Home > Articles > Information Technology

Why Aren't My Computer-Based Systems Smart Enough for My Business Already?

  • Print
  • + Share This
The computer-based systems most organizations rely on to support their businesses are not very smart. The answer is not to implement newer, “intelligent” systems. The fact is that much of today’s existing technology has the potential to be “smart enough” to make a big difference to an organization’s business. This book tells you how.
This chapter is from the book

The cost of information technology in today's organizations is substantial and is growing as a percentage of total operating cost—but today's systems still aren't smart enough. Why this is the case can only be understood by taking a historical perspective on business computing and how information technology (IT) developed as a discipline. In the past, IT departments were thought leaders in their organizations, setting the pace for the application of technology. Today, the needs and sophistication of the people who work in organizations are colored by an outside influence—the Internet—and IT organizations struggle to keep pace, burdened by accelerating demands and the drag of maintaining legacy systems. The tools, technology, and techniques for enterprise decision management (EDM) are ready, but impediments are rooted in the history of business computing and the resultant IT cultures. To understand why, after years of spending on information technology, so many of your systems aren't already smart enough, you need to take a walk back through the evolution of business computing in practice. With that in mind, this chapter is a brief look at the history of a typical IT infrastructure. It's not a general-purpose history but a brief outline of how we ended up in this mess.

How Did We Get Here?

A history of business computing would require volumes. However, a brief overview of the evolution of information technology (IT) in business decision making is useful in understanding why certain aspects of information management are still misaligned. Certain approaches that are taken for granted today are based on situations that disappeared long ago; certain disciplines that are considered unrelated are actually quite similar and synergistic. Some approaches aren't being used in a comprehensive enough way. Only through understanding the basis of these inefficiencies and, often, dysfunctions can you construct a rational remedy.

Computing in business is roughly 60 years old, although the deployment of computers for processing business information didn't start to catch on until the late 1950s. There were many computer manufacturers at that time, and each one developed its own proprietary operating systems and application software, although software was usually limited to a language compiler or two. Some manufacturers developed a reputation for general-purpose computing based on their programming languages (Assembler originally, but expanding to higher-level languages such as COBOL and FORTRAN); others came to specialize in certain applications, such as back-office work for banks (Burroughs, for example). At the time, general-purpose computing was what was needed for computing to take hold across industries.

Because general-purpose computing took hold, subsequent development of the technology proceeded rapidly, which created a constant lag between optimistic expectations and delayed delivery of useful output. Applying technology upgrades and innovations took considerably longer than producing them, a phenomenon that has only gotten worse over time. In the early days, the delivery of a new model meant reprogramming everything, because there was no upward compatibility. Today, that amount of effort seems almost ridiculous, yet according to a survey1 by Forrester Research, 75 percent of the IT budget is spent on maintenance of existing software and infrastructure. Organizations' ability to absorb new technology and put it to work is just as constrained today as it was at the dawn of computing. Unlike many other industries, the rate of change has neither slowed nor been adapted to.

People responsible for computers have been a unique breed in business. Their skills with abstract concepts or mysterious codes are in stark contrast to the formal, businesslike demeanor of accountants, salespeople, and executives. From the beginning, they were a separate group, in a career that had little or no trajectory into the "real" parts of business. This chasm between IT and the rest of the organization exists to this day and is still a major cause of dissonance between IT efforts and business requirements. In fact, in the past, IT managers had all they could do to manage IT software, hardware, and staff. They had no time to worry about the business itself, which was left to business professionals. Today, the stereotypes of the computer wizard in the basement with the pocket protector and the florid, cigar-smoking CEO are cartoonish and dated, but in reality, the gap is still severe.

In general, the issues discussed in this chapter are related to problems with data, problems with programs, and problems with people. Data first.

  • + Share This
  • 🔖 Save To Your Account

InformIT Promotional Mailings & Special Offers

I would like to receive exclusive offers and hear about products from InformIT and its family of brands. I can unsubscribe at any time.

Overview


Pearson Education, Inc., 221 River Street, Hoboken, New Jersey 07030, (Pearson) presents this site to provide information about products and services that can be purchased through this site.

This privacy notice provides an overview of our commitment to privacy and describes how we collect, protect, use and share personal information collected through this site. Please note that other Pearson websites and online products and services have their own separate privacy policies.

Collection and Use of Information


To conduct business and deliver products and services, Pearson collects and uses personal information in several ways in connection with this site, including:

Questions and Inquiries

For inquiries and questions, we collect the inquiry or question, together with name, contact details (email address, phone number and mailing address) and any other additional information voluntarily submitted to us through a Contact Us form or an email. We use this information to address the inquiry and respond to the question.

Online Store

For orders and purchases placed through our online store on this site, we collect order details, name, institution name and address (if applicable), email address, phone number, shipping and billing addresses, credit/debit card information, shipping options and any instructions. We use this information to complete transactions, fulfill orders, communicate with individuals placing orders or visiting the online store, and for related purposes.

Surveys

Pearson may offer opportunities to provide feedback or participate in surveys, including surveys evaluating Pearson products, services or sites. Participation is voluntary. Pearson collects information requested in the survey questions and uses the information to evaluate, support, maintain and improve products, services or sites, develop new products and services, conduct educational research and for other purposes specified in the survey.

Contests and Drawings

Occasionally, we may sponsor a contest or drawing. Participation is optional. Pearson collects name, contact information and other information specified on the entry form for the contest or drawing to conduct the contest or drawing. Pearson may collect additional personal information from the winners of a contest or drawing in order to award the prize and for tax reporting purposes, as required by law.

