Valuing Information Technology

Valuing Information Technology

Robert A. Schultz (Woodbury University, USA)
Copyright: © 2006 |Pages: 14
DOI: 10.4018/978-1-59140-779-9.ch011
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Abstract

Besides being of interest in its own right, the question of the value of information technology (IT) has ethical implications, primarily for policymakers and managers in organizations. IT professional duty and managerial duty require undertakings that have a reasonable expectation of improving the organization and its prospects. Since IT plays a complex role in providing benefits for an organization, and also since IT projects can fail in ways that have major negative impact on an organization, the valuation of IT impacts the ethical responsibilities of policymakers and managers. In the late 1980s, a number of researchers set out to quantify the value added to an organization by computerization or automation (two terms commonly used in those days). To their surprise, they found no or comparatively little value added. This result became known as the “Productivity Paradox” (Brynjollfson, 1992; Loveman, 1988; Roach, 1991). The ensuing discussion continued through the 1990s and beyond. Whatever else the discussion accomplished, it showed the complexity of questions about the value of information technology. There are cases in which IT has clearly added value to a particular organization at a particular time. It is also true that, in some cases, IT has added more than shareholder or monetary value so that from any social point of view, the result is positive. The World Wide Web is an example. The difficulty in assessing value comes when one tries to reach conclusions about the overall contribution of IT to the economy or to society. It is widely known that IT benefits are far from automatic and sometimes difficult or impossible to achieve. So, overall, do the benefits outweigh the costs? How do we go about answering this question? What are the appropriate points of view from which to determine value?1 The two main appropriate points of view are: 1. The user point of view. The user is whoever employs the technology, whether an individual, organization, or organizational department. 2. The socioeconomic point of view, which is the point of view of the society or economy, whatever promulgates overall economic policies. From the user point of view, typical questions would be as follows: • Individual: Is it worth it for me to purchase this firewall software? • Organization: Should we install ERP software companywide? What are the benefits and liabilities for the organization? Is the investment worth it? • Independent Department: Should we switch our production software to another company’s product? Again, what are the benefits and liabilities for the department? (In the background, there should be a procedure insuring that potential impacts for the rest of the organization are considered.)

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Table of Contents
Foreword
Douglas J. Cremer
Acknowledgments
Chapter 1
Robert A. Schultz
Most discussions of ethics and information technology focus on issues of professional ethics and issues of privacy and security.1 Certainly these... Sample PDF
Ethical Issues in Information Technology
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Chapter 2
Robert A. Schultz
In this book, “ethics” is a general term for concerns about what people should do. The term “ethics” comes from the Greek word ethike, which means... Sample PDF
A Backgroun in Ethical Theory
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Chapter 3
Robert A. Schultz
A few other background issues deserve clarification before I examine specific ethical problems of information technology. IT always appears in the... Sample PDF
The Context of IT Ethical Issues
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Chapter 4
Professional Duties  (pages 44-59)
Robert A. Schultz
It is perhaps easiest to begin the application of ethics to information technology with the ethical responsibilities of IT professionals. Several... Sample PDF
Professional Duties
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Chapter 5
Robert A. Schultz
As we saw from the last two chapters, the ethical IT professional is embedded in contexts of management, organization, and society. Ethical behavior... Sample PDF
Justice in a Market Economy
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Chapter 6
Robert A. Schultz
In a competitive market economy, one is required to serve the interests of one’s employer or corporation. As we saw in Chapter IV, Professional... Sample PDF
Trust Issues in a Market Economy
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Chapter 7
Robert A. Schultz
Removal of jobs from one country to another to exploit lower paid workers tends to raise objections from those whose jobs are removed. However... Sample PDF
Offshoring as an Ethical Issue
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Chapter 8
Privacy and Security  (pages 107-118)
Robert A. Schultz
Privacy and security are the first topics involving the interface of the individual with information technology. The two topics of privacy and... Sample PDF
Privacy and Security
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Chapter 9
Copyright and Piracy  (pages 119-132)
Robert A. Schultz
As I noted in Chapter II, information technology’s basic feature of easy reproduction of digital information gives rise both to new benefits and to... Sample PDF
Copyright and Piracy
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Chapter 10
E-Problems  (pages 133-143)
Robert A. Schultz
In Chapter I, I observed that new uses of IT will be built on four basic features of information technology: • Speed of information processing •... Sample PDF
E-Problems
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Chapter 11
Robert A. Schultz
Besides being of interest in its own right, the question of the value of information technology (IT) has ethical implications, primarily for... Sample PDF
Valuing Information Technology
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Chapter 12
Robert A. Schultz
In the previous chapter, we saw how difficult it was to determine the value of information technology, even with a clearly defined point of view... Sample PDF
The Ultimate Value of Technology
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Chapter 13
Robert A. Schultz
In order to conclude our discussion of the value of information technology, we need to answer these questions: What characteristics does IT share... Sample PDF
The Ultimate Value of Information Technology
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Chapter 14
Conclusion  (pages 196-200)
Robert A. Schultz
Writing this book was very much a learning process for me. I began with the idea that the theories of John Rawls might be able to illuminate ethical... Sample PDF
Conclusion
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About the Author