Research Paper: Information Technology's Impact on Quality of Life

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Information Technology's Impact On Quality Of Life

The ethical standards of organizational cultures are often directly related to the ethics of the leaders and managers who in large part shape norms, values, expectations and the boundaries of organizations (Cary, Wen, Mahatanankoon, 2003). Add in the component of information systems and related technologies, and the attitudes, beliefs and values surrounding ethics a leader has get immediately amplified across the organization, even if it is global in scope. The ethics of leaders, especially those managing and leading IT efforts, have a very immediate and lasting impact on the ethics of their entire organizations as a result. Setting standards for ethical conduct of Information Technology professional is therefore critical. Examining the importance of ethical behaviors that the IT professional must adhere to is also assessed in this analysis, including the critical need to safeguard data under their control.

As with any corporate-wide resource which has the ability to drastically change a corporate culture relatively quickly, the role of the IT professional in protecting intellectual property and defining best practices for its release and use is discussed. Finally the employees issue and importance of ethical behavior to ensure a high quality of life in an online-dominated world, both at work at home, is discussed. The greater the level of ubiquity any information system or series of technologies have in an organization, the more they permeate employee's lives outside of work and eventually become part of their daily lives (Cronan, Leonard, Kreie, 2005). The RIM Blackberry is a case in point, which today is continually used by many workers regardless of the day or hour.

Evaluating the Importance of Ethical Standards for the IT Professional

The ethical behavior of a leader has an immediate and long-term effect on subordinates, and if the leader is managing information systems and IT resources, their effect is immediately amplified and made even more pronounced (Butcher, 2009). The same holds true for any IT professional as their impact on the organization is also immediate and wide-spread given their inference over IT systems, processes and the communications they enable globally through many organizations today. In evaluating the importance of ethical standards to the IT professional, the areas of overarching moral imperatives, professional responsibilities, leadership and managerial ethical imperatives and responsibilities, and the need for compliance are all discussed in this analysis.

Moral Imperatives of the IT Professional

Moral imperatives of the IT professional must be anchored first with a responsibility to society to act as to protect the health, safety, online and offline privacy of anyone interacting with systems, websites or transaction terminals throughout a business. From the internal employees entering orders to the customers online using a website or shoppers using a point-of-purchase terminal, the IT professional has a moral imperative to ensure these transactions and interactions adhere to the highest levels of security and privacy possible at all times. Privacy and security technologies are moving targets however; they constantly change as hackers and online criminals look to circumvent even the most complex of security technologies. It is then the moral imperative of the IT professional to continually stay current in their field and strive to learn more, as the more they know, the better they can protect their company's own employees and customers as well (Dillon, 2010).

A second moral imperative of the IT professional is to design computing and IT systems so they are of no physical harm to others or the environment (Butcher, 2009). This moral imperative also includes personal and public property and protecting entire enterprise networks from computer viruses and attempts to hack into or break into a company's core systems (Pemberton, 1998). This moral imperative also carries with it the need for continual learning and staying up-to-date on the latest technologies and procedures for averting potential attacks on a business. The moral imperative to always be vigilant to threats, sharpened by continual training, underscores many of the ethical standards the IT professional must adhere to (Grupe, Garcia-Jay, Kuechler, 2002).

A third moral imperative is to strive to earn trust daily by telling the truth, even if the news is not good, and not covering up failures either of personal or corporate-wide system and technology performance (Gotterbarn, Miller, 2010)

. This moral imperative also applies to the programming and development of entirely new computing systems as well, as programmers who are highly skilled in security technologies for example may find it easy to shortcut authentication or secured integration points in a system. The potential to trim up to a month off of a development schedule by not implementing a given feature or entire series of functions could seriously harm the entire operations of a company over the long-term. The moral imperative to be honest and transparent about just what is included in a given system design and configuration is critical if an IT professional is going to set the right foundation for a business to embrace ethics over the long-term (Kallman, 1992). The moral imperative of being honest is the most critical for the leaders of IT organizations who strive to define cultures that seek continual improvement over stagnation and mediocrity. Often the best strategy for enabling an IT organization to become more focused on achievement and accomplishment is authenticity and transparency (Miller, 2009). When the leaders of an IT organization strive to attain this moral imperative of truthfulness and honesty, it permeates the organization and greater trust is created over the long-term. Studies of high-performing IT organizations show that trust in many ways become an accelerator of change and positive growth. Without it however, organizations become closed, information gets hoarded and mistakes that could have been avoided become very commonplace (Molnar, Kletke, Chongwatpol, 2008). A large part of any IT department's culture is dictated by how strong an IT leader is in the area of honesty and truthfulness.

A fourth moral imperative for IT professionals is to not discriminate on the basis of race, sex, religion, age, disability, or national origin (Gotterbarn, Miller, 2010)

. This moral imperative needs to also anchor all ethical standards by protecting the rights of those using computer systems, websites and transaction systems so there is no potential for any person of a different gender, religion, age, having a disability or national origin to be discriminated against (Dillon, 2010). The IT professional must also continually learn new approaches to screening inappropriate content, filtering potentially racist materials and also creating greater effiencies in approaches to minimize and eliminate discrimination through the use of IT systems and related websites (Grupe, Garcia-Jay, Kuechler, 2002). IT leaders can have a major impact on this ethical standard by setting the policy of zero tolerance for discrimination of any kind in their organization and showing they mean it by taking action if anyone is discriminated against or harassed due to their age, race, religion, national origin or handicap (Dillon, 2010).

The fifth moral imperative is to always design IT systems and processes to protect the copyrights, intellectual property (IP) and patents of the company and its partners. From a strategic standpoint, this moral imperative is critical for the entire organization to be trusted with its core partners and those it may have joint ventures and development projects with (Stapleton, 2007). Specifically designing system to protect and in some cases enforce copyrights, intellectual property and patents is critical for those companies in knowledge-centric businesses including information systems, market research, search engine design, and online advertising business models (Molnar, Kletke, Chongwatpol, 2008). As is the case with many of the other moral imperatives, it is the responsibility of the IT professional to continually add to their skill set so they can better anticipate and respond to these challenges. It is also critically important that IT professionals continually learn about approaches to how best to manage intellectual property, as many of the techniques and approaches to use these assets require auditable steps and procedures to ensure their use is tracked (Gotterbarn, Miller, 2010). It is incumbent on the IT professional to continually strive to excel in the areas of intellectual property security and privacy, as for many companies, their IP is the core strength of their business model. It is also the moral imperative of any IT leader to set the foundation or tone for the managing of IP as a very valued corporate asset, and therefore one that needs to be tracked and reported on over time. This is also an area of continual training that the IT leaders in an organization need to underscore with training and recognition when done well.

IT Professional's Ethical Standards

The ethical standards for the IT professional include the duty to strive for the highest quality effectiveness and performance in all processes and systems created and maintained over time and the need to continually look to alleviate potential risks to enterprise data as well (Cronan, Leonard, Kreie, 2005). This specific area of IT professional's ethical responsibility centers on creating integrity and reliability in the systems and applications while also designing in… [END OF PREVIEW]

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