. As such, in the unfortunate event of a catastrophe, it becomes easy for the firm to retrieve information from the servers.  

Cloud storage is critical to meet the cost mitigation strategies. The organization is likely to achieve significant cost reductions with the use of cloud storage. The need to purchase significant amounts of data storage equipment such as hard drives and maybe data tapes is eliminated by cloud storage. Time and labor costs required to manually backup data is often reduced to zero with cloud storage. Extra I.T staffs are thus not required to handle data in the organization. 

The ability of cloud computing to capture and store large amounts of data presents the challenge of processing such data to make significant conclusions and meaningful projections, which would allow for the use of data to make appropriate preparations. Big data analytics platforms such as Apache Hadoop are important in processing structured and unstructured data. As such, cloud computing will make data analysis more accessible and inexpensive. The cloud storage does not require additional infrastructure to handle big data analytics as it provides such solutions easily and inexpensively using the SaaS models. 

Mobile Devices

Mobile technology has been around for quite sometimes now and the technology has been changing in terms of its capabilities and methodology. Mobile technology devices have influenced communication, data capturing, transfer, and retrieval capabilities in great ways. Mobile technology has opened new frontiers in the interconnectedness of different stakeholders in the organization, which includes the customers, staff, service providers, and the management of the company. The device is critical in cost-cutting, ensuring the integrity of information and in the delivery of timely information to the required party. Besides, the devices are instrumental in data capturing and dissemination of information. 

The industry has developed a unique use of mobile devices. Instead of having static old style computers for capturing a client’s data during the sending of a parcel, the industry now uses Android-powered mobile devices, which capture all the data, generate unique codes used for tracking and identifying the parcel throughout the warehouse and in the entire delivery process. A printer is used to produce a bar coded sticker, which is affixed on the parcel. This mobile technology is easier to use and well programmed. It is safe since it uses secure Apps, which are used to have data transferred to a central database that is cloud hosted. To ensure that data is not lost or compromised, the data is duplicated in several other databases. 

 When it comes to communication, mobile devices fit into the equation since a higher percentage of the population owns it. To integrate the whole communication system, the company expects stakeholders, customers, their recipients, drivers, and management to have an App that makes it easy for them to query different aspects of the operation. Clients in most cases are interested in the delivery status of their parcels while drivers are interested in the route planning. Management is interested in ensuring that the entire operations are going on smoothly. 

The aspect of warehouse management and mobile devices is highly developed and now it has become necessary. With mobile devices, it is easy for the organization to run Warehouse Management Software Solutions. These systems are important in organizing the processes of storage and retrieval of packages. The same software helps in the processing of inventory besides generating important reports that provide visibility for customers and employees. With handheld devices in warehouses, it is possible to utilize radio frequency technology that facilitates transmission of information from one point to another, thus, reducing the labor effort and expenses. This ensures that movement and short distance communication is maintained effortlessly. Mobile devices change the way business is done in the warehouse and assist in optimizing space and providing enhanced customer service. Mobile devices, due to their nature and design, can provide enhanced service delivery through the provision of accurate information that is timely and updated. With handheld devices, warehouse organization becomes highly automated and space utilization becomes efficient, thus reducing the need for additional space. With the right tools, that are effectively programmed, it is possible to increase productivity through streamlined operations. This aspect makes it possible to reduce costs associated with labor and errors. 

Other Applicable Technologies 

Besides cloud computing and mobile technologies, other technologies can prove important to the organization. The availability of GPS technology is important in two ways, first, it helps in fleet management, and two it helps in providing status updates to the clients concerning the status of their parcels. Drivers are in a position of getting their routes planned with the help of GPS technology and other fleet management software.

Social media is a technology that has a lot to offer to the organization. Social media, as affirmed by Culnan McHugh andZubillaga (2010), is a communication channel that can be used to promote services offered, collect feedback, and solicit capabilities. The organization can utilize different social media platforms to pass information to actual and potential customers about different developments in the company. It is also an inexpensive way to promote the business and its products. The company should enhance its social media presence and activities so that it can appeal to a large group of audience. Social media allows the organization to use different forms of messaging to pass on information to the public such as videos, text, photos, and audio messages. The most appropriate form of messaging is deployed depending on the nature of the message and the audience. 

Recommendations

The first recommendation is to have the company adopt the cloud computing and big data models in its data management. It has been established that cloud storage is one of the most effective ways to have data stored in its right form for the next 1,000 years and in a manner that is so inexpensive. Cloud storage has come out as a strong and viable means to store data and analyze it while it is in remote locations. With this kind of arrangement, it becomes possible to have staff work from home or wherever they might be. 

The next recommendation is to have the company adopt mobile technologies in its operations. Mobile technology will bridge the gap between the organization and its clients. Mobile technologies will deliver significant levels of convenience to the clients. Clients will have the abilities to conduct business knowing that they are covered. There are great aspects of having mobile technologies incorporated into the business processes. A significant assessment of the costs and benefits of the changeover is necessary to ensure that there is a return on investment as advised by Cho and Lee (2013). 

 In all the considerations the business is having, there should be a significant consideration for the security and integrity of the organization’s data. Paying emphasis on security and integrity of information systems is critical to ensure that business development is not compromised through alteration, theft, or loss of data. Safer technologies exist, such as the cloud computing. The business should explore all possible technologies that come with added advantages such as information security. 

Conclusion 

The importance of risk analysis of technology cannot be underestimated. Risks come embedded in different forms and the business needs to ascertain that all major risks are catered for before the deployment of any new technologies. The concept of incorporating mobile technologies into the business operations is a significant step towards achieving a business operations system that captures the needs of customers and provides for them at their moment of need. Cloud technologies are recommended for their ease of operations and safety of data. The concept of data analytics being incorporated into cloud computing is significant when it comes to deriving meaning from such data sets. 

References

Armbrust, M., Fox, A., Griffith, R., Joseph, A. D., Katz, R., Konwinski, A., … &Zaharia, M. (2010). A view of cloud computing. Communications of the ACM, 53(4), 50-58.

Culnan, M. J., McHugh, P. J., &Zubillaga, J. I. (2010). How large US companies can use Twitter and other social media to gain business value. MIS Quarterly Executive, 9(4).

Cho, J., & Lee, J. (2013). Development of a new technology product evaluation model for assessing commercialization opportunities using Delphi method and fuzzy AHP approach. Expert Systems with Applications, 40(13), 5314-5330.

Hashem, I. A. T., Yaqoob, I., Anuar, N. B., Mokhtar, S., Gani, A., & Khan, S. U. (2015). The rise of “big data” on cloud computing: Review and open research issues. Information Systems, 47, 98-115.

Klinefelter, A. (2011). When to Research is to Reveal: The Growing Threat to Attorney and Client Confidentiality from Online Tracking. Va. JL & Tech., 16, 1.Perboli, G., Rosano, M., &Gobbato, L. (2017). Parcel delivery in urban areas: opportunities and threats for the mix of traditional and green business models. CIRRELT, Centre interuniversitaire de recherche sur les réseauxd’enterprise, la logistique et le transport= Interuniversity Research Centre on Enterprise Networks, Logistics, and Transportation.

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