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Computer network

A computer network or data network is a telecommunications network that allows computers


to exchange data. In computer networks, networked computing devices pass data to each other
along data connections. The connections (network links) between nodes are established using
either cable media or wireless media. The best-known computer network is the Internet.
A computer network has the following properties:
Facilitates interpersonal communications
People can communicate efficiently and easily via email, instant messaging, chat rooms,
telephone, video telephone calls, and video conferencing.
Allows sharing of files, data, and other types of information
Authorized users may access information stored on other computers on the network.
Providing access to information on shared storage devices is an important feature of
many networks.
Allows sharing of network and computing resources
Users may access and use resources provided by devices on the network, such as printing
a document on a shared network printer. Distributed computing uses computing resources
across a network to accomplish tasks.
May be insecure
A computer network may be used by computer Crackers to deploy computer viruses or
computer worms on devices connected to the network, or to prevent these devices from
accessing the network (denial of service).
May interfere with other technologies
Power line communication strongly disturbs certain
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forms of radio communication,
e.g., amateur radio. It may also interfere with last mile access technologies such as ADSL
and VDSL.
May be difficult to set up
A complex computer network may be difficult to set up. It may be costly to set up an
effective computer network in a large organization.
Network topology
The physical layout of a network is usually less important than the topology that connects
network nodes. Most diagrams that describe a physical network are therefore topological, rather
than geographic. The symbols on these diagrams usually denote network links and network
nodes.
Network links
The communication media used to link devices to form a computer network include electrical
cable (HomePNA, power line communication, G.hn), optical fiber (fiber-optic communication),
and radio waves (wireless networking). In the OSI model, these are defined at layers 1 and 2
the physical layer and the data link layer.
A widely adopted family of communication media used in local area network (LAN) technology
is collectively known as Ethernet. The media and protocol standards that enable communication
between networked devices over Ethernet are defined by IEEE 802.3. Ethernet transmit data over
both copper and fiber cables. Wireless LAN standards (e.g. those defined by IEEE 802.11) use
radio waves, or others use infrared signals as a transmission medium. Power line communication
uses a building's power cabling to transmit data.
Wired technologies
Fiber optic cables are used to transmit light from one computer/network node to another
Twisted pair wire is the most widely used medium for all telecommunication. Twisted-
pair cabling consist of copper wires that are twisted into pairs. Ordinary telephone wires
consist of two insulated copper wires twisted into pairs. Computer network cabling
(wired Ethernet as defined by IEEE 802.3) consists of 4 pairs of copper cabling that can
be utilized for both voice and data transmission. The use of two wires twisted together
helps to reduce crosstalk and electromagnetic induction. The transmission speed ranges
from 2 million bits per second to 10 billion bits per second. Twisted pair cabling comes
in two forms: unshielded twisted pair (UTP) and shielded twisted-pair (STP). Each form
comes in several category ratings, designed for use in various scenarios.
Coaxial cable is widely used for cable television systems, office buildings, and other
work-sites for local area networks. The cables consist of copper or aluminum wire
surrounded by an insulating layer (typically a flexible material with a high dielectric
constant), which itself is surrounded by a conductive layer. The insulation helps minimize
interference and distortion. Transmission speed ranges from 200 million bits per second
to more than 500 million bits per second.
An optical fiber is a glass fiber. It carries pulses of light that represent data. Some
advantages of optical fibers over metal wires are very low transmission loss and
immunity from electrical interference. Optical fibers can simultaneously carry multiple
wavelengths of light, which greatly increases the rate that data can be sent, and helps
enable data rates of up to trillions of bits per second. Optic fibers can be used for long
runs of cable carrying very high data rates, and are used for undersea cables to
interconnect continents.
Wireless technologies
Computers are very often connected to networks using wireless links
Terrestrial microwave Terrestrial microwave communication uses Earth-based
transmitters and receivers resembling satellite dishes. Terrestrial microwaves are in the
low-gigahertz range, which limits all communications to line-of-sight. Relay stations are
spaced approximately 48 km (30 mi) apart.
Communications satellites Satellites communicate via microwave radio waves, which
are not deflected by the Earth's atmosphere. The satellites are stationed in space, typically
in geosynchronous orbit 35,400 km (22,000 mi) above the equator. These Earth-orbiting
systems are capable of receiving and relaying voice, data, and TV signals.
Cellular and PCS systems use several radio communications technologies. The systems
divide the region covered into multiple geographic areas. Each area has a low-power
transmitter or radio relay antenna device to relay calls from one area to the next area.
Radio and spread spectrum technologies Wireless local area networks use a high-
frequency radio technology similar to digital cellular and a low-frequency radio
technology. Wireless LANs use spread spectrum technology to enable communication
between multiple devices in a limited area. IEEE 802.11 defines a common flavor of
open-standards wireless radio-wave technology known as Wifi.
Free-space optical communication uses visible or invisible light for communications. In
most cases, line-of-sight propagation is used, which limits the physical positioning of
Network nodes
Apart from the physical communications media described above, networks comprise additional
basic system building blocks, such as network interface controller (NICs), repeaters, hubs,
bridges, switches, routers, modems, and firewalls.
Network interfaces
An ATM network interface in the form of an accessory card. Very many network interfaces are
built-in.
A network interface controller (NIC) is computer hardware that provides a computer with the
ability to access the transmission media, and has the ability to process low-level network
information. For example the NIC may have a connector for accepting a cable, or an aerial for
wireless transmission and reception, and the associated circuitry.
Repeaters and hubs
A repeater is an electronic device that receives a network signal, cleans it of unnecessary noise,
and regenerates it. The signal is retransmitted at a higher power level, or to the other side of an
obstruction, so that the signal can cover longer distances without degradation.
A repeater with multiple ports is known as a hub. Repeaters work on the physical layer of the
OSI model. Repeaters require a small amount of time to regenerate the signal. This can cause a
propagation delay that affects network performance. As a result, many network architectures
limit the number of repeaters that can be used in a row, e.g., the Ethernet 5-4-3 rule.
Bridges
A network bridge connects and filters traffic between two network segments at the data link
layer (layer 2) of the OSI model to form a single network. This breaks the network's collision
domain but maintains a unified broadcast domain. Network segmentation breaks down a large,
congested network into an aggregation of smaller, more efficient networks.
Switches
A network switch is a device that forwards and filters OSI layer 2 datagrams between ports based
on the MAC addresses in the packets. A switch is distinct from a hub in that it only forwards the
frames to the physical ports involved in the communication rather than all ports connected.
Routers
A router is an internetworking device that forwards packets between networks by processing the
routing information included in the packet or datagram (Internet protocol information from layer
3).
Modems
Modems (MOdulator-DEModulator) are used to connect network nodes via wire not originally
