In a networked computer system, an organization links its computers together through compatible hardware and software, creating an integrated organizational network. Organization members can then communicate with each other and tap into information whether they’re down the hall, across town, or anywhere on the globe.
E-mail is the instantaneous transmission of messages on computers that are linked together. Messages wait at a receiver’s computer and are read at the receiver’s convenience. E-mail is fast and cheap and can be used to send the same message to many people at the same time.
It’s a quick and convenient way for organization members to share information and communicate. Files can also be attached to e-mail messages, which enable the receiver to print a hard copy of a document.
Some organization members who find e-mail slow and cumbersome are using instant messaging (IM). This interactive, real-time communication takes place among computer users who are logged on to the computer network at the same time.
Instant messaging was first popular among teens and preteens who wanted to communicate with their friends online. Now it’s moved to the workplace. With IM, information that needs to be communicated can be done so instantaneously without waiting for colleagues to read e-mail messages.
However, instant messaging is not without its drawbacks. It requires users to be logged on to the organization’s computer network at the same time, which potentially leaves the network open to security breaches.
A voice-mail system digitizes a spoken message, transmits it over the network, and stores the message on a disk for the receiver to retrieve later. This capability allows information to be transmitted even though a receiver may not be physically present to take the information. Receivers can choose to save the message for future use, delete it, or route it to other parties.
Fax machines can transmit documents containing both text and graphics over ordinary telephone lines. A sending fax machine scans and digitizes the document, and a receiving fax machine reads the scanned information and reproduces it in hard-copy form. Information that’s best viewed in printed form can be easily and quickly shared by organization members.
Electronic data interchange (EDI) is a way for organizations to exchange business transaction documents such as invoices or purchase orders, using direct computer-to-computer networks. Organizations often use EDI with vendors, suppliers, and customers because it saves time and money. How?
Information on transactions is transmitted from one organization’s computer system to another through an inter-organizational telecommunications network. The printing and handling of paper documents at one organization are eliminated as is the inputting of data at the other organization.
Meetings—one-on-one, team, divisional, or organization-wide—have always been one way to share information. The limitations of technology used to dictate that meetings take place among people in the same physical location. But that’s no longer the case.
Teleconferencing allows a group of people to confer simultaneously using telephone or e-mail group communications software. If meeting participants can see each other over video screens, the simultaneous conference is called videoconferencing.
Work groups, large and small, which might be in different locations, can use these communication network tools to collaborate and share information. Doing so is often much less expensive than incurring travel costs for bringing members together from several locations.
Networked computer systems allow for organizational intranets and extranets. An intranet is an organizational communication network that uses Internet technology but is accessible only to organizational employees.
Many organizations are using intranets as ways for employees to share information and collaborate on documents and projects—as well as access company policy manuals and employee-specific materials, such as employee benefits—from different locations.
An extranet is an organizational communication network that uses Internet technology and allows authorized users inside the organization to communicate with certain outsiders such as customers or vendors. Most of the large auto manufacturers, for example, have extranets that allow faster and more convenient communication with dealers.
Finally, organizations are using Internet-based voice communication. Popular Web sites such as Skype, Vonage, and Yahoo!, among others, let users chat with each other. A number of companies are making these services available for employees to use in conference calls or for instant messaging. LSBF provide different programs structured to prepare managers for managing effective communication in an organization.