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168 THEODORE J. GORDON Comments RUTH M. DAVIS President The Pymatuning Group In spite of the scope of the papers presented here I still do not have the big picture of how information technology is going to affect us. In fact, I believe that I am fortunate in not understanding it; I may embody the discontinuity that is going to allow technology and people to get along together. Like everyone else, I need more time to adapt than advancing technology normally permits. Admission of the need to gradually make the necessary moves to adapt and to learn how to use this technology is going to be the key to its success. Ted Gordon has offered scene superb insights into one of the arenas where this technology is making the greatest change. It is interesting, though, that behind this facade of change there are some very subtle inferences. For example, as we have heard, it is very easy for managers to believe they are making changes in a company without actually doing anything. They manipulate the information, talk about it, tell people, simulate it, and generate interaction; they do this without making a single change in the company. We can all generate a tremendous number of information activities without any real activity in the marketplace. The result can be a different version of "much ado about nothing" that is, `'much ado with nothing." I think we have to be terribly careful that we do not jump from what we know how to do—to work where we can see results in real time—to manipulating results faster than real time in terms of people's abilities to react. One of the most interesting points that emerges from the combination of Walter Baer's and Ted Gordon's papers is the blurring of the differentiation, which I have always been uncomfortable with, between work and leisure. That differentiation is rapidly disappearing. Many times I would rather sit at a computer at home and play with a simulator than sit on the patio and smack mosquitoes. There will be many instances when the kind of work that we did in the past is going to be replaced by fun because of the manner in which the result is attained. If we cannot differentiate between leisure and working, however, we will really have to adjust to a tremendous change in the near future. From the anticipated confusion will evolve the real world of tomorrow. I think the papers in this volume give you all the background that you need to determine your role in the mixed marketplace and the mixed business/ leisure world of the future. Much has been said here about information technology and business; Ted Gordon has helped focus this picture. I commend to you his concept that will lead you through the spectrum of technology in business, from the board of directors on one side of the marketplace to the consumer on the other side. You can use it in your own business to see where lies the real power for
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COMPUTERS AND BUSINESS 169 change. It has been difficult to bring technology to play in the boardroom and to determine what companies should do to improve their market position and products. It is also very difficult to simulate a marketplace and the effects of policy decisions. I can tell when I have crashed my simulated airplane into a simulated Sears Tower, but I cannot tell when I am making a bad prediction in the boardroom. It is also important to consider young consumers, those individuals on the other side of the marketplace from the boardroom. We really cannot predict their behavior even though they are already consumers of information tech- nology. At three or four years of age they use their terminals and watch video, cutting out commercials and listening only to what they want. As those young consumers, who are now making the process of learning and buying continuous, grow older, they are going to be utilizing information technology to lead them to many decisions immediately, and they are going to grab hold of the marketplace and swing it around like a child swinging a lion by the tail. For a long time we have had a more homogeneous consumer group that the selling side of the marketplace could manipulate: a group that ranged from the age of 15 to the age of 60. The information technology that you have heard about is the technology of the individual, and it will result in dramatic changes in the consumer marketplace that will, in turn, force changes in business.
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