The article examining the connection between development of information technology and a firm’s competitiveness is based on an extensive study that was concluded among 73 members of the Turkish Contractor Association. The paper focused on the use of IT on a strategic, and not an operational level. Therefore, while the authors concluded that many business processes, planning and business operations are supported by IT, the focus was not on making the business more effective, and the involvement of management was significantly low.
The study focused on the previously created hypothesis by corresponding research, which claims that while IT development accounts for a great deal of a company’s expenditures, it does provide adequate benefits and a competitive advantage. The authors of the study are examining the question using a field survey of contractors in the Turkish construction industry. The research focused on finding the answers to the question whether companies are turning to information technology to increase their competitive advantage on the market, whether or not they use computerized processes on the strategic level. The questionnaire measured the level of IT usage in the firm, the processes involved in information technology and the gained benefits.
The authors of the study found that the main priority of companies when using IT were based on business processes and operations. Only 41 percent of the responding firms found it important to use systems to provide the company with competitive advantage. Surprisingly, only 59 percent emphasized the role of IT in supporting the management in making strategic decisions, and 48 percent of firms used it as a tool for the management to make informed decisions. (Table 1. p. 278.) The mean scores of describing the benefits of IT within the firm were higher regarding operations support, access to information, and the score was only 1.12 for the benefit entitled: “Provide better planning, controlling and management”. The mean scores showed (Table 7, p. 281.) that the most common use of information technology among contractor firms was data-related tasks, while the least common was strategic planning and related operations. It is not surprising, therefore, that 32.9 percent of companies (Table 8, p. 281.) responded that IT had no impact on their company’s competitiveness. Moreover, Table 10 showed that 38.4 percent of firms found that there was no relationship between IT and the company’s competitiveness.
The study clearly showed that Turkish contractor firms were not fully aware of the importance of using information technology for strategic planning, managing processes and gaining competitive advantage on different markets. This can be the result of two different attitudes. The management of the firms is either not aware of the methods of improving planning and strategies through IT, or they lack control of strategies completely, meaning that the companies do not have a clearly defined business plan, operation management goal and mission.
Future Implications of the Study
In order to determine whether construction industry contractor firms are simply lacking operations management strategies, or have not discovered the benefits of using IT for strategic planning, there is a need to survey the business models, planning departments and management team attitudes within the industry. Further studies are also needed to determine whether the attitude towards IT and its abjection as a support tool for operation is a general feature of Turkish companies.
Cakmak, P. and Tas, E. (2012) The Use of Information Technology on Gaining Competitive Advantage in Turkish Contractor Firms. World Applied Sciences Journal 18 (2): 274-285, 2012
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