designed for digital network traffic, or for wireless. To do this one or more frequencies are
modulated by the digital signal to produce an analog signal that can be tailored to give the
required properties for transmission. Modems are commonly used for telephone lines, using a
Digital Subscriber Line technology.
Firewalls
A firewall is a network device for controlling network security and access rules. Firewalls are
typically configured to reject access requests from unrecognized sources while allowing actions
from recognized ones. The vital role firewalls play in network security grows in parallel with the
constant increase in cyber attacks.
Network structure
Network topology is the layout or organizational hierarchy of interconnected nodes of a
computer network. Different network topologies can affect throughput, but reliability is often
more critical. With many technologies, such as bus networks, a single failure can cause the
network to fail entirely. In general the more interconnections there are, the more robust the
network is; but the more expensive it is to install.
Personal area network
A personal area network (PAN) is a computer network used for communication among computer
and different information technological devices close to one person. Some examples of devices
that are used in a PAN are personal computers, printers, fax machines, telephones, PDAs,
scanners, and even video game consoles. A PAN may include wired and wireless devices. The
reach of a PAN typically extends to 10 meters.
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A wired PAN is usually constructed with USB
and FireWire connections while technologies such as Bluetooth and infrared communication
typically form a wireless PAN.
Local area network
A local area network (LAN) is a network that connects computers and devices in a limited
geographical area such as a home, school, office building, or closely positioned group of
buildings. Each computer or device on the network is a node. Wired LANs are most likely based
on Ethernet technology. Newer standards such as ITU-T G.hn also provide a way to create a
wired LAN using existing wiring, such as coaxial cables, telephone lines, and power lines.
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A LAN is depicted in the accompanying diagram. All interconnected devices use the network
layer (layer 3) to handle multiple subnets (represented by different colors). Those inside the
library have 10/100 Mbit/s Ethernet connections to the user device and a Gigabit Ethernet
connection to the central router. They could be called Layer 3 switches, because they only have
Ethernet interfaces and support the Internet Protocol. It might be more correct to call them access
routers, where the router at the top is a distribution router that connects to the Internet and to the
academic networks' customer access routers.
The defining characteristics of a LAN, in contrast to a wide area network (WAN), include higher
data transfer rates, limited geographic range, and lack of reliance on leased lines to provide
connectivity. Current Ethernet or other IEEE 802.3 LAN technologies operate at data transfer
rates up to 10 Gbit/s. The IEEE investigates the standardization of 40 and 100 Gbit/s rates.
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A
LAN can be connected to a WAN using a router.
Home area network
A home area network (HAN) is a residential LAN used for communication between digital
devices typically deployed in the home, usually a small number of personal computers and
accessories, such as printers and mobile computing devices. An important function is the sharing
of Internet access, often a broadband service through a cable TV or digital subscriber line (DSL)
provider.
Storage area network
A storage area network (SAN) is a dedicated network that provides access to consolidated, block
level data storage. SANs are primarily used to make storage devices, such as disk arrays, tape
libraries, and optical jukeboxes, accessible to servers so that the devices appear like locally
attached devices to the operating system. A SAN typically has its own network of storage
devices that are generally not accessible through the local area network by other devices. The
cost and complexity of SANs dropped in the early 2000s to levels allowing wider adoption
across both enterprise and small to medium sized business environments.
Campus area network
A campus area network (CAN) is made up of an interconnection of LANs within a limited
geographical area. The networking equipment (switches, routers) and transmission media
(optical fiber, copper plant, Cat5 cabling, etc.) are almost entirely owned by the campus tenant /
owner (an enterprise, university, government, etc.).
For example, a university campus network is likely to link a variety of campus buildings to
connect academic colleges or departments, the library, and student residence halls.
Backbone network
A backbone network is part of a computer network infrastructure that provides a path for the
exchange of information between different LANs or sub-networks. A backbone can tie together
diverse networks within the same building, across different buildings, or over a wide area.
For example, a large company might implement a backbone network to connect departments that
are located around the world. The equipment that ties together the departmental networks
constitutes the network backbone. When designing a network backbone, network performance
and network congestion are critical factors to take into account. Normally, the backbone
network's capacity is greater than that of the individual networks connected to it.
Another example of a backbone network is the Internet backbone, which is the set of wide area
networks (WANs) and core routers that tie together all networks connected to the Internet.
Metropolitan area network
A Metropolitan area network (MAN) is a large computer network that usually spans a city or a
large campus.
Wide area network
A wide area network (WAN) is a computer network that covers a large geographic area such as a
city, country, or spans even intercontinental distances. A WAN uses a communications channel
that combines many types of media such as telephone lines, cables, and air waves. A WAN often
makes use of transmission facilities provided by common carriers, such as telephone companies.
WAN technologies generally function at the lower three layers of the OSI reference model: the
physical layer, the data link layer, and the network layer.
Organizational scope
Networks are typically managed by the organizations that own them. Private enterprise networks
may use a combination of intranets and extranets. They may also provide network access to the
Internet, which has no single owner and permits virtually unlimited global connectivity.
Intranets
An intranet is a set of networks that are under the control of a single administrative entity. The
intranet uses the IP protocol and IP-based tools such as web browsers and file transfer
applications. The administrative entity limits use of the intranet to its authorized users. Most
commonly, an intranet is the internal LAN of an organization. A large intranet typically has at
least one web server to provide users with organizational information. An intranet is also
anything behind the router on a local area network.
Extranet
An extranet is a network that is also under the administrative control of a single organization, but
supports a limited connection to a specific external network. For example, an organization may
provide access to some aspects of its intranet to share data with its business partners or
customers. These other entities are not necessarily trusted from a security standpoint. Network
connection to an extranet is often, but not always, implemented via WAN technology.
Internetwork
An internetwork is the connection of multiple computer networks via a common routing
technology using routers.
Security
Network security
Network security consists of provisions and policies adopted by the network administrator to
prevent and monitor unauthorized access, misuse, modification, or denial of the computer
network and its network-accessible resources.
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Network security is the authorization of access
to data in a network, which is controlled by the network administrator. Users are assigned an ID
and password that allows them access to information and programs within their authority.
Network security is used on a variety of computer networks, both public and private, to secure
daily transactions and communications among businesses, government agencies and individuals.

