Key concepts in computerizing information

Today, computer terminology is defined effectively in manuals, seminars, and on TV, describing computers and enabling the concerned to focus on information for management. Computer specialists use highly sophisticated concepts and their own professional version of English in advising managers on the use of computers. This article is directed to managers as an aid in stating their needs to computer specialists to gain advantage from technological developments in handling information.

Technology is a means to the end of improving management; the use of exotic new developments is not an end in itself. Too often managers have sought to attain the appearance of being modern by window dressing with computers and adopting them prematurely. Fortunately new developments in computer technology make it easier for managers to use the hardware. Two key concepts are fundamental:

User friendly is an increasing characteristic of computers – that is, managers can communicate directly with computers through interactive system that use a CRT (TV-like screen) and a human language version of what is going into computers in program language. Even a small child without sophisticated training can now view a computer as a friend, not as a mysterious monster.

Compatibility is the second concept of critical importance to managers in developing useful information. The idea of compatibility has long seen important in human relations (for example, in marriage). Computer specialists have adopted the idea and defined it as the ability of a program or component to be used with more than one kind of computer. From a manager’s viewpoint, the concept of compatibility is even more comprehensive. Human compatibility is important; technical compatibility of computers is important, but management needs both human and technical compatibility. In other words, computer hardware in an information system must be compatible; the software selected must be compatible with the hardware; and finally, the computer hardware and software must be compatible with the though processes of the managers of the managers. Computers in the future can best fit information system when they are friendly to the users and compatible with other computers and managers.

First, of course, we start with a clear definition of a computer: A computer may be defined as a data processor; control processing unit (CPU) that can perform substantial computation without intervention by a human operator during a run. A digital computer functions by interpreting discrete electronic impulses and is, by far, the most important type for all managers, supervisors and now-a-days even staff. An analog computer deals with measuring continuous waves and has specialized uses to engineers and production managers. The distinction has reappeared as important to managers, as more computers are interconnected via communication lines requiring modems. Modems (contraction of modulator-demodulator) are devices that modulate and demodulate signals transmitted over communication facilities that is, they are used to convert digital signals into analog (voice like) signals for transmission over telephone lines, and then to convert the analog signals to digital signals at the other end for business computer use.

A computer program is a sequence of instructions that directs the computer to perform a series of tasks to produce a desired output. The program is the means by which mangers talk to the electronic brain and monitor the computer. A data record is an electronic collection on a single subject and serves as basic material for the computer. A data file is literally an electronic file of an organized collection of data records. These latter two terms are analogous to a group of file folders (data records) organized in a drawer of a typical filing cabinet (data file); the difference is computers require electronic filing instead of manual and physical filing.