星期五, 7月 09, 2010

Cybertechnology in Industry, Manufacturing, Business and Commerce.

Activities:

  1. Provide an example of how Cybertechnology (such as computers, robots, automated machinery) may be used in heavy industry (such as mining). What benefits do you think derive from such use?

Note
Some aspects of underground mining may be conducted by automated equipment, such as drilling. Such machines can undertake at least some of the hazardous tasks, thus reducing the risk of injury to human workers.

Over the last few months there has been much in the media of potential negative consequences when things go wrong with oil wells tapped deep in the ocean (BP in USA). Although such drilling is done remotely and the response to the “leak” has been using robot submersibles, it is likely that the errors made leading to these event will lie with the decisions people made and how they executed them, not in the use of cybertechnology per se.

  1. Provide an example of how Cybertechnology (such as computers, robots, automated machinery) may be used in manufacturing (such as automobile production or electronics). What benefits do you think derive from such use? What negative effects may be associated with this use?

    To what extent are the “negative” effects aligned to factors of social change?

Note
Some aspects of manufacturing may be conducted by automated equipment, such as robotic assembly lines. Examples include both “large” item manufacturing such as motor vehicles and “small” item manufacturing such as electronic goods or “micro” item manufacturing such as computer chips.

Such machines can perform repetitive tasks with both a high degree of accuracy, and at a relatively high speed compared to human operators.

One of the negative effects of such cybertechnology is the general loss of manual labouring jobs. The people who are made redundant from such positions need to be re-skilled in other tasks, which could include the operation and maintenance of such robotic assembly lines. Typically this results in many people who hold unskilled jobs needing to move towards higher skilled jobs.


  1. Provide an example of how Cybertechnology may be used in business. What benefits can be demonstrated to derive from such use?

    How, if at all, do you think the use of this technology has impacted upon “redesigning” jobs?

Note
Almost all medium and large businesses today have the capacity to accept EFTPOS (Electronic Funds Transfer at Point of Sale). This facilitates more effective and more efficient management of financial transactions for both business and customers.

Also, virtually all aspects of product inventory, stores, and ordering are now managed using information technology, such as a data base. Such tools add to the effectiveness (accuracy) and efficiency (less time required) of managing information.

Due to the inroads that cybertechnology has made into the business world, most jobs in this sector have needed to be redesigned to incorporate use of computers into the structure of the tasks performed and general skill sets required, such as computer literacy. The vast majority of people employed in modern business contexts operate computers as part of their job, many having their own dedicated workstation.


  1. Provide an example of how Cybertechnology may be used in commerce. What benefits can be demonstrated to derive from such use?

    What risks, if any, accrue from enabling “computer systems” to make “decisions” about the finance markets?


Note
Stock markets operate in real time with markets not only fluctuating day by day, but also throughout the day, sometimes quite dramatically in the space of minutes, and the effects can be at a global level.

The advent of cybertechnology incorporating aspects of both computing and communication enable stock markets to operate efficiently and effectively at a global level. As the price of both commodities and the relevant exchange rates vary, opportunities are created for financial gain for those who have best utilized aspects of information and communication technology. Small shifts in markets can be leveraged by the purchase or selling literally billions of dollars in shares, stock, gold or international currencies.

One risk to stock markets is over utilization of automated buy and sell prices. Should a rapid and dramatic rise or fall in the stock market occur, then there is scope for the automated computer systems to initiate trades over and above those that may have been deemed appropriate by a “live” (human) stock broker.


  1. In the global context, what trends in outsourcing are occurring in Information and Communication Technology? Where (globally) are such markets expanding?

    How does outsourcing of “project management” for IT and software design, differ (if at all) to outsourcing of the production of code?

Note
By their nature, information and communication technology tasks are highly suitable to being undertaken on a global market because many of the tasks are such that they can be performed anywhere on the globe, with the job request and the result (finished product or outcome) being submitted electronically via the internet.

