Information and Communication Technology (ICT) for development of small and medium-sized exporters in Latin America: El Salvador
Merlin Alejandrina Barrera López
Though there is, today, an abundance of information, most individuals and companies have little knowledge of how to use tools that would allow them to fully exploit this information to enhance the efficiency and operation of their businesses. This vast informational resource is generally overlooked by companies, due to their inability to use it, thus losing the potential advantage it could provide in improving the productivity and efficiency of their operations. People use information in different ways, from weather reports to investment in the stock market. Most fundamentally, information enhances the efficiencies of internal processes and provides businesses with knowledge of the markets in which they trade their products or services, as well as information on competition, suppliers, etc., offering a competitive advantage over other firms. Information technology (IT) tends to be regarded as something used only by large manufacturing companies or in automated systems. However, it is, in fact, used in all types of processes: accounting; relationships with suppliers; recruitment; production automation; quality control; marketing, sales and distribution of products, etc. Rapid developments in IT have had a dramatic impact on all operational aspects of organizations, as well as in the specific area of technology. IT encompasses all technology utilizing computers and computer-based communications. Such systems are used for purchasing, storing, handling and transmitting information to people and businesses units, both within and outside a company, allowing businesses the ability to efficiently manage and integrate all of their information-processing needs. This produces important savings in time and money, and facilitates problem solving and decision-making. As a result, IT usage has become a central component of any business wishing to increase its competitiveness. For various economic sectors, particularly those with limited resources and small-scale operations, accessing tools that promote competitive development has been one of the most serious constraints. Thus, it is imperative that companies gain knowledge of these new information technologies, which can be used by small and medium enterprises and can become a tool for development, providing major changes in efficiency and productivity, while creating sustainable growth for the countries involved.