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Manager vs. Computer Science 1

Manager vs. Computer Science

Since computer science left laboratories and spreadsheetcenters to occupy offices, shopping malls, banking agencies, schools and even homes, it has been gradually gaining ground, incorporating itself into all man's activities as a irreplaceable tool. Everyone sometimes wonders why this phenomenon has occurred; the fact is how a computer in a fast and efficient way is able to perform, in a very short interval of time, the work to which a person would have to dedicate several days and without the guarantee that the final result is free of problems produ fatigue or the tediousness of activity.

The dynamics of modern life constantly impose on man make decisions, and proper decision-making is generally the key to success in the life of any individual or company, in any of its facets.

On multiple occasions it has been intended to replace man with the machine, thinking that man could take on all his activities, including in processes such as decision-making itself. That's how the well-known expert systems were born. One example was the well-known MYCIN, an expert system designed for medical use, capable of diagnosing a person's condition and even proposing variants for treatment, after completing a group of data about their symptoms.

With the birth of artificial intelligence intelligent systems were created capable of simulating human behavior with astonishing approximation, even learning from their own experience, many thought then that they had in their hands the solution Ideal. It is true that these systems supported various tasks but did not meet, or yet cover, expectations.

Before proceeding it is necessary to make a clarification, which, far from being very objective and the result of one's own experience: any expert or intelligent system, which analyses and diagnoses a situation linked to a person or group of people, must serve starting point or supplementary information to make an appropriate assessment. The machine is NOT able to take into account and weigh the affective and volumeaspects inherent to man.

A manager of any profile and instance is constantly subject to making decisions about the management of their human, material, financial and strategy resources. To fulfil this purpose in a certain way, you must manipulate information, which sometimes reaches an unwieldy volume by it with its own means, and needs to be ancillary to the most effective and accurate resources at your disposal. It is here that computing plays its role as an ideal means for handling large volumes of information, to extract from the total volume, the essentials, whatever is really useful to it, discarding any information that may be redundant or unnecessary.

Today there are many specialized application packages that help the processing of information, and allow a manager to know the status of their facility and draw lines or development strategies for their company. Let's look briefly at some of these lines.

Knowledge of a company's financial statements is a vital task for the good development of business. Without computer means, the updated maintenance of this activity involves dedicating a group of employees, some specialized, who are expressly dedicated to these purposes and sometimes without guarantee in the accuracy of the data obtained. By computerizing this activity, not only do personnel costs are reduced, but also reduce the likelihood of error occurring. There are numerous applications in this area, some domestic and foreign invoices, that deal with accounting and finance in an efficient way, controlling basic and rotational means, payroll, finance, budgeting and accounting in General.

For the administration of human resources the manager must know personal data of his employees accompanied by his resumes and thus be able to make optimal use of this important resource; helped by a computer medium this task can be performed in a more efficient way. Clearly, this depends heavily on the company and the complexity of the activities to which it is engaged.

These and many similar examples are practically trivial. Everyone understands that computerizing these activities raises the quality of their service, regardless of the way that computerized methods for their control are not used in many cases and, therefore, decisions are made on the basis of information, often partial, which the manager has about his staff, his costs, his sales, etc.

Before going into another aspect let's summarize the previous point:

Advantages of computer systems

  • They speed management, reduce paperwork and optimize the use of administrative staff.
  • They elevate control in all aspects of the life of the company, even allow you to control other aspects that without them that without them cannot be possible.
  • They significantly improve billing accuracy and information quality.
  • They enable the issuance of reports and statistics in an automated, personalized way.
  • They allow access, to any authorized person, to the information, and not just the employee who attends it, making it easy to monitor the data and statistics that are available.
  • They improve internal customer service and therefore to the external client.
  • They facilitate the modernization of all the company's premises and facilities.

But it's not all about simply acquiring the computing media and installing the software you need. There must also be an organization of the company's activity that allows the flow of information from the most accurate sources and to the right destination, without the possibility of access to intruders.

Another less-known side of the use of computer science in the direction of a company is when it is intended to chart. Without thinking that we will always find a computer solution for this purpose, modern computer systems provide us with tools that allow a manager to draw up a new strategy, without it being arbitrariness or an experiment to see that it comes out of it, but with a great probability of success.

Based on the results of a market study and the analysis of the indicators of the management of the company, a computer system may be able to predict the possible behaviors of those indicators that are of interest to you, and hence draw or modify the strategies to be followed. For this it is essential that the system nurture all the information it really needs and clearly raise current behaviors. The results will then be taken as reinforcement material or dismissal of the strategic decision you intend to take and will give a new nuance to the analysis. In this regard there is one thing you should always keep in mind: YOU DECIDE, not the computer, she only helps you in YOUR decision.

