MSc-IT Study Material
June 2010 Edition

Computer Science Department, University of Cape Town

How Does the Virtual Organisation Begin?

One way to start a "virtual organisation" is to have the company provide a central server, while individual workers have their own client computers. Using standard Internet technology, the workers can fill in electronic forms, send email, and browse information on the company's server.

The company's server can also supply extra information. Instead of simply providing Web pages, the server can interact with the company's databases. Consequently, the workers can retrieve and add things to the database. The code to interface with the database needs to be written, but Java and other languages provide easy access to this.

Clearly, this information needs to be secure. PGP and other algorithms should be sufficient and relatively transparent to use.

Interaction with existing programmes can cause computability problems. Employees will want to interact with existing programmes like Excel and Word. They will have their own copies of the programme, but can send (and receive) information such as corporate documents or other users' documents. Server-side applications will communicate with corporate applications via dynamic data exchange, Active X components or some other protocol. Client-side applications will receive information from the net, and interact with the client's own version of the application.

This model is built around one corporate server, but there is no reason why the company could not use multiple servers. It could even provide individual workers with their own machines that act as both client and server.

Exercise 5: Advantages and Disadvantages of the Virtual Organisation



Take the four box matrix above, filling in details of each area A, B, C, and D in note form under the following headings:

  • A SOCIAL: You should have listed some advantages of the Virtual Organisation in Exercise 3. If you did not attempt Exercise 3 then you should go back and do so now.

  • B TECHNICAL: What, in your view, are the main technical benefits of the Virtual Organisation? Make a list of such advantages. Think about flexibility speed and sharing.

  • C SOCIAL: There is a downside to Internet working. Now make a list of the disadvantages of the Virtual Organisation before moving on. Think about the personal and social dimension rather than technical glitches (which we will deal with later). Think about inhibitions, costs and penalties.

  • D TECHNICAL: What, in your view, are the main technical limits and penalties the Virtual Organisation brings. Make a list of such disadvantages. Think about security, translation from old systems, and organisation of complex information.

You can find some thoughts on this issue at the end of the unit.