Computer Software

Computer hardware is only as effective as the instructions we give it, and those instructions
are contained in software. Software not only directs the computer to manage
its internal resources, but also enables the user to tailor a computer system to
provide specific business value. It is surprising to many people that at the corporate
level, software expenditures (development and purchase) typically are a much larger
cost than is hardware. In this chapter we learn that computer software, in its various
forms and languages, can be quite complex. But these complexities must be understood
in order to truly be able to exploit the power of modern information technologies.
This chapter explains to the reader the concepts of what software is, how it
works, and how it is created. Along the way we provide examples of software’s critical
role in maintaining organizational competitiveness.
4.1 Software History and Significance
4.2 Systems Software
4.3 Application Software
4.4 Software Issues
4.5 Programming Languages
4.6 Enterprise Software
1. Differentiate between the two major types of software.
2. Describe the general functions of the operating
3. Differentiate among types of operating systems and
describe each type.
4. Identify three methods for developing application
5. Describe the major types of application software.
6. Explain how software has evolved and trends for the
7. Describe enterprise software.
A failed software upgrade left investors unable to trade shares on the New York
Stock Exchange for an hour and a half in June 2001. The shutdown, the second the exchange
suffered in three years, prevented many stocks from opening for trading. The
shutdown made calculating market indexes like the Dow Jones Industrial Average
and the Standard & Poor’s Index impossible. The failed upgrade was part of the
system that electronically directs orders from securities firms to the Exchange.
Software bugs are errors in a computer program that either will not let the
program run (fairly easy to find), or will let the program run but will produce incorrect
output (very difficult to find). Writing computer code for computer programs
(i.e., producing software) unfortunately remains more an art than a science.
According to the Software Engineering Institute at Carnegie Mellon University,
there are about 5 to 15 bugs in every 1,000 lines of computer code.
Many software bugs arise as a result of “good-enough software”—software
released by software vendors before adequate testing is performed. Software bugs
have plagued new releases of Microsoft Windows and Office products, Netscape
Navigator, and Intuit’s Quicken, among others.
Even when individual office software products are not buggy, corporate computing
environments are so complex that they are inherently unreliable. Typically,
these systems are collections of mainframes, minicomputers, workstations,
PCs, Macs, and mobile devices, running different operating systems that were
never designed or tested in combination. Further, these systems are running thousands
of different software applications, some over 50 years old.
Integrated enterprise resource planning software from SAP, PeopleSoft, and
Oracle may remedy some aspects of the software problem, if only because they tie operations
together in one suite of application modules. However, even these systems
must work throughout the supply chain, raising the biggest problem to date: the interconnectedness
of complex systems. Over the Internet, software now links computers
that were once insulated from one another, creating additional layers of complexity.
One solution is open source software. The “open source” movement draws programmers
around the world together to continuously debug major programs. With thousands
of programmers pooling their skills to build and test such programs, bugs can be
discovered early. The Internet provides a platform for such collaboration and an instant
feedback channel.
A second solution is more rigorous software development. Governments are joining
with industry to impose greater rigor on software development, hoping to transform
it from art to science. The National Science Foundation wants to provide
software engineers with the information to create accurate, debugged modules of
code that could be used over and over to assemble all kinds of systems. The ultimate
goal is a library of these modules, each with built-in intelligent agents. To produce a
program, an engineer would simply specify the software’s function, and then the intelligent
agents would coordinate among themselves to figure out how to patch together
the desired result.
The results are still unknown. The main question that remains is whether the IT solutions
can keep pace with the growing complexity of the software. Another problem
T h e I T S o l u t i o n
T h e R e s u l t s
T h e B u s i n e s s P r o b l e m
concerns the extremely high costs of error-free software. The more that vendors test
their products, the higher their costs, and the higher the prices to companies and consumers.
There may be a happy medium between testing, bugs, and pricing, but as the
New York Stock Exchange example above shows, any software bug can have wideranging
and costly consequences.
Sources: “The State of Software: Quality,”, May 21, 2001; “Software Failure Halts
Big Board Trading for Over an Hour,”, June 9, 2001).
The importance of computer software cannot be overestimated. As we noted in Chapter
3, hardware expenses have declined over the past two decades; at the same time,
software costs have increased. For any business, failure to account for, and have contingency
plans in place for software bugs can have devastating results. Employees
from every functional area often are involved in testing software products for bugs because
they are the experts in that area and can spot functional-area-specific bugs even
more quickly than IT programmers can. Therefore, as you study this chapter, keep in
mind that, regardless of your major, more than likely you will be involved with some
aspects of software very early in your career.
