What Types of Businesses Have Been Adversely Affected by Computers & Technology?

Computers and advanced technology have brought universal change to business practices of the past. Today, the computerization of society has enabled consumers to make purchases and complete other business transactions with increased speed and convenience. Nevertheless, the same technological tools have adversely affected certain types of businesses — making previous methods of commerce and service obsolete.

U.S. Postal Service
With the proliferation of email and cell phones, including text and instant messaging services, consumers no longer rely on the U.S. Postal Service (USPS) to communicate with friends and family. Instead of buying stamps to mail a bill payment, computer owners with an Internet connection can pay their bills online. The USPS reported that between 2000 and 2009, the number of mail collection boxes decreased by half nationally. To recoup lost revenues, the USPS has raised the price of stamps over the years.

Travel Agencies
Travelers looking to secure transportation and lodging reservations are no longer forced to visit a local travel agent. With improvements in technology, travelers have booked more trips using online travel companies; in fact, the U.S. Department of Labor reports that since 1999, the travel agency industry has lost more than 75,000 jobs as more travel is booked online. In California, Orange County’s largest travel agencies saw a significant decline in business during 2009.

Bookstores
Online retailers have crippled brick-and-mortar stores when it comes to book sales. In addition, new devices such as the Apple iPad and Amazon Kindle provide electronic alternatives to how readers enjoy books. As a result, traditional bookstores with mounting financial troubles are on the decline. In February 2011, Borders filed for bankruptcy after making job cuts and closing more than 200 stores. At the time, Borders was the country’s second-largest bookstore chain.

Video Rentals
Advanced technology and computers erased necessary trips to the video store to rent movies and video games. As a result, in January 2010, the video rental chain Blockbuster closed more than 250 locations. Two main competitors are replacing its lost market share: Redbox, which is a kiosk movie rental service, and Netflix, which offers on-demand streaming over the Internet and movie rentals by mail.

The Importance & Advantages of Learning Computer Technology

Computers are an integral part of professional environments in the 21st century and not knowing how to do basic troubleshooting can be a drawback for job seekers. In addition, specialized professionals in computer technology, who can design and program computers and fix complicated problems, are imperative for any organization relying heavily on computers. Therefore, basic or advanced knowledge of computer technology can have a number of advantages for your career.

Computer Use at Workplaces
Coming up with a job that does not require the use of a computer is difficult. Journalists use computers to search for information and edit text or video, the police force uses computers to store criminal records, while even a self-employed shoe salesman can use the computer to keep his books intact with the help of spreadsheet software. Even rudimentary knowledge of computer technology is essential to undertake everyday tasks and improve your workplace performance.

Employment Opportunities
Most professions use computers for a variety of reasons, but being a computer technology specialist can open opportunities for technical jobs, such as computer programmer, technician, software development engineer and server analyst. As modern workplaces rely heavily on computers, they need specialists to ensure nothing goes wrong with the computer devices or the network. In addition, electronic methods of communication, including multimedia websites and mass email systems, are necessary for large organizations, and employees with computer technology knowledge can set them up.

Enhancing Your Resume
As CV Tips (see Reference 3) mentions, the advantage of being computer literate is “almost as clear as saying ‘good day.'” Since workplaces rely heavily on the use of computers as well as the services of computer experts, knowledge of computer technology can be the key to a successful job search. Mentioning in your resume that you have specific computer training can give you an interview call at the expense of a similarly qualified applicant who is computer illiterate.

Fast Skills Improvement
Having knowledge of computer technology means that you understand how computer hardware and software work and can adapt to any change. This knowledge can give you the upper hand when you must deal with new programs, such as updated content management systems or new features in technology. Computer technology does not remain stagnant and, as your position depends on using it efficiently, you must acquire the skills to follow developments closely.

What Is the Importance of Computer Technology in Everyday Life?

Computer technology is used to serve and connect people in the modern world. Desktops, laptops and mobile devices network the world together and perform multiple operations at once; however, this industry includes more than these machines. Individuals, communities, government and organizations rely on computer technology to produce or innovate the majority of things in their lives, such as food, services, entertainment, care, communication, education and transportation.

Food
Farmers use innovations in computer technology to determine the best time to plant, fertilize, harvest and sell crops. The Internet offers weather and stock market reports in real-time, and its global network of potential buyers is more expansive than local merchants. New machinery, such as cow milking machines, uses basic computer programming routines to automate the care of animals and crops. Harvesting vehicles give drivers more information when gathering crops, and farmers can detect if plants are contaminated with fungal toxins. As farmers become aware of new farming technology, they can adapt their future farming methods.

