including Galloway and Mochrie (2005), point out that the use of standalone ICT, or in this case general ICT, is not prolific. But the use of standalone ICT can be viewed as an entry point into the new economy, meaning it does not necessarily give competitive advantage but it gives access to being competitive.
Production-integrating ICT group. These are more advanced than the general-user ICTs as these ICTs are either linked to the production processes carried out within the firm or based on inter- firm relationships. They are expensive and require relevant technological skills to carry them out. According to the levels defined by Ritchie and Brindley (2005), they would form part of the strategic plans of a business for achieving business goals and enhancing or changing business processes. The use of ICT infrastructures such as networks; product data management; virtual prototyping; computer-aided design; electronic funds transfer (EFT); electronic data interchange (EDI); having LAN (local area network) or WAN (wide area network) connections within your business; and e-business and e-commerce, are expected to change the process of knowledge creation, embodiment and reuse.
The benefit of this is product innovation (PI) and faster service delivery. According to Corso et al. (2001:36), “SMEs should heavily leverage these opportunities to support cross-boundary communication and knowledge sharing”. Examples of applications and tools at this level are ERP (enterprise resource planning), CRM (customer relationship management), billing systems, and computer-aided design. Generally, applications under this group rely on networked technologies and, according to Galloway and Mochrie (2005:34), this “has transformed the capacity of SMEs to share and transfer information”.
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