Technology in Today’s Business
Computers are being used in almost every business today, both large and small. Small businesses especially find computers essential. One estimate places over 25.8 million computers in home offices alone, assuming only one computer per office. Most small offices have one or more computers. With more than 21 million small businesses in the United States today, the number of personal computers in use in the small office home office (SOHO) environment is probably between 50 million and 75 million.
The term “small business” is defined differently by many people and the definition even varies between industries. Virtually all definitions of small business, however, include more than 99.9% of all the business entities in America. With only certain exceptions, the same is true for most of the rest of the world.
Computers are supposed to increase our productivity and make us work more efficiently. But no one has really told us how to do that. At least they haven’t told those of us in small businesses. Paul and Sarah Edwards, in Working From Home (Putnam, 1994) consider a computer as essential as a telephone for the home office. Neither the Edwards’ books, as good as they are, nor any of the other books for small businesses discuss computers other than to tell you that you need one and to provide a very short discussion of some of the terms you need to know and a list of some components you might buy. Most books for small businesses make little or no effort to provide you with any guidance about the kinds of decisions you should be making.
Computers – A Competitive Advantage
Many business, both large and small, use computers today to perform many tasks necessary to the daily conduct of their operations. These tasks range from “simple” accounting chores, to graphics design, word processing, E-mail, fax and other electronic communications, knowledge or information storage and retrieval, financial analysis, and untold others. The list is as long as the number of people using computers in their businesses.
For the savvy business person, the computer can be a weapon to use against the competition. Intelligent application of computer technology in today’s business environment can mean the difference between mere survival and growing your business; between being one of the pack and being the leader of the pack. Appropriate use of computer technology can make your business more competitive. This is true for the very largest businesses as well as the very smallest, and for all of those which fall in between.
Since so many business people are already using computers, you might wonder how you can use computer technology in a way which might be different from everyone else and provide you with that competitive edge. At least part of the answer lies in using your existing or new computer technology to its fullest extent rather than wasting much of the power you paid for. In the next section we will look at a typical example of how most people use their computers today so that you can see what I mean.