|Written in 1992|
THE INFORMATION ERA
BY CHANGING OUR MACHINE AGE MINDSET
COMPUTER AWARENESS FOR TOP PROFESSIONALS
How is it relevant to
Implementation of computerised systems, particularly business application systems is a major problem even in advanced countries. Most of the computerisation projects fail because of poor implementation. More often than not, it is due to people issues and not technical issues, due to the distorted ideas about computers.
I believe that the nation and the world incurs colossal loss on IT implementations on account of:
· - Delays in implementing systems
· - Cost of Systems developed or purchased but not implemented
· - Opportunity cost due to unimplemented systems
· - Loss of People productivity due to conflicts and stress of inefficient implementations
· - Failures of ERP implementations
There is a need to address this issue. Surprisingly, a lot is talked about computers, mostly focussing on the technology, the bits and bytes. But rarely is the people issue addressed, which is the core issue behind successful implementations. Rarely do we talk of the implementation issues and what will make computers acceptable to people.
A knowledge and awareness of individuals’ roles and responsibilities in the IT change process will help address this issue and reduce this immense loss to industries the world over.
All of us remember the turmoil of industrial revolution. What we need to realise today is that the current stress and strain, the conflicts are a result of the change from industrial age to information age. The same turmoil is now repeating in the new change from industrial age to information age. Here is an opportunity for businesses to learn from the past and deal with this information revolution with more maturity.
With better understanding of the computers, software implementation projects will be smoother and more likely to succeed. The participants will be able to make better and more effective use of computers. They will be able to contribute to faster assimilation of computer technology for their own benefit and that of their companies.
Businesses can gain from the savings achievable due to less turnaround time of automation projects, improvements in operations, improvements in efficiency of the employees and overall improvement in quality of products. Managers can have a better quality of life due to less stressful encounters with the new technology.
presentation tries to achieve this through a better awareness of the
change process. It is very illustrative and easy to comprehend.
And of course, it uses no computer jargon.
Who is the audience for
this presentation? Why should a busy manager spare his valuable time for
This presentation will be very useful for all those who have anything to do with computers to correct their perception of computers. It is for the executive who wishes to benefit from the promises of Information Technology and wishes to contribute to the progress of his organisation through use of IT. It is also for the IT professional to understand the people and psychological aspect of IT, an aspect most ignored by IT professionals.
It is of utmost importance for all managers as a major part of his stress and strain today arises out of the change happening in his surroundings. Particularly he finds himself helpless in the change brought about by IT, since he understands very little of it. He feels very strained and tired. On the other hand, he also knows that a manager's growth depends on his awareness of IT. He experiences more stress and anxiety as he knows that knowledge of IT is very important for his career, but does not know what and how to acquire it. He thinks he needs to know the technicalities of IT, the programming languages, etc. and finds it all too complex.
The presentation will show him that he need not learn the bits and bytes of IT. He will see that it is not his problem alone, it is a problem for the entire humanity. The problem of acceptance of computers is evolutionary. Man will evolve out of it. The evolution can be faster, the faster he corrects his outlook.
The presentation will help the participant to understand computers more clearly without a maze of confused and outdated concepts which plague his mind. It will help the him/her know what was wrong in the way he looked at computers. It will help him to evolve out of his machine age psychology and leapfrog into the Information Era.
What is the central message?
Computers are proliferating business organisations and entering every walk of our life. But a closer look will reveal that man is still not at ease with this device. He is perplexed, foxed, fidgety and sometimes angry when dealing with this creature.
It took generations for man to come to terms with the changes brought about by the industrial revolution. Man went through the turmoil of Industrial revolution and emerged victorious. As centuries passed by, machines and mechanical thinking started seeping into his mind-set. Slowly, he got used to the change, and knew how to live with machines. Man had mastered the change and created an industrial culture. A new era dawned over mankind.
As man was evolving into the industrial psychology, machines too were evolving. Initially there were mechanical machines. Then came the electrical ones and then electronic. Thereafter came computers. As the industrial culture was deeply ingrained into his mental makeup by then, man thought that computer was just another machine. Armed with his centuries old knowledge and the experience of dealing with the change brought about by machines, he went about adopting the same old approach to deal with the introduction of computers. He thought it was just another electronic machine.
What he did not realise was that it was not just the introduction of one more new machine, but a dawn of a new era altogether, a change from the industrial era to the information era. Little did he realise that just as Industrial era required a new thinking, new approach and a new culture, Information era too requires that he gave up old ideas and methods and adopted new ones to deal with the onslaught of computers.
Technology changes very fast, but it takes generations for man to change his basic outlook. The main problem of acceptance of computers today is historical, psychological and cultural. We haven’t changed our outlook from the machine age to the age of computers.
This failure to distinguish between industrial and information age machine has caused some basic misconceptions. The presentation discusses these myths and shows how and why reality is very different:
The author believes that correcting these basic misconceptions will go a long way towards a smoother and less stressful transition, and towards a successful acceptance of this technology into our businesses and lives.
The presentation is a study in the psychology of evolution from the industrial age to the Information Era.
What is new, unusual,
counterintuitive, or important?
The presentation is a very novel study into “why it is the way it is” with respect to computerisation in organisations. Normally we get so used to our surroundings that we do not notice that “it is the way it is”, leave alone figure out “why it is the way it is”. It is like the air around us. We are so used to it that we normally don’t even notice it. You need to distance yourself from the routine chore, you need to stick your neck out of the maze of problems you are into to see the truth. It needs a different kind of thinking to see things which are not so obvious. This intuitive presentation is a result of such thinking.
It is an eye opener and tries to exactly pin-point the root cause of problem of computer acceptance.
What kind of research has
been done to support the argument or topic in the presentation?
The author has based this presentation from his practical experience of dealing with people in his over 20 years of experience in IT management. The presentation has real life examples from his experience of working in different companies.
He started his career as an analyst programmer and in less than five years was heading the IT function for a group of companies. Ever since, he has done major work in introducing computerisation to companies, which has helped him understand the human psychology of change. He was very close to the end-users of IT and was thus able to study the people aspect of IT. He has been extremely successful in developing and implementing computerised systems in the toughest of situations.
What makes the argument
convincing? What is the source of authority?
It is based on the author’s twenty years of experience working in computer profession, his close association with people using computers and a strong human orientation to computerisation process.
The author is an engineering graduate from Indian Institute of Technology (I.I.T.), the most reputed Technology institute in the country and has completed his management studies (with specialisation in Systems) at Indian Institute of Management (I.I.M.), the most reputed management institute of the country. He has passed a course “Energo Cybernetic Strategy - Advanced Management Diploma” with flying colours (from Mewes Systems, Germany). The prerequisite for this course was “an open mind” and it aimed at developing the intuitive skills. He has also attended self development programmes like Est, Forum, Advanced Course, SELP (Self Expression & Leadership Programme), etc. organised by Landmark Education Foundation, USA (earlier Centers Network) which have helped him to develop a different way of thinking.
The author has other articles to his credit on IT management. He has also written an article on “God and Religion - A Scientific and Objective Look” (Published at site: http://www.sulekha.com/articledesc.asp?cid=108389) which is an eye opener too. This article again is a result of a ‘helicopter view’, a different kind of thinking to see what is not so obvious.