Significance of Information Technology
Trends in IT
Societal Implications of IT
- Businesses have invested heavily in IT. Industry spending
on IT equipment and software rose from less than $200 billion
in 1993 to more than $600 billion in 2000.
- Electronic commerce is having a major impact in traditional
businesses. Approximately 90 percent of electronic commerce (e-commerce)
transactions are business to business rather than business to
consumer. E-commerce is especially important in manufacturing,
which has a history of pre-Internet e-commerce. E-commerce shipments
accounted for 12 percent of the total value of manufacturing shipments,
or $485 billion.
- Retail e-commerce sales are still relatively modest. The Census
Bureau estimates 2000 retail e-commerce sales to be $27.3 billion.
- Increasingly strong evidence suggests that IT is contributing
to productivity and economic growth in the overall economy. Productivity
growth is especially evident in IT-producing sectors of the economy,
but evidence of positive effects in IT-using sectors exists as
- The Internet access gap between the richest and poorest areas
of the world is large and, by some measures, still growing. In
1997, Internet host penetration rates in North America were 267
times greater than rates in Africa; by October 2000, the gap had
grown to a multiple of 540.
- In the United States, Internet access is increasing for virtually
all demographic groups. The share of households with Internet
access increased from 26.2 percent in December 1998 to 41.5 percent
in August 2000.
- Internet access remains greatest among people with the most
income and education and is more common among Asian Americans
and whites than blacks and Hispanics. The share of black and Hispanic
households with Internet access was about 18 percent lower than
the national average. The growth rate in Internet access, however,
was highest among these groups.
- People with disabilities are only half as likely to have access
to the Internet as people without disabilities. IT may greatly
aid people with disabilities by making work from home more viable
and by providing aids to people with visual and hearing impairments.
- Government is making increasing use of the Internet to provide
constituent information and services and to conduct procurement
and payment transactions. Internet use is increasing at all levels
of government. Interagency websites make it possible for government
to organize services around segments of the population. State
and local governments use the Web for a variety of services, such
as issuing licenses, filing taxes, and applying for jobs.
Implications of IT for Science and Engineering
- Modeling and simulation are becoming increasingly powerful complements
to theory and experimentation in many areas of science and engineering.
The fastest supercomputers now run at more than 10 trillion operations
per second. Modeling and simulation are increasingly used in a
wide range of applications, including climate modeling, engineering
design, and genomics.
- Large, shared scientific databases have become key resources
in many areas of science and social science. Examples include
gene and protein databanks, collections of satellite sensing data,
and social science databases.
- Electronic versions of journals, preprint servers, and other
electronic resources are changing how researchers receive and
disseminate technical information. Research libraries are faced
with competing demands for electronic and paper journals. Academic
journals are facing challenges to their business models.
- IT supports increased and larger scale research and development
collaborations. Many multi-institution projects now use advanced
collaborative tools, Internet videoconferencing, remote access
to scientific instruments, and shared databases.
- IT has contributed to a market environment characterized by
rapid innovation. In most industries, companies know they must
constantly innovate if they are to succeed in a market influenced
by continuing improvements in IT.
- IT affects the organization of innovation, within and among
organizations. IT can speed the flow of technical information
within firms. It can also support innovation-related activities
that are increasingly performed outside large firms by large and
small companies that collaborate with each other and with academic
institutions and government agencies.
- Innovation in IT is accelerating and is different in some respects
from innovation in other areas of technology. IT patents'
share of all U.S. patents increased from 9 percent in 1980 to
25 percent in 1999. IT patents cite other technology patents more
extensively than scientific papers.
- IT certificate courses are changing the way IT workers are trained.
Companies and associations have created more than 300 new certifications
since 1989. Approximately 1.6 million individuals had earned about
2.4 million IT certificates by early 2000; half were earned by
students outside the United States.
- Use of IT in both traditional university courses and distance
education continues to expand. Many questions remain about the
extent to which IT will change higher education.