Table of Contents
Management and the sphere of IT technology have a tendency to interweave with each other and blend in to some extent. On the one hand, managers in IT industry solve various daily tasks in technical engineering sphere. At the same time, technical engineers and IT specialists develop solutions, which help managers to cope with their functions. Therefore, there is a need for the analysis of knowledge and practices in these spheres. This paper investigates five sources, which represent contemporary managerial problems and technical solutions. It demonstrates that such events as a cognitive revolution in the IT may greatly assist managers in solving their problems. The variety of contemporary IT approaches help developing information systems making them more efficient. This analysis would raise the awareness of the recent approaches towards managerial problems. It would be helpful for both technical specialists and managers broadening their scope of empirical approaches to problem-solving.
The Analysis of the Sources
The performed analysis considers such spheres as development of information systems, peculiarities of IT artifacts, problem structuring, and typical managerial problems. First, the process of information systems development requires eliciting the demands and needs of different stakeholders. Thus, Browne and Rogich (2001) discuss such approach as elicitation problem technique. They have formed an advanced framework allowing eliciting actual information from managers and other stakeholders. This framework uses mainly two techniques, which enhance each other. They are the interrogatories technique, which involves questions, and semantic questioning scheme, which is based on a theoretical model of knowledge structures (Browne & Rogich, 2001). This approach is developed with the aim of solving difficulties in requirements elicitation. Among such difficulties, the specialists identify human constraints in information processing, problems with structuring information, and communication complexities between the users and analysts (Browne & Rogich, 2001). The developed prompting techniques attempt to resolve these issues by means of eliciting the key aspects of the user’s requirements. Additionally, they consider such cognitive obstacles as the human limits in short-term memory, usage of faulty heuristics, failure of identification of procedural details, biased responses, etc. (Browne & Rogich, 2001). Therefore, specialists created a framework, which encompasses different strategies for eliciting requirements from the users. These strategies improve the process of scenario building, generate arguments and counterarguments, stimulate hedging and feedback, and provide a valid summarization of the issues. Further usage of the prompting schemes allows users to realize the constraints of the process of forming the requirements and deliberating the tasks. Additionally, the usage of syntactic and semantic prompting techniques stimulates the above-identified procedures. They form such cognitive elements as goals, agents, actions, events, and states or conditions (Browne & Rogich, 2001). Finally, the analysts code responses in a framework of generic requirement categories. They consider such aspects as goal level requirements, process level requirements, and task and information level requirements (Browne & Rogich, 2001). Consequently, the use of the discussed techniques allows analysts resolving typical natural and systemic problems of defining the users’ requirements.
Furthermore, scholars argue that the sphere of information technology needs defining its key aspects in order to assure its efficient work. Therefore, there is the need for characterizing the core of the IT, which is the information technology artifact (Orlikowski & Iacono, 2001). The results of such investigations allow treating the sphere of information systems as “effects, context, and capabilities” of technology (Orlikowski & Iacono, 2001). The process of conceptualization of IT artifacts is based on the description of different categories including the tool view, proxy view, ensemble view, as well as computational and nominal view (Orlikowski & Iacono, 2001). These categories help to characterize various peculiarities of technology and their role in information systems. As a result, the investigations revealed five premises, which characterize the IT artifacts. They are not neutral or universal and used with specific interests. They are embedded in specific social and other contexts. They form up multiple fragile components and undergo various transitions with time. Moreover, their nature is dynamic and non-stable (Orlikowski & Iacono, 2001). The revealed features indicate that people should not take technology for granted but take into account different contexts and spheres. This aspect is crucial because the future of humanity depends on the technology.
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Moreover, there is a need for the characterization of problem structuring. Solving problems is a critical task of human activity. It includes many elements such as identification, decision-making, and action. Decision-making and problem solving contexts have not been identified in the appropriate way so far (Smith, 1988). Scientists attempted to describe it by means of introduction of various models such as “a model of problem recognition” (Smith, 1989). However, the scientific description of these processes requires consideration of overlapping of these two concepts. At the same time, managers and scientists have been focused more on the development of a decision-making perspective (Smith, 1988). Moreover, specialists in decision-making decompose decision situations into components, which have different characteristics. Smith (1988) claims that such approach can be developed by means of introduction of a problem classification taxonomy model. It suggests the existence of general problem categories and problem types. Each of them can be divided into stages, which have different subproblems and cognitive demands. Typical components of this scheme are state change, performance, knowledge, implementation, goal-setting, design, etc. (Smith, 1988). This approach may be enhanced with the further development of the model into a methodology tree. However, the suggested model is enough to identify typical problem attributes such as goals, solution alternatives, and transformation. It distinguishes the stages of problem formulation and problem solving with further application of events and mental content. As a result, the model suggests going through the cognitive stages of perception, conceptualization, instrumental reasoning, causal reasoning, and creativity (Smith, 1989). Furthermore, the process of conceptualization may implement various stages including gap and goal specification, identification of values, preferences, constraints, etc. (Smith, 1989). Moreover, managerial problems may be classified into following categories: mission goals, conflicts, priorities, policies, consistency, organization structure, compatibility, authority, control issues, resources, strategies, security, evaluation, cost-benefit comparisons, motivation, and communication (Smith, 1995). It is essential that these categories relate to management in the sphere of information technology. Their identification allows responding to the issues in this sphere on the basis of relevant and valid interpretation. As a result, managerial practitioners raise their efficacy in terms of problem identification and decision-making. The combination of the discussed schemes, models, and concepts helps to actualize problem-decision and implement strategies more efficiently.
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Summarizing the presented information, one comes to a conclusion that the analyzed sources discuss critical spheres of technology and management. They allow identifying and classifying problems and their characteristics in order to successfully produce solutions to various challenges. Moreover, they help to decompose problems by means of selecting their artifacts. These approaches enable the practitioners of managerial and technical sphere to raise their efficacy. Additionally, they widen the spectrum of available approaches used for problem-defining and solving. As a result, the IT specialists and managers in the sphere of information technology can raise their problem-solving productivity if they use the described definitions, models, and approaches.
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