Well, we already have the information concentrated and filtered, it's time to spread it among those who want them to have it. You can use a messenger, phone or fax, but haven't you thought about the email? Before we go into detail let's look at some statistics:

A survey of Global Hoteliers Club members shows the conformity of hoteliers with regard to email and the Internet. Most respondents to the survey (68%) are general managers of hotels in 53 countries, who use email regularly. They propose that they send their communications primarily to:

Corporation Offices…………….. 74.9 %

Guests/ Customers ………………. 65.1 %

Controls in Exercise …………….. 64.1 %

Sellers/Suppliers…………….. 38.9 %

Contact staff…………………  29.3 %

About the Internet, they replied that their greatest effectiveness was, in order of importance: in marketing and advertising, to make reservations, check the competition and for training.

This data gives credence to the importance that managers attach to communication via e-mail. Messaging through applications such as Microsoft Outlook offers a wide range of useful services:

  • It allows you to have quick control and access to all those with whom you have relationships through the Contacts and know your personal data and electronic addresses.
  • It has a work schedule organizer and messaging service, integrated in such a way, that can quote a meeting by sending messages to all participants, and even affect the electronic agendas of those it cites.
  • Issues copies of the messages you receive and send.
  • Provides accusers of delivering and reading sent messages.

The use of messaging implicitly leads to educating a culture regarding its use, because it is common to send a message and then it is necessary to make a phone call so that the recipient knows that the information they want will receive it by that route , because there is no guarantee of the use of this medium or there is no habit of making acknowledgement of receipts, similarly not taking full advantage of its possibilities. Electronic messaging is a very efficient, reliable and easy to use system.

Very linked to the messaging service we have the Internet a[i]nd the Intranets[ii]. The first, as it is known, is the most far-reaching global network ever created; its fame is not the result of advertising campaigns but of the immense usefulness it brings to Intern[iii]auts, including access to large information data banks, the publication of diverse service offerings using the World Wide Web, that[iv] is, web pages, and the purchase or sale of the most diverse services.

Intranets are local networks within companies. These provide advertisements, circulars and internal provisions, in such a way that any user with right of access to them, can consult the information within it: agreements with impact on employees, bureau of information to customers who arrive to the waiting rooms, where they are informed of the services provided, their characteristics and other information of interest. These have the peculiarity that browsing t[v]hem is very simple, are supported by a large range of computers and are easy to update.

The forms of Internet browsing have become very popular for their simplicity and have become universal; Intranet networks enjoy these facilities as well and in the new environments that are designed, specifically from Windows 98, they can be established as permanent working environments.

What should a manager know about computer science?

 "To the scrambled river, fishermen's gain"

In principle, a manager is a strategist who orders the pawns in his game, but at the same time knows how each one should move, its rules. There are several conceptions in the training and overcoming of managers with regard to the teaching of computer science that we will briefly address.

Some believe that the manager should have only one culture of what a computer system may be capable of, in order to guide and demand from his subordinates on how he wants the processing of information, with what precision and quality. This presupposes, for example, that an executive secretary is able to use a text processing system efficiently, such as to be able to issue documents of various types: letters, subpoenas, memo, faxes, reports, brochures, etc., with good presence, showing the company's corporate image and other requirements that are a sign of professionalism; but not only that he is able to do so, but also to do so in an appropriate time. This same secretary, and all subordinates, should be able to organize their agenda, consult information in other computer sources, make presentations of job projections, work with specialized programs such as accounting control and the company's budget, find and process statistical information so that you can provide your superior boss with accurate, condensed and non-redundant information. Of course, you must master e-messaging services.

Reading the previous paragraph you might have thought: to master all that I have to do a degree in Computer Science first. Some time ago it was logical, but it's not at the moment. Today there are numerous applications that greatly simplify this effort. On this occasion we will only dedicate space to one of them, which is also the most widespread in our country and in the world, we refer to the Microsoft Office application package and particularly the version popularly known as Office 97.

We start from the way you know how you work with Windows'95: open applications, search, copy and move files between folders, and between folders and a floppy, all from the natural working mode of Windows, that is, from the Start button and the Start menu or by the icons of the Desktop. You should know how to configure some of the Control Panel accessories and other elementary operations.