Intranet
An intranet is a computer network that uses Internet Protocol technology to share information,
operational systems, or computing services within an organization. This term is used in contrast
to extranet, a network between organizations, and instead refers to a network within an
organization. Sometimes, the term refers only to the organization's internal website, but may be a
more extensive part of the organization's information technology infrastructure, and may be
composed of multiple local area networks. The objective is to organize each individual's desktop
with minimal cost, time and effort to be more productive, cost efficient, timely, and competitive.
Benefits
Workforce productivity: Intranets can help users to locate and view information faster
and use applications relevant to their roles and responsibilities. With the help of a web
browser interface, users can access data held in any database the organization wants to
make available, anytime and subject to security provisions from anywhere within
the company workstations, increasing employees' ability to perform their jobs faster,
more accurately, and with confidence that they have the right information. It also helps to
improve the services provided to the users.
Time: Intranets allow organizations to distribute information to employees on an as-
needed basis; Employees may link to relevant information at their convenience, rather
than being distracted indiscriminately by email.
Communication: Intranets can serve as powerful tools for communication within an
organization, vertically strategic initiatives that have a global reach throughout the
organization. The type of information that can easily be conveyed is the purpose of the
initiative and what the initiative is aiming to achieve, who is driving the initiative, results
achieved to date, and who to speak to for more information. By providing this
information on the intranet, staff have the opportunity to keep up-to-date with the
strategic focus of the organization. Some examples of communication would be chat,
email, and or blogs. A great real world example of where an intranet helped a company
communicate is when Nestle had a number of food processing plants in Scandinavia.
Their central support system had to deal with a number of queries every day.
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When
Nestle decided to invest in an intranet, they quickly realized the savings. McGovern says
the savings from the reduction in query calls was substantially greater than the
investment in the intranet.
Web publishing allows cumbersome corporate knowledge to be maintained and easily
accessed throughout the company using hypermedia and Web technologies.
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Examples
include: employee manuals, benefits documents, company policies, business standards,
news feeds, and even training, can be accessed using common Internet standards
(Acrobat files, Flash files, CGI applications). Because each business unit can update the
online copy of a document, the most recent version is usually available to employees
using the intranet.
Business operations and management: Intranets are also being used as a platform for
developing and deploying applications to support business operations and decisions
across the internetworked enterprise.
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Cost-effective: Users can view information and data via web-browser rather than
maintaining physical documents such as procedure manuals, internal phone list and
requisition forms. This can potentially save the business money on printing, duplicating
documents, and the environment as well as document maintenance overhead. For
example, the HRM company PeopleSoft "derived significant cost savings by shifting HR
processes to the intranet".
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McGovern goes on to say the manual cost of enrolling in
benefits was found to be USD109.48 per enrollment. "Shifting this process to the intranet
reduced the cost per enrollment to $21.79; a saving of 80 percent". Another company that
saved money on expense reports was Cisco. "In 1996, Cisco processed 54,000 reports
and the amount of dollars processed was USD19 million".
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Enhance collaboration: Information is easily accessible by all authorised users, which
enables teamwork.
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Cross-platform capability: Standards-compliant web browsers are available for
Windows, Mac, and UNIX.
Built for one audience: Many companies dictate computer specifications which, in turn,
may allow Intranet developers to write applications that only have to work on one
browser (no cross-browser compatibility issues). Being able to specifically address your
"viewer" is a great advantage. Since Intranets are user-specific (requiring
database/network authentication prior to access), you know exactly who you are
interfacing with and can personalize your Intranet based on role (job title, department) or
individual ("Congratulations Jane, on your 3rd year with our company!").
Promote common corporate culture: Every user has the ability to view the same
information within the Intranet.
Immediate updates: When dealing with the public in any capacity, laws, specifications,
and parameters can change. Intranets make it possible to provide your audience with
"live" changes so they are kept up-to-date, which can limit a company's liability.
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Supports a distributed computing architecture: The intranet can also be linked to a
companys management information system, for example a time keeping system.
Extranet is a computer network used outside the intranet. An extranet is a computer network that
allows controlled access from the outside, for specific business or educational purposes. In a business-
to-business context, an extranet can be viewed as an extension of an organization's intranet that is
extended to users outside the organization, usually partners, vendors and suppliers, in isolation from all
other Internet users. In contrast, business-to-consumer (B2C) models involve known servers of one or
more companies, communicating with previously unknown consumer users. An extranet is similar to a
DMZ in that it provides access to needed services for channel partners, without granting access to an
organization's entire network.
Advantages
Exchange large volumes of data using Electronic Data Interchange (EDI)
Share product catalogs exclusively with trade partners
Collaborate with other companies on joint development efforts
Jointly develop and use training programs with other companies
Provide or access services provided by one company to a group of other companies, such
as an online banking application managed by one company on behalf of affiliated banks
Disadvantages
Extranets can be expensive to implement and maintain within an organization (e.g.,
hardware, software, employee training costs), if hosted internally rather than by an
application service provider.
Security of extranets can be a concern when hosting valuable or proprietary information.
Fetaures of extranet
Information Sharing
Sharing information is an important feature of an extranet. Different types of industries
find that this streamlines work and increases productivity. For example, a large building
project usually involves several companies. The project management company can put all
the relevant project documents on its extranet so that the other partners can access them.
This ensures that each business has equal access to information -- and cuts down on
printing and circulating documents to all the parties. Manufacturing businesses are
another example. They can put technical specifications for parts suppliers on an extranet,
which a supplier can easily and quickly check.
Access to Information
However, an extranet doesn't just allow a company's business partners access to its data,
it provides a system for its employees to access the intranet when they are out of the
office, or in satellite offices in other parts of the world. The extranet also allows
employees within the company access to the Internet when at work. The business usually
has firewalls and other security measures installed; this prevents extranet use by
employees and business partners breaching sensitive information on its intranet.

