Some highlights of the past 50 years include:
- Changing from “batch” to “interactive” data processing. Originally data was keyed to punch cards (then directly to disk) only to be “Read” by a computer in a separate process before the data was available to be used. Now most data is entered online and is available immediately.
- Computer equipment (personal computers, terminals, and printers) residing only in the Information Technology (IT) Department moving to the employee’s desktop. Data is no longer entered or reports picked up just in the IS Department. Now employees have a greater computing power on their desktops then the whole County did 30 years ago.
- Communications reaching outside of Rowan County Government. For many years employees were lucky if they could communicate (send messages, etc.) even to other employees. Now most employees can use email, web access, etc. to communicate and work with others anywhere in the world.
- Providing information to citizens when and where ever they are on any type of equipment has become a major goal.
The number and type of equipment we use is increasing and changing every day. This requires staff to be ready for anything and equipment to have a shorter lifespan. In addition, IT staff now has to constantly go to other departments to maintain equipment. Managing and maintaining this equipment takes a greater percentage of time and resources than writing new programs, and providing new equipment.
There will certainly be more automation and not less of it in the future. Exploring what new technologies to” invest in” and what to “skip” will continue to be a major challenge in the future. Selecting technology for the benefits it delivers instead of its “bells and whistles,” always needs to be a driving force when spending tax payers funds.