The first applications of computers in business were in the early 1950s. Software was
less important (and less costly) in computer systems then, because early hardware was
literally hardwired by hand for each application. Today, software comprises a much
larger percentage of the cost of modern computer systems than it did in the 1950s.
There are several reasons for this trend. First, the price of hardware has dramatically
decreased, while the performance of hardware has exponentially increased. Second,
building applications—a process called software development—is slow, complex, and
error-prone. Software is, therefore, expensive and getting more so as its complexity
grows. Finally, salaries for software developers are steadily increasing because there is
an increased demand for their skills.
T h e S o f t w a r e C r i s i s
These factors have led to a major problem for management—the software crisis. The
software crisis is that organizations are not able to develop new software applications
fast enough to keep up with rapidly changing business conditions and rapidly evolving
Computer hardware can be designed and manufactured on automated assembly
lines, and so can be turned out rather quickly, but software must be engineered by
hand. Therefore, software generally lags several generations behind hardware. The
result is that organizations are unable to make full use of hardware due to a lack of
software to effectively exploit the hardware.
Further, organizations not only must develop new applications quickly, but they
must also maintain their existing software. Often, more than 80 percent of IT personnel
maintain existing software, leaving less than 20 percent to develop new applications.
The increasing complexity of software exacerbates the software crisis. This complexity
naturally leads to the increased potential for errors or bugs. Large applications
today may contain millions of lines of computer code, written by hundreds of people
W h a t W e L e a r n e d f r o m T h i s C a s e
over the course of several years. Clearly, the potential for errors is huge, and testing
and debugging software is expensive and time-consuming.
S o f t w a r e F u n d a m e n t a l s
Software consists of computer programs, which are sequences of instructions for the
computer. The process of writing (or coding) programs is called programming, and individuals
who perform this task are called programmers.
Unlike the hardwired computers of the 1950s, modern software uses the stored
program concept, in which stored software programs are accessed and their instructions
are executed (followed) in the computer’s CPU. Once the program has finished
executing, a new program is loaded into main memory and the computer hardware
addresses another task.
Computer programs include documentation, which is a written description
of the functions of the program. Documentation helps the user operate
the computer system and helps other programmers understand what the
program does and how it accomplishes its purpose. Documentation is vital
to the business organization. Without it, if a key programmer or user leaves,
the knowledge of how to use the program or how it is designed may be lost.
The computer is able to do nothing until it is instructed by software. Although
computer hardware is, by design, general purpose, software enables
the user to instruct a computer system to perform specific functions that
provide business value. There are two major types of software: systems
software and application software. The relationship among hardware, systems
software, and application software is illustrated in Figure 4.1.
Systems software is a set of instructions that serves primarily as an intermediary
between computer hardware and application programs, and may also be directly
manipulated by knowledgeable users. Systems software provides important
self-regulatory functions for computer systems, such as loading itself when the computer
is first turned on, managing hardware resources such as secondary storage for all applications,
and providing commonly used sets of instructions for all applications to use.
Systems programming is either the creation or maintenance of systems software.
Application software is a set of computer instructions that provide more specific
functionality to a user. That functionality may be broad, such as general word processing,
or narrow, such as an organization’s payroll program. An application program applies
a computer to a certain need. Application programming is either the creation or
the modification and improvement of application software. There are many different
software applications in organizations today, as this chapter will discuss. For a marketing
application, for example, see the Market Intelligence box at the Web site.
In summary, application programs primarily manipulate data or text to produce
or provide information. Systems programs primarily manipulate computer hardware
resources. The systems software available on a computer system provides the capabilities
and limitations within which the application software can operate. The next two
sections of this chapter look in more detail at these two types of software.
B e f o r e y o u g o o n . . .
1. What is the software crisis and what causes it?
2. What are differences between systems software and application software?
Section 4.1 Software History and Significance 95
Figure 4.1 Systems software
serves as intermediary
between hardware and
functional applications.
Application software
Systems software
Systems software is the class of programs that control and support the computer system
and its information-processing activities. Systems software also facilitates the programming,
testing, and debugging of computer programs. It is more general than
application software and is usually independent of any specific type of application.
