Information Technology UPSC Notes
Industrial revolution has given us production technologies which have revolutionised methods of production. It has given us better quality products at more competitive prices. In some cases, it has given products which did not exist earlier. Today, Information Technology is bringing about a similar revolution in the methods of business and management, which the industrial technology brought in the methods of production. That is why it has been called as the Second Industrial Revolution.
It all started with the development of computers in the 1950s. Early computer systems of the 50s and 60s were called Data Processing Machines. They were stand-alone machines which could tabulate transaction data into statistical reports. Paper documents containing transaction data were physically brought to the computer centre. Data was punched, verified and tabulated at the computer center and tabulated reports were physically carried away from the computer center. There was no interface between the computer system and the communication system because the computer used the digital pulses while the communication system used analogue pulses. Then came the digitization of the communication system that made it possible to integrate communication systems with computer systems. Both computer technology and communication technology have grown very rapidly, contributing to each others growth, the two have become very interdependent.
The term IT has come into common use since the mid-80s with the integration of the computer technology and the communication technology. Today, IT provides integrated solutions for development of information systems in organisations and society. Information system is the nervous system of any organisation and sine qua non for it survival.
In today’s competitive global economy, industries and nations must manage their human capital and material resources efficiently and effectively if they are to survive and prosper. The world is moving towards more democratic and open forms of governance. With rising expectations of people and greater emphasis on public accountability, governments are under increasing pressure to improve managerial performance. Information lies at the heart of any management process. Information systems in organizations are as old as organizations themselves. With the growing complexities of modern organisations, not to speak of the systems of public administration, information systems are playing greater role in providing integration in organisational and public functioning. We are moving towards an information society in which much larger proportion of people are depending for their livelihood and lifestyles on activities relating to information processing.
In the last few decades, the world has seen such phenomenal growth in IT which it had not seen in many centuries before.
The developments in IT has affected every industry and every profession. It has had profound effect on the style and quality of life of people all over the world. It has influenced the development strategy of nations as well as the balance of power amongst nations.
IMPACT OF ‘IT* ON PUBLIC ADMINISTRATION
Information Technology has been the greatest change agent. It is changing every aspect of human life. It is breaking traditional barriers and building new interconnections in the emerging “Global Village’. It has made a significant impact on public administration which is briefly discussed here:
Flattened organizational structure:
The introduction of IT has led to flattening and downsizing of bureaucratic organisations, eliminating the need for hierarchy and a long chain of command. In other words the hierarchical organisation structure has been replaced by a more flattened one. There is now reduction in paper work. A sizable number of people deploved in workplaces has been downsized. The impact of IT is felt mainly at the middle-level management. In the traditional public administration, the middle-level management constitutes the mainstay of bureaucracy. Now, people even from remote do have fast access to knowledge available in any corner of the world.
Creation of new administrative culture:
Downsizing of the governme directorates and field offices would result in creation of new administrative culture by making peopics acco to information about public administration easy, bringing the public officials under the gaze of effective public scrutiny, by helping the people to assess the merit and attitude of public servants towards the people as their customers or consumers. Appreciati leir customers or consumers. Appreciation of the demands of the people by public will be greatly facilitated through IT. IT would be agent for transforming the nature and style of public administration into a participatory culture, taking the people as partners in public administration. Freely a information would also go a long way in reducing corruption in administration.
IT provides greater access of information ‘which could be used 101 Dec decision-making, transparency and free governance. The democratic government is not justo be elected by the people but should also have credibility and accountability in the eyes of the people.
Change in Administrative Process:
IT is also changing the administrative process, which is called ‘neutral networks’. Neutral networks are being used to supplement decision-making in a wide variety of areas. These networks can scan customer purchases and client behaviour, and can also spot potential defrauders. The neutral network systems are programmed to think like a human being and take the initiative. This technology will be of great help in analysing the track records of criminals by police forces and detecting fraud in the management of financial institutions and banks.
The introduction of IT will bring about management revolution. As in the case of Railways, Insurance Sector, Banking, Air transport, etc. file-pushing processes are being done away with. In India, with IT, much progress and efficiency is observed which in turn has improved the standard of services!
Enabling technology for performance:
Irrespective of the type and nature of process involved in public management systems, it is an indisputable fact that ‘It can be effectively used as an ‘enabling technology to enhance the performance of the administrators. With all it s related components, IT provides competitive advantage, financial gains, better delivery of services. besides ushering in authenticity, accountability, transparency and speed to the working of administrators.
As management finds itself in need of more and more timely information for decision-making information services would be increasingly important. Further, IT provides different services at one window often called single window clearance. There is no performance orientation rather than a procedure-oriented bureaucratic sophistication of information processing technology means that public managers with more new ideas, new products and new challenges than ever before.
Promoting IT Education And Training:
Now IT technologies have forced promote IT training programmes and invest in IT education. To imbibe these new technologies and to exploit them to hit, the administrators have to be trained on the use and application of these emerging technologies. Indeed the success of the administrator lies in absorption, adaptation and acquicition of IT and IT-based technologies to compete globally. absorption, adaptation, and acquisition of IT and IT-based technologies This, in return, entails that now the choice of modern administrator should be of a person having a reasonable foundation built through adequate IT education.
Application of IT is quite important in the context of challenges surfaced by globalization and good governance. The successful induction of ‘IT’ in public administration requires a change of mindset. This requires political will and support and decisive administrative leadership.