CHALLENGES OF INFORMATION AND COMMUNICATION TECHNOLOGY (ICT) INFRASTRUCTURE DEVELOPMENT FOR OFFICE TECHNOLOGY AND MANAGEMENT PROGRAMME
This is with the basic aim of providing practical solution towards the re-engineering and sustenance of the secretarial profession. The re-training of secretaries, carrying out of visitation in form of excursion to those firms that assemble or reproduce these modern machines proper funding of institutions and requirements of modern machines and equipment. Information and Communication Technology (ICT) freming and development strategies to secret in the office technology and management. Development of Social and Physical Infrastructure of the within the government and organizations towards enhancing effective and efficient performance of the staff. However, the final recommendations are good proposals for any organization to adopt in order to make its secretaries more effective and efficient.
The world of business is changing rapidly growing as a result of technological development. This is very wide departure from the traditional business enterprises to the evolution of international and multinational organizations in Nigerian economy. Some of these establishments have acquired and installed modern communication equipments.
Thus, information technology and an ultimate fully electronic office is fast becoming a reality. In effect, information and communication technology pose a lot of challenges to modern secretaries. The impact of technological improvement in the office demands that the development of a successful secretarial career today depends of upon the secretary to acquire information and communication technology (ICT) based skills and expertise as well skills required for each category of staff.
Technology changes in our environment coupled with competition within a particular industry or in the society account for the reason why secretaries should engage in training and development to meet up with the challenges. This is as a result of the need to match changes in structure, policies, technology, processes and producers with the needed performance, attitude and behaviors. This study will provide a sight into the present day technological realities in and office and how a secretary could fit into it.
1.1 Background Information
The emergence of information and Communication Technology (ICT) has given a new improved life to communication in the office, factory, banks, hospital, hotel, supermarket, and garage or at home. As information and communication technology (ICT) continues to expand in office across the nations, the role of the secretaries has greatly evolved. Office Automation and organizational restructuring have led secretaries to assume a wide range of new responsibilities once and reserved for managerial and professional staff. Secretaries now need to be provided with training and orientation, conduct research on the internet and learn to operate new office technologies. This will enable the secretary to work along with other staff and meet the challenges of modern office.
There is no doubt that the secretary remains the life-wire of any organization. Contributions and effectiveness of a secretary depends on how he/she can cope with the modern technologies. However, with the development of new technology, secretarial profession is becoming increasingly challenging and more sophisticated that the common traditional roles of a secretary are gradually being faced out.
Secretaries are responsible for a variety of administration and clerical duties necessary to run an organization effectively. They serve as information charring house for an office, schedules an appointment, provide information to caller, organize and maintain paper and electronic file, manage project, and provide correspondent. Secretaries are aided in these tasks by a variety of office equipment such as computer, photocopier, and telephone systems. In addition, secretaries increasingly use personal computer to run spreadsheet, word processing, database management, desktop publisher, and graphic programs. Tasks previously handled by managers. Hence, this study has been designed to bring to light the veracity of ICT and the challenges and how a secretary could meet up with these challenges.
1.2 Statement of the Problem
In today’s office, traditional job like filing, keyboarding
reprography, treatment of incoming and outgoing mail and other clerical activities have now learnt themselves to Automation. Attention is now shifting from the usual traditional secretarial skill to a more modernized practice. The central focus of this study is to address the challenges of information and communication Technology that modern secretaries face.
1.3 Purpose of Study
The main objective of this study is to analyze the various forms of information and communication technology (ICT) and how they pose as challenges to modern secretaries.
It will be of great importance to practicing secretaries, employers of labor, managers Researchers, Governments and trainers of Secretaries to know the various challenges faced by secretaries on information and communication technology.
The study will analyze its differences and major challenges pose by each of them. It will also provide strategies for the employers and organizations on how they can develop secretaries and what they can embark upon for updating secretaries’ skills to meet the challenges of modern information systems and equipment’s.
1.4 Research Questions
- Will information and communication technology enhance the secretarial skill and practice?
- Can a secretary remain relevant without modern information and technology?
- Would the career structure of a secretary remain unchanged?
- Can secretaries find use of modern information and communication technology equipment’s relevant in handling the human aspect of their job?