Consumer Applications
Extranets provide retailers with an opportunity to enhance the customer experience
through online customer-service tools. Online customers can log in to an account on a
website and track their order, as well as find product recommendations tailored to the
customer's previous purchases. An extranet also provides a communication point for the
customer to make inquiries, or a complaint. Public organizations, such as the Internal
Revenue Service, use an extranet to allow the submission of tax forms over the Internet.
Disadvantages
Security issues are an acknowledged disadvantage of an etxranet. This is because an
extranet is connected to the Internet. It is vulnerable to hackers and virus attacks, and
keeping the security updated is part of the costs associated with maintaining an extranet.
In addition to this cost, a company must also pay for additional hardware and the
software content-management system, plus training and maintenance needed to keep the
extranet functioning
Popular Intranet Features
1) Employee Directory
An intranet is all about people, and most importantly for many, finding people in your company
to help you do your job. Most of the time you need their email address, or phone extension to
check with legal or product marketing for resolving a quick issue.
2) Content Repository
Employees need to be able to find content to help them do their jobs.
3) Forms, Forms, Foooorms!
HR forms are vital to an intranet that will actually be used. Employees are above all concerned
with getting compensated and managing their benefits.
4) Real-time Activity Feeds
All the buzz around social media really boils down to real-time commenting. Think
Facebooks Whats on your mind applied to the work environment, which could be What are
you working on?
5) Interactive Tools
Keeping employees engaged with an intranet means that they want opportunities to interact with
it.