Newsletters

If you have elected to receive email newsletters or promotional mailings and special offers but want to unsubscribe, simply email information@informit.com.

Service Announcements

On rare occasions it is necessary to send out a strictly service related announcement. For instance, if our service is temporarily suspended for maintenance we might send users an email. Generally, users may not opt-out of these communications, though they can deactivate their account information. However, these communications are not promotional in nature.

Customer Service

We communicate with users on a regular basis to provide requested services and in regard to issues relating to their account we reply via email or phone in accordance with the users' wishes when a user submits their information through our Contact Us form.

Other Collection and Use of Information


Application and System Logs

Pearson automatically collects log data to help ensure the delivery, availability and security of this site. Log data may include technical information about how a user or visitor connected to this site, such as browser type, type of computer/device, operating system, internet service provider and IP address. We use this information for support purposes and to monitor the health of the site, identify problems, improve service, detect unauthorized access and fraudulent activity, prevent and respond to security incidents and appropriately scale computing resources.

Web Analytics

Pearson may use third party web trend analytical services, including Google Analytics, to collect visitor information, such as IP addresses, browser types, referring pages, pages visited and time spent on a particular site. While these analytical services collect and report information on an anonymous basis, they may use cookies to gather web trend information. The information gathered may enable Pearson (but not the third party web trend services) to link information with application and system log data. Pearson uses this information for system administration and to identify problems, improve service, detect unauthorized access and fraudulent activity, prevent and respond to security incidents, appropriately scale computing resources and otherwise support and deliver this site and its services.

Cookies and Related Technologies

This site uses cookies and similar technologies to personalize content, measure traffic patterns, control security, track use and access of information on this site, and provide interest-based messages and advertising. Users can manage and block the use of cookies through their browser. Disabling or blocking certain cookies may limit the functionality of this site.

Do Not Track

This site currently does not respond to Do Not Track signals.

Security


Pearson uses appropriate physical, administrative and technical security measures to protect personal information from unauthorized access, use and disclosure.

Children


This site is not directed to children under the age of 13.

Marketing


Pearson may send or direct marketing communications to users, provided that

  • Pearson will not use personal information collected or processed as a K-12 school service provider for the purpose of directed or targeted advertising.
  • Such marketing is consistent with applicable law and Pearson's legal obligations.
  • Pearson will not knowingly direct or send marketing communications to an individual who has expressed a preference not to receive marketing.
  • Where required by applicable law, express or implied consent to marketing exists and has not been withdrawn.

Pearson may provide personal information to a third party service provider on a restricted basis to provide marketing solely on behalf of Pearson or an affiliate or customer for whom Pearson is a service provider. Marketing preferences may be changed at any time.

Correcting/Updating Personal Information


If a user's personally identifiable information changes (such as your postal address or email address), we provide a way to correct or update that user's personal data provided to us. This can be done on the Account page. If a user no longer desires our service and desires to delete his or her account, please contact us at customer-service@informit.com and we will process the deletion of a user's account.

Choice/Opt-out


Users can always make an informed choice as to whether they should proceed with certain services offered by InformIT. If you choose to remove yourself from our mailing list(s) simply visit the following page and uncheck any communication you no longer want to receive: www.informit.com/u.aspx.

Sale of Personal Information


Pearson does not rent or sell personal information in exchange for any payment of money.

While Pearson does not sell personal information, as defined in Nevada law, Nevada residents may email a request for no sale of their personal information to NevadaDesignatedRequest@pearson.com.

Supplemental Privacy Statement for California Residents


California residents should read our Supplemental privacy statement for California residents in conjunction with this Privacy Notice. The Supplemental privacy statement for California residents explains Pearson's commitment to comply with California law and applies to personal information of California residents collected in connection with this site and the Services.

Sharing and Disclosure


Pearson may disclose personal information, as follows:

  • As required by law.
  • With the consent of the individual (or their parent, if the individual is a minor)
  • In response to a subpoena, court order or legal process, to the extent permitted or required by law
  • To protect the security and safety of individuals, data, assets and systems, consistent with applicable law
  • In connection the sale, joint venture or other transfer of some or all of its company or assets, subject to the provisions of this Privacy Notice
  • To investigate or address actual or suspected fraud or other illegal activities
  • To exercise its legal rights, including enforcement of the Terms of Use for this site or another contract
  • To affiliated Pearson companies and other companies and organizations who perform work for Pearson and are obligated to protect the privacy of personal information consistent with this Privacy Notice
  • To a school, organization, company or government agency, where Pearson collects or processes the personal information in a school setting or on behalf of such organization, company or government agency.

Links


This web site contains links to other sites. Please be aware that we are not responsible for the privacy practices of such other sites. We encourage our users to be aware when they leave our site and to read the privacy statements of each and every web site that collects Personal Information. This privacy statement applies solely to information collected by this web site.

Requests and Contact


Please contact us about this Privacy Notice or if you have any requests or questions relating to the privacy of your personal information.

Changes to this Privacy Notice


We may revise this Privacy Notice through an updated posting. We will identify the effective date of the revision in the posting. Often, updates are made to provide greater clarity or to comply with changes in regulatory requirements. If the updates involve material changes to the collection, protection, use or disclosure of Personal Information, Pearson will provide notice of the change through a conspicuous notice on this site or other appropriate way. Continued use of the site after the effective date of a posted revision evidences acceptance. Please contact us if you have questions or concerns about the Privacy Notice or any objection to any revisions.

Last Update: November 17, 2020