1.5 Significance of the Study
It is hope that by the end of this research work, the researcher would identify the major challenges of information and communication technology to modern secretaries and thus: identify strategies for modern secretaries to meet these challenges. Increase public awareness in information and communication technology as it concerns secretarial staff. Encourage organizations on the training of their secretarial staff in the area of information and communication technology to enhance efficiency and effectiveness in their duties.
1.6 Scope/Delimitation of the Study
This research topic the challenges of information and communication technology (ICT) tend to focus only on secretaries in Office Technology and Management Department, Federal Polytechnic Oko, Anambra State.
REVIEW OF RELATED LITERATURE
Information and communication technologies (ICT) have been growing rapidly in developed and developing countries. ICT has been revolutionizing the way in which people in these countries operate in their various organizations both in the public and private sectors. ICT has changed the administration, governance, education, business competitiveness and global operations in them. In Nigeria today, the application of ICT is much more extensive and noticeable in the private sector.
The areas of application cover nearly all the activities of the Tertiary Institutions. The major users include all Polytechnic, Universities and College of Education. New technologies, thriving in today’s commercial and industrial offices, inevitably pose a lot of challenges to the modern secretaries.
After the invention of typewriter in 1881, by Christopher Sholes, one of the greatest discoveries of all time was the computer, since its advent, the world has become a global village where vital information could be extracted and effectively shared.
The vital roles which secretaries are meant to play as the custodians of office information necessitate the proper training of secretaries in order to cope with the challenges pose by ICT.
According to Gabriel (2003), ‘‘The only things that evolve themselves in an organization are disorder, friction and mal-performance’’. He went further or to say that given the criticalness of information technology, it is peremptory that no organization can allow the development of this applied science to evolve by itself. Technology stripped of all technical jargon, is a tool applied by people to solve problems for people. Therefore, there should be no doubt in the minds of people that those who claim to have knowledge of working and know how to apply the tool really know what they are doing and that this level of competence as well as their conduct is confidence deserving’’.
In the same vein, any secretary who has the ability to cope with the challenges of this era of information and communication Technology (ICT) can be confident to claim a professional. The secretary by implication occupies a very central position in any organization and this makes his/her presence felt by all. The advancement in information technology has revolutionized the secretarial profession thereby creating an enormous challenge for the secretaries. New office system is now evolving leading to new career structures for secretaries and new allocation of functions for high productivity. In view of the above, this chapter seeks to critically analyze some related literatures that appear to have some theoretical relevance to this research work. To this end, this section will enable us to appreciate the challenges of information and Communication Technology to modern secretaries: The review is broken down under the following headings:
2.1 Definition of a Secretary
Many definitions have been given to the word ‘‘secretary’’. Some people refer to the secretary as a typist, others refer her as a part of the clerical team in an office, some other people see secretary as a receptionist and some the ‘‘mind’’ of the boss.
According to Akinola (1999), a secretary is an important officer in any establishment, who is sometimes regarded as the life wire of an organization, adding that the contribution and effectiveness of a secretary can either enhance or diminish the efficiency and effectiveness of an organization.
Aromolaran (1998), described the secretary as the office manager and the administrative officer who co-ordinates and manages both the human and material resources of an organization. The secretary can be seen as a vital link in any organization and one who is in charge of the daily clerical and administrative activities in the organization. She exercises initiative, judgement and makes decision within the scope of here assignment, duties or authority. She also types letters, memos, and performs any other form of data entry into the computer or typewriter and brings out a mailable copy.
The National Secretarial Association International (NSAI) in the United State, an organization representing more than 33,000 secretaries adopted the following definitions, ‘‘a secretary is an assistant to an executive, possessing mastery of office skills and ability to assume responsibility without direct supervision, who displays initiatives, exercises judgement and makes decision within the scope of her authority.
The Webster, New Collegiate Dictionary defines a secretary as ‘‘a confidential employee, one employed to handle correspondence and mange routine and detail work for a superior, a business concern, organization, or society; one responsible for its record and correspondence, officer of state who superintends a government administrative department. Funk and Wagnol Standard Desk Dictionary defines a secretary as ‘‘a person employed to deal with correspondence, keep records and handle clerical business for an individual, business or committee’’.
The Oxford Advanced Learners Dictionary defined a secretary as ‘‘an employee in an office who deals with correspondence, keeps records, makes arrangements and appointments for a particular member of staff’’.
