The History of Information Technology
Information technology refers to subsystem of equipment, interconnected system or any equipment that is employed in the field of conversion, duplication or creation of information or data. The terms are not limited to any technological aspect and therefore include products of telecommunication such as telephones, transaction machines, information kiosks, multimedia, World Wide Web sites and office equipments such as fax machines and copiers. The terms also include embedded information technology that may be contained in any equipment that is said to be an integral part of a product. It goes to an extend of including the principal function of the technology which does sound like movement, switching, reception, manipulation, transmission, interchange, display, control, management, storage and acquisition of information or data. For example, items used in air conditioning, ventilation and heating which include temperature control devices, thermostats and medical equipments utilize technology from a very integral point in their operations and therefore form part of information technology (Susskind, 1998, pp.23).
From the above analysis, information technology can therefore be said to constitute computers, firmware and similar procedures, ancillary equipments and related resources. The field of information and technology is wide and includes operable controls, closed products and self contained products. Operable controls comprise of products that have to be physically contacted for normal operations to take place. They include keypads, key boards, card slots, input and output trays and mechanically operated controls.
The history of information technology marks the start of business liberalization aspects and dynamics. The history is marked by four main periods. The periods were significant in that they appeared to be principal elements in solving processing, communication, input and output problems of the respective periods. The periods include pre mechanical, mechanical, electromechanical and electronic. The pre mechanical age stretched from 3000 B.C. to 1450 A.D (Margetts, 1999, pp.89). This was characterized by enhancing communication through writing of alphabetical writing. This is where first human s could only communicate through simple drawings and speaking, a design called petroglyths; simple figures carved in rock and signs. This period used pictographs in form of sketches that visually resembled the depicted and cave painting, prehistoric petroglythic and ideographs of geometric signs.
The first development of signs corresponded to spoken words that were used instead of pictures and therefore expressed words. With the prevalence of the same period, input technologies such as pens and papers came into being. Around, 100 A.D, libraries and books were developed and put in place to act as output technologies or permanent storage devices. The first numbering system accompanied by development of the zero concepts also came in. to conclude the period; the first information processor was the abacus, the first calculator (Bloomfield, 2000, pp.45).
The mechanical age came into being between 1450 and 1840. It was the first information explosion because of the invention of movable metallic printing process, book indexes and page numbers. The first general purpose computers were developed during this period too and encouraged the slide rule in form of an analog computer. The analytical engine during this era resembled modern day computers because components like punch cards, the mill and the store were remarkably similar to the computers used today. It is this computer that enabled the devising process of the first programmer.
The third phase was the electromechanical age that took place from 1840 to 1940. By then, information and technology could be converted into electrical impulses. This is the period that marked the beginning of telecommunication through development of voltaic battery, telegraph, Morse code, telephone and radio, electromagnetic computing in which paper tape could store data and program instructions at the same time (Anton, 2001, pp.56).
The final phase took place from 1940 to the present age. This period has been characterized by innovations and discoveries in information technology area, challenging the old ideas, reconstructing them and improving them to a great extend. The first stored program computers and the four generations of digital computing were brought into existence. Punch cards could now input and store data externally, programs could be written in both assembly and machine language which gave way to high level programming languages. Large scale integrated circuits, microprocessors; control circuits, logic and contained memory and graphical user interfaces gave way to arrival of personal computers.
When the information technology advances attained this level, there was a general world view that it could improve the entire global business management process. This could be achieved through promoting efficiency and effectiveness in areas of auditing, customer management and accounting sections. The business sector started utilizing the information technology through electronic data process which was developed to because of an increased need for accuracy in accounting, IT control and performance of attestation services. This technological item has largely been employed to sole accounting scandals and emphasize on instilling regulation framework (Beard, 1996, pp.45).
Computer technology changed the way in which businessmen controlled, retrieved and stored their data. As a result, this technology has been diversely, aggressively and widely applied in several areas of business management practices. One of the areas it has been highly pronounced is in customer relationship management. This technology has been employed to aid in retaining and gaining customers in a business venture other than just providing or availing the product in the market. Since the development of information technology, market areas have been a battle ground for customers. The biggest goal of any business activity is specifically having the biggest market share in the market, an aspect that will make sure many benefits accrue to the venture. Any business venture that does not device the updated information and technology activities, it is automatically thrown out of the market by the rest of the operators (Susskind, 1998, pp.24).
