The World Bank Group was established in the year 1944 with its headquarters in Washington D.C in the United States of America (The World Bank Group, 2016). It has more than ten thousand employees operating in more than a hundred and twenty offices all over the world. The organization has established two major goals to be achieved by the year 2030. One is to bring poverty to an end by reducing the number of people earning less than $1.90 daily to about 3 percent. The second goal is to enhance shared prosperity by promoting the income growth of the forty percent found at the bottom in every nation of the world. The World Bank remains a major source of technical and monetary aid to developing nations across the globe. It has especially been helpful to most countries in Africa that are extremely underdeveloped. Such countries include Liberia, Djibouti and Guinea among others. The term used to refer to these countries is the Least Developed Countries (LCDs). However, organizations in this dispensation operate in an environment that is changing on a constant basis (Barzekar & Karami, 2014). Based on this, organizations need to adapt so as to maintain the competitive edge, boost performance and re-configure as a result of changing workforce, online business development and most importantly the global business environment. Through World Bank Information Technology (IT), different services including communications, knowledge sharing, crisis management and distance learning are provided on a global basis to developing nations via satellites (The World Bank Group, 2016). This paper examines the global business strategy transformation pursued by the bank and the role of information technology in achieving the vision put forth in the bank’s plan.
Problem or Issue Faced by the World Bank
Wolfensohn joined the World Bank Group from the private sector in 1995. He became the new president from this time (McFarlan & Delacey, 2003). During this time, he was able to engage the staff, examine business operations of the Bank and travel widely in order to relate with the clients. In a period of two years, a strategic deal was made between Wolfensohn and the board of directors aiming to adopt wider reforms on the basis of what he considered to be major trends taking place all over the globe. There was dramatic change in the development business. The other issue was the increasing private capital flows and reduction in support for official assistance. In addition, there were increasingly diversified sources of technical aid and advice (McFarlan & Delacey, 2003). The World Bank was getting the aid from different sources that were highly technical or knowledgeable.
Most important was the acknowledgment of a wider development paradigm that focused more on local capacity, governance and socio-environmental aspects. Meanwhile, knowledge access was increased by a strong technological revolution and this is a major developmental factor. Furthermore, it was having major effects on the manner in which organizations conduct business (McFarlan & Delacey, 2003). Organizations had become: increasingly competitive; adopted flatter structures; were more faster; networked and prepared to collaborate; and ready to learn with knowledge being the pillar of efficiency. The assessment done by Wolfensohn was transformed into a corporate strategy based on IT.
Two important shifts in the corporate strategy occurred during this time. One was decentralization (McFarlan & Delacey, 2003). Decentralization refers to the process of dispersing power or functions away from the central location. Power was therefore dispersed away from the headquarters of the World Bank in Washington D.C. This was achieved by moving the business operations of the bank closer to customers by ensuring that employees and decision making was decentralized to local offices in a hundred client nations all over the world. The other shift was establishment of a knowledge bank. This meant providing more comprehensive developmental solutions by enhancing consultation, cooperation and knowledge sharing inside the organization and with stakeholders in all stages of the development process. According to Shupe and Behling (2006), successfully implementing information technology demands executive-level support. It also needs a structured decision making process in addition to a strategy that is founded on an understanding of the vision of the organization. Based on this, Wolfensohn went to the Muhsin who had been appointed as the bank’s Chief Information Officer (CIO) and asked him to transform the information systems and create a global network. In the group formed by Muhsin was IT staff from the bank (McFarlan & Delacey, 2003). The main objective was to attain two competing goals: allow a global decentralized firm that was closer to the clients; and offer collaborative tools and knowledge which would assist the isolated employees and other stakeholders.
It would be important to evaluate the plan adopted by the World Bank Group. To do this, there are six criteria that must be taken into consideration including: internal consistency; appropriateness based on available resources; consistency with the environment; expected degree of risk; workability; and the right time horizon. For the World Bank Group, internal consistency would describe the cumulative effect of policies on organizational goals. It would be important that the policies fit into an integrated pattern (Tilles, 1963). The policy has to be judged on how it is connected with other company policies. For instance, World Bank Group looks to boost every aspect of its work and how to bring services closer to the stakeholders (World Bank Group, 2016). The second evaluation criteria would be to establish whether the strategy is in line with the environment. There is a static aspect and a dynamic element to this. From a dynamic context, it means determining the success of policies in regard to the environment as it seems to be changing. In the same vein, Boudreau and Holmstrom (2014) noted that information technology has a major impact on organizations. Despite this, there can be negative effects which would not be good for the organization. This can be understood by acknowledging that the successful implementation and employment of IT is largely impacted by the culture of an organization which supports trust, commitment to the set goals and desire to share information.The goal of a viable strategy in this regard is to guarantee an organization’s long-term success (Tilles, 2003). The decision by the bank to adopt advanced information technology services in all its operations helped in attaining the goals of the bank. The goals are also achieved over a short period of time with greater efficiency and effectiveness.