Systems software programs support application software by directing the basic functions
of the computer. For example, when the computer is turned on, the initialization
program (a systems program) prepares and readies all devices for processing. Other
common operating systems tasks are shown in Table 4.1.
Systems software can be grouped into two major functional categories: system
control programs and system support programs.
S y s t e m C o n t r o l P r o g r a m s
System control programs control the use of the hardware, software, and data resources
of a computer system. The main system control program is the operating system.
The operating system supervises the overall operation of the computer, including
monitoring the computer’s status and scheduling operations, which include the input
and output processes. In addition, the operating system allocates CPU time and main
memory to programs running on the computer, and it also provides an interface between
the user and the hardware. This interface hides the complexity of the hardware
from the user. That is, you do not have to know how the hardware actually operates,
just what the hardware will do and what you need to do to obtain desired results.
Specifically, the operating system provides services that include process management,
virtual memory, file management, security, fault tolerance, and the user interface.
Process management means managing the program or programs (also called jobs)
running on the processor at a given time. In the simplest case (a desktop operating
system), the operating system loads a program into main memory and executes it. The
program utilizes the computer’s resources until it relinquishes control. Some operating
systems offer more sophisticated forms of process management, such as multitasking,
multithreading, and multiprocessing.
The management of two or more tasks, or programs, running on the computer
system at the same time is called multitasking, or multiprogramming. The first program
is executed until an interruption occurs, such as a request for input. While the
input request is handled, the execution of a second program begins. Because switching
among these programs occurs so rapidly, they appear to be executing at the same
time. However, because there is only one processor, only one program is actually in
execution mode at any one time. Multithreading is a form of multitasking that focuses
on running multiple tasks within a single application simultaneously. For example, a
word processor application may edit one document while another document is being
96 Chapter 4 Computer Software
Table 4.1 Common Operating Systems Tasks
• Monitoring performance • Formatting diskettes
• Correcting errors • Controlling the computer monitor
• Providing and maintaining the user interface • Sending jobs to the printer
• Starting (“booting”) the computer • Maintaining security and limiting access
• Reading programs into memory • Locating files
• Managing memory allocation to those programs • Detecting viruses
• Placing files and programs in secondary storage • Compressing data
• Creating and maintaining directories
Time-sharing is an extension of multiprogramming. In this mode, a number of
users operate online with the same CPU, but each uses a different input/output terminal.
The programs of these users are placed into partitions in primary storage. Execution
of these programs rotates among all users, occurring so rapidly that it appears to
each user as though he or she were the only one using the computer.
Multiprocessing occurs when a computer system with two or more processors can
run more than one program, or thread, at a given time by assigning them to different
processors. Multiprocessing uses simultaneous processing with multiple CPUs,
whereas multiprogramming involves concurrent processing with one CPU.
Virtual memory simulates more main memory than actually exists in the computer
system. It allows a program to behave as if it had access to the full storage capacity
of a computer, rather than just access to the amount of primary storage
installed on the computer. Virtual memory divides an application program or module
into fixed-length portions called pages. The system executes some pages of instructions
while pulling others from secondary storage. In effect, primary storage is
extended into a secondary storage device, allowing users to write programs as if primary
storage were larger than it actually is. This enlarged capability boosts the
speed of the computer and allows it to efficiently run programs with very large numbers
of instructions.
The operating system is responsible for file management and security, managing
the arrangement of, and access to, files held in secondary storage. The operating system
creates and manages a directory structure that allows files to be created and retrieved
by name, and it also may control access to those files based on permissions and
access controls. The operating system provides other forms of security as well. For example,
it must typically provide protected memory and maintain access control on
files in the file system. The operating system also must keep track of users and their
authority level, as well as audit changes to security permissions.
Fault tolerance is the ability of a system to produce correct results and to continue
to operate even in the presence of faults or errors. Fault tolerance can involve errorcorrecting
memory, redundant computer components, and related software that protect
the system from hardware, operating system, or user errors.
Although operating systems perform some of their functions automatically, for
certain tasks the user interacts directly with the computer through the systems software.
The ease or difficulty of such interaction is to a large extent determined by the
interface design. Older text-based interfaces like DOS (disk operating system) required
typing in cryptic commands. In an effort to make computers more userfriendly,
the graphical user interface was developed.