Services
Computer technology includes any machines that receive commands and perform calculations or services accordingly. Many types of operations, such as billing, record keeping, transactions and planning, take place through commercially available or customized machines. Most modern devices use microchips and processing units to perform their basic functions. ATM machines, gas station pumps, GPS units and barcode scanners may be common in everyday life; however, each relies on circuit boards and digital data to meet the needs of consumers.

People gain more access to personalized services through the Internet. You could order a pizza or groceries online, and email your doctor’s office or visit WebMD.com after receiving indigestion from something you eat. Look for online coupons that print out as discounts or free merchandise coupons for local stores and restaurants. Scan a product’s barcode into your smartphone, and read reviews or price-match the item before purchasing it.

Entertainment
Major motion pictures and television programs use some form of visual, audio and animation effects in their production. Video games employ graphics produced by a computer, and each game plugs into a computer-based home entertainment system. Players can play by themselves or with others over the Internet. Some game systems can sell downloadable programs and stream movies online.

Use mobile phone applications to make reservations at restaurants or hair salons to reduce wait time. Purchase movie tickets online to avoid standing in a crowded line, or play a game on your phone while waiting for the movie to start. Store your music library on a single device instead of carrying around individual CDs.

Care
A negative side effect of computer technology is the way it can affect your health. The field of ergonomics studies how a person’s sitting position when using electronic equipment can affect the user mentally and physically. People who sit incorrectly or who stare at a computer screen all day may experience headaches. The position of a computer keyboard can create or prevent carpal tunnel syndrome.

Other advances in computer technology have created more options for health care. Medical websites, such as WebMD.com, provide comprehensive overviews of what a person may be experiencing physically through their symptoms. Doctors offices can send patients a reminder email for an appointment, or fax a prescription to a pharmacy. Organic grocery stores or bulk sales of vitamin supplements can offer alternative options to traditional medicine.

Communication
People correspond with friends, family, acquaintances and business associates through social media, email, texting and instant messaging. Use computers to create holiday newsletters, and print off labels instead of hand writing each envelope. Stay in touch from work at home, attend video conferences instead of having to travel and send a mass email through MailChimp.com. Avoid the expense of a high school reunion by forming connections to old classmates through Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn and other social networking sites. Access news, weather forecasts, stock prices and more through websites and blogs that regularly compile top stories.

Education
A computer is a useful tool for advancing educationally in traditional and non-traditional ways. Colleges and universities offer online courses for adults who are looking to obtain a degree without quitting their job. Younger students rely on computers to research and access information, or to submit their work to their teacher. Professional or volunteer tutors can be found online to gain help on a variety of topics.

Computer technology makes it easier to learn more about other cultures. Use the Internet to take a virtual trip to another country by exploring ideas, art, music, products and other examples of culture. Have a video phone call on Skype with a missionary and order local ethnic food to eat while you interact.

Transportation
The basic functions of modern vehicles are controlled through computer chips and circuitry. Engine microprocessors calculate the proper mix of air and fuel for combustion, and a circuit board regulates the timing of the spark plugs. Certain safety features or luxuries, such as airbags, cruise control, anti-lock brakes and automatic transmission, all rely on computer technology to function.

GPS systems passively receive satellite signals that inform drivers of their location or how to find a specific destination. The device calculates the information and creates a display that adapts to movement, and it gives step-by-step directions on how to navigate the most-direct path available. Drivers can travel more confidently knowing that they can typically get where they need to go if service is available.

What Jobs Can You Get with a Computer Technology Degree?

Computer technology is a field with numerous career options. The number of opportunities available depends on the level of education you attain. An associate’s degree will open up several opportunities, while a bachelor’s degree will open up several more. Students of computer technology generally learn about both computer hardware and software. The quickly changing field of computer technology also makes it necessary to maintain ongoing education throughout your career.

Computer Support Specialist
Because the computer technology field changes rapidly and continuously, individuals and businesses will always be in need of professionals who can help them troubleshoot and streamline their computers and network systems. An associate’s degree in computer technology can prepare you for a career as a computer support specialist. A computer support specialist is someone who provides a service to computer owners by providing technical advice or even hands-on assistance for computer-related problems or glitches. Computer support specialists can be employed in a hardware- or software-related industry. Because they are well versed in a number of different computer applications, they sometimes write support manuals for software and hardware companies. They also sometimes simply perform the role of a customer service specialist by responding to inquiries from the general public. The U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics projects continued growth in this field at a rate of about 14 percent in terms of job growth through 2018. As of May 2008, the average wage of computer support specialists nationwide was $43,450.

