Modern service industries have been faced with stiff competition in the wake of globalization and free trade. This paper explores such dynamics as realized in healthcare and hospitality industries. Information and Communication technology (ICT) and E-commerce have played a significant role in attaining a competitive advantage. Generally, the role of ICT has been instrumental in making sure that healthcare and hospitality industries have everything needed in finding a base in the market. In everyday competition ICT makes industries match up the standards. The fear of exit and threat of entry have been the key definition to the competition in modern trade markets.
ICT has the capability to deal with many complex problems and enables medical practitioners to deal with many complex problems like making the diagnosis at the early stages. Any healthcare service provider employing ICT in this sense is bound to make huge progress by staying ahead of the competition in the market. Effective marketing in the hospitality industry has a synergetic consequence on every connected service provider. That aside, it substantially contributes to the international exchange reserves of the nation. The large scale introduction and application of ICTs and e-commerce has made it possible for the healthcare and hospitality firms expand their market base and also assist in developing their competitive power. E-commerce has become one of the most viable tools of reaching out to this populace by in a way that is fast and convenient to most of them. This way, firms in the healthcare and hospitality industries have been able to widen their markets and reach many customers worldwide.
Keywords: E-commerce, ICTs, healthcare industry, hospitality industry
Competitive Advantages of Information Communication (ICT) and E-Commerce to Health Care Industry and Hospitality Industry Introduction
Information technology is a multifaceted concept that has been used by modern sectors of economy for destructive and constructive work. The internet and computers in general are finding a major use in modern times. Information systems have been present since times immemorial and have been growing and diversifying in terms of not leaving behind health care industry and hospitality industry. In both industries, information and communication technology (ICT) has been used for the purposes of organization, planning, controlling and directing services and operations (Slack et al. 2008, pp. 234-56). Technical qualification of personnel is a must for using computer software, hardware and computer information systems. Initially, such personnel worked as technicians who later enhanced their skills of being system managers mandated with the task of managing the technical work of other people and in solving the problems of business in many other areas other than the data processing department alone. Management Information System (MIS) is an integrated user system which provides information to support decision making, operation and management functions of organizations. The system makes use of computer software and hardware: models for assessment and analysis, manual procedures, control, decision making and planning. For effectual MIS system, the need for business to have a supportive ICT is important owing to the increased intricacy and change of the modern business environment.
The ICT role and function in sustaining and building competition coupled with other benefits like the recent global economic reforms have led to the emergence of competition and free trade increase. The key definition to the competition in modern trade markets is both fear of exit and threat of entry. The competition ethos is the ability to survive under all means in a dynamic trading environment. Many organizations endeavor to constantly fit, survive and make progress in this ever increasing highly competitive economic environment (Marc et.al 2006, pp. 112-35). The only strong element in this sense is “efficiency and innovation”. ICT has, therefore, made the healthcare industry and the hospitality sector efficient and innovative through Research and Development (R&D). Performance of activities directing the flow of these services has been made possible through the use of ICT .
- ICT in the Healthcare Industry
Development in communication technology should be tapped to provide healthcare services based on the way it has produced a competitive advantage in the recent past. With ICT, healthcare systems of the world are now becoming more effective and affordable. Eventually, healthcare industry is assumed to be the biggest industry of the world. In order to address the challenges of healthcare services delivery, many countries have braced themselves to use ICT in healthcare departments. In the modern set up, healthcare is termed as a system that needs a multifaceted strategy and absolute professionalism to attain cost effectiveness and quality as well (Kevin n.d., par. 3-7). Hospitals in the modern times have to realize the needs of the sick and the absolute focus has moved from services of the patients rather than only surgical and medical therapies.
International healthcare standards of accreditation and insurance coverage for international patients including tourists is important to address the challenges brought about by a competitive trading environment. Implementation of innovations amounts to the fast diffusion of advanced technologies and better methods of performing operations. Generally, there is a belief that a health creative mind needs a healthy body and, therefore, there is a lot of potential vested in the healthcare service delivery markets. Effective and efficient healthcare service delivery is important to deal with the dynamism of the healthcare problem patterns. Health is ever becoming largely significant international issue. It is essential not from both economically and socially as the index of happiness is getting significance as an important target variable. Patients looking for healthcare facilities will have a variety of choices from various service providers available in different countries.
