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Introduction Hannah I. Blank * The implications of small computer technology for large organi- zations, whether corporate, government, or academic, are far- reaching. They include technical, organizational, and, to some ex- tent, societal issues. The technical implications may be the least difficult to hancile: · Data processing (DP) professionals will need new skills, such as interfacing micros with minis or mainframes and generating applications from generic packages with programmer tools differ- ent from what they are accustomed} to using. · Questions of architecture will have to be solved. Where does the microcomputer fit in the overall computer architecture of a given organization? · Data integrity and security are high-visibility concerns mag- nified by the ubiquity of the micro ant! the ease with which disk- ettes can be copied and transported. Small computer technology has generates! a new set of implica- tions for an organization and its management: · New job descriptions are emerging. Functions that did not exist before are to some extent replacing existing functions. · Higher skills may be required in the same job functions. This may appear threatening to some individuals, while others may regard it as an opportunity. One example is the use of the micro *Hannah I. Blank is vice-president of the Domestic Institutional Bank, Chase Man- hattan Bank, New York, New York. 43
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44 MANAGING MICROCOMPUTERS computer by the secretary not only for wore! processing but for functions related to spreadsheets, data management, and even graphics. Some may respond enthusiastically to learning new skills; others may be intimidated. · Different loci of power are being created in the organization, and turf issues abound. · Motivated by their own productivity needs, people outside the data processing field, such as financial analysts, are to some extent directing the use of micros. This can pose a threat to the control that DP management has regarclec! as its right and re- sponsibility. A whole range of societal implications and concerns are inevita- ble as microcomputers become a part of our everyday lives: · Unlike the mainframe and the minicomputer, whose use was confined to a professional class with specialized skills, the micro- computer is infiltrating the lives of a great many people. It is ac- cessible ant! usable at some level of complexity by virtually every- one. On the job this will increase the clemand for micros, for training, and for mobility. It also means that some computer liter- acy will in all likelihood be acquired at home. · The microcomputer acids fuel to the flames over "home- work," an emotional issue for women and minorities. Homework has positive benefits for women with children who do not want to leave home for a full working day; for the disabler! who cannot leave home; and for individuals with many interests who wish to work only part time. Posed against these benefits are the opportu- nities for employee exploitation on the part of the employers. The cost and transportability of the micro magnify the possibilities. The next three chapters offer a closer look at some of the spe- cific problems that are arising as microcomputers become ac- cepted tools in large organizations. John Bennett, of United Technologies Corporation, considers the implications of microcomputer growth for both systems de- partments and general management. Ray Kline, of the General Services Administration, explains some of the problems the fed- eral government faces and the steps it is taking to respond to technological change while maintaining management control. Fi- nally, James H. Bair, of Hewlett-Packard, explores the evolution of microcomputers and their potential roles in the office of the future.
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