It would also be important to establish whether the strategy is appropriate based on the available resources (Tilles, 1963). World Bank has the money, an experienced workforce that is able to provide the needed competence and most importantly, the facilities. The facilities are up to current standards. For example, the Bank has a system that ensures that changes in technology are quickly adopted. Another evaluation criterion would be to establish whether the strategy includes an expected risk level. The risk level must be very minimal in order to achieve the set objectives. For any organization, introducing technological change poses different challenges to management (Dorothy & William, 1985). However, in most instances, the manager tasked with the responsibility of leading the innovation has the skills and knowledge to direct the development of the innovation as opposed to managing its implementation. Taken together, strategies and resources establish the level of risk an organization is undertaking. It was clear the failure of the intended changes would have negative effects on the bank. Last but not least, there is need to establish whether the strategy had the right time horizon. The timelines must be right so as to ensure that the strategy impacts on the current challenges the bank faces.
An important part of each strategy would be the time horizon it is founded on. A strong strategy reveals the goals to be met (Tilles, 1963). The World Bank Group embraced information technology because it believed that it would help enhance the achievement of its goals of better service delivery to countries all over the world (McFarlan & Delacey, 2003). The last evaluation criteria would be to determine whether the strategy is workable or not. From the onset, it would appear that the basic means of evaluating an organizational strategy would be to ask whether it works. Despite this, further evaluation has to show that by proving the evidence (Tilles, 1963). Evaluation process must therefore be persuasive.
From the evaluation, it is clear that through the use of information systems, the World Bank has managed to reduce the costs of service delivery. Moreover, IT has allowed the bank to establish a knowledge base for the economies of various nations. This is the foundation upon which the Bank determines the best financing methods to be employed in a certain nation or region. World Bank has to this effect developed databases for member nations. For this reason, delivery of service to the clients is facilitated resulting in the attainment of goals. With the help of advanced information and communication technology service, it has been possible for the Bank to create efficient systems of monitoring. The systems examine the manner in which clients execute projects the bank finances. Furthermore, it is now easier to detect errors in expenditure.
It is not in dispute that the World Bank is a leader in the adoption and implementation of IT in its growth strategies and the bid to enhance service delivery. However, it would be important for the bank to focus on processes of creating friendly ties with regional banking institutions for instance, the Asian Bank. After this, the Bank can proceed with the development of its network with these major institutions. The institutions are versed with the development issues that face this region, thus could assist the World Bank in discharging its tasks. It would be easy for the bank to access information from these regional institutions as opposed to doing it directly which omits some information in the funding procedure. Given that the bank looks to employ information technology to achieve its objectives, it has to promote institutional capacity of member nations. The support for information systems created by the bank could assist the institutions work with the bank and access information in regard to better development practices. Furthermore, the bank has to begin focusing on the ways of reducing costs accumulating from maintenance of IT systems. This means paying attention to adoption of systems which have a high capacity to conduct self-detection in which errors could be detected with ease. However, it would be important to enhance the connection between the World Bank and its clients.
In conclusion, this era has witnessed the transformation in business operations through the adoption of information technology. IT has been important in improving business in different sectors of the economy. Within the service sector, it is clear that the banking sector has reaped major benefits from the acquisition and implementation of IT tools in service delivery. The World Bank remains a major beneficiary. The World Bank Group is the main source of funding across the globe. This means that it has a broad range of operations that must be extended to the whole world. Due to this, it has an elaborate mission. The goal of the bank is to alleviate poverty throughout the world by offering financial services including loans to various projects in various nations. For this reason, its activities entail knowledge and information sharing in a broad network of employees working in various destinations. The decision to include advanced information technology services was a major strategy in attaining the goals of the bank and fulfilling its mandate.
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