The graphical user interface (GUI) allows users to have direct control of visible
objects (such as icons) and actions that replace complex command syntax. The GUI
was developed by researchers at Xerox PARC (Palo Alto Research Center), and then
popularized by the Apple MacIntosh computer. Microsoft soon introduced its GUIbased
Windows operating system for IBM-style PCs. The next generation of GUI
technology will incorporate features such as virtual reality, head-mounted displays,
sound and speech, pen and gesture recognition, animation, multimedia, artificial intelligence,
and cellular/wireless communication capabilities.
The next step in the evolution of GUIs is social interfaces. A social interface is a
user interface that guides the user through computer applications by using cartoonlike
characters, graphics, animation, and voice commands. The cartoonlike characters can
be cast as puppets, narrators, guides, inhabitants, avatars (computer-generated humanlike
figures), or hosts.
Types of operating systems. As previously discussed, operating systems are necessary
in order for computer hardware to function. Operating environments, which add
Section 4.2 Systems Software 97
features that enable system developers to create applications without directly accessing
the operating system, function only with an operating system. That is, operating
environments are not operating systems, but work only with an operating system. For
example, the early versions of Windows were operating environments that provided a
graphical user interface and worked only with MS-DOS.
Operating systems (OSs) can be categorized by the number of users they support
as well as by their level of sophistication (see the Operating Systems list on the Web
site). Operating systems for mobile devices are designed to support a single person
using a mobile, handheld device, or information appliance. Desktop operating systems
are designed to support a single user or a small workgroup of users. Departmental
server operating systems typically support from a few dozen to a few hundred users.
Enterprise server operating systems generally support thousands of simultaneous users
and millions or billions of simultaneous transactions. Supercomputer operating systems
support the particular processing needs of supercomputers.
Supercomputer and enterprise server operating systems offer the greatest functionality,
followed by departmental server operating systems, desktop operating systems,
and finally EEM operating systems. An important exception is the user
interface, which is most sophisticated on desktop operating systems and least sophisticated
on supercomputer and enterprise server operating systems.
Mobile device operating systems. These operating systems are designed for a variety
of devices, such as handheld computers, set-top boxes, subnotebook PCs, mobile
telephones, and factory-floor equipment. The mobile device operating system market
includes embedded Linux, Microsoft’s Windows CE and Pocket PC, Windows Embedded
NT 4.0, and Palm OS from Palm. Here is some information about mobile device
operating systems:
• Embedded Linux is a compact form of Linux used in mobile devices. Both IBM and
Motorola are developing Embedded Linux for mobile devices.
• Windows CE, a 32-bit operating system, is Microsoft’s information appliance operating
system. Windows CE includes scaled-down versions (known as pocket versions)
of Microsoft Word, Excel, PowerPoint, and Internet Explorer.
• Pocket PC is a version of Windows CE 3.0 specifically designed for personal digital
assistants and handheld computers.
• Windows Embedded NT 4.0, a 32-bit operating system, is aimed at embedded devices
that require more operating system capabilities and flexibility than Windows
CE can offer.
• The Palm operating system was developed by Palm for its PalmPilot handheld, peninput
PDAs. Palm OS includes a graphical user interface, and users must learn a
stylized alphabet, called Graffiti, to make the device receive handwritten input.
(For technical discussions of Mobile Device Operating Systems, see this section on
the book’s Web site.)
Desktop and notebook computer operating systems. The Windows family is the
leading series of desktop operating systems. The MS-DOS (Microsoft Disk Operating
System) was one of the original operating systems for the IBM PC and its clones. This
16-bit operating system, with its text-based interface, has now been almost totally replaced
by GUI operating systems such as Windows 2000 and Windows XP. Windows
1.0 through Windows 3.1 (successive versions) were not operating systems, but were
operating environments that provided the GUI that operated with, and extended the
capabilities of, MS-DOS.
98 Chapter 4 Computer Software
Windows 95, released in 1995, was the first of a series of products in the Windows
operating system that provided a streamlined GUI by using icons to provide instant
access to common tasks. Windows 95 is a 32-bit operating system that features multitasking,
multithreading, networking, and Internet integration capabilities, including
the ability to integrate fax, e-mail, and scheduling programs. Windows 95 also offers
plug-and-play capabilities. Plug-and-play is a feature that can automate the installation
of new hardware by enabling the operating system to recognize new hardware
and install the necessary software (called device drivers) automatically.
Subsequent products in the Microsoft Windows operating system are:
• Windows 98 was not a major upgrade to Windows 95, but did offer minor refinements,
bug fixes, and enhancements to Windows 95.
