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Office Information System

Unit 2

Unit 2
Structures Objectives 2.1 2.2 2.3 Office information systems Nature of office

Office Information System

Types of office automation systems 2.3.1 2.3.2 2.3.3 2.3.4 Document management systems Communication systems Teleconferencing systems Office support systems

2.4

Client server computing 2.4.1 Components of a client server system 2.4.2 Development of client server system 2.4.3 Advantages / Disadvantages of client server system 2.4.4 MIS and client server architecture

2.5

Exercise

Objectives The objective of this unit is to familiarise the reader with the various components and types of office automation systems in addition to client server architecture.

2.1 Office information system


The movement towards automation in office work is known as office automation. Office automation includes new hardware and software packages like word processors, spreadsheets etc. that makes office employees more productive, in addition to the attendant situations created by office automation technologies and the people that use such technologies. The combination of information technologies that have a dramatic impact on day to day office operations are called office information systems.
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2.2 Nature of office


An office is a place where staff and line professionals perform management and administrative tasks. In general, 5 types of employees can be found in an office : (1) Managers : Managers generally spend most of their time in planning, organising, directing and controlling the activities of people working in the organisation. (2) Staff professionals : They support the activities of managers. Such professionals do not have direct line responsibility ie; their role is mostly one of planning, analysing and informing management of their findings. (3) Line professionals : These include sales persons, purchasing agents etc. Such people interact daily with outside groups as organisations customers and suppliers. (4) Secretaries : They are normally assigned to one or more knowledge employees in an office. They perform tasks such as typing, filing, answering phones, keeping appointment calendars etc. (5) Clerical personnel : They are usually not assigned to anyone in general, but they support the entire department / section / division.

2.3 Types of office automation systems


There are 4 types of office automation systems. They are : (1) Document management systems (2) Communication systems (3) Teleconferencing systems (4) Office support systems 2.3.1 Document management systems : These are computer based tools that provide access to repositories of data, regardless of their form (text, graphics, images etc.) or location. The retrieved documents can be displayed in different formats, edited, distributed and integrated using other communication systems. These communication systems include word processing, desktop publishing, archival storage, imaging etc. Such systems enable knowledge workers to be in
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better control, coordinate and manage the various electronic documents used in decision making. 2.3.1.1 Word processing: It is one of the most widely used and recognised office system technology. It involves hardware and software tools that allow the computer system to become more than just a powerful typewriting device. Word processors enable documents to be created and edited electronically. When the document is finished, it can be stored in secondary storage or output on the system printer in a variety of formats. 2.3.1.2 Desktop publishing : Also known as DTP, it is the use of a computer to prepare printed output. It consists of a microcomputer configuration. This configuration includes a high resolution cathode ray tube screen and a laser printer, and is driven by DTP software. The high resolution screen enables the operator to display the image in a WYSIWYG (what you see is what you get) form. The display on the screen looks exactly like the hard copy that will be produced by the laser printer. DTP applications can be categorised into three areas : Administrative applications : These include documents intended for such internal use as correspondence, reports, newsletters etc. Techncial applications : These include training materials such as slides, overhead transparencies and manuals Corporate graphics : These include advertisements, brochures and other documents intended for use outside the firm 2.3.1.3 Archival storage : One of the key functions in an office is storage. To save expense associated with storage space, handling and paper costs, archival data was placed onto various media and stored off line. Such media are also particularly useful to firms requiring to keep large files available that do not have to be updated, or to firms that need to process large amounts of data but find online access too expensive.
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The most common technologies used to store archival materials are : Magnetic tape: It is one of the oldest and the most common ways of storing data for archival purposes. Tape is inexpensive, compact and can store rather large text files. Computer output microfilm (COM): This refers to all technologies that either place data onto microfilm media such as reel of microfilm, or those that allow those media to be read by humans. Microfilming media are often superior to magnetic tape because they are better suited to graphic data, easier to handle and use in many situations and also more rugged. Optical disks : Optical disks for microcomputers store 650 MB of data on a single disk. Those for midrange and main frame systems are usually larger in diameter and have storage capacities in the multi giga byte range. Diskettes : They are suited only in those situations in which modest

amounts of archival storage are necessary. 2.3.1.4 Reprographics: It is a process of reproducing multiple copies of a document. When documents are widely distributed, either internally or externally, reprographics often includes collating, folding, binding and related tasks. 2.3.1.5 Imaging: It is a type of document management system that converts paper, microfilm and electronic data into digital images that can be printed, faxed or viewed on a computer screen. It is mainly used in problem solving when it is required to view historical documents for understanding a problem. 2.3.1.6 Multimedia : This encompasses a group of computer technologies that integrate different types of media such as text, graphics, animation, audio and video, to generate information. Multimedia is made possible by integrating audio and video capabilities into personal computers. Besides the usual CPU and peripherals, for a computer to have multimedia capabilities, it should have a CD-ROM drive, stereo speakers, a microphone for voice input, a sound card,

