Information technology

by John Deaves, Deputy Manager, Inspec Editorial

(From Inspec Matters issue no.97 – June 2000, updated by Amanda Oram, 2007)

If you are looking for practical articles on the availability and use of technology, take a look in Section D of the Inspec database - Information Technology for Business. This includes product reviews, buyers' guides, street prices, residual values, case studies and all the new developments as they appear.

All appropriate controlled terms from the Inspec Thesaurus are of value, but restricting your search to classifications starting D.... will give you these hands-on articles. Use of the Treatment Codes Economic, Practical or Product Review may help to focus a search.

The rise of  e-commerce and the Web, and how best to make use of it all, can be found by using the controlled terms electronic commerce, Internet, information resources (or the narrow term, Web sites), and marketing data processing. Suitable classifications include D2140 (Marketing, retailing and distribution applications of IT), but specific Internet-related articles will be found in D2080 (Information services and database systems in IT). D2140 also contains articles on customer relationship management, or CRM. Such material can also be found using the term, customer relationship management.

Data mining is often used in marketing to determine the buying behaviour of customers, and the results can then be used to target specific consumer groups. Useful terms include data mining and customer profiles, with the classifications D2140 (Marketing, retailing and distribution applications of IT and D2080 (Information services and database systems in IT) being particularly useful.

Further marketing-related topics, such as call centres and m-commerce are identified by the additional terms call centres and mobile computing, while the classifications D4070 (Telephone systems for office automation) and D5020 (Computer networks and intercomputer communications in office automation) may reveal more items of interest.

In the Internet age, there is much emphasis on network security and the prevention of data theft. Invasive software, which includes viruses, Trojan horses and worms, is a major concern. Phishing, using fraudulent emails, is a particular problem for financial institutions, with banks being particularly at risk. Relevant articles may be indexed under security of data (or its narrow term, invasive software), fraud, unsolicited e-mail, computer network management, and classified in D1060 (Security aspects of IT), D4020 (Electronic mail systems for office automation), and D5020 (Computer networks and intercomputer communications in office automation).

Whilst these are regarded as external threats, organisations are becoming increasingly aware of the risks posed by people within the company. In addition, employee misuse of the Internet and e-mail systems can be a major headache for managers. Articles of interest may include the terms human factors and human resource management, and the classification code D1040 (Human aspects of IT).

There has been much discussion about the benefits of enterprise resource planning, or ERP, particularly in relation to supply chains in manufacturing or retailing. Articles may be found indexed as enterprise resource planning, virtual enterprises, goods dispatch data processing, stock control data processing, manufacturing industries, retail data processing, supply chains, and supply chain management. Classifications used are D2010 (Business and professional IT applications), D2070 (Industrial and manufacturing applications of IT, and D2140 (Marketing, retailing and distribution applications of IT).

Perhaps one of the most controversial policies in recent times has been that of outsourcing to countries such as India. It is seen by management as a major cost-saving initiative, but often results in the loss of jobs and customer confidence. Useful terms include outsourcing, management of change, and DP management. Classification will depend upon which areas are being outsourced, but D3000 (General Information Technology systems and equipment), D4000 (Office automation - communications), and D5000 (Office automation - computing) may be useful.

Organisations now have to consider not only how IT systems will benefit their business, but also the impact such systems will have on the environment, particularly when equipment has reached the end of its useful life. There are now legal requirements ensuring that electrical and electronic waste is disposed of in an environmentally friendly fashion. Relevant material may contain the terms legislation and waste disposal, and the code D1050 (Legal requirements of IT).

IT is continuously evolving, with new applications and developments appearing almost on a daily basis, including business intelligence, knowledge management, workflow, VoIP, blogs, and Web services, which may be found using the terms competitive intelligence, knowledge management, workflow management software, Internet telephony, Web sites, and Web services, and the classifications D2010 (Business and professional IT applications), D2080 (Information services and database systems in IT), D4070 (Telephone systems for office automation), D5000 (Office automation - computing), and D5020 (Computer networks and intercomputer communications in office automation).

The abstracts added to Section D each month may also be found in the printed journal Key Abstracts - Business Automation.