EMAIL
1. A system for sending and receiving messages electronically over a computer network, as
between personal computers.
2. A message or messages sent or received by such a system.
is a method of exchanging digital messages from an author to one or more recipients. Modern email
operates across the Internet or other computer networks. Some early email systems required that the
author and the recipient both be online at the same time, in common with instant messaging. Today's
email systems are based on a store-and-forward model. Email servers accept, forward, deliver, and store
messages. Neither the users nor their computers are required to be online simultaneously; they need
connect only briefly, typically to a mail server, for as long as it takes to send or receive messages.
Types
Web-based email (webmail)
Many email providers have a web-based email client (e.g. AOL Mail, Gmail, Outlook.com and
Yahoo! Mail). This allows users to log into the email account by using any compatible web
browser to send and receive their email. Mail is typically not downloaded to the client, so can't
be read without a current Internet connection.
POP3 email services
POP3 is the acronym for Post Office Protocol 3. In a POP3 email account, email messages are
downloaded to the client device (i.e. a computer) and then they are deleted from the mail server.
It is difficult to save and view messages on multiple devices.
IMAP email servers
IMAP refers to Internet Message Access Protocol. With an IMAP account, a user's account has
access to mail folders on the mail server and can use any compatible device to read messages, as
long as such a device can access the server. It shows the headers of messages, the sender and the
subject and the device needs to request to download specific messages. Usually mail is left in
folders in the mail server.
Problems
Speed of correspondence
Attachment size limitation
Information overload
Spamming and computer viruses-Spamming is unsolicited commercial (or bulk)
email.
Email softwares-Software for creating, sending, receiving and organizing electronic mail, or
email. Modern desktop email clients like Microsoft Outlook, Windows Live Mail and Mozilla
Thunderbird offer advanced features for managing email, including WYSIWYG editors for
composing email messages, anti-spam and anti-phishing security protection, advanced search
capabilities, and rules and filters for more efficiently handling and organizing messages and
email folders.
A large number of online email services, called webmail, exist with features and functionality for
managing e-mail similar to their desktop email software counterparts. Some of the more popular
online email services are Yahoo! Mail, Gmail, Hotmail (Windows Live Mail) and AOL Mail.


