The impacts of Information Technology in the Economy are not an issue that can be fully covered in a presentation or a research work. This subject includes a lot of aspects and dimensions and has stimulated the interest of researchers, research centres and international organisations the last 30 years. As far as the evaluation of the impacts of Information and Communication technologies in the Economy are concerned, the multidimensional character is also accompanied by different points of view , regarding the achieved results up to today, as well as fr the oncoming consequences the following years.
The extensive utilisation of Information technology in business sectors began the 70s. Since the 70s up to day a huge improvement has taken place and more are in progress with no visible or predictable limits together with the development of the innovation team up with the wide enforcement of the technological achievements to the business sector. The changes of the economic and social status were tremendous worldwide. This is the reason that this period is characterized as the Third Industrial revolution.
Generally, we can distinguish the history of inrush and exploitation of Information and Communication technologies into three separate phases: A)The first phase includes the period that Information technology was mainly used for the recording and processing of information and for supporting the economical and productive units to increase their productivity. This was initiated by the appearance of microcomputers during the early years of the 80s providing the necessary accessibility and availability to the digital technology and making it popular.
B)During the second phase, which is called “Information Society”, the digital technology influenced all sectors of the Social and Economic Life. The degree of influence was so intense that led to large rates of growth in Industry and Services. The Information Technology industry as well as other sectors, which could exploit the innovative technology, faced periods of prosperity and incensement of their productivity. C)The Third phase came as a result of the diffusion and interaction of Internet technology and Globalisation.
The networking of Information Systems and local networks and the extensive use of personal computers not only as a tool of recording and processing of data, but also as a mean of communication with multiple applications (entertainment, education, Knowledge management, social activity, etc) took off the utilisation of the digital technology consituting today an integral part of our life. The growth of Internet technology was so great that the changes in the production and services were rapid and sweeping.
A considerable number of researchers,,, have worked on the study of the benefits and the evaluation of utilization of information technology in economy and social Life. Developed or developing countries use to call the current status of the economy “New Economy” and consider the economic situation as a result of the exploitation of Information and Communication technology in the economic activities. The main advantages of this situation can be discriminated as follow: A)High rates of productivity.
The rates of productivity increase are sufficiently high and are expected to become higher, while the economic results are usually presented after the depreciation of corresponding investments. The increase of the rates of growth at the beginning of new millennium is considered to be a result of the investments in the Information Technology that took place during the 90’s. The use of Information and Communication Technology resulted the insertion of automated production procedures and better management of productive units. B)Improvement of quality of the offered services and products.
In a lot of cases a better quality of products resulted without important increase of production cost. In this, the applications of robotics systems in the production, the reliability of technology, the from one side improvement of environment of work of human potential have contributed. C)Changes in the way that public and private institutions deal with the citizens or consumers based on processes that are more directed to the citizen /customer. This means that the services or products are designed so as to satisfy their needs and desires.
D)Minimisation of the production cost and consequently the enterprises have better financial standing for new investments and expansion of their business activities. It is worth to be mentioned that production units and distribution networks achieved the just in time production and market demand of products optimising the use of their resources. E)Another important factor, related with the economic issues, is the confrontation of social problems and social inclusion of vulnerable groups. Indicatively, cases of people with handicaps, who faced their disability by using systems with innovative technological achievements have been reported.
The afore mentined points can lead someone to claim that Information and Communication Technology has only positive consequences and is a panacea for every problem or situation. We are confident that the use of information and Communication technology is a river of no return. Also, it is common sense that a wide change in Economy, like the one we face the last years has also negative repercussions and produces problems, which should be faced. The research, of the last 20 years is focused on the development of new innovative technology or the exploitation of the technology in new areas and applications.
However, is should be pinpointed that problems arise, some of them emerging and most of them creating an unfavourable situation. Some of the main problems can be discriminated to the following groups: A)The dissociation of human force in two categories: i) digital educated and ii) digital illiterates, even though Governments and organisations put a lot of effort and resources to face this problem. This segregation is more intense in the employment, where unemployment affects the group of aged workers who have difficulties to access and acquire skills and knowledge regarding the new technological products and achievements.
This Social lack of balance has produced unpleasant situations and set Governmental bodies thinking how to overcome these kind of problems. B)Countries with prosperity economies worldwide are those that have the possibility of producing innovating technology, while countries with lean economic capabilities, are usually those with insignificant technological research and development. This discrimination problem, constitutes a situation of dependency of poor countries on the developed ones, was intensified even more by the Third Industrial Revolution. C)The economy of the majority of developing countries is based on SMEs.
The conviction during the first phase that the new popular and cheap technology will support the further development of SMEs was finally proved not to be trustworthy. The conditions of the market and globalisation of Economies resulted in the shrinking of SMEs, while multinational large enterprises extended their activities and in many sectors and countries dominated the sectors they were activated (Production, Services, Banking, Commercial Activities, Logistics, transports, etc). It is remarkable to be mentioned that world wide the enlargement of the gap amon the prosper people and others has increased.
The above mentioned viewpoints contribute some of the questionings and speculations as far as the impacts of the digital technology to economy are concerned. Since these matters are crucial and substantial for the quality of life, more effort and recourses have to be employed in order to be faced effectively. In this section of the conference three research works will be presented regarding some of the aspects of Information and Communication Technology and Economic Sectors: The first work with the title “an overview of computer supported cooperative works for SMEs’ by Chronis N ang G.
Preserakos concerns the application of these systems (CSCW) that integrate information and communication technologies to support the operational activities of SMEs. The functionality and the technical characteristics are presented in detail giving an overview of their functionality. Also, the alternative technological architectures are presented as well as a comparative analysis concerning their use in SMEs. One important point of this work is the explanaion of barrieranalysis for deploying this technological platform to SMEs and outlining the required directions in order to fave these obstacles.
The second work concerns the application of “Franchising in Greece” by Th. Kossidas. It is known that franchising is a business activity that was firstly presented during th 18th century. The exploitation of Information and Communication technology has produced favourable conditions so as the franchising to grow up, consistutin one of the major business opportunities for SMEs.. The work includes extensive analysis of ? the basic parameters concerning Franchising focused on the Greek Market. Franchising is presented as a business tool to support the SMEs sector in Greece.
Finally, the work leads to useful conclusions and direction for further growth of franchising in Greece. The third work presents a comparative analysis of “Reservation Systems in tourist section”. It is focused on the presentation of functional characteristics and technical characteristics of the existing and more widespread systems. Since tourist sector comprises one of the most dynamic and for some countries is one of the most significan business activities, it is expected that the utilisation of the technology will not be limited on the recording and processing of data.