Affordable cost offered at competitive prices and the level of quality of these healthcare services taking into ccount the nursing care anchored through the state-of-the art element and presence of highly educated and skilled medical practitioners and the analogous world class facilities of infrastructure are found to have been the major guideways of the degree to which the market of healthcare service delivery. Information Communication and Technology enables medical practitioners to deal with many complex problems like making the diagnosis at the early stages. Any healthcare service provider employing ICT in this sense is bound to make huge progress by staying ahead of the competition in the market (Marc et.al 2006, pp. 112-35). Approved efficacy of ICTs use for healthcare institutions guarantees them a stable position in the market.
Rural health centers can pass on the symptoms of a patient to bigger hospitals and offer a cure through the same means to the individual. The sick in emergency are given first attention and have to wait for short periods of time when the innovative ICT tools are deployed. The healthcare centers making use of these ICT tools have been able to increase the level of satisfaction to both the staff and the patients by delivering high quality healthcare services at affordable costs (Kevin n.d., par. 3-7). ICT has also helped in the transfer of information internationally, providing help by way of teleconference and enhanced effective application of robotics technology in the surgery department.
- ICT and the Hospitality Industry
The hospitality industry and tourism has been a big social concept of the entire world and has provided a positive edge and is at the same time being motivated through the natural urge of every person for purposes of exploration, adventure, health, entertainment and education among others (Trevor 2006, pp. 28-29). This includes an emphasis on business and socioreligious areas. According to the World Trade Organization, tourism industry includs all the activities of people moving from one country or region to another and staying in places different from their normal surrounding for not more than a year for the purpose of leisure, doing business or another specific reason. The hospitality industry is, therefore, not a single detached activity. It also incorporates its auxiliary and complementary services like the transport (railways/taxi/airlines services and many others), restaurants and hotels, insurance, travel agent services and facilities of communication among others.
Effective marketing in the hospitality industry has a synergetic consequence on every connected service provider. That aside, it substantially contributes to the international exchange reserves of the nation. In essence, it has the capability of being a key contributor in the growth of a nation as a result of increased strength of foreign exchange and the increasing potential capabilities of employment with the highest value added element, networking and expertise free mobility, the establishment of supportive facilities of infrastructure, cultural diffusion encouragement, processes that are environmentally sustainable and ICT technology included in the hospitality-linked services.
ICT application and use in the hospitality industry has been useful in attracting more customers from different parts of the world. The access to information (artistically and tastefully offered) along with online registration is very important to the decision-making process by the customer. ICT has, thus, played a significant role in realizing this progress and development. ICT has made it possible for the hospitality industry players to compete globally in international markets with a wide-open access. For instance, medical tourism has experienced a major development due to the software boom. This sector can become even more efficient with the government support through tax breaks and incentives.
ICT has caused many places like India which was touted as the best destination for ICT majors. At present, India is coming up as the best destination for health or medical tourism. Indian government, the state boards for tourism, agents of travelling, companies owning hotels and the private sector are making explorations on the medical tourism industries for many more opportunities. The biggest supporters of the countrywide competitive advantage in every nation look at quality and cost as the main factors of competitive advantage. In one dimension, ICT facilitates and makes it possible for companies and organizations to make use of all these sources in the best way possible.
In the contemporary development, ICTs will make it possible for organizations to use the benefits to take decisions in a timely fashion, since they give the correct information timely to implement decisions immediately after taking them. If decisions are not taken timely, then competitors in the market could overtake them. For this reason, ICT has taken an important role in making sure that decision making in management and purchasing through the potential seekers of the service (Marc et.al 2006, pp. 112-35). ICT is, thus, a very important tool in improving the competitive advantage for the hospitality industry among other service markets. Information communication and technology has, thus, become instrumental in defining the entire subject of competitive advantage (Trevor 2006, pp. 28-29). Flourishing competitors have been able to excel and develop more as the wealthier rivals in the market are restructured or may at times go out of business. This way ICT has been able to transform the market in the hospitality industry. Eventually, the only way to really make changes on the service sector is to make reforms in the entire concept of market competition.
- E-commerce in Healthcare and Hospitality Industries
Globalization includes free market which means that there is a flow of services, capital, goods and intellectual human work force across international borders. This means that there is a lot of free flow of competences, skills and knowledge among many other things. It is obvious that this kind of flow is realized under wide principles and through the directive of intellectual property rights. Such kind of flows are facilitated, induced, buttressed and encouraged through the ease in reaching out to the knowledge/information through the current revolutionary changes taking place in the healthcare and hoospitality industries (Kevin n.d., par. 3-7). With such kind of developments, organizations and companies in the healthcare and hospitality industries are restructuring and expanding through e-commerce to tap the huge potential that is ever present in the international arena.
