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Subject Area: Information and Knowledge Management
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Article citation: Paul Jones, (2011) "ICT impact within the SME sector", Journal of Systems and Information Technology, Vol. 13 Iss: 2, pp. -
The global economic crisis has placed massive pressure on the private sector to reduce costs and increase operational efficiency. The significant contribution made by the small and medium-sized enterprise (SME) community worldwide to employment, regional development and innovation is well established. Unfortunately, SMEs are also subject to high rates of business failure and such rates are likely to exacerbate due to the current global economic recession. Innovative strategies are clearly needed within the SME sector to improve survival and growth and effective deployment of information and communication technologies (ICT) is likely to be a critical part of such strategies.
This special issue focuses on the current and potential impact of ICT within the SME sector. It received 16 submissions from full papers, seven of which were accepted, an acceptance rate of 43 per cent. It was gratifying to note that the special issue had a truly international flavor with papers accepted from China, Nigeria, South Africa and the UK.
The first paper by Margi Levy, Philip Powell and Philip Yetton attempts to understand how strategic information systems alignment takes place in SMEs. The study extends understanding of the contingent nature of SMEs’ investment in, and use of, IS and of the effect of market position on IS management. It provides guidelines by describing the dominant paths to IS alignment. The study by Idisemi Apulu, Ann Latham and Robert Moreton considers factors affecting the effective utilisation of ICT and the adoption of more sophisticated ICT solutions in SMEs in Lagos, Nigeria using a case study approach. The paper identifies eight key factors that affect the effective utilisation and adoption of more sophisticated or advanced ICT solutions in Nigerian SMEs. Thereafter, the paper by Hart O. Awa, Sunday C. Eze, Joseph E. Urieto and Benjamin J. Inyang investigates the impacts of demographic variables such as age, gender, experience, homogeneity/heterogeneity and educational attainment of the management team on SMEs IT adoption behaviour. The study revealed that the age composition, experience and gender sensitivity of SMEs owner/managers have a significant impact on predicting the extent of adoption of IT.
The study by Paul Jones, Gary Packham, Paul Beynon-Davies and David Pickernell examines usage and deployment trends of e-business technologies within the SME in Wales since the turn of the millennium. Analysis of prior surveys reveals poor adoption levels of basic ICT deployment and minimal uptake of sophisticated technologies in comparison to other UK regions. Uptake of e-business was assessed through a quantitative survey of 500 SMEs and contrasted against prior studies undertaken within Wales since 2000 to identify trends and levels of adoption. The study found that levels of e-business uptake within prior surveys varied significantly, due to the contrasting nature and size of the samples. As a consequence, several previous surveys presented an overly optimistic picture of E-business adoption and results must therefore be treated with caution. The authors’ own survey revealed lower utilisation levels of e-business than prior studies, suggesting sophisticated use of e-business was limited, especially within the smaller SME size classifications.
The study by Knowledge Chinyanyu Mpofu and Lorraine Watkins-Mathys examines ICT adoption among small hotel businesses in South Africa, Botswana and Zimbabwe. Apart from providing rich insights into the ICT adoption process, the results highlight the individual distinctive behavioural characteristics as well as the stage of ICT adoption reached by each case study. The results found that case studies that operated in stable business environment; with organisational readiness; financial and owner manager support seemed readily engaged in ICT adoption. Social networks played a crucial role, especially among those small businesses with resource constraints.
Yi Wang and Xinping Shi’s paper explores the promise of IS in enhancing the survival and competitiveness of SMEs in a dynamic environment. To address this issue, the authors draw upon the dynamic capability theory and develop a research model of IS-enabled dynamic capabilities to examine the role of IS competence for enhancing SMEs dynamic capabilities in competitive business environment. The results confirm that IS competence significantly contributes to SMEs’ dynamic capabilities for gaining competitive advantage. In the final paper, Vanessa Zheng’s study investigates the key drivers and barriers of adopting mobile customer relationship management (mCRM) services in SMEs and proposes a mCRM strategy framework. This study argues that mCRM services help SMEs to create different levels of relationship bonds with their customers, which in turn can create value proposition and improve business performance.
Overall, the results of these studies confirm that ICT is having a diverse and positive impact upon the SME community globally. It is gratifying to note that some SME owner/managers are effectively utilizing ICT as a means of increasing organizational efficiency and competitiveness.
Finally, the editors would like to thank the guest reviewers for their efficiency and promptness namely, Dr Romano Dyerson and Dr Hari Harindath, Royal Holloway – University of London; Dr Mathew Hinton, Open University; Professor David Pickernell, Dr Brychan Thomas and Professor Gary Packham, University of Glamorgan; Dr Geoff Simmons, University of Ulster; Dr David Barnes, University of Westminster and Janet Williams, University of Glamorgan.
Paul Jones, Paul Beynon-Davies