• Windows Millennium Edition (Windows ME) is a major update to Windows 95, offering
improvements for home computing in the areas of PC reliability, digital
media, home networking, and the online experience.
• Windows NT is an operating system for high-end desktops, workstations, and
servers. It provides the same GUI as Windows 95 and 98, and has more powerful
multitasking, multiprocessing, and memory-management capabilities. Windows NT
supports software written for DOS and Windows, and it provides extensive computing
power for new applications with large memory and file requirements. It is also
designed for easy and reliable connection with networks and other computing machinery,
and is proving popular in networked systems in business organizations.
• Windows 2000 is a renamed version of Windows NT 5.0. This operating system has
added security features, will run on multiple-processor computers, and offers added
Internet and intranet functionality.
• Windows XP is the first upgrade to Windows 2000 and has three versions: a 32-bit
consumer version, a 32-bit business version, and a 64-bit business version. Windows
XP is the first version of Windows to support Microsoft’s .NET platform (discussed
later in the chapter).
• Following Windows XP, Microsoft will release its first fully .NET-enabled Windows
operating system, code-named Blackcomb. Blackcomb will feature natural interfaces,
including speech recognition and handwriting support.
UNIX provides many sophisticated desktop features, including multiprocessing
and multitasking. UNIX is valuable to business organizations because it can be used
on many different sizes of computers (or different platforms), can support many different
hardware devices (e.g., printers, plotters, etc.), and has numerous applications
written to run on it. UNIX has many different
versions. Most UNIX vendors are focusing
their development efforts on servers
rather than on desktops, and are promoting
Linux for use on the desktop.
Linux is a powerful version of the UNIX
operating system that is completely free of
charge. It offers multitasking, virtual memory
management, and TCP/IP networking. Linux was originally written by Linus Torvalds
at the University of Helsinki in Finland in 1991. He then released the source
code to the world (called open source software, as discussed in the chapter opening
case). Since that time, many programmers around the world have worked on Linux
and written software for it. The result is that, like UNIX, Linux now runs on multiple
hardware platforms, can support many different hardware devices, and has numerous
applications written to run on it. Linux is becoming widely used by Internet service
Section 4.2 Systems Software 99
“I haven’t the slightest idea
who he is. He came bundled
with the software.”
providers (ISPs), the companies that provide Internet connections. The clearinghouse
for Linux information on the Internet may be found at
The Macintosh operating system X (ten) (Mac OS X), for Apple Macintosh microcomputers,
is a 32-bit operating system that supports Internet integration, virtual
memory management, and AppleTalk networking. Mac OS X features a new Aqua
user interface, advanced graphics, virtual memory management, and multitasking.
IBM’s OS/2 is a 32-bit operating system that supports multitasking, accommodates
larger applications, allows applications to be run simultaneously, and supports
networked multimedia and pen-computing applications.
Sun’s Java operating system (JavaOS) executes programs written in the Java language
(described later in this chapter) without the need for a traditional operating system.
It is designed for Internet and intranet applications and embedded devices.
JavaOS is designed for handheld products and thin-client computing. (For a more
technical discussion of the various Desktop and Notebook Computer Operating Systems—
MS DOS and Windows, Linux, and Apple Macintosh—see the material on the
Departmental server operating systems. The major departmental server operating
systems include UNIX, Linux, Windows 2000, Windows XP, and Novell NetWare. Although
some of these are also desktop operating systems, all can serve as departmental
server operating systems because of their strong scalability, reliability, backup,
security, fault tolerance, multitasking, multiprocessing, TCP/IP networking (Internet
integration), network management, and directory services.
Enterprise server operating systems. Enterprise server operating systems (e.g.,
IBM’s OS/390, VM, VSE, and OS/400) generally run on mainframes and midrange
systems. Enterprise operating systems offer superior manageability, security, stability,
and support for online applications, secure electronic commerce, multiple concurrent
users, large (terabyte) databases, and millions of transactions per day. Enterprise
server operating systems also offer partitioning, a method of segmenting a server’s resources
to allow the processing of multiple applications on a single system. (For a
technical discussion of Partitioning, see the material at the book’s Web site.)
OS/400 is IBM’s operating system for the AS/400 server line, which was renamed
eServer iSeries 400. IBM’s z/Architecture (z/OS), a new 64-bit mainframe operating
system, replaces all previous mainframe operating systems. The first system implementing
the new architecture is the eServer zSeries 900. (For a technical discussion of
IBM’s Enterprise Server Operating Systems, see the material on the Web.)
