Information Age Will Yield Innovations / Potential for Growth Begins with Office Automation, Says Stuckey

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What appears to be a personal computer explosion today is but a twinkling of what will happen tomorrow, according to David A. Stuckey, m arket consultant with the advanced market development division of the IBM Corp. of Purchase, N.Y.

The onrushing information age will yield computer innovations in both capability and price which will make the modern computer revolution seem as quaint as the 1950s appear today, he said.

"Just as telescopes expanded the vision to things man has not seen before, (the microcomputer) will allow us to think thoughts not thought before," Stuckey stated.

As a result, technological growth will multiply from itself, creating objectives rather than resulting in them.

"There are many unthinkable things we don't know about today, and you can't know until you pay the dues with stage one and two applications," he said.

The potential for growth begins with office automation. While the average agricultural worker has an estimated $75,000 invested capital behind him, and the average industrial worker $35,000, the average information services worker currently has only an estimated $1,500 to $2,000 invested in him, Stuckey said.

According to IBM studies, white collar workers currently spend 90 percent of their time gathering data, and only 10 percent acting on it. As computer systems grow closer to total media integration, assimilating data, voice, text, and image systems, phenominal office productivity achievements are assured, he said.

An estimated 15 percent productivity improvement will be realized "just from eliminating duplicated, useless tasks," Stuckey said.

Integrated automation will lead to staff cuts. The problem, however, is more one of redeployment than unemployment, Stuckey said. Clerks accounted for 15 percent of the U.S. workforce in 1960, and 19 percent in 1980, thereby proving their workplace was not eliminated, he added.

Computer technology, meanwhile, is only halfway down its cost performance curve "at best," he noted. With technology in the works today, "we will see improvement on the level of 4 to 5 times down this curve" in the next decade.

"By 1990, IBM believes there will be 30 to 35 million workers who will be direct users of work stations that cost $12,000 or less, while now there are less than seven million workers (with such systems)," he said.

The future of the computer is unforeseeable, and yet can be as plain as the nose on your face. Within 100 years, IBM scientists expect storage systems to be biological, Stuckey indicated. The information held in a DNA molecule, for example, could store the entire Library of Congress.

Now in production, however, are computerized systems small and light enough to be squeezed into greeting cards, complete with sound and video. …