Computers and Economic Growth
How do computers contribute to business performance and economic growth?
Even today, most people who are asked to identify the strengths of computers
tend to think of computational tasks like rapidly multiplying large numbers.
Computers have excelled at computation since the Mark I (1939), the first
modern computer, and the ENIAC (1943), the first electronic computer without
moving parts. During World War II, the U.S. government generously funded
research into tools for calculating the trajectories of artillery shells.
result was the development of some of the first digital computers with
remarkable capabilities for calculation -- the dawn of the computer age.
However, computers are not fundamentally number crunchers.
The same basic technologies can be used to store,
retrieve, organize, transmit, and algorithmically transform any type of
information that can be digitized -- numbers, text, video, music, speech,
programs, and engineering drawings, to name a few. This is fortunate because
most problems are not numerical problems.
Ballistics, code breaking, parts of
accounting, and bits and pieces of other tasks involve lots of calculation.
But the everyday work of most managers, professionals, and information workers
involves other types of thinking.
As computers become cheaper and more
powerful, the business value of computers is limited less by computational
capability, and more by the ability of managers to invent new processes,
procedures and organizational structures that leverage this capability.
this area of innovation continues to develop, the applications of computers
are expected to expand well beyond computation for the foreseeable future.