Office'97 programs that we need to pay attention to for the help they provide to the manager include:

Microsoft Word: It is a word processor system, in it you can create documents or edit and redesign documents already created. The manager must know, of this software, its possibilities and scope in order to be able to assess the quality of a document that he/she sends or receives and thus require those responsible for the creation of them that have the required quality. In order for you to write a personal document at any given time, you must know the necessary and essential rudiments for this purpose.

Microsoft Outlook: this software offers a number of very varied services; of them the most important is the messaging service, of which the manager must master most of his operations, such as knowing how to read and send messages, being able to review the sent items, respond and forward messages, etc.  Of the rest of the services it provides with a culture of its use is sufficient.

Microsoft Excel: is a statistical system of great potential, in which data is captured in the form of tables and provides a group of operations and procedures that can be very useful; in this product it is worth stopping and deepening.

Indicator behaviors that can judge strategies are placed in a table, or group of tables. Then, with the use of pivot tables that are filled from relationships between other tables, formula placement, the use of scenarios, and the Excel equation resolver (Solver), you can have an estimate of the behavior of the same or others that depend on it columns or rows in other tables where you can condense the information. This formula approach task could be assigned to a specialist, who would be responsible for mathematically simulating the processes, but for the correct interpretation of the results it is necessary for the manager to know in depth what has been designed and can at any one point propose new formulas and procedures. In this way this product becomes a powerful working tool for information processing, so that we can rethink strategies and analyze the results of applied strategies.  In this case it has not been said, as in the previous cases, that it is very simple and easy to use, but the complexity is not in the way we use the system but in the way we raise the relationship between the data and to model the behavior of the indexes that interest us.

In the Office package there are other products such as Microsoft Access, Microsoft Power Point and Microsoft Project of which your knowledge by the manager can be only cultural, that is, know its possibilities and scope.

Outside of the Office Suite is software that must be dominated by a manager. We mean an Internet browser, the same Internet Explorer as Netscape Navigator. For its simplicity, its link with electronic messaging and the importance that each day acquires this, when the time comes, there are more than enough skills, developed with the learning of the previous systems, to quickly master this Software.

You may wonder what can you report to a manager to consult the information on the Internet? To avoid details on this very broad topic, we will simply describe behavior that is seen very often; many people who run or work in nationally renowned facilities have been hurt by their pride in seeing on the Internet the publication of other institutions that offer the same services, so they are no longer unique and original, and sometimes with better quality and with guaranteed advertising through the Internet, which they do not enjoy.

Present and future of computing.

The introduction of computing in tourism in general has opened new horizons, as well as for the manager: it requires adapting to new markets and new forms of management. It's not about dreams, it's not about long-term prospects, it's about tangible realities. Some of the advanced services being provided will let the manager know the scope they have in each profile.

Posing Terminals (POS): Refers to small electronic, portable, and even touchscreen devices, through which one or more dependents can perform them more easily in a sales establishment. These equipments show a list of the products offered with their prices and availability, are able to make and print the invoice by calculating the prices properly, provide payment facilities on credit and cash cards, in different currencies ( currently include the Euro) and at any time allow to know the status of the business in real time. Of these systems there are already some installed in the country.

Within the POS are the radio command terminals; these devices facilitate the making of the orders in the restaurants, which are sent via radio from the table to a central terminal, where the order is printed and "marched".

For POS there are designed numerous programs with very simple interfaces, friendly and that make use of touch screens. These include the programs "Squirrel", "Restaurant Manager", "Bar Manager", "Rejane" and others.

The Internet: was only a support for advertising services until a few years ago; today is the support to promote them and to manage them. In the hotel industry, the use of the Internet to make reservations that were traditionally made by telephone is gaining more and more ground, most of which are made a month in advance. An example is TravelWeb Internet which provides a wide range of services of all kinds within tourism, hotel room reservation, tour, car reservations, restaurant tables, etc.

Analysts and experts estimate that the amount of bookings currently made in a year is $400 million and forecast that by 2000 it will amount to $4 billion, figures to consider.

Internet in hotels: But not only the Internet is nourished by hotel services, as the issue also happens the other way around. Several hotels install special connectors in their rooms for fast Internet connection, so that any customer who wants to check their messaging, goes with their laptop and plugs it into them, charging at the end in their account.

This service is already becoming widespread in such a way that new facilities will include it from its design, and for older buildings specialized systems are offered that use the installed telephone resources.

Within the tourist, hotel and extrahotel activity, there are centers that have specialized in the preparation of the manager from the computer point of view. There are numerous schools in the world that serve this activity and in all, computer science is included as a mandatory topic for all managers of any level.

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