Audience response systems (ARS) are increasingly being introduced into educational settings, having previously proved their value in business. These systems make use of handheld numeric input devices to allow students to enter data in response to questions or statements displayed on a public screen. The captured data is displayed on a public screen and enables both academics and students to immediately see how the whole group has responded. The anonymity afforded by an ARS encourages individuals to fully participate without fear of ridicule or loss of face. The low cost ARS technology is simple to use by both students and academics, can be used with large (up to several thousands) or small groups and has applications in all topics of study and at all levels of study. ARS are highly portable, require little set-up time and are easy to use by anyone who has had some experience with software such as PowerPoint.
Business process management has long been a topic of great interest in operations management research. Early research on business process management focuses on workflow analysis and process optimization. These types of research evaluate and analyze a predefined set of procedures from a process perspective. That said, with a list of activities, constraints and criteria, the procedural workflow are specified and examined. Then, process analysts come up with suggestions to optimize the process and speed up the workflow. Research findings are widely applied in production and logistics; however, some works are criticized as being too rigid and only suitable for a stable business environment (Burns, 1993).
With the recent advances of information technologies (IT), research topics, including enterprise resource planning (Hong & Kim, 2002), computer integrated manufacturing (Burns, 1993) and total integrated management (Azhashemi & Ho, 1996), have become popular. Technologies are now playing a more significant role in organizations than before. They help organizations achieve higher competitive advantages, and facilitate the operations in all functional areas, such as marketing and sales, cash receipts, purchasing, cash disbursement, production and logistics and human resources (Valiris & Glykas, 2004). Transactions and financial data are gathered and stored, and technologies make data available for operational units and management to make decisions. Operations are sped up and an enduring dialogue in the intra- and inter-organizational contexts is built.
Technologies, on one hand, create substantial values to organizations. On the other hand, technologies are moving too fast, resulting in a rapidly-changing business environment. With the rapidly-changing environment, organizations face challenges. From a technological point of view, new technologies emerge and organizations conduct business in a more dynamic environment (Neiderman, Brancheau, & Wetherbe, 1991). For instance, although the Internet provides rich opportunities for organizations to exchange information, it greatly reduces the switching cost of users. This results in fierce competitions among organizations. Organizations have to reduce their costs in the hope of remaining competitive. Moreover, communities, such as W3C and IEEE, constantly propose new technology standards. Among various standards, Web services are the most dominant. Sets of Web services standards, such as extensible markup language, were put forward in the early 2000s. An organization can use these standards to easily integrate multiple systems across platforms. The standards also allow various organizations to share data and applications (Coetzee & Eloff, 2007). Much research (e.g., Moitra & Ganesh, 2005) explores how Web services increase the flexibility of business processes. At present, many technology leaders, such as Microsoft, IBM, Google and Amazon, have already adopted Web services. With high external pressure, other organizations are likely to follow the technology trend and quickly adopt Web services to maintain their competitive advantage.
New technologies not only shape the operation and business environments, but also influence government regulations that pose new requirements and constraints on business processes. With transactions migrating to a computer platform, IT frauds become a concern for process analysts, management and auditors. Thus, the federal government proposes new regulations. For instance, Section 404 of the Sarbanes-Oxley Act (SOA) expands the significance of internal controls of processes. It explicitly states that managers and auditors are responsible for enacting and enforcing proper internal controls throughout their organizations. Technologies become a means to achieve improved quality of operational controls, and the ultimate objective of using technologies in business processes is to achieve high effectiveness, high efficiency and high security of organizations.
The article describes an architecture approach for business process management, and is organized as follows: first, we review the literature on architecture. Next, we outline a de facto standard for the architecture approach, and highlight the strength of using an architecture approach. Finally, we describe future trends, and conclude the article.