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C. Nuur

Royal Institute of Technology, KTH (SWEDEN)
During the past decades, a key driver of the global business environment has been the applications of different kinds of Information and Telecommunications Technologies (ICT). These technologies have come to play a paramount role in industrial competitiveness by among others offering firms the ability to increase production efficiency and respond to customer demands. On the supply side, ICT applications has enabled industry improve production and process methods. It has also offered firms collaborative tools in the value chain to spur innovations. ICT applications have also had a huge impact of the demand side by providing industry with opportunities to meet demanding customers and redefining how customer services are communicated and how customer relationships are managed.

Thanks to transparency, today’s customers’ influence the design of the product, its quality and value. In this context, ICT applications have brought a rethinking of the old notion of the marketing mix of price, products, place and promotion as a point of departure in outlining competitive strategy. Instead, today’s customers’ can choose products that have a superior innovative capacity offering total packages to global customers, whether business or end users is argued to be the “new” weapon of competition.

In a wider context, ICT applications offer opportunities to individuals, firms, regions and nations the ability to enhance competence development. There is a policy, academic and industrial agreement that knowledge creation and utilization is a prerequisite for industrial development. Concepts such as the “knowledge economy” has reinforced the notion that production processes and customer demands are underpinned by manmade competitive advantages, which could be acquired by accessing and disseminating knowledge. Human resources based factors such as skills, competence generation and retention have become key defining factors for industrial, regional as well as national competitiveness.

ICT applications not only impact high-tech companies but also the process industries that extract and harvest natural resources. However, the literature has not discussed the nature and scope of ICT in competence development. This paper analyses how ICT is shaping the natural resource based sector. Through a case study of a major mining company in Sweden, the paper argues despite the policy and academic focus on higher education based knowledge, in these kinds of industries, ICT facilitates competence and skills development.