Every day, people use computers in new ways. Computers are increasingly affordable; they continue to be more powerful as information-processing tools as well as easier to use.
Computers in Business, One of the first and largest applications of computers is keeping and managing business and financial records. Most large companies keep the employment records of all their workers in large databases that are managed by computer programs. Similar programs and databases are used in such business functions as billing customers; tracking payments received and payments to be made; and tracking supplies needed and items produced, stored, shipped, and sold. In fact, practically all the information companies need to do business involves the use of computers and information technology.
On a smaller scale, many businesses have replaced cash registers with point-of-sale (POS) terminals. These POS terminals not only print a sales receipt for the customer but also send information to a computer database when each item is sold to maintain an inventory of items on hand and items to be ordered. Computers have also become very important in modern factories. Computer-controlled robots now do tasks that are hot, heavy, or hazardous. Robots are also used to do routine, repetitive tasks in which boredom or fatigue can lead to poor quality work.
Computers in Medicine, Information technology plays an important role in medicine. For example, a scanner takes a series of pictures of the body by means of computerized axial tomography (CAT) or magnetic resonance imaging (MRI). A computer then combines the pictures to produce detailed three-dimensional images of the body’s organs. In addition, the MRI produces images that show changes in body chemistry and blood flow.
Computers in Science and Engineering, Using supercomputers, meteorologists predict future weather by using a combination of observations of weather conditions from many sources, a mathematical representation of the behavior of the atmosphere, and geographic data.
Computer-aided design and computer-aided manufacturing programs, often called CAD/CAM, have led to improved products in many fields, especially where designs tend to be very detailed. Computer programs make it possible for engineers to analyze designs of complex structures such as power plants and space stations.
Integrated Information Systems With today’s sophisticated hardware, software, and communications technologies, it is often difficult to classify a system as belonging uniquely to one specific application program. Organizations increasingly are consolidating their information needs into a single, integrated information system. One example is SAP, a German software package that runs on mainframe computers and provides an enterprise-wide solution for information technologies. It is a powerful database that enables companies to organize all their data into a single database, then choose only the program modules or tables they want. The freestanding modules are customized to fit each customer’s needs.
Information Technology has become part and parcel of our day to day life.