The role of computer in office management

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INTRODUCTION

For decades now, fast changes have been taking place in all facets of human life including the office environment. This is as a result of technological advancement. Every office in today’s business world, be it government, industry or other human endeavors, require facts and accurate information for quick decision-making. The office worker, including the secretary, expects certain support from the organization into which he/she is employed. This support can be technological (machines and equipment) and human. In offices of past, manager’s dictated memos and letters and secretaries typed them. Most recently, business have developed word processing centers and relied on personal computers and even electronic mail in an effort to lessen the need for secretarial support and make the employee-secretary very productive (Ezoem, 1995; Osuala, 2004).
Computer echnology has introduced a new dimension to various fields of human endeavour. This fact has been greatly acknowledged by some scholars that have researched into the concept. In the opinion of Gore and Leuwerke (2000:3), ‘It is impossible to deny the profound impact of emerging technologies on the lives of people in today’s society. In the last 2 decades, computers have changed the way we live, work, and communicate. One need only mention the concern surrounding Y2K to portray the extent of our society’s dependence on computers.’
Some of the popular uses of computers in offices include preparation of word documents such as letters, reports, processing of work documents such as work orders and financial reports, presentation of reports and proposals to and behalf of executive and higher level office personnel, management of email services to maintain and sustain business and communication services, filing, storage and retrieval of business information and support for internal and external business services that require messaging, faxes, printing, photocopying, video and electronic transmissions.
For some of the processes described above, computers enable the use of “productive” office software tools that facilitate effective management of: word processing documentation, extensive numerical calculations and outputs that are useful in decision making, and quite complex but highly organized collections of various types of data, which may be alphabetical, numerical, or both. Again the latter functions allows for quick and easy management, of business data, that facilitate quick office operations thereby producing useful business information such as billing and invoices. In this regard, office software tools, such as the Microsoft Software Suite of productive tools, are a basic feature of almost every modern office computer software system.
Modern computer networks facilitate business interactions among offices in small and large businesses and also promote productive two way or multi-path business flows with other remote business, governmental, legal, commercial and almost any other relevant or related business concerns. As such they extend and augment the reach and capability of the office enterprise.
The office computer has therefore leapt forward from being a mere facilitator of platforms for word processing, spreadsheets, databases, and powerpoint presentations to being a dynamic and interactive business instrument for offices in contemporary times.
Information is an essential strategic resource in any nation for the various aspects of development in the world today. Zi-guang (1992:210) submits that:
We are living in an era of information explosion. Acording to estimates, some 4 to 5 million new documents are published every year. Only by utilizing modern information technology can we promptly and scientifically collect, collate and process so many documents.’
A major aspect of the work of Office Technology and Management students and lecturers is Office Management.
In the past, the course is referred to as Secretariat Studies. The course has only changed in nomenclature and not in scope. Professionals in the field are regarded as secretaries, confidential secretaries, executive secretaries and the likes.
Before the advent of Information Technology (IT), professionals in the field of Office Technology Management deal a lot with paper work and the typewriter serves as the working tool. In recent time, IT has introduced a new dimension to the field through computer and other electronic devices that give the profession a day to day transformation as Blanton, (1998) posit that these new computer technologies have changed the way we engage in common activities. No wonder, this means of information is modernised on daily basis to meet the demands of the current tendencies in the technical undertakings of the world. No doubt, secretaries are the custodian of information in any organisation. In any organization, the numerous roles that the secretary performs are too important to be underemphasized.
The role of technology in the field of education can never be over emphasized. Students have become a major beneficiary of the technology especially in management of information. Jorn and Duin (1992:18) observe that ‘when students meet face to face, technology can still provide them with physical space to share information and engage in substantive conflict. When collaborators are at different locations and cannot meet face –to-face, technologies allow collaborators to share information and discuss issues’ In essence, technology is helpful in bridging information gap when essential and in creating information gap when needed. But to VanHoof, (1996), technology has assisted to enhance operational effectiveness and to enhance customer satisfaction with the property in the hospitality Industry.
The increasing penetration of IT into office management has been accompanied by certain prospects and challenges which deserve to be given scholarly attention. Though, Harvey and Sturges (2010:148) agree that ‘Information and communication technologies (now widely regarded as IT) can have a positive influence, but it has to be the right technology for the right place and the right people.’ This is the more reason that more awareness is needed in the application of IT to different fields. It is important to state that the approach of IT to classroom teaching is different from office practice.
The primary purpose of this article is to provide a general overview of the relevance and effectiveness of IT in office management as Gore and Leuwerke (2000:3) argued that rapid changes in computers and other telecommunications technologies may represent the most profound changes, challenges, facing our profession today.

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