The critical importance of information literacy for any person is caused by the constantly growing amount of surrounding information in all formats. According to American Library Association (ALA, 1989), the information literacy of a person is the ability to recognize the need of information, to locate, evaluate and use the needed information properly. Nowadays, information literacy, which is closely related to computer literacy, is the essential part of everyday life for every person as well as for every business entity. This essay will explain the significant role of information literacy in a corporate world due to three important reasons such as communicating with customers and suppliers, collecting, processing and analyzing the financial information, and researching new opportunities in order to be a competitive market player.
In my view, establishing effective business communication is the key element for corporate success. Therefore, being computer literate means being able to negotiate at any level. According to Clive Brukmann (2001), the new technologies of the Internet and email give the new method of communication for business. The internal communication within the organization among the colleagues, contacting the customers and negotiating with suppliers require computer literacy as the Internet has become the primary means of communication. As far as the communication is the heart of business activity today, employers and employees should be computer literate in order to establish and maintain effective communication. Many business organizations nowadays work internationally, importing or exporting their goods or having outsourced production sites. In this context, computer literacy plays a vital role as quick real-time and effective communication with international partners, customers or suppliers is possible only via the Internet. Moreover, the Internet gives huge communication opportunities starting with the possibility to e-mail and ending with an ability to organize multinational on-line conferences via Skype or other programs and tools. For example, Skype has built friendly terms and conditions for business. It is easy to create business accounts for the employees and reduce the costs of international calls, have real-time access to colleagues and customers, use vide-calls option in order to make a presentation of goods or show any important things. As Clive Bruckmann summarizes, “IT can transform a business” (p. 97). Thus, communication is vital for business operation, and the Internet provides huge opportunities for successful and quick communication whereas computer literacy is a critical condition for the use of the Internet.
The rapid change of the global environment requires constant analysis of financial information and laws. Amy Solomon (2012) suggests that understanding the current search techniques and tools is essential to access the most recent reliable and accurate financial information, which, in its turn, is needed to perform the financial analysis of any business. It is extremely important that businesses have access to reliable financial information like official statements on Security Exchange Commission website for making reasonable decisions. Moreover, in some cases, the success of a business depends on the changes in laws, and the immediate use of credible law resources may help the business to survive.
In financial analysis of the entity, the use of quality information from reliable sources is critical. The analyst should use the current criteria and evaluation methods to perform up-to-date and adequate analysis, which could be obtained only by information literate person. For instance, the number of public scandals with the world’s largest corporations such as WorldCom, Enron, Tyco International, received a governmental acknowledgement in enacting the Sarbanes–Oxley Act in 2002 (SOX, 2002). This bill provides the altered framework for corporate responsibility, financial disclosures, specifies the conflict of interests in accounting and imposes white-collar crime penalty, and introduces the rules for performing an accounting and financial statements. Therefore, the internal auditors and accountants of the corporations should follow the act and build their work according to its norms. The SOX was a new regulation in 2002, and those businesses who failed to comply with the act because of the lack of information experienced substantial losses.
What is more, information literacy may reveal extended opportunities for business and propose the right decisions for success. The Internet gives unlimited access to the world’s largest corporation websites, their history, books to business success and experiences. Additionally, the Internet contains the suggestions on business ideas that work abroad and could be implemented in a particular country as innovation. By using the Internet data, the organization could collect information about the products, techniques and strategies of its competitors and find out the competitive market position and further directions. Yet, it has to be underlined that information literacy at the level of business is closely related to individual skills of each employee and their organizations. Among skills shaping information literacy are “functional literacy, reading and comprehension, processing, reasoning, outlining, summarizing, empathy, setting priorities” and at least twenty more crucial skills named by experts (Goad, p.31).
The work of software development companies is the excellent example of the role of information literacy in exploring business opportunities. The competition in this sphere is high, and demand for IT talents is still higher than supply. It is natural that software companies have to be more than information literate, because their whole business is built on this concept. Yet, some are more successful than others, because they are more progressive in the use of new communication opportunities. So, because it might be hard to find the right expert to the team in one country, they suggest their customers forming distributed teams, the members of which are always in touch through videoconferencing and other methods of online communication. Because of this, such international companies are flexible to business needs and can meet the demand for forming a team of developers much faster and more effectively. Needless to say, that they are ahead of the competitors who use older methods of business. Thus, this example confirms that information literacy helps to find successful opportunities, decreasing the cost and increasing the efficiency of the business.
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Thus, it is essential to reaffirm that information literacy plays a vital role in today’s corporate world. Both small and large businesses depend on current, reliable and accurate information. The Internet as a new media requires people to enhance their computer literacy in order to meet the requirements of the modern business environment. Due to the international nature of most businesses, computer literacy is a critical success factor for building up effective communication with customers, suppliers and partners. Moreover, computer and information literacy provides firms with an access to financial data, laws, regulations, and business innovations that are important to evaluate and process firms’ activity. Additionally, information literacy may open new possibilities and business ideas for becoming the competitive market player, decreasing costs and increasing efficiency.