CIE Computer Studies: The Social and Economic Implication Of the Use of Computers

1. Applications Of Computers, Their Social & Economic Implications

1.2 The Social and Economic Implication Of the Use of Computers

Social And Economic Effects
Effects on people, organisations and on society in general.

  • Redundancies jobs lost when staff replaced by computer-based systems
  • De-skilling replacement of skilled staff by computers. Staff are then left to do less skilled jobs
  • Electronic ‘scabbing’ if staff are striking, work can easily switched to non-striking staff via a network, even in a different country
  • Tactical striking unions maximise impact of strikes by selecting computing staff first. Whole company is then affected.
  • ‘New tech,’ agreements benefits to workers (cleaner, safer workplace) and management (more cost-effective) of using computer based systems

Economic Reasons For The Use Of Computers
There are many financial reasons for using computers, and computer controlled systems,
even though they are expensive to set-up initially.

  • More efficient tasks completed quicker, and with lest wastage
  • Work longer than people automated systems need no rest, can work for 24 hours a day
  • Save on wages computers can often do the work of several people, so people are made redundant

Changes To Existing Methods, Products And Services
Businesses change the way they work, and provide different, and better services to clients.

  • On-line banking more convenient for customer, cheaper for banks, less real staff required to deal with cash
  • E-commerce selling goods online means less overheads, so better prices for customers, and more profit for company
  • EPOS (Electronic Point of Sale) tills in shops where the good purchased are automatically taken from the database of stock. Can automatically generate orders for new stock
  • EFT (Electronic Funds Transfer) allows people to pay for goods using a card which is ‘swiped’ in the store, authorising the transfer of money from the customer’s bank account.

Development Of New Products And Services
Computers have lead to the development of new markets and businesses.
• Internet service providers
• Web-design services
• Internet cafes

Changes In The Working Environment
Using computers within businesses has altered the environment that we work in

  • Cleaner and safer dangerous / messy jobs done by computer systems
  • Work injuries can go up due to prolonged computer use – RSI, back ache, etc.

Changes In Employment
The use of computers in the workplace has an impact on the way people work

  • Retraining of staff software packages upgraded, staff need to be trained. This is often a regular thing. However…
  • Individual training training can be personalised to staff’s needs through the use of CAL systems, CD-ROMs, etc.

Privacy And Integrity Of Data
So much personal data is stored within computer systems that companies and
governments have to have guidelines and laws to protect the privacy of people and their

Data Protection Legislation
The Data Protection Act gives the following requirements to anyone who stores data about
someone else:
• Person must give permission for data to be stored
• Data must not be used for purposes other than those it was given for
• Must not store more data than is necessary for the purpose
• Data must be kept up-to-date
• Data should not be kept for longer than is necessary
• Data must be protected against unlawful access, or accidental loss
• Data must not be transferred outside of EU unless the country also has data laws

Security And Reliability
Data must be protected. This involves a number of procedures.

  • Back-ups of critical data should be performed on a regular basis. A full copy of all files is taken (can use CD-R, magnetic tape, etc.) Usual technique is to keep 3 generations of back-ups (today’s, yesterday’s and the day before’s). This is the grandfather, father, son system.
  • Batch-Processing Backup of both transaction files and master files required. If today’s master file is lost, we can re-build it from yesterday’s backed-up master file and transaction file.
  • Archiving of old data to reduce the amount of system resources required (disk space, etc.) and keep the system running smoothly, old data that is no longer used (but may be required for future reference) is moved into an archive file.


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