Changing Technology and Organization

A Report for Computer Science Specialists
Submitted to: Mr. Tyler De Adder Academic Advisor, Computer Science Department Oregon State University Submitted by: Brendan O'Connell English Major, Oregon State University Corvallis, OR April 8, 2010 This report focuses on the topic of how new technologies and ways of communicating, and creating, prove that information technology and organizational change is happening. Abstract In his analytical report “Changing Technology and Organization”(2010), Oregon State University Student Brendan O'Connell analyzes the scholarly article “Information Technology and Organizational Change” by Patricia A. Carlson to show that while new technologies are constantly changing ways of communicating, and at one time were taking away jobs from people, the information presented in Carlson's article is outdated. O'Connell has analyzed Carlson's article in order to prove that information technology is necessary for the modern-day world to exist and thrive. This report is written in a professional manner for Computer Science students, faculty, and staff. Keywords: Computer science, information technology, organization, IT, modern, Communication, change, business, robots, engineering, profession, money, computing, Summary Patricia A. Carlson's article, “Information Technology and Organizational Change”(2001), argues that “the 'modern' workplace holds unprecedented opportunites for [Information Technology]”(Patricia A. Carlson, 2001). Carlson does this with her research of other texts through an Army Summer Faculty Research and Engineering Grant, and evolutions in technology and organization in her field during her career. Carlson's purpose is to show people in the IT field that technology is changing in order to inspire them to embrace this change and learn how to adapt to new technology. With the combination of technical writing and everyday language, I believe this is meant to cater to a wide audience of IT professionals, everyday cubicle workers and even people on the street. This is meant to make all people think about the technological changes that we face everyday and how they are helping us progress. The article begins with a brief introduction of what information technology is and how changes in the economy and technology in general have created a need for information technology specialists. Using ideas from researchers Tom Davenport, Michael Hammer and Peter Senge, she introduces the idea that the business model in all industries is changing,

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and the idea of a non-linear workflow. Citing multiple facts and numbers, Carlson argues that “IT has not increased productivity”(Patricia A. Carlson, 2001). The large amounts of money put into computing research and information technology help make Carlson's point very clear as she transitions into talking about change and innovations in the field of IT. New tools to computing and organization make collaboration easier and compiling work much faster. The tools that Carlson briefly discusses are, automated process management, computer-supported collaborative work, knowledge management, netware applications, and data mining and knowledge discovery. Because culture is such a large part of life, Carlson puts a large focus on that and shows just how the modern world's culture is integrated with information technology. Everyone uses information technology and in a business it greatly contributes to the human resources and can either help or hinder a company depending on how it is utilized. Carlson points out that “Change, even demonstrably positive change, involves disrupting an equlibrium. ”(Patricia A. Carlson, 2001) People will either accept or dismiss an idea completely, there is very little gradual change that happens in business. To conclude, Carlson makes a point that work is a series of changes that occur with many different people. The technology that is used changes and people must accept that the only way to progress is to embrace the information technology that surrounds us as a way to communicate faster, better, and easier. Analysis While relatively jargon free, the article is very straight forward and aimed at the audience of those involved, or interested in, information technology and its changing world. The article has two ways of being read. The first being that of a skeptic of information technology that focuses heavily on the fact that she says information technology has not increased productivity. The other way of reading being that she says there are many ways that information technology is enhancing the things that we do everyday and we would not be happy to live without them, yes, it's possible to survive without many of the things that we take for granted every day, but for many people it would be a major inconvenience. This paper is now nine years old (in 2010) and it has become apparent that information technology is a very important industry in a large amount of people's day to day lives. The science, technology and methods of organization have all changed rapidly and continue to evolve every day. By the time this is read, it's quite possible that things the author has said are irrelevent. The modern world lives in seconds and the changes that happen can't ever really be judged. Carlson saw this change coming and realized that there was going to be an open market for her profession. Carlson makes many good points about how technology may not have been helping the economy, even though so much money was put into computing. The article seems to show both the positive and negatives about information technology at the time, and somehow, she was smart enough to guess what would happen and see that almost everything people do today incorporates technology in one way or another. People fear that their job can be done just as well by a computer or robot of some sort, and while this may be true, the purpose is not to take away jobs, like some readers of this article might think, but rather show how change in technology is making things faster, and easier for the people that need the service. Having more computers and robots means that there are more jobs for computer science specialists, engineers, and mechanics. The change in

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information technology that Carlson predicts is helpful in more ways than it is harmful. Her closing arguments about business models and management show just how diverse and helpful information technology is. The ways that businesses monitor and help their employees use IT heavily and improve efficiency in the workplace. The tools that IT provides also allows different offices from many miles apart to collaborate and work on one project at the same time. It's a very logical argument that she makes, showing just how good IT can be when used correctly. She balances this by showing that it can also be a distractor and has the ability to also hinder productivity. By having this balance, Carlson allows the reader to make their own decision and forces them to try change and see what happens. She makes no promises that IT can change the world. She's just very hopeful. And she was right. Relevance The importance of this article and its material to student in the Computer Science department is obviously rather high, but it's also important to students that might be in New Media Communications or those in other departments. Information technology is something that we all use every day, and people need to know about the changes that are happening and the good things that are happening with evolutions in the technology that is taken for granted by most people. This could be read as a sort of history lesson. Seeing how people prepared for the future and saw change coming is important to the way that people study in every single field. While computer science majors may not find this useful at the moment, they may find it interesting to see how information technology has evolved and some of its roots. Business majors may find it interesting to see how information technology influences business and the way that the two work together. Everyone else might just find it nice to read, or they may just think it's boring. Conclusion Change is happening whether we want it to or not. Carlson's article proves that information technology is a constantly changing thing that affects everyone's lives. The modern world needs to see that there is a dependency on technology and we assume that it will progress and get better, smarter, and more interesting. Everyone uses IT, but it's apparent that in business, the use of IT helps everyone be more proficient, or at least there's the hope that it does.

Sources: Patricia A. Carlson, PAC. (2001). Information technology and organizational change. Journal of Technical Writing And Communication, 31, 77-95.

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