To Evelyn Austin (2001), a qualified secretary is expected to be ‘‘an indispensable altered of the boss, she must possess a good qualification such as common sense, tact and courtesy, loyalty, good memory, enthusiasm, versatility and lots more’’
A secretary, therefore, can be defined as an official person who takes charge of the correspondence, record and other business documents of the organization, plus other effective management of modern office devices. There is no doubt that the duties of a secretary centered round information processing. The training needs of the secretary of the future will also change the pattern in order to reflect emerging expansion of information and Communication Technology. Secretaries’ functions in organizations are very dynamic and motivated in nature. Secretaries are being considered as the livelier of the organization. They are also as an indispensable tool in any organization.
2.2 Secretaries before ICT
In the early 50’s to the 1970’s the nature of the secretary work was very tedious and unorganized. This is due to the fact that the type of machine used was very archaic, rickety, not encouraging and slow. The paper work was very boring and most times uncompleted. This led to low productions and fatigue. The status of the secretary was declining both socially and economically. The image of the typical secretary before the Technology advancement portrayed them as having longer and convenient working hours for themselves and poor job quality with minimal output.
The organizations then got the secretaries they deserved, as they were inadequate, generally, though this was not apparent. They were seen to be successful, because, business was at that time at an easy low level of development. The secretaries then were ill-trained, timid, undeveloped, unprofessional and stereotyped. Their technical skills were weak and their compartment was deficient. Secretaries of that time performed their general duties indifferently and were more of liabilities than assets.
In accordance, with the ‘‘I am of motion’’, change is a constant phenomenon. If we look at the beginning of man to the present day, we would see that there had been tremendous changes. If these had not occurred, man would have remained primitive today. Change is a challenge and if we abide by change, it brings out the best in us and leads us to enormous progress. The effect of change can be seen in the following areas globally; Science and Technology, Commerce and Industries, Communication, Managerial skill, Education, Politics etc.
In the past the secretaries were ill-defined such that the executives could not get the best out of their secretaries. They treated secretaries as tea-makers and not takers. What was expected of the so-called secretaries then was to take down notes in shorthand and transcribe in the rugged old fashioned typewriter. The secretaries’ functions had been based on typing with manual typewriter, answering of telephone calls, receiving of visitors, serving tea to the boss and such similar duties.
Infacts, secretaries were seen as just mere messengers in the organization who is just employed to serve the boss. The side effects of old secretaries can easily be directed on a first visit to the organization. The unexposed, ill-informed secretary is roughly to behold, his/her exception of old secretary is cold and hostile. He/she is grumpy and responds to honest inquiries aggressively. His/her communication abilities are poor and no effort is made to seek, accept or acknowledge corrections. The old secretaries’ jobs are always bad to behold, because when documents are printed, they are full of errors. The old secretaries did not show any initiative or intelligence.
It is obvious that the above facts, call for a change, because, there is no place for incompetent secretary in the modern office, only the effective and efficient secretary will survive the challenge of Information and Communication Technology.
2.3 Challenges of Information and Communication Technology to Modern Secretaries
Technological changes in our environment coupled with competition within a particular industry or in the society pose a lot of challenges to modern secretaries. The secretaries, not only have their equipment changed, but also their administrative processes, office routine, management systems are similarly evolving into new forms. Automation has been the order of the day. Electronic typewriter, word processors, and personal computers have replaced manual typewriters and electric typewriters, while fax machine has replaced telex machines. There are also different types of advanced communication gadgets. With these radical changes, the secretaries are expected to change and be able to keep up with all these professional changes around them. Secretaries today are intelligent, well educated, confidence, fluent in communication, honest, ambitious, smart, polite and tidy. Changes will continue to take place, because change is constant. The advancement of today will soon give way for the advancement of tomorrow. For that modern secretaries that wish to meet with the tide must continually embark on training in order not to be swept away by the current challenges pose by ICT, every progressive secretary must face the future while leaving for the present.
Secretary’s administration is universally acknowledged as an indispensable functional area in the content of business in government, professions, commerce and industry and even in other private and public institutions. In spite of technological development in word processing, micro filing, and the whole gamut of computer technologies, human resources are still an indispensable factor in providing satisfactory secretarial services.