1. Mozilla Thunderbird - Free Windows Email Program
2. Opera - Free Windows Email Program
3. Windows Live Mail - Free Windows Email Program
4. Pegasus Mail - Free Windows Email Program
5. IncrediMail - Free Windows Email Program
6. Mulberry - Free Windows Email Program
7. Foxmail - Free Windows Email Program
8. DreamMail - Free Windows Email Program
9. Alpine - Free Windows Email Program
10. Sylpheed - Free Windows Email Program
11. i.Scribe - Free Windows Email Program

Office automation
What is office automation?
The term office automation refers to all tools and methods that are applied to office activities
which make it possible to process written, visual, and sound data in a computer-aided manner.

Office automation is intended to provide elements which make it possible to simplify, improve,
and automate the organization of the activities of a company or a group of people (management
of administrative data, synchronization of meetings, etc.).

Considering that company organizations requires increased communication, today, office
automation is no longer limited to simply capturing handwritten notes. In particular, it also
includes the following activities:
exchange of information
management of administrative documents
handling of numerical data
meeting planning and management of work schedules

Office suite tools
The term "office suite" refers to all software programs which make it possible to meet office
needs. In particular, an office suite therefore includes the following software programs:
word processing
a spreadsheet
a presentation tool
a database
a scheduler



The main office suites are:
OpenOffice (freeware)
AppleWorks
Corel WordPerfect
IBM/Lotus SmartSuite
Microsoft Office
Sun StarOffice

automation refers to the varied computer machinery and software used to digitally create,
collect, store, manipulate, and relay office information needed for accomplishing basic tasks.
Raw data storage, electronic transfer, and the management of electronic business information
comprise the basic activities of an office automation system. Office automation helps in
optimizing or automating existing office procedures..
The backbone of office automation is a LAN, which allows users to transmit data, mail and even
voice across the network. All office functions, including dictation, typing, filing, copying, fax,
Telex, microfilm and records management, telephone and telephone switchboard operations, fall
into this category. As office methods evolved to take full advantage of new technologies, there
was a corresponding increase in innovations tailor-made to optimize office processes.
[2]
Office
automation was a popular term in the 1970s and 1980s as the desktop computer exploded onto
the scene.
Advantages are:
1. Office automation can get many tasks accomplished faster.
2. It eliminates the need for a large staff.
3. Less storage is required to store data.
4. Multiple people can update data simultaneously in the event of changes in schedule
[3]

