Enabling business strategy with IT at the World Bank
Impact of information technology on the mission of the World Bank
The twenty first century has seen the revolution in business operations using information technology as the main tool. Information and communication technology has been resourceful in improvement and enhancement of business in both the manufacturing as well as the service sectors. In the service sector, the banking subsector has been benefiting a lot out of acquisition and use of information and communication technology instruments in delivering services to customers. The World Bank is one of the major beneficiaries of the use of advanced information technology systems in enhancing service delivery to customers. The World Bank Group is the large source of funding in the world. Therefore, it has a wide expanse of operations which have to be extended to the entire world.
Owing to the expansiveness of the services being offered by the world, it can be deduced with no doubt that the bank has an elaborate mission. The Bank centers on reduction of poverty around the globe by providing financial services like loans to different projects in different countries in the world. Therefore its activities involve the sharing of information and knowledge within a wide network of employees placed in different destinations across the globe (Mcfalan & Delacey, 2003).
The decision to incorporate advanced information technology services in its operations was one of the main strategies of achieving the objectives and fulfillment of the mandates of the Bank. This decision came after the assessment of the profile of the organization: its vision, mission, goals and objectives as well as the growth patterns. This was in the year 2003 when the CEO of the bank also noted a quick pace of change in both the internal and external environment of the bank. Among the developments included the increase in sources of technical assistance, reduced backing for official aid and the expansion of the development agenda. This came at a time when information technology had become a useful tool instrument in disbursement of information and knowledge thence a strong basis for development (Mcfalan, F. W & Delacey, 2003).Therefore the World Bank adopted information technology incorporated it into its strategies and considered it a source of improving the attainment of its objectives of service delivery improvement
The use of information technology was termed as the broader mission of the bank. IT was a key driver in two major development changes that were to be implemented by the bank. These are the decentralization of operations and the enhancement of knowledge creation in the Bank. Decentralization of operations of the bank was eased through the use of advanced digitalized systems. The objective of the bank in facilitating economic development in the world was greatly boosted by information technology. It has become easy for the bank to design tools that help in speeding up collaborative efforts that enhance a healthy working environment between employees and other work partners. Therefore, with information technology, the pace at which work is done has been speeded up. This is a positive force to the achievement of the goals and objectives that are set by the Bank (The World Bank Group, 2002).
As it aims to bring down poverty in the world, cost cutting measures are important considerations in the strategic plans of the organization. With the use of information technology systems, the Bank has been able to bring down the costs of service delivery. Information technology also enables the bank to easy create a knowledge base for the economies of different countries. This is the basis upon which the bank identifies the best modes of financing to be used in a given country or region. The bank has developed databases for countries which forms part of its major clients. Therefore, service delivery to its clients is speeded up leading to the achievement of its goals. With the aid of advanced information and communication technology services, the bank has been able to develop efficient monitoring systems. These systems monitor the way its clients implement the projects that are financed by the bank. These monitoring systems help to keep the clients on check over the way in which they put to use the fund from the bank. It is easy to detect any anomalies in expenditure helping the bank to quickly raise alarm preventing further mal-expenditure of money meant for development (Kumar & Hillegersberg, 2008).
Governance and organizational issues facing implementation of IT at the World Bank
The implementation of information technology is an elaborate exercise which is subjective. Information technology use has its pros and cons depending on how it in implemented and can affect organizational policies. Therefore, its implementation is often prone to many internal and external issues (Kumar & Hillegersberg, 2008).
The putting to practice and continued use of information technology systems by the bank requires wide collaboration with different players. Global information and Communication Technology servers have to be widely consulted by the bank. All the areas that will need improvement and affected by information technology have to be assessed before the system is put in place. This has been a challenge to the bank because the formation of collaborative systems is tedious and stressful to the organization. With a wide network of firms in different regions in the word, the adoption and utilization of Information Technology from similar service providers is quite challenging. This forms an area of departure for the actors in the implementation of information technology services in a harmonious and effective manner. Kumar & Hillegersberg (2008) observe that different countries pursue different paths of economic growth and development. The development paths also keep changing with changes in strategies. These inconsistencies bring about hardship in establishing stable IT systems to monitor economic growth patterns of its members.
For information technology to be effective, governments who are the major clients of the Bank have to adopt and implement e-governance. This is however not the case as most of the poor countries are economically incapacitated thus unable to implement e-governance practices. This impeded the level at which thematic network can be kept between the banks and the clients which in this cases are governments. Thematic networks helps in easing the access to information by the bank and the assessment of information which informs financing and the provision of advice on conducting projects. This worked well for the funding and improvement of the transport sector of Nigeria. The paces at which governments and other institutions implement information technology services differs thus hindering network collaboration. While the inter-bank system is effective through the use of the global network information system architecture, the linkage of these systems to the clients is important. Therefore this leaves a gap in the total achievement of the main goals of implementing information technology by the Bank.