Secretaries are the nexus of all managerial and administrative functions since it involves largely information management-organizing, planning, co-ordinating, control, retrieval, dispersal, preservation and feedback. Secretaries encompass everything the manager does but which no manager can do effectively and efficiently without a secretary. Today, secretaries are involved in operating at managerial share of influence where the secretary works in hand with the executive in making managerial work successful through the provision of vital support service. The modern secretary is in fact, a manager. The management functions of getting thing done by other people, to meet pre-determined objectives, certainly form a major part or high level secretarial work.
We know today, no executives are depressed and stressed any day the secretary is not in the office, by that we can safely assert, therefore, that, no secretary, no office; secretaries are the major role players in the managerial team today due to the area of their managerial function of making sure all information needed to operate in an organization is not only kept intact but making sure that those information are provided at the right time, place and to the right person. There is no doubt that new territory is being pioneered continuously as computer base systems are likely to evolve as the needs of the organization. Former office automation are being directed to fewer organizations with large volume of data, today micro electronics have brought new change and challenges.
2.4 The Challenging Function of the Secretary.
The transition was slow but steady. It was universal, beginning form the creative and competitive industries of the western economies to the almost dormant and consuming world of developing nations. The change was also necessary. Industrial technology has been moving at back –neck speed and information technology has been among the fastest growing group.
Having dictation the tune of office gadgetry over the years, information communication technology definitely made change in the office environment not only necessary, but also compulsory. And perhaps unavoidably, the secretary, who has been more involved in the use of these gadgets, becomes the target of change, hence, a compelling need to adopt. But this calls for new knowledge that gave birth to the new secretary.
The secretary has the prime function to be of assistance to her boss. Dr. KAUN I.N (2001) outlined the function of the secretaries as follows;
Performs general office work in relieving executives and other company officials of minor executives and clerical duties.
Take dictation using shorthand or a stereo-type machine.
Transcribes dictation or the recorded information reproduction on a transcribing machine.
Make appointment for the executives and reminds him of them.
Interviews people coming in to the office, directing to other workers those who do not warrant seeing the executives.
Make and answer telephone calls.
Handles personal and important mail, writing routine correspondence on his or her own initiatives.
Supervise other clerical workers and lower secretarial staff other functions include; making travel arrangement, recording , filing, and retrieving information, ordering and controlling office stationery, keeping the boss diary, operating several office machines, handling the petty cash, following up on jobs, souring and getting information , organizing and managing the office. Organizing and attending meetings including the preparation of agenda and minutes of meetings. Generally, relieving the executives of many of their routine business and private matters. Establishing procedures and practices to ensure confidentiality and security of information. Organizing conferences and social activities etc.
2.5 Development of Modern Secretaries.
Today’s secretaries are recruited and trained in the effective use of new technologies as well as in the development of modern management skill and practices. Ojemba, (2003) defined management as the planning, organizing, directing, and controlling of the procurement, development, compensation, integration, maintenance and separation of human resources to the end that individual, organizational and societal objectives are accomplished. This definition combined both the functions and operative of management.
It is the effective use and co-ordinating of resources such as capital, plants, materials and labor to achieve set-down objectives with maximum efficiency, thus, what then is the kind of secretary, who can live up to this definition? What qualities and knowledge should secretary posses or strive to develop? Essentially, the secretary is a manager of information and by the simple fact that she manages, directs and controls the collective information possessed by the total labor force within which she operates. The secretary will always seek methods or ways of improving on her knowledge in the vital areas of Information and Communication Technology (ICT).
Obodo, (2003), stated that career opportunities for the secretarial staff in the modern world are unlimited. Most of the opportunities system that will do the jobs and produce the results required.
Programmer: This personnel writes the instructions for processing data and producing information. They use the programming languages to develop the applications that operate the computer hardware.
Proof- reader: All documents processed are proof read by this personnel In order to make appropriate corrections as desired.
Supervisor: The personnel control the budget and co-ordinates the service of he unit with the assistance of the of the administration support secretary.
Manager: the manager is in full control of the system and is responsible for all activities and services within an organization.
In the administrative and information technology area of work, the secretarial career opportunity include.
Administration secretary (AS)
Senior administration secretary (SAS)
Administrative support supervisor (ASS)
Staff analyst (SA)
Director of secretarial support system (DASS)
In agreement with Obodo’s view on the secretarial staff career opportunity, Atueyi, (2001), stated that the secretarial staff has unlimited career advancement opportunities if he is able to cope with information technology.