Software Developer
A bachelor’s degree in the field of computer technology can prepare you for a career in software development. Many schools offer various areas of specialization within their computer and information technology degree programs. Students choosing a career in software development can expect even better job growth according to Bureau of Labor Statistics projections. Through 2018, the number of jobs in this field is expected to increase by 21 percent. In short, computer software developers use math and computer science to develop, test and analyze software. Software development tracks like the one offered at Purdue University train students in languages like C programming and visual programming. They also introduce students to other topics like programming for the internet and object-oriented software design. The median annual salary for software developers, as of May 2008, was $85,430.

Computer Networking
Because of the increased importance of the internet and the use of computer networks in business, students in computer technology may choose to follow the career path of a computer networking architect or administrator. This field is yet another where the job growth is expected to be particularly good through 2018 with a projected rate of job growth around 30 percent. Computer network architects are responsible for planning and implementing networks for homes and businesses. Network administrators are responsible for installing networks as well, but often play a key role in the ongoing administration and maintenance of the network. They work in a variety of settings including businesses and academic institutions. Pay varies according to what setting you work in, but the average annual wage of network administrators, as of May 2008, was $66,310. Most network administrators have obtained a bachelor’s degree or higher.

About Miniaturization in Computer Technology

The semiconductor industry is competitive and endlessly endeavors to replace yesterday’s computer technology with smaller chips, with features as small as a thousandth of the width of a human hair. The idea is to get more transistors on a single chip. Increasing the number of transistors ultimately leads to more power in the computer, cell phone, handheld PDA and other electronic devices that have a computer chip inside. In our times just about every electronic device has a computer chip inside. The pursuit to make these devices more powerful, and thus effectively independent of a constant power source, is the focus for miniaturization in computer technology. Ultimately the goal is to have computers everywhere by making components smaller and more powerful. These days you can buy one megabyte of memory for less than a stick of gum.

History
Technical giants around the world have accomplished innovations in miniaturization of computers to the degree of making older computers obsolete almost as quickly as they were put on the public market for sale. The commercial market for computer technology is so competitive that every giant in the industry of microprocessors is focused like a laser on erecting the next smallest microchip. The seemingly endless battle over miniaturization of computer technology may in fact be nearing an end. As computer chips get smaller, it becomes more difficult to construct components to fit on the chips.

Function
Manufacturers use a process known as lithography to create an artwork of circuitry that is layered over a silicon substrate. This method is changing rapidly. The problem with the functionality of this type of chip is the continuous pursuit of shrinking the size of the chip. In this miniaturization process, the surface area of the chip declines, leaving less room for the components that make the computer run faster or store more data. Components are more difficult to shrink in size. With fewer components, the capacity of the computer chip will come to a halt at some point in the design process. Even the creation of microscopic chips with nanotechnology will require innovation on the macro level. The macro level is the portion of physical reality that humans move around in. With nano computers we still need a way of plugging them into a macro conduit — power cables, outlets and peripherals like computer monitors.

Size
Miniaturization is especially important in the surface area of microchips, with components interconnected across the face of the chip. As surface area decreases, engineers are faced with the problem of designing newer and faster circuit designs. The problem with the new nano technology is in the wiring of nano devices. There isn’t an outlet or even a cable to plug in nano devices. Currently, small wiring is placed on top of silicon-based chips in which molecules replace the wiring. Wires can be up to 5,000 times longer than they are wide.

Potential
The future of miniaturization of computer technology will be in three-dimensional circuits. These cubes will replace the two-dimensional chips in computer technology. One of the benefits of using cubes is the surface area. A six-sided cube can contain more components than the standard computer chip. This new design shows prospect for the future in that a shrunken cube still retains a larger surface area than the smallest chip. With this new surface area, engineers can place more components on microprocessor. With more components, processors become faster and have a greater capacity for storing information.

Considerations
One of the bigger considerations for making computer technology smaller is the availability of the Internet. As computers are miniaturized down to the subatomic level, computers could literally be floating around in the air. By building computers on the subatomic level, the laws of physics do not apply as we know them. This allows for greater flexibility in computer connectivity, and may eventually make wiring computers together obsolete.