Computers on the Job: How Workers Use Computers

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PART 1 : WORK PATTERNS

Lesson 1: Computers on the Job: How Workers use computers

The companies that use large computer system today are mostly the same companies that used them 30 to 40 years ago: corporations that have the big budget. These organizations – typically banks; insurance firms and aerospace companies – were the pioneers. The computers used were potent by then-current standards, even though today’s personal computers would provide a competitive edge. This turned out to be true, but it was long time before managers really understood the true promise of computers.

Early users were somewhat uncertain about how to use the new tool. In fact, to them the computer was useful for no more than clerical task. Pioneering applications for many companies were payroll and accounting system. The idea was to save labor cost by having the computer to do some work. Many organizations, including the government, used computers as “number crunchers” - Machines that ground away formulas. When computers began to be used interactively, business people saw that the computer could be used as a service tool, giving instant reservation or bank services.

Today, large computer systems are used in every conceivable way, from research to manufacturing. Mid-range computers make numbers crunching and computerized services available for medium-sized companies. But it is highly affordable personal computer that has already opened up computing for the worker.

Personal Computer in the Workplace

Personal computer are everywhere in the workplace, no matter in the industry: retail, finance, insurance, real estate, health care, education, government, legal services, sports, politics, publishing, transportation, manufacturing, agriculture, construction and on and on. It would be easier to ask where computers are excluded in the workplace. No industry interested in increasing productivity and helping workers and managers would exclude them – and expect to compete in today’s marketplace. It is not always that way.

Evolution of Personal Computer Use

Personal computers use seems to have evolved in three (3) phases. Personal computers were first used in business by individual users to transform work task. Constantly retyped full documents, for example, gave way to quickly modified word-processed documents. The much-erased manual spreadsheets became automatically recalculated electronic spreadsheet. And overflowing file drawers were transformed into automated database. These changes gave a significant boost of individual productivity and can be considered the first phase of the evolution of personal computer use.

More organizations have entered the second phase. That is, they have gone beyond personal computer use by individual. The second phase involves by transforming a work group or department. This department – oriented phase probably enhances a network and may also include personal computer access to large computer system. This phase requires planning and structure.

The third phase of personal computer evolution is the most dramatic, calling for transformation of the entire business. Practically speaking however, the third phase is really just an extension of the earlier phase: each individual and each department uses computers to enhance the company as a whole. Few companies have come close to this idyllic state. This three-stage transformation – individual, department, and business – broadly describes a company’s progress at blending its computer and business goals.

The Impact of Personal Computers

In the decades to come, personal computers will continue to radically alter business world, much as the automobile did. For more than 50 years, the automobile fueled the economy, spawning dozens of industries, form oil companies to supermarkets. Other business, like real estate and restaurants were transformed by the mobility provided by the car. Personal computers are having similar effect, for two reasons: [1]...
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