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Integrated Office Systems

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Business expansion, rising costs, intense competition, and increasing sophistication of technology make it imperative for management to seek ways of achieving maximum productivity from office systems now being utilized. People, procedures, space, and related office activities are being combined into information systems. The ability to integrate the separate and distinct applications of word processing; data processing; telecommunications, including electronic mail; records management, including electronic filing; and photocomposition to provide information on company operations and productivity to all levels of decision-makers has been made possible through the minicomputer. The total integrated office system is the key to solving problems of business management, and the development of software programs that give word processors the capabilities once reserved for computers is just one example of maximum equipment utilization. This market is anticipated to reach $16 billion by the mid-2000s.

Distinctions between machines utilized in word processing and computers are slowly disappearing. For example, computers are components of word processing systems, and electronic typewriters have moved into the computer area. Tasks strictly a function of data processing is now found in word processing software programs, such as arithmetic computations. Communication capabilities have merged telecommunications with word processing.

As systems are integrated, problems arise which must be resolved, such as:

  • Organizational Structure. The design must include growth factors, and decisions must be made to determine whether a centralized or decentralized system should be established.

  • Service Orientation. Word processing departments are service-oriented and must serve users needs; data processing departments adhere to strict time schedules and do not usually communicate directly with users.

  • Human Factors. Word processing is sensitive to the needs of users and the human support in productivity. Word processing equipment has been designed to take into consideration the needs of the operator. Originally, implementation of data processing did not consider operator's needs.

  • Organizational Controls. Who will be in charge? To whom will management report? Currently, word processing and data processing administrators are struggling for control. As we approach the close of the twentieth century, we will see even more extraordinary changes in office design and organization. Secretaries, clerks, supervisors, managers, executives, and accountants who are now working in offices abounding in paper-work may find themselves communicating on terminals from one office to another by electronic equipment. A telephone coupler may be the connecting device from terminals to computers, to printers. How exciting to have a paperless office in which all personnel do their own "thing" via keyboards!
The person who is seriously interested in an office career must be aware of the combination of factors that comprise the office environment now and what it will be in the very near future.

Projections for 1990

Clerical workers are the largest single category in white-collar jobs. Employment is affected by technological development and by changes that occur as industries that employ these workers expand. For example, projections by the U. S. Bureau of Labor Statistics indicate that employment in occupations that utilize the new information processing technology-computers to store information, to bill, to perform payroll functions, and to do other clerical calculations; dictation equipment to record the spoken word; electronic filing systems to store documents-will reveal a reduction of clerical workers employed in routine jobs such as file clerk, office machine operator, payroll clerk, inventory clerk, and stenographer. However, computer and peripheral equipment operators will be in greater demand.

Between 1978 and 1990, clerical employment as a whole is projected to rise from 16.9 million to 21.7 million, or about 28 percent. This employment growth will occur in service-producing industries which are expanding at a much faster rate than the goods-producing industries. Also, many services require people contact, thus machines will probably not replace individuals.

Employment in finance, insurance, and real estate firms that have large clerical staffs is expected to rise from 4.7 to 6.3 million workers, or 34 percent. Within this sector, banking and credit appear to be the two fastest-growing industries. There will also be many new jobs in wholesale and retail trade establishments, in manufacturing firms, and in government agencies.

The reasons for the high demand for skilled office workers are basic: the office worker is needed in every community, large or small, and in every type of activity; the population is growing; more information from more sources is being collected from more places; the government is requiring greater reporting; more complex business operations require more data inputs for decision making; and more diversification within companies requires more data compilations and more communications with branches in other sections of the country.

All evidence points to the fact that there is an increasing demand for persons who are familiar with and who are trained in automatic data and word processing. There are also many job opportunities for young people who have good skills, are adaptable, and are anxious to accept positions of high responsibility in automated offices.
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