This is glaring from the few career opportunities listed as well as those discussed. A qualified secretarial staff who has reached the senior staff grade or cadre can always convert to the parallel grade of the administrative cadre or personnel cadre. In effect, the secretarial staff now continues working as an administrative or personnel staff.
2.6 Information and Communication Technology
Information and Communication Technology is the use of computers and telecommunications to create manipulate and distribute enlightenment and entertainment. Information and Communication Technology has penetrated to the core of our professional lives.
Akinola (2003), defined Information and Communication Technology as the electronic processing of information, using computer based system for data gathering, manipulating and storing through the aid of related soft wares as MS DOS, Microsoft word, Page maker, Internet service, Net working etc. While Ononogbo(1990) noted that IT is now a revolution which has penetrated almost all fields of human activity thus transforming our economic and social life. The technique surrounding the usage of this software does not permit an ordinary secretary to assume the expected role of modern day’s secretary. It is therefore, pertinent for secretaries to acquire other skills, as it is relevant to ICT.
There are few aspects of our lives which are not affected by ICT. In the office, factory and home, visiting a bank, garage and many other places, it is used to carry out transaction, provide information; record data make decisions and perform in a very increasing range of task.
Lucy (1987) stated that IT is the acquisition, processing, storage and dissemination of vocal, pictorial, textual and numeric information by a micro electronic based combination of computing and telecommunication”.
2.7 Trends in Information Technology
There has been a great development in information and communication technology through the use of computer. Ayo (2001) gave the following trends in information and communication technology.
In recent times, much reverence is accorded computer technology all over the world. The population of the “electronic wizard ” called computer is so pronounced that getting a good job in the advanced and advancing countries, is tied to the apron of computer literacy.
According to Atijosan (1998), “computers now remain the only device that can handle volume of data religiously and repetitively without fatigue. Atijosan maintained that computers are very efficient and active.
Horn by (1974) defined computer as “electronic device which stores information on magnetic tape; analyses it and produces information a required from data on tape or disk.
Onasanya (1990) defined computer as a machine or group of mechanical or electronic devices connected into a unit and capable of automatically accepting data, processing it and producing the result of such processes accurately.
Akinola (2003), defined computer as a machine that follows instruction stored in its memory unit can accept any data, and perform arithmetic and logical operation on that data to solve a specific problem.
Based on the foregoing, computer can be described as an electronic device that has the tendency of performing, analyzing varieties of functions automatically including recording, calculation and storage of data. By data, we mean the basic raw facts that serve as inputs or ingredients for data processing.
2.8 Office Automation
Many aspect of officer work has been automated to a greater extent. Office Automation means the configuration of all-electronic office machines and equipment needed for effective running of an office. A good secretary is expected to have the basic skills needed to operate those machines and equipment. Automation in any form is always aimed at high productivity which gives room for systematic changes and structural adjustments that new innovation has brought about. The end products of office automation include: Word processing, Telex services, Faxing, E .mail services, Telephone, Networking, Video conferencing, Intranet etc. it is expected that modern secretarial must be able to close up this technological gap created by improvement on office automation.
Electronic Mail Service: This is a system in which messages are communicated by electronic means rather than by paper based communication. it can also be referred to as an instant electronic message transfer facility that uses terminals such as personal computers telex terminals etc.
Telex Service and Delivery: Telex is a short form for telegraphic exchange. it is used to send and receive urgent messages in code form over a telegraph or telephone line.
The advert of IT has given a large boost to telex communications systems. As a result, the current telex equipment resembles a desktop PC rather than the outsize, heavy typewriter appearance of teleprinter. Today the telex machine, can store and recall keyed in text and messages, it can edit a text, send or receive messages.
Facsimile Transmission: This method of communication is popularly called FAX. This piece of office equipment uses scanning technique to need a photograph, diagram or text which is then converted into electronic signal capable of being transmitted over international telephone networks.
Networking: When micro computers (PCs) are linked by cables you will have what is referred to as network. That is, one of the PCs will be used as a central unit and is usually called the PCs. Networking allows all operators to access programmes and data stared on central located hard disks and to shard resources such as CPU and printers.