Supercomputer operating systems. Supercomputer operating systems target the supercomputer
hardware market. Examples of these systems include the Cray Unicos
and IBM’s AIX (both types of UNIX). These two operating systems manage highly
parallel multiprocessor and multiuser environments. (For a technical discussion of Supercomputer
Operating Systems, see the material on the book’s Web site.)
S y s t e m S u p p o r t P r o g r a m s
The second major category of systems software, system support programs, supports
the operations, management, and users of a computer system by providing a variety of
support services. Examples of system support programs are system utility programs,
performance monitors, and security monitors.
System utilities are programs that have been written to accomplish common tasks
such as sorting records, checking the integrity of diskettes (i.e., amount of storage
100 Chapter 4 Computer Software
available and existence of any damage), and creating directories and subdirectories.
They also restore accidentally erased files, locate files within the directory structure,
manage memory usage, and redirect output.
System performance monitors are programs that monitor the processing of jobs
on a computer system. They monitor computer system performance and produce reports
containing detailed statistics relating to the use of system resources, such as
processor time, memory space, input/output devices, and system and application programs.
These reports are used to plan and control the efficient use of the computer
system resources and to help troubleshoot the system in case of problems.
System security monitors are programs that monitor the use of a computer system
to protect it and its resources from unauthorized use, fraud, or destruction. Such programs
provide the computer security needed to allow only authorized users access to
the system. Security monitors also control use of the hardware, software, and data resources
of a computer system. Finally, these programs monitor use of the computer
and collect statistics on attempts at improper use.
As defined earlier, application software consists of instructions that direct a computer
system to perform specific information processing activities and that provide functionality
for users. Because there are so many different uses for computers, there are a correspondingly
large number of different application software programs available. A
controversial set of software applications involves surveillance. A box on Surveillance
Software at our Web site discusses the pros and cons of various types of such software.
T y p e s o f A p p l i c a t i o n S o f t w a r e
Application software includes proprietary application software and off-the-shelf application
software. Proprietary application software addresses a specific or unique
business need for a company. This type of software may be developed in-house by the
organization’s information systems personnel or it may be commissioned from a software
vendor. Such specific software programs developed for a particular company by
a vendor are called contract software.
Alternatively, off-the-shelf application software can be purchased, leased, or
rented from a vendor that develops programs and sells them to many organizations.
Off-the-shelf software may be a standard package or it may be customizable. Specialpurpose
programs or “packages” can be tailored for a specific purpose, such as inventory
control or payroll. The word package is a commonly used term for a
computer program (or group of programs) that has been developed by a vendor and
is available for purchase in a prepackaged form. We will further discuss the methodology
involved in acquiring application software, whether proprietary or off the
shelf, in Chapter 14.
B e f o r e y o u g o o n . . .
1. What are the two main types of systems software?
2. What are differences among mobile device, desktop, departmental server,
enterprise, and supercomputer operating systems?
Section 4.3 Application Software 101
T y p e s o f P e r s o n a l A p p l i c a t i o n S o f t w a r e
General-purpose, off-the-shelf application programs that support general types of
processing, rather than being linked to any specific business function, are referred to
as personal application software. This type of software consists of nine widely used
packages: spreadsheet, data management, word processing, desktop publishing,
graphics, multimedia, communications, speech-recognition software, and groupware.
Software suites combine some of these packages and integrate their functions.
Personal application software is designed to help individual users increase their
productivity. Below is a description of the nine main types.
Spreadsheets. Computer spreadsheet software transforms a computer screen into a
ledger sheet, or grid, of coded rows and columns. Users can enter numeric or textual
data into each grid location, called a cell. In addition, a formula can be entered into a
cell to obtain a calculated answer displayed in that cell’s location. With spreadsheets,
users can also develop and use macros, which are sequences of commands that can be
executed with just one simple instruction.
Computer spreadsheet packages can be used for financial information, such as income
statements or cash flow analysis. They are also used for forecasting sales, analyzing
insurance programs, summarizing income tax data, and analyzing investments.
They are relevant for many other types of data that can be organized into rows and
columns. Although spreadsheet packages such as Microsoft’s Excel and Lotus 1–2-3
are thought of primarily as spreadsheets, they also offer data management and graphical
capabilities. Therefore, they may be called integrated packages. Figure 4.2 shows
an example from a Microsoft Excel spreadsheet.