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video card and also a video compression card. Multimedia is very helpful in corporate training and business applications. 2.3.2 Communication systems : The various written communication being used in automation are electronic data interchange (EDI), electronic mail (Email), Voice mail, facsimile and internet. 2.3.2.1 Electronic data interchange (EDI) : EDI can be defined as the transfer of electronic data from one organisations computer system to another organisations computer system in a commonly agreed format so that it is directly usable by receiving organisations computer system. With EDI, the received electronic data can be immediately processed by the receivers computer system without the necessity for human interpretation and translation before action. 2.3.2.2 Electronic mail (Email) : It is a system that allows a person or a group of persons to communicate electronically with others through a network, in written form, anytime anywhere in the world. Email is a popular form of business communication with the majority of organisations possessing an email address. 2.3.2.3 Voice mail : This facilitates oral communication. In this system, the sender dictates a message by speaking them over the telephone rather than typing them. A special device called a codec, converts the analog signal of the senders voice into a digital message. The message is transmitted over a network and stored in a server at the receivers network. When the receivers chooses, the digitized message is retrieved from the server, reconverted into analog form, using a codec at the receivers end, and the receiver receives it over the phone. 2.3.2.4 Facsimile : Popularly known as fax, systems are common place in most organisations. This technology uses telephones, modems and scanners to transmit text and graphics to an individual or organisation anywhere in the world. The scanner in the fax machine scans the document at one end and at the other end, a built in modem receives the message so the message can be then printed out using a printer. They can send the same document o multiple users.
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2.3.2.5 Internet : The internet is a global network of millions of computers that are linked by various communication channels. 2.3.3 Teleconferencing systems : These consists of tools and techniques that allow a group of people, separated by time and distance, to exchange ideas using audio, video and other teleconferencing media. The main feature of this is that they reduce operating costs and increase productivity because decision makers do not have to travel face to face meetings. 2.3.3.1 Audio conferencing : It is the use of voice communication equipment to establish an audio link between geographically dispersed persons for conducting a conference. The conference call, which allows more that two people to participate in a telephone conversation, was the first form of audio conferencing. It is best suited to firms that are spread over a wide area. 2.3.3.2 Video conferencing : This is another type of teleconferencing systems that uses telephones, tv monitors, computers etc. to link geographically separated decision makers to hear and see each other. A computer digitizes sound and video images, then converts them to analog signals and transmits them over telephone lines to the receivers computer, which reconverts the analog signals to digital signals. These are then translated onto audio and video messages, and then presented on the tv monitor and sound system. There are 3 basic types of video conferencing : One way video and one way audio One way video and two way audio Two way video with two way video 2.3.3.3 Computer conferencing : It is the use of a networked computer to allow members of a problem solving team to exchange information concerning the problem that is being solved. In this system, a group can consist of a large number of participants. It differs from audio and video conferencing in that it can

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be used within a single geographic site. A person can use computer conferencing to communicate with a person in the next office. 2.3.3.4 In house television : In this system, an organisation invests in a studio, a period of time on a satellite and a satellite transmitter for broadcasting. Company sites or even customers are given satellite dishes so that they can view the broadcast. This technology has already shown potential in the areas of competitive advantage, cost cutting and employee motivation. 2.3.3.5 Telecommuting : In this system, people use communications technology to work at home or in a remote city, to avoid the usual physical commute to work. Using a remote communications terminal or a microcomputer workstation, a person can do his / her work at home instead of at the office. 2.3.4 Office support systems : The various office support systems are groupware, desktop organizers, computer aided design and electronic bulletin boards. 2.3.4.1 Groupware : This consists of software packages designed to support the collaborative efforts of a group of co workers. Such packages often provide integrated support for many of the typical activities of work groups already identified. This includes : word processing services, email, voice mail, fax, computer conferencing, video and audio conferencing etc. The essential components of groupware are linking group members who are geographically separated, using networks. It eliminates the barrier of time and space, and allows different group members to work on the same documents at the same time. 2.3.4.2 Desktop organizers : These are software packages that provide users with the electronic equivalent of the organising and coordinating tools found on a typical office desk. Among many features, it includes electronic calendar, card file, notepad, clock, calculator etc.

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2.3.4.3 Computer aided design (CAD) : These refers to computer systems that enable designers to work with a display screen interface and specifications database to design various products. It is widely used in engineering environments. 2.3.4.4 Electronic bulletin boards : These allow members to post their data and elicit responses from other group members. The primary benefits are increased responsiveness to market forces and significant improvement in the quality of business processes such as product development, account management and customer service.

2.4 Client server computing


Client server computing is an approach to network use and is based on the concept that some function are performed best on a local basis and some are performed on a central basis. In a typical client server computing network, application processing is shared between clients and one or more servers. A client is a user who accesses the network by means of a desktop computer. A server can be a computer of any size a mainframe unit, a mini, a workstation or even a micro that provides a control function for the network. The client server technology is defined as per Newtons telecom dictionary as a form of shared or distributed computing in which tasks and computing power are split between servers and clients. Servers store and process data common to users across the enterprise and these data can then be accesses by client systems for individual processing requirements.

