Since computer terminology can often be one of the biggest stumbling blocks to understanding the world of personal computers,I've tried to make things a bit easier by defining new terms at the beginning of the chapter in they first appear

Thursday, 19 January 2012


As we study the history of how personal computers arrived and were placed in most organizations, we can see a pattern emerging that is more reflective of political considerations than anything else. 
Personal computers are more likely to be given to managers and executives before others receive them in any great number. Sometimes this is part of an overall strategy designed to win n1iIlagement approval before bringing computers into an organization. As mentioned earlier in this chapter, many systems arrive because they are seen as nothing more than the latest management status symbol. Statistics collected by International Data Corporation suggest that only about 15 percent of these placements are accompanied by training. For most of these recipients, the hardware is delivered and set up, and users are provided with one or more software packages. After that, they’re on their own. Those who do get training generally experience it in the form of a one-day seminar conducted by an outside consultant. Left to their own devices, and hampered by work schedules, it is estimated that less than 10 percent of all managers and executives who initially are given a personal computer ever really use it themselves. This raises an important point: The people given personal computers today are not always the people who will use them tomorrow. A lot of the personal computers originally placed with managers or executives are finding their way rather quickly to the desks of secretaries or subordinates as Figure 2 illustrates. It is these people, by and large, who are being given the responsibility for developing and maintaining applications and programs. This is not to say that managers and executives shouldn’t be given personal computers. There is no question that one of the best ways to introduce new ideas and tools to a workplace is by gaining the understanding and commitment of those at the very top. The problem is that while managers and executives need access to the type of information that personal computers can provide, they don’t necessarily need to be developing that information themselves. Most simply don’t have the time to invest in learning everything about a particular software package and in developing their own programs. These are all things that can easily be delegated to lower ranking staff. Managers will most likely use computers primarily to review, manipulate, and compare information, examine what-if situations, prepare budgets, reports, and forecasts, make projections, and communicate with others. All the programs and information needed to perform these tasks will probably be worked on by those who report to the managers. If we are to believe predictions that there will be a personal computer on the desk of every manager and white-collar professional by the mid-1990s, then we can expect to see the number of new users grow significantly in the coming years. The U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics projects that the white-collar work force will expand from 50.8 million to 62 million by the end of the decade. This translates into some 13 million managerial and 19 million professional positions. These people will not he the only ones working with personal computers. Many systems will be placed with secretaries or clerical staff, and their numbers are forecast to swell to 22 million. Not all of these individuals will work with personal computers, of course, but the demographics suggest that there will be any number of different audiences requiring different types of training and support. The number of personal computers placed in organizations in the United States today doesn’t indicate the number of people working on them or trying to learn about them. A study conducted by the market research firm Future Computing and reported in their 1985 Survey of Personal Computers in Business revealed that a quarter of all personal computers in businesses are shared by as many as 10 employees. Projections from several research studies indicate that as more systems are purchased, this ratio will drop. Still, by 1990, over 40 percent of all personal computers used in business are expected to be shared by at least two or more employees. The training implications of these numbers alone are staggering, and suggest that many organizations will be dealing with significant backlogs of people who will be waiting for personal computer education. In the meantime, a lot of employees will be left to train themselves. The progression of personal computers into organizations has been described this way: “They are arriving in waves. The first wave belonged to the explorers. The people who were curious to see what they were. The tinkerers and experimenters. The second wave  are the pioneers. These are the people who want r need to find out how they can make personal computers function, and how to make them productive. The third wave, which is about to reach most organizations, is composed of people who don’t have any choice in the matter. They must learn how to use computers. These are the people who will require all the time and effort.”

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