IT technology has revolutionised the way mankind have been working in last two decades. Today it seems that without IT nothing seem to work. West has made meteoric progress due to availability of IT enabled services available to them.
The developing countries are also making effort to catch up by training their population or making them IT literate. First objective was learning the technique to handle the operating systems available along with the database and other supporting systems upon which the empire of IT application is set up. Therefore, two distinct groups have grown the IT generators and users. IT generators are the technical people responsible for maintaining, developing and making it usable for the user. Users are those who use the application for their benefit. There again there is this training involved giving the users the skills to use such an applications. There again lighter knowledge of the technical aspect is necessary. The users are those who actually know and do the work which gives benefit to the organisation and the customers. Organisations increase productivity and customers get better products and services.
This is quite smooth and appears to be an ideal situation under which every one would like to work or like things to happen. In reality there are two experts one who makes the IT and another who uses it both are experts in there line the producer and the user. It is not difficult to say that users’ level of satisfaction is the guiding factor for the development of IT technology. Future of further seamless development of IT would completely depend on the satisfaction level of the user.
There are many countries such as India and even in developed countries where there is high concentration of IT technologists with low computerisation in the society. Less or no computerisation is acceptable but bad or poor quality of IT would cause immense damage to the society that it will be difficult for it to come out of it in the long run. In some form people still feel confidant to work in manual format since it is easy to handle and there is no danger of data loss.
Next problem is the introduction of application software in the economic environment. The IT technologist may not have full understanding of the operation nor does he have the experience built up over period of time relevant to that working culture. This creates a contradiction between the software and the user and many a times cause delay and loss of data. On one side IT is helpful on the other, if not made as per the requirement of the organisation, it hinders growth. Many times I have seen a retail sales man writing cash memo to avoid further delay. Here IT per say is not responsible but the application software developed is causing the problem.
IT technologists are developing the technology at a fast rate and the people at large are unable keep pace. The cost of such fast change is also causing slow pace of IT penetration in the society. One must understand the span of influence one change has on the total gamut of the technology. IT is just not the software. IT industry is in obsolescence syndrome. It is an industry which suffers from obsolescence every six month. The prices of the products, therefore, can not come down beyond a level. Today from investment point of view it is like investing in entertainment industry where product life cycle is low. Here the strategy would be to take out the development cost in the first introduction because you may not have the chance to make another introduction for an improved version may already be in the production line ready for introduction. This makes this industry one of the most highly risky industry today. The industry is surviving on new products and selling it to the same people again and again.
Fast change in technology would mean high training cost and low chance of spread of the uses of technology.
Large numbers of people are being engaged in customising, maintenance and up-gradation of technology. These people are certainly helping but are unable to achieve and making this vast tech population the risk of obsolescence at an early age they would or actually require continuous training paid by the user organisations which further ads to the cost of the product which the society pays.
The question today is: what is the limit of this cost and can we not bring in some kind of longevity in the technology.
Normally if an operating system changes with it the hardware the application software and the whole gamut of accessories will also change. It may not be out of place to mention that automobile technology is relatively constant what changes are the facilities and, therefore, penetration of this technology is quite deep. The usage of this technology can be seen even in remote areas of the world.
One can also see the growth of mobile technology which is also IT but come as a packaged product and the customer has to just use it. Where as a computer system is like components which has to be assembled by the user on continuous basis. For a complete computer system one has to have a package of software, hardware, accessories and services like broad band etc. Any change in one component would mean change in the entire chain.
The dilemma of IT is to make or not to make the entire technology user friendly simple for the people to use freely. IT technologists must think how to make IT less transient then only that such a powerful tool can reach deep down to the lowest level of the society for them to benefit from. I am sure any technology which does not benefit the common mass of the population is in the danger of being thrown out over a time span.
Another dilemma of IT today is how to keep it up to date at the same time affordable, usable and reduce transient nature of the product. One must appreciate if some one has to change right in the middle of implementation of a complicated application software or hardware or operating system, who will pay?- “customer off course” is what IT companies would say.. All the developments are concentrated in the developed countries and developing countries like India and China are only providing low cost labour.
In the conclusion I would like to say that IT must find a way to resolve this dilemma between need of high cost fast development and low use/spread of computerisation in the world.
Aloke Chakravartty, MBA, PHD
Dean -TIG Business Schools, Cacutta, India