India provides a relatively inexpensive labor force with many people skilled in IT who also have a good command of the English language. This has positioned India to work in IT within a global market.

China is also rapidly expanding its capabilities in information and communication technology and is anticipated to provide another large pool of cost effective IT professionals in due course.

While outsourcing of jobs in information and communication technology to India and China have been generally increasing, the focus is upon the production of code while much of the “project management” related tasks remain within the host country. This means that while a developed country such as USA, England or Australia may undertake the analysis and design aspects of a software design project, the actual production of code (or large portions of it) may be sent overseas to markets that provide relatively inexpensive IT expertise.


  1. If you where required to purchase four new tires for a car…what would you do in order to acquire three quotes for comparative products (i.e.….phone, on-line, visit). Why?

Note
This will depend on each students experience and views…but typically I anticipate that many students would drive the car into the tire shop so that they can receive quotes and see the tires that they would receive.

Once one quote had been obtained, and tire type desired identified, one could also then make use of a phone to obtain other quotes.

There is also scope to use the web, but this is not likely to be the immediate first choice.

The point of this question? To demonstrate that some purchases do not make much sense on-line. And with the tires…it starts getting silly to think that you may purchase them on-line and have them arrive a few days later in the mail for you to “install” yourself.


  1. List three products that you believe are sensible for people to purchase on-line. Justify your answers.

Note
Any digital material such as software, music CD and movie DVD, because no matter where it is obtained from, all are “identical”….assuming of course they are not pirated copies.

Similarly, books are an ideal item because once a specific title has been settled on (such as the textbook for this unit), then no matter where it is purchased from, the book will be the same.

Any product line that is manufactured to a set standard (for example, from a specific brand and gauge of guitar strings to a seat on an airplane) can, in principle, be purchased on-line without impacting upon the quality of the purchased item.


  1. List three products that you believe are not likely for people to purchase on-line. Justify your answers.

Note
Any piece of art work, be it a painting, ceramic pot, or mosaic, because there will be a strong desire to see the real object prior to purchase.

Any musical instrument, be it a guitar, cymbal or piano, because there will be a strong desire to hear and feel the real object prior to purchase.

Any new (untried) perfume, because there will be a strong desire to smell the real object prior to purchase.

Fresh fruit and meats, because there will be a strong desire to “inspect” the food prior to purchase. Note that bulk orders and/or “regular” customers may in time come to “trust” the quality of the food and so then shift towards a state of acceptance of on-line purchase from a tried and tested provider.

  1. Describe possible fears and risks people may hold with respect to purchasing items on-line. Provide some ways by which these risks may be minimised?

Note
People could have fear of personal credit details being misused to purchase additional items, or fear of personal details being misused to engage in identity theft for “other” purposes.

Fear that the purchased goods will never arrive, or that the goods received will not be as represented prior to purchase (i.e. they will arrive either damaged or of inferior quality).

To minimize risks options exist to:
- insist on forms of security such as encryption.
- use credit cards that have a relatively low limit
- use a third party transaction company to manage the exchange.


  1. Describe the relative advantages and disadvantages that you perceive in telecommuting. Do you have any strong preference for working from home verses an office? Note: this includes working as a student.

Note
Different people will have different views….but some ideas are:

Advantages:
No need to waste time and money on travel
Cheaper for food because can make use of own kitchen
Convenience of being able to work whenever the desire or ideas come
Flexibility of mixing work with domestic duties such as child care
No need to “dress up” for an office environment (such as in a suit).
          - Indeed, no need to be dressed at all
Peace and quiet without distractions.

Disadvantages:
Encroaching of work life into home life
Loss of space within the home, due to the need to dedicate a room as an office
Inability to escape distractions such as noisy children
Loss of social interactions with peers and colleagues

Some students will like the idea of telecommuting, but others will dislike the prospect. This may be an example of personal preferences being individualistic.

Telecommuting will continue to evolve towards a powerful and immersive option to real commuting and real office work.


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