The World Bank systems architecture: how can the architecture be used to furthering the bank’s strategy
Between the year 1996 and the year 2002, the World Bank management intensified their effort of developing information system architecture. This was the core part of the strategy of the bank to enhance service delivery and the attainment of the objectives of the organization. The bank aimed at achieving global connectivity of its banking network. This network was to pave way for a strong customer base from the entire areas of operation across the globe. The information technology infrastructure which included all the desktops, laptops and their software were standardized. Also the workgroup storage and the database servers were standardized. This was a precursor to the setting up of information management architecture on which web services and portal applications would be linked. The architecture was developed on a five pint framework. All the five aspects in the framework had a play in the path towards the achievement of the vision informing the IT strategy and the main mission of the bank.
According to Mcfalan & Delacey (2003) the global exchange of information was meant to enhance the access to and sharing of information electronically. This would be aided by the information dissemination and information access gateway. The other aspect of information technology architecture was the integrated enterprise systems. This system has integrated systems that are fragmented and have about one hundred databases. These systems have high speed networks with a wide coverage which works positively for quick exchange of information. High-speed connectivity globally was helpful in decentralizing the activities of the bank as was laid down in the main strategies of the bank concerning information technology use. Enterprise computing services is the other framework of the IT architecture of the World Bank. The bank set up standardized and well integrated computing infrastructure that aided in reducing the cost of performance. The last aspect of the architecture is the global customer support that was meant to increase the reliability of customers over the system use. Customer support operations are ever active. The system relies on satellites that are situated in different parts in the world for connectivity of its interbank networks. The system uses a single protocol stream of data which speeds up the exchange of data making the system more stable and efficiently functioning.
Forming a global communication network was the overall motive behind the setting up of the systems architecture by the bank. It enables the firm to develop other inclusive Information technology services that raised the capacity and effectiveness of the organization to handle the exchange of information. Video conferencing, data exchange as well as voice services were grafted on the system leading accelerating the rate of discharging of services. In the initial stages of implementation, the system was able to boost operations in more than one hundred and ten countries across the globe. The clients could easily access and share information with the bank. The continued connectivity also speeded up the work of the staffs of the bank since consultation services were speeded up. It was easy to gain access to information and process transactions through the improved tools of accessing and passing information like use of e-mails and videoconferencing among others. The communication system between the bank and the clients has been improved by the system architecture. This eased communication has culminated into ease of business transactions between the bank and its clients. This is a right move towards achieving the vision and objectives of the World Bank. Many development projects in different regions which form the clientele of the bank have been initiated and implemented thanks to the systems architecture of the bank (Mcfalan, F. W & Delacey, 2003).
Coping with information revolution – the World Bank
The acquisition and use of information technology in organizational operations is considered by many people as a good strategy of improving performance. This statement is boosted by the fact that we are living in an era where information technology is echoed to be a booster of service delivery and organizational performance. The World Bank can be termed as an icon in the banking sector when it comes to the use of information and communication technology for stepping up service discharge ad performance. The bank invested in the development of systems architecture. The bank has fully networked its intra and inter-banking firms in the world. The communication network has been efficient in helping the bank to gain access to the clients and make transactions with them (‘Information and communication technologies’, 2002).
The digitalization of operations through networking systems has made work easier for the staffs of the organization. They can easily access information and make inferences for their customers. Their advisory capacity to the projects that are being financed by the bank has also been boosted. However, the maintenance of the systems architecture that is in use by the bank is an all expensive exercise. Some people argue that the bank can only manage to maintain the system because it does not entirely work for profit motive. Since the system was put in place, the bank has spent over 4 million dollars in servicing the system. This is quite expensive for an organization working for a profit motive like commercial banks. It is also worthwhile noting that the global network system of the bank is prone to security threats that are posed to other security systems in the world. However, through continuous servicing, the bank has been able to maintain networking systems that are continuing to act as bases of revolutionizing the exchange of knowledge. It can be said that information technology has been a key facet of performance improvement by the company (‘Information and communication technologies’, 2002).
Recommendations to the CEO of World Bank concerning information technology use
The World Bank is undoubtedly an icon in the adoption and use of information technology in its growth and service delivery improvement strategies. The bank needs to work on mechanisms of developing friendly relations with regional banking institutions like the Asian Bank and the African Union Bank among other institutions. After developing better relations, the bank can go ahead with the developing of it networks with these institutions. These institutions are more familiar with the development issues in these regions thence can help the bank in discharging its activities. The bank can easily access information from these institutions rather than directly as this leaves out some details in the funding procedures. As the bank intends to use information technology to reach its main goal, it is supposed to enhance the institutional capacity of the countries that form its clients. The support for information systems establishment by the bank can help the institutions to interconnect with the bank and get information on better development practices and paths (Międzynarodowy Bank & Effron, 2006).
The bank should also start to venture on the means of cutting costs that accrue to the maintenance of the information technology systems. The bank needs to start thinking on implementing systems that have a high capacity and ability to do self –detection where the errors and threats can be easily detected. The connectivity between the bank and its clients will need to be improved first.
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