Large scale implementation of ICTs and e-commerce has made it possible for the healthcare and hospitality firms expand their market base and also assist in developing their competitive power. Now that the internet and computer awareness has been on the increase amongst the employed and educated people internationally, e-commerce has become one of the most viable tools of reaching out to this populace by in a way that is fast and convenient to most of them. This way, firms in the healthcare and hospitality industries have been able to widen their markets and reach many customers worldwide.
E-commerce also has been made possible through ICTs. Both the healthcare and the hospitality industries have seen the benefits of ICT and E-commerce in gaining competitive advantage. E-commerce has enabled healthcare and hospitality firms enter new international markets. ICT enabled service providers in these areas to shrunk huge discrepancies, blur the cultural and political borders and, hence, made it possible for the marketing procedures of such services reach the customers in various countries. E-commerce through ICT has not only been in the fore front of promoting the welfare of service providers but also has enabled them enhance the service quality that comes with affordable prices and quick delivery of the same among many other benefits (Marc et.al 2006, pp. 112-35). They have also been in a position to get a wider variety of important information for developing the businesses further through advancement in technology to make a choice from various service providers along with the quality of service preferred.
Hospitality and healthcare management of a firm should realize the way of collecting information, storing, analyzing, interpreting and understanding the results and implications of the data and facts concerning the firm. This way ensures successful implementation of ICT and E-commerce. ICT is the link between all the components in the operations of service industries. Progressive use or the information about E-commerce in the input, processing, distribution, storage and presentation of the available information is the noticeable tool to develop not only the healthcare and hospitality competitive advantage but their abilities to reach customers satisfaction as well. ICTs have as well been useful in management especially in facing the immense competitive services market. ICTs in healthcare and hospitality industries have an almost equal importance in the role of formulating the company strategies since they offer every necessary knowledge and information concerning the markets (Kevin n.d., par. 3-7). The ICTs offer a connection between the customers and the providers of the healthcare and hospitality services in ways that enable mutual adjustments. That way, the effectiveness/operation of a firm will be enhanced both quantitatively and qualitatively.
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Ultimately, and based on the results of the reforms of the economy, the market levels are becoming more and more expansive, greatly multifaceted and heterogeneous. The values, needs, lifestyles, tastes and preferences of the esteemed customers are quickly changing, thus, putting marketers in a position where they fail to meet the needs, and have to restructure their approach based on the universal trends. In this regard, traditional knowledge is not a means to meet these unprecedented dynamics and expansions. The most important thing is that, the customers and the service users are getting a lot of information and the demand is on the increase. As these technologies are advanced, businesses in the healthcare and the hospitality industry are as well getting knowledge to expand and operate at new profitable levels.
The service sector strongly influences the economic competitiveness of a country. The reason behind is for the fact that services complement the production factors to make other sectors work in ways that are efficient and at prices and costs that are competitive. The healthcare and hospitality services play an enabling, supportive and facilitative role and complement other production factors. Therefore, there is a reciprocal correlation that exists between the two.
The inclusion of ICT in the hospitality and healthcare industries has advanced their operations through e-commerce. The growth of these industries has largely been contributed through the ICT developments. There has been a lot of competition in these sectors and the more the competition, the more the innovation has resulted. These developments have helped in creating competitive advantage for the welfare of the stakeholders in the industry. Customers’ profiles are changing very fast including their tastes, preferences and needs. ICT has produced an amicable solution to deal with these dynamics. Marketers in these industries were highly challenged with the many revolutionary social and economic dynamics in all sectors of the market. The differentiation and quality define the competitive nature of markets. ICT and E-commerce have been very useful in making the firms operating in hospitality and healthcare service industry become distinctive.
Healthcare and hospitality industries are the service industries which are intangible in their form and are significantly knowledge intensive and human centric. The technology sophistication has been applied in maintain the profiles of customers and making transactions among many other functions. Healthcare and hospitality industries have realized the only way to succeed and attain competitive advantage. This has been realized through the application and learning of ICTs to promote the competitive capabilities of the service market stakeholders. Therefore, ICT and E-commerce have made great impacts on the ways and rate of promoting the healthcare and hospitality industries. Companies in these industries are altogether putting together their systems of management to attain real time process of making decisions through convergence of digital systems and going wireless in operation management. Networking has been realized largely with industry customers and suppliers to attain the goals of an organization.