The level of information technology in an organization determines the level of efficiency, the efficiency through which the organization deals with suppliers and customers, how the accounting department transpires information in sales department, customer service and order departments. Customer relationship management is a strategic move to maintain positive relationship between the suppliers and customers. Updated customer relationship management is therefore application of information technology in capturing, managing and tracking every customer. It is also applied with an aim of integrating vendor interaction in a single system. This value can be increased if there exists a native connection to almost all modules that are contained in an enterprise.
The information technology can aid in maintaining good customer relationship through ensuring a complete visibility of all customer interactions. The visibility can only be achieved by making sure there exist a single and central database of information (Bloomfield, 2000, pp.46).
This database should not only promote the sharing of information within all available departments but also try to eliminate the need to enter duplicate information. According to the current world, customer facing departments can work efficiently and more together in meeting customers’ needs by developing seamless information flow.
Information technology can also ensure supplier, customer and partner support management. Through this network, the business interactions and management can be supported in a single system. If this is encouraged, tasks, meetings, calls and notes can be easily reviewed and accessed. This kind of strategy makes the work of archiving communication easy through dragging and dropping e-mail correspondence feature. Information technology has been used around the world to ensure a complete support, sales, shipping and purchase history.
The available database of the customer relationship and events should give a complete sales cycle in areas of shipping, production and return process. This technology should also be used to monitor the attributes of an answer book used in management activities. This is because a knowledge base resipository paves a way towards previous support issues, company procedures, standard protocols and resolutions to encourage quick and consistent review (Margetts, 1999, pp.90).
Information technology can be used to structure alert system and integrated event calendar. These are software that help in coordinating the program and follow up of events in a business venture and therefore determine what should be done at what time and why. This will give a clear analysis on schedule and track appointments, sales calls, follow up support and demos. The same technology can be used to track marketing and sale campaigns. For effectiveness in determining new sources of revenues, tracking the success of promotional and marketing campaigns is necessary and it can only be achieved by installing flexible information technology software. This software will help the business in management of customers’ buying histories, complaints as well as preferences. Through incorporation of information technology, the level of customer satisfaction and loyalty can be increased beyond competitive horizons. A business venture that maintains high level or a superior customer service obtains a superior key to customer retention. Unless a wide and accurate coverage of customers’ needs is known, it is hard to meet their requirements in a better manner in future (Anton, 2001, pp.67).
If the information technology mechanism used in an organization pays special attention to the dynamics in market, it is easy to capture the needs of customers and respond to them appropriately. Information technology therefore promotes customer satisfaction and loyalty. The same technology has acted as a rapid response tool incase of consultations between the suppliers and customers. It is thus a source of efficient support and service because when a customer is faced with a problem, there exists a flexible and reliable communication network. The network may allow the client to make an instant and direct call to the supplier. On the other hand, the supplier is quite aware of the calling customer’s details. The details may include likes, dislikes and that particular customer’s history. After consulting the database in the company, the responding officer accesses full information and provide informed answers (Beard, 1996, pp.43).
Information technology is a wide coverage when it comes to business field. This is because it has extended its end to strategic determination, organization and marketing fields of business. It has helped many companies develop their strategies in management of stock, equipments and human resources. It has helped in translation of customer relationship management strategy into marketing. The area information technology has been adopted massively around the globe are in business intelligence, database management, relationship marketing, direct marketing and customer relationship management. Amalgamation of all these aspects give the need to develop an information technology department that can effectively manage technology and computer infrastructure in order to drive forward the organizations business systems. Such department is famously in business called management information systems department. It should be staffed with competent professionals technically supporting the organization in critical areas and times (Susskind, 1998, pp.23).
Throughout history, organizational computer processing in an obligation left for end users using their desktop personal computers. These end users can incur problems like the inability to log on or failure related to the printer. In case of complex problems, the IT department can be consulted for technical support which entirely depends on the nature of the complications. This coordination can be achieved by assisting over the phone or sending technicians to the location of the problems. The information technology in an enterprise manage computers through installing new software or hardware components, administration of software license, maintenance and repair of equipments.
In the year 1960, many businesses used information technology department to coordinate the important task of making sure data is safe and secure. In activities of trade, this involves physical cabling installation throughout the facility, monitoring and installing servers, firewall and other equipments. Coordination of these activities was seen to propel businesses and at the same time keep the production network running at peak efficiency (Bloomfield, 2000, pp.45).