Notes
Businesses can easily purchase and stock their wares with the aid of technology. Many of the
manual tasks that used to be done by hand can now be done through hand held devices and UPC
and SKU coding. In the retail setting, automation also increases choice. Customers can easily
process their payments through automated credit card machines and no longer have to wait in
line for an employee to process and manually type in the credit card numbers.
Office payrolls have been automated which means no one has to manually cut checks, and those
checks that are cut can be printed through computer programs. Direct deposit can be
automatically set up and this further reduces the manual process and most employees who
participate in direct deposit often find their paychecks come earlier than if they'd have to wait for
their checks to be written and then cleared by the bank.
Other ways automation has reduced employee manpower on tasks is automated voice direction.
Through the use of prompts, automated phone menus and directed calls, the need for employees
to be dedicated to answer the phones has been reduced, and in some cases, eliminated.
THE BASICS OF OFFICE AUTOMATION
Generally, there are three basic activities of an office automation system: storage of information,
data exchange, and data management. Within each broad application area, hardware and
software combine to fulfill basic functions.
Information Storage
The first area within office automation is information storage which is usually considered to
include office records and other primary office forms and documents. Data applications involve
the capture and editing of files, images, or spreadsheets. Word processing and desktop
presentation packages accommodate raw textual and graphical data, while spreadsheet
applications provide users with the capacity to engage in the easy manipulation and output of
numbers. Image applications allow the capture and editing of visual images.
Text handling software and systems cover the whole field of word processing and desktop
publishing. Word processing, the most basic and common office automation activity, is the
inputting (usually via keyboard) and manipulation of text on a computer. Today's commercial
word processing applications provide users with a sophisticated set of commands to format, edit,
and print text documents. One of the more popular features of word processing packages is its
preformatted document templates. Templates automatically set up such things as font size,
paragraph styles, headers and footers, and page numbers so that the user does not have to reset
document characteristics every time he or she creates a new record.
Desktop publishing adds another dimension to text manipulation. By combining the features of a
word processor with advanced page design and layout features, desktop publishing packages
have emerged as valuable tools in the creation of newsletters, brochures, and other documents
that combine text and photographs, charts, drawings and other graphic images.
Image handling software and systems are another facet of office automation. Examples of visual
information include pictures of documents, photographs, and graphics such as tables and charts.
These images are converted into digital files, which cannot be edited the same way that text files
can. In a word processor or desktop publishing application, each word or character is treated
individually. In an imaging system, the entire picture or document is treated as one whole object.
One of the most popular uses of computerized images is in corporate presentations or speeches.
Presentation software packages simplify the creation of multimedia presentations that use
computer video, images, sound, and text in an integrated information package.
Spreadsheet programs allow the manipulation of numeric data. Early popular spreadsheet
programs such as VisiCalc and Lotus 123 greatly simplified common business financial
recordkeeping. Particularly useful among the many spreadsheet options is the ability to use
variables in pro-forma statements. The pro-forma option allows the user to change a variable and
have a complex formula automatically recalculated based on the new numbers. Many businesses
use spreadsheets for financial management, financial projection, and accounting.
Data Exchange
While data storage and manipulation is one component of an office automation system, the
exchange of that information is another equally important component. Electronic transfer is a
general application area that highlights the exchange of information among multiple users.
Electronic mail, voice mail, and facsimile are examples of electronic transfer applications.
Systems that allow instantaneous or "real time" transfer of information (i.e., online conversations
via computer or audio exchange with video capture) are considered electronic sharing systems.
Electronic sharing software illustrates the collaborative nature of many office automation
systems.
Electronic transfer software and systems allow for electronic transmission of office information.
Electronic mail uses computer-based storage and a common set of network communication
protocols to forward electronic messages from one user to another. Most of these systems allow
users to relay electronic mail to more than one recipient, although they refer to this in an old-
fashioned way as carbon copying or "ccing." Electronic mail, or e-mail systems, provide security
features, automatic messaging, and mail management systems like electronic folders or
notebooks. Voice mail offers essentially the same applications, but for telephones, not
computers.
Data Management
Office automation systems are also often used to track both short-term and long-term data in the
realms of financial plans, workforce allocation plans, marketing expenditures, inventory
purchases, and other aspects of business. Task management or scheduling systems monitor and
control various projects and activities within the office. Electronic management systems monitor
and control office activities and tasks through timelines, resource equations, and electronic
scheduling.
WAYS OF OFFICE AUTOMATION
Internet
Teleconferencing
Email
Fax
E-cabinet
Electronic fund transfer