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Introduction Rhoda W. Canter* If grappling with microcomputer technology trends, their im- plications, and the management issues involved is difficult on a theoretical level, developing and implementing strategies uniquely adapted to individual organizations is an even more awe- some task. For every theoretical issue there are multiple practical questions to answer: · How much control is needed over microcomputers, where and when is it needed, and through what means can it be applied most effectively? · Should microcomputers be interconnected or connected with minicomputers and mainframes? What is the most systematic ap- proach to defining appropriate uses of the different technologies? What are the implications for the organizational structure and skills of the information processing community? · How can the most effective microcomputer applications be identified and what are the implications for the functional man- agement community? · What pace of implementation will best suit the needs, de- sires, and capabilities of potential users of microcomputer? · Should management responsibilities for information pro- cessing be reassigned and, if so, how? *Rhoda W. Canter is a principal of Arthur Young and Company, Washington, D.C. 99
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100 MANAGING MICROCOMPUTERS · How can an organization establish education and training goals for introducing new technologies? What programs will en- sure that these goals are achieved effectively? · How should concerns about data administration be ad- dressed? What are the organization's information resources? Where are these resources? Who is responsible for them? How can security of information resources be achieved? · How can microcomputer components be acquired, main- tained, and operated most effectively? The list only scratches the surface. Difficult as these challenges are, managers in large organiza- tions must come to grips with them. The five case studies that follow present a variety of large organizations and their efforts to manage emerging microcomputer technologies. The organiza- tions represent severalmajor segments of industry manufactur- ing, insurance and financial institutions, state government, and the military services. They also represent a broad spectrum of management styles, ranging from overt central control to control through persuasion to a laissez-faire approach. In each case senior management has addressed universal issues and made partic- ular decisions with respect to successful management in a given environment. The balance and movement between management and practice in the realm of technology is intricate. Through these five case studies of successes, failures, ant! lessons learned we catch glimpses of a common process. The process encompasses analysis of the organization's culture; setting strategic goals in concert with that culture; planning, organizing, and controlling to meet strategic goals; and marketing the organization's approach to the entire work force. This process, distilled from the maze of particu- lars, can contribute significantly to management theory and, in turn, to management practice in large organizations everywhere.
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