“Computer Science” is changing. For the first fifty years or so in which computers have existed, what mattered about them was to improve their performance in terms of speed, memory capacity, and so on, and to devise clever ways of solving novel problems via intricate logical techniques. By the turn of the century, though, computers were delivering more physical performance than most people could use; and we also have a rich enough panoply of programming languages, algorithms, etc. to address most kinds of technical problem.
The challenge now is to find ways of integrating this new technology into human life so that people’s real needs are better served, and to understand the new social phenomena which are emerging from the interplay between human beings and information technology.
One area where computers are having a large impact which so far is very little understood is business. People who hear the term “e-business” usually think of Web selling of consumer goods, and they remember that dotcom startups were hyped to the skies at the end of the 1990s and then, in many cases, went belly-up a few years later. But the truth is that computers are affecting the structure and operations of business in many more ways than just internet-based retailing.
I have had a longstanding interest in economic thought. Since 2001, one of my academic concerns has been to bring this to bear on the study of business exploitation of IT, so as to generate a better understanding of how business structure is being changed by the new technology, and of the implications for society at large.
Outputs of this line of work to date include:
Together with colleagues at other British universities, I organized a Higher Education Network for E-Business, to provide a focus for people involved in research and teaching in this area. The network was inaugurated with a one-day workshop at Westminster Business School in November 2005, with support from the Higher Education Academy and the British Computer Society; the second annual workshop took place at the University of Manchester in November 2006.
last changed 16 Aug 2008