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NCR CEO SEES "KNOWLEDGE" TECHNOLOGY LIFTING SERVICE SECTOR, PROPELLING AMERICA'S ECONOMIC LEADERSHIP

 NCR CEO SEES "KNOWLEDGE" TECHNOLOGY LIFTING
 SERVICE SECTOR, PROPELLING AMERICA'S ECONOMIC LEADERSHIP
 GRAND RAPIDS, Mich., Feb. 24 /PRNewswire/ -- Declaring knowledge technology key to the economic success of countries as well as companies, NCR Chairman and CEO Gilbert P. Williamson said that to remain a contender in the global marketplace, the U.S. must "face the fact that the old ways of doing things no longer apply."
 Speaking at the Economic Club of Grand Rapids, Williamson noted that the productivity gains of the U.S. service sector, which represents approximately 75 percent of America's employment base, have been falling -- which is true also for Japan and Germany. He said the remedy is not working harder or longer, but shortening "the time it takes to accomplish a task."
 NCR, headquartered in Dayton, Ohio, was acquired by AT&T last September and is now the Networked Computing Resource of AT&T. With operations in over 120 countries around the world, NCR's products range from notepad computers to enterprise-wide massively parallel computers, as well as networking products, imaging systems, cooperative computing software systems, and related products and services.
 "Technology alone is not the answer," Williamson noted. "In too many cases, technology is sprinkled like so much salt on top of a pork chop." Rather, Williamson said, the "next stage" for computer makers is to perfect "the tools that will turn data into information -- analytical tools that will give (service) companies the capabilities to process that information quickly and intelligently enough to generate superior knowledge.
 "In essence, the information-based organization will become the knowledge creating company," he said.
 Williamson described three ways that knowledge technology can be used to meet business challenges:
 -- Recognizing the power of information as a strategic resource;
 -- Integrating the information centers of an organization into a virtual computing utility, and;
 -- Re-engineering existing business processes. Information as a Strategic Resource
 Transforming mountains of data into useful information helps workers make intelligent decisions, Williamson said. He noted that when a company focuses its computer technology resources on producing information, "the organization is empowered."
 The next step, according to Williamson, is making sure that information gets distributed to those who need it. He said, "The goal is an organization that, in terms of its information processing capability, is greater than the sum of its parts."
 Creating a Virtual Computing Utility in the Organization
 Williamson explained that most service-sector workers have been stranded on "islands" of automation, in which desktop computers don't connect or communicate with the company's mainframe, with their departments's minicomputers, or with their co-workers' desktop computers. He said standards-based computers, cooperative software products, and advanced networking technologies are making it possible to connect these islands, but that doing so requires specialized know-how.
 "One of the important synergies we achieved in our merger with AT&T was precisely in this area: enhancing our ability to network a large variety of diverse computing environments," Williamson said.
 Re-engineering Business Processes
 Williamson said most business practices achieved their present form in the 1950s, before the advent of modern computer technology. Because these practices were designed to compensate for a lack of information rather than an abundance of it, "existing rules of work are too often based on assumptions about technology, people and organizational goals that no longer make sense."
 He said that re-engineering, in contrast, removes the stumbling blocks to increased productivity by "throwing aside the old procedures and using technology in imaginative new ways. Just as we change what computers can do, so must we change what we do with computers."
 Williamson cited examples of companies who have already achieved improvements as a result of re-engineering. He discussed an example within his own company that improved customer service by compressing a process turnaround time from 8-10 weeks to one week, improved quality by reducing process errors by 95-98 percent, and realized a significant decrease in training time and costs.
 In his concluding remarks, Williamson said that conquering the challenges American businesses face is tied not only to new ways of doing business but to new ways of using knowledge technology.
 He said, "The rules of the game are changing. Global business is increasingly a complex web of alliances and partnerships. But some things never change: national pride, the instinct to win, the desire to create a better world for our children.
 "I'm optimistic that American business has the vision and the will to do what has to be done."
 NCR(R), the Networked Computing Resource of AT&T, develops, manufactures, markets, supports and services enterprise-wide information systems for worldwide markets.
 NCR is a registered trademark of NCR Corporation.
 -0- 2/24/92
 /CONTACT: Lynne Frye of NCR Corporation, 513-445-2033/ CO: NCR Corporation ST: Michigan IN: CPR SU:


CG -- CL017 -- 2078 02/24/92 17:09 EST
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Copyright 1992 Gale, Cengage Learning. All rights reserved.

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Publication:PR Newswire
Date:Feb 24, 1992
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