Information technology was first applied in Columbia in an institute of inter business management, that showed through statistics that application of information technology in production techniques magnified the rate of profitability from 15% to 27% between 1961 to 1966. The department was assigned the duty of maintaining computer systems and telephone systems to streamline the process of employee to employee connection and supplier customer connections. This was accomplished through voice mail, intranet web sites, internet web sites, message boards, faxes and email. This allowed the institute to coordinate new requirement within third party service providers.
In Columbia, the IT department handled software of manufacturing, financial, distribution and sales systems and administration of general office including spreadsheet application and word processing. In 1980, Cambridge steel manufacturing company applied information technology in executing and creating a strategic technology plan to keep the organization updated in the technological advancement. This meant that the software and equipment of the company never became obsolete since then. This is because the department has assisted the focus on requirements necessary to support the growth of new businesses. This company has diversified information and process management department on areas of information technology, computer information systems and department of information design and corporate communication. Since 1980, the information and process management department has entirely paid a focus on strategic relationship between IT and business (Margetts, 1999, pp.89).
The extensions have viewed within and across organizations in a close context of global contexts of trading. The critical components in the business process management information curriculum and research agenda include organizational effectiveness, productivity effectiveness, impact of IT investments on work, analysis of IT investments on work, IT strategy assessment and development, knowledge management, process management and business process analysis.
Auditing through computers was a major discovery during the period that stretched from 1954 to 1960. Few people had the abilities and skills of programming main frame computers which existed by then. In mid-1960s, smaller, new and cheaper machines were introduced. This increased the application of computerized aspects and concepts in the auditorial departments of businesses around the world. The increase in computers came along with a rise in the different types of accounting systems. The complex of every day transactions and business activities has heightened the need for more secure, accurate and more reliable systems (Anton, 2001, pp.67).
Computerized systems have added confidence to financial markets and certified the accuracy of public company financial statements. As a result, the high focus in business stability has enhanced high standards and improved control systems for all accounting works concerned with IT auditing.
The term information technology was used in early 1990s to refer to an entire industry and its associated organization. It was thus managed through computers and software. Other companies interpreted it as management information services or simply as information services. Such departments were used to store information, protect information process information, transmit information and retrieve the information later when necessary. The history of information and technology may not be as complex as many may expect. The complexity in the technology does not means the history is complex. The complexity has just occurred because of the diversity of applications of the technology from day to day. By these times, computers in business areas were operated by one person who was involved in magnetic tape data storage. After such storage activities, the data was put down in basements within the business operational apartments (Beard, 1996, pp.45).
Compared to today’s information technological aspects, a lot of complexity has been experienced. Extensions have been done to accommodate cryptography, database management systems, servers and computers. Advances that are being made as time ages are computer networking, information security, information technology governance, business intelligence, Linux, Unix and project management.
The stages through which information technology has passed through history means that information technology will intensively deal with mass data management and storage. Also, the top priority list will be given to information security, accompanied by cloud watching which is a growing field to watch. The persons expected to drive the computer department fast and forward should be strong, exercise high levels of data security and act as server gurus. These concepts are important for a business person who may be projecting to maintain his or her stability in global business environment. The presence of IT in the global trading environment has been extensively studied but only a rigorous explanation has been done on its structure and impact. All along the history, there has been a misunderstanding of the information technology itself and its basic production patterns. Lack of this has limited global general process analysis. Information technology serves a vital role in structuring new global trends and the necessary conceptualizations (Susskind, 1998, pp.23).
According to the trends information technology has taken in history, it is important for business people over the world to stay current and continuously search for new entries, interventions and improvements as time goes by. This seems important because many firms are investing in research and development, affecting their businesses day to day. The effections may be in bringing new products, improving the existing ones or abandoning the products that are bypassed by the technology. This awareness can only be achieved through sound information technology strategies. It is only a quick response to technology that can keep any business on the right track of the global trading environment (Beard, 1996, pp. 43).
Anton Philip, 2001. The Global Technology Revolution: The Synergies with Information Technology by 2015. Rand Publishers, California, pp. 56, 67.
Beard Jon, 1996. Impression Management and Information Technology. Quorum Books, London, pp. 45, 43.
Bloomfield Brian, 2000. Information Technology and organizations: Strategies, Networks and Integration. Oxford University Press, Oxford, pp.45, 46.
Margetts Helen, 1999. Information Technology in Government: Britain and America. Rutledge, London, pp. 89, 90.
Susskind Richard, 1998. The Future of Law: Facing the Challenges of Information Technology. Oxford University Press, Oxford, pp.23, 34.