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2.4.1 Components of a client server system Front end software Database management systems Application integrity Backups Network security Disaster recovery

Client server system

Back end software User interfaces Application development tools Document management Data access

As shown in the figure above, the client server architecture in addition to server and client software, includes front end software (client) and back end software (server). The front end software provides the user interface (what the user sends and receives), communication with atleast one server and data manipulation. The back end software primarily controls data acquisition and integrity, supports transaction management, and recovers lost transactions, in cases of system failure. In a client server system, the server influences the way the client responds to a user request, a number of clients can access the server at the same time, client processes and server processes are independent of each other. This

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independence has the advantage of a client being added or deleted, to / from a network without affecting the server or other clients. 2.4.2 Development of client server system The following 5 steps are required before the development of a client server system : Identify and define the type of application Assess network requirements Select the architecture (hardware, software and network capabilities) Develop the logical and physical design of the system Test, implement and maintain the system The development of client server applications is then based on the following 6 components : Communication services Distribution services Application services Organisation specific applications Industry specific applications System management and security 2.4.3 Advantages / Disadvantages of client server system Advantages Reduction of responsibilities and cost overhead at center Better local cost control of operations and development Faster response time to requests for processing Greater access to corporate data and knowledge otherwise maintained in a highly protected and centralized data structure Enables distribution of processing from centralized to desktop computing Offers cooperative processing between individuals and group departments across organisational boundaries, geographies and time zones
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Rewriting systems for the client server system is often an opportunity to purge obsolete software from the application portfolio and to consolidate, integrate and make the system more efficient Offers more friendly interfaces for end users especially knowledge workers and customers Greater involvement of end users in IT implementation Disadvantages There are some disadvantages of client server system. Some problems exist, which are associated with downsizing and the need for greater coordination and cooperation among the end users of the system. There is the problem of resistance, which must be expected of all the new technological changes. Training may be considered as a technological obstacle. End users have to be trained not only on using the client and knowing the functions of the server, but end users need to be educated about networking and trained in navigating across LAN and perhaps across the internet. Other technological obstacles are the lack of tools of development and products of the client server system, the lack of methodologies for development of client server systems, lack of experience in the planning and implementation of a client server system, lack of available standards relating to the equipment and operations of such systems. These and other disadvantages of client server system are as follows : Organisational (1) Lack of personnel skill in the client server system and in networking (2) Resistance to change and new technology (3) Risks of downsizing (4) Costs of conversion (5) Need for greater coordination and control of more end users

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Technological (1) Need of LAN / WAN infrastructure (2) Lack of skills and equipment resources (3) Lack of methodology / experience in planning for a client server system (4) Lack of client server products and tools of development (5) Lack of client server applications (6) Lack of national and international standards for the client server paradigm

2.4.4 MIS and client server architecture MIS design is more dynamic with well defined authority and decision making structure. The client server architecture because of its capabilities serves well with this need of MIS. It provides comprehensive support to the decision makers. With the business growth, it allows easy expansion of any nature. The architecture is scalable on both sides and also cost performance effective. The decision making has shifted from data to information, to individual. The architecture of the system should therefore be, such that it is flexible and easy to change. It is required of the nature where business processes and rules governing them can be changed as suited to the decision maker and also they can coexist. Database should be stable and secured, and process management flexible. The architecture should meet local needs and serve corporate global needs. To meet this complex, architecture need, it was necessary to built a model where data business logic its usage and presentation is on different hardware software platform. The client server architecture helps this requirement very efficiently. It is user centric as each user can have his view of the business and its process. The user can evolve his own decision making processes. The client server architecture offered such a platform due to its following important characteristics : On the physical side, it is scalable, expandable and the distance between two locations for communication is no issue. The system components are divisible
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locally or at different platforms. For example, the user can distributed databases and distributed processing. It is platform independent where operating system, hardware, architecture, vendor specific differences are no longer serious limitations. It is possible to build the system suitable to user locations, data sources and application requirement. Due to capabilities of data warehousing, data replication and distribution of application logic across the servers, it is possible to optimise the usage of hardware and software with full benefit to the users. Client server architecture provides this environment where MIS is a flexible and dynamic model as compared to traditional model of MIS working on main frame model. MIS for competitive and strategic needs requires heavy transaction processing and using processed information to update the business status initiating a variety of actions. Client server architecture offers such functionality to perform. Ability of client server architecture to store data and swift access, and processing capabilities helps to try and simulate variety of strategy before they are firmed up. Use of executive information system, data reverse engineering for evolving and analysis of strategies is easily possible because of client server architecture using front end tools and packaged software on business modeling, risk analysis and forecasting. MIS essentially revolves around mission critical applications designed for highest customer satisfaction. A majority of such applications are real time transaction processing at multiple locations. The resultant business status needs to be put together to infer the position of performance. Client server architecture essentially focuses this requirement of business across the organisation. With second generation multi-tier client server architecture, it is possible to build MIS which is efficient to provide rich information for decision making at all levels.

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Once can conceptualise different models of MIS ie; corporate MIS, functional MIS, divisional MIS, personnel MIS etc.

2.5 Exercise
(1) Explain office information systems (2) Briefly explain, the various types of office automation systems (3) Mention the advantages and disadvantages of client server system

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