Internet: the internet is essentially a large number of connected computers. A computer on the internet can be located any where in the world. This means that you can communicate with someone who is connected over the internet no matter where that person lives. The internet contains several different type of information including e-mail, news-group and the world wide web. The computers are connected internationally to the internet via independent service providers (ISP). The service provider used by a business center can be called info web” with its location in various points and the server at the main office of the business center or organization.
The world wide web (WWW): this is a graphic interface based on a multimedia framework that makes it possible to have text, pictures, video and sound on the page to be accessed from the internet. To view files on be accessed from the internet. To view files on the web, you need web browsing soft ware. You use this software to view different location on the web which is known as web page. A group of web pages is a web site. The first page of a web sit of often called the home page.
Intranet: This is a small version of the net that is used with in a office. It is an ideal system for distributing information such as phone products listing and job openings.
Other ICT Network services include Electronic banking and investing: This service allows customers to access banking and investment services via a terminal or personal computer from the comfort of their offices or homes. The customer uses the keyboard to dial the local access telephone number into the electronic service. When the communication link has been established the user is prompted to enter an identification code. If the code is accepted the user can request a number of electronic financial services.
Electronic shopping: To use this service, you dial into a network such as prodigy or CompuServe and select the electronic shopping category. A many of major categories of items available is presented and selected one. You can then browse through the catalogue shown on the screen. When you final the item, you use your keyboard to place an order and enter a previously assigned identification number and perhaps a credit card number.
- Record Keeping and Management
Record keeping and management are integral part of the office activities because the major function of the office will be incomplete when data received are processed and disseminated without adequate safe keeping and easy retrieval. Record keeping and management have evolved from their manual process to electronic process because of information Technology (IT) innovation.
Information Technology (IT) has also made possible a completely new approach to the management of records and information system. The electronic file whether stored on a floppy disk or within the hard disk is replacing many paper based systems of record keeping managers and the secretarial staff are increasingly accessing files and records on their desktop computer monitors by fetching them out the main frame computers in the twinkling of an eye.
Therefore, accomplished records management skills and techniques form a most important part of a secretarial staff’s repertoire today this is so, since development in electronic office automation are transforming the speed at which data may be stored and accessed and extending massively the amount of data which organization wish to retain and refer at intervals.
- Management Information System (MIS)
According to Nick (2003) MIS can be defined as a system used to convert data dorm internal and external sources into formation on the basis of management needs. Because information remains an effective management tool in decision making, it should be managed appropriately
However, every organization does develop its own MIS as it is applicable to its day to day operations. Management information system is an advanced level of information technology, which is vital to the growth and existence of any organization. A good information must be relevant accurate, timely trainable and objective in nature, therefore, no matter how valuable a piece of information is if it is not available, relevant or accurate when heeded, it becomes obsolete. The role of the secretarial staff is clearly seen because the receiving, giving or processing of information in the office is done by the secretarial personnel no manger can operator effectively without the service of the secretarial center. It is also important to note that management does not know enough about management information they need and information specialists often do not know enough about management in order to produce relevant inform for the mangers they serve. In effect there is the need to provide a better communication process between management and information’s specialist including a wider knowledge of MIS as this would help to create the required awareness understand of the principles and functions. These in turn will help to ensure that the design, implementation and operation set out by the organization are effectively achievers.
- Communication Technology
The greatest challenge that faces all professions and indeed the mankind is the progress of innovation offered by communication Technology. The communication system of any organization is its life wire. Thus for decision to be taken and implementation effected in relation to set goals, there must be an effective communication system. In effect, the communication system of an organization needs to flow consistently between the units and staff concerned in order to avoid a break down. Data or information collected is promptly processed and disseminated to appropriate units of management for effective use. Staff involved in formation processing need to be skilled in the manipulation of the equipment in use as this is a major basis for successful communication process.
In recent years, many word processing system are able to provide communication facility can be used for internal and is linked to the appropriate communications system.
According to Chukwuma (2002) Communication is a process in which people share information and feelings. All communication depends on understanding people and having them understand us. It is important to note that in communication, the effective dissemination use or implementation of information received is more important them how the information was produced. There is no doubt that secretaries are found at the center of information and communication Technology as they operate the system associated with it.
Therefore, modern secretaries must seek to acquire the necessary skills and relevant knowledge so as to be versatile and be able to face the challenges that information and communication Technology poses.