Formation of a Comprehensive information industry

The entire industrial organizational structure of the United States is transformed particularly with respect to information. This transformation is directly the result of advances in technology and the policy of deregulation. The largest corporations, which in the past have been leaders in a number of industries, are finding that they face new competition from large corporation leaders from other industries.

IBM remains dominant in computers, yet changes in its strategy by purchasing components from smaller, outside companies increase opportunities for a number of high-technology companies in Silicon Valley ad other locations to be integrated with the large computer manufacturers. The consent decree for the breakup of AT&T, the largest American company, not only transformed the telephone industry but it released the resulting “Baby Bell” to compete in new industries including computers and other parts of the information industry. The US postal Service faces new competition from United Parcel Service, Federal Express, Purolator, Emery and other delivery services and is directly affected by trends in electronic mail systems installed by large banks, brokers, and manufacturing and retailing companies.

Book and magazine publishers have visualized that their industry will move toward information retrieval using means outside of printing. Libraries have moved toward information retrieval outside the mere storing and distribution of books and periodicals.

The development of microprocessors (the computer on silicon chips) increased the speed of operations, decreased the size of computers, and eliminated the need for costly air-conditioning previously required. The present state of the art consists of different sizes of computers; super, often called Mainframe, is large and exceedingly fast and has a large memory, which makes it ideal for central machines operated by computer departments of organization. Midi and mini have intermediate size memories and operate at only 1 percent or less speed than the super does. A micro operates at less than half the speed of a mini and generally uses only one programming language, such as BASIC.

Supers have time sharing capabilities in which each of several users can send and receive data via remote terminals, keyboards and a CRT (cathode ray tube) or television like screen. Mini and micro computers can also access the super computer or, since they have computer capability, are referred to as smart or “intelligent” terminals. Smart also handle batch processing, which means that data are accumulated and processed as groups. Batch processing remains important when a large volume of reports is needed and very high speeds reduce the cost of reports. On-line operations means that data are fed into the computer and stored as transactions occur, for example, grocery store sales and hotel and airline reservation.

The expanded use of remote terminals and smart terminals (mini and micro computers) is the basis for the trend toward decentralized or distributed data processing. The future will see more managerial work stations or executive terminals so that more executives will have interactive potential at their finger tips. Personal computers, in addition, will provide help for executives for work at home or while traveling.

Specialized companies in different industries have been affected by the increasing availability of communication satellites as well. In short, managing information of all firms not only faces the rapid changes in the computer industry but changes in the communications industry and others. These changes increase the alternatives available for installing management information systems. The good news is that managers have more opportunities to improve their systems; the bad news is that the complexity of making optimum decisions has increased.