Spreadsheets are valuable for applications that require modeling and what-if
analysis. After a set of mathematical relationships has been specified by the user, the
spreadsheet can be recalculated instantly using a different set of assumptions (i.e., a
different set of mathematical relationships).
Data management. Data management software supports the storage, retrieval, and
manipulation of related data. There are two basic types of data management software:
simple filing programs patterned after traditional, manual data-filing techniques, and
database management programs that take advantage of a computer’s extremely fast
and accurate ability to store and retrieve data in primary and secondary storage. Filebased
management software is typically very simple to use and is often very fast, but it
offers limited flexibility in how the data can be searched. Database management software
has the opposite strengths and weaknesses. Microsoft’s Access is an example of
popular database management software. In Chapter 5, we discuss data management
in much more detail.
Word processing. Word processing software allows the user to manipulate text
rather than just numbers. Modern word processors contain many productive writing
102 Chapter 4 Computer Software
Figure 4.2 This Microsoft
Excel spreadsheet shows a
sample calculation of
student grades.
Student Name
Carr, Harold
Ford, Nelson
Lewis, Bruce
Snyder, Charles
Exam 1 Exam 2 Exam 3 Total Points Grade
and editing features. A typical word processing software package consists of an integrated
set of programs including an editor program, a formatting program, a print
program, a dictionary, a thesaurus, a grammar checker, a mailing list program, and integrated
graphics, charting, and drawing programs. WYSIWYG (an acronym for
What You See Is What You Get, pronounced “wiz-e-wig”) word processors have the
added advantage of displaying the text material on the screen exactly—or almost exactly—
as it will look on the final printed page (based on the type of printer connected
to the computer). Word processing software enables users to be much more productive
because the software makes it possible to create and modify the document electronically
in memory.
Desktop publishing. Desktop publishing software represents a level of sophistication
beyond regular word processing. In the past, newsletters, announcements, advertising
copy, and other specialized documents had to be laid out by hand and then
typeset. Desktop software allows microcomputers to perform these tasks directly.
Photographs, diagrams, and other images can be combined with text, including several
different fonts, to produce a finished, camera-ready document.
Graphics. Graphics software allows the user to create, store, and display or print
charts, graphs, maps, and drawings. Graphics software enables users to absorb more
information more quickly and to spot relationships and trends in data more easily.
There are three basic categories of graphics software packages: presentation graphics,
analysis graphics, and computer-aided design software.
Presentation graphics software allows users to create graphically rich presentations.
Many packages have extensive libraries of clip art—pictures that can be electronically
“clipped out” and “pasted” into the finished image. Figure 4.3 demonstrates
some of the capabilities of presentation graphics. One of the most widely used presentation
graphics programs is Microsoft’s PowerPoint.
Analysis graphics applications additionally provide the ability to convert previously
analyzed data—such as statistical data—into graphic formats like bar charts, line
charts, pie charts, and scatter diagrams. Both presentation graphics and analysis
graphics are useful in preparing graphic displays for business presentations, from sales
results to marketing research data.
Section 4.3 Application Software 103
Figure 4.3 Presentation
graphics software.
Computer-aided design (CAD) software, used for designing items for manufacturing,
allows designers to design and “build” production prototypes in software, test
them as a computer object under given parameters (sometimes called computer-aided
engineering, or CAE), compile parts and quantity lists, outline production and assembly
procedures, and then transmit the final design directly to machines. The prototype
in Figure 4.4 was produced via computer-aided design.
Manufacturers of all sorts are finding uses for CAD software.
Computer-aided manufacturing (CAM) software uses digital design output,
such as that from a CAD system, to directly control production machinery.
Computer-integrated manufacturing (CIM) software is
embedded within each automated production machine to produce a
product. Overall, a design from CAD software is used by CAM software
to control individual CIM programs in individual machines. Used
effectively, CAD/CAM/CIM software can dramatically shorten development
time and give firms the advantage of economies of scope.
Multimedia. Multimedia software combines at least two media for
input or output of data. These media include audio (sound), voice, animation, video,
text, graphics, and images. Multimedia can also be thought of as the combination of
spatial-based media (text and images) with time-based media (sound and video).
Communications. Computers are often interconnected in order to share or relate information.
To exchange information, computers utilize communications software.
This software allows computers, whether they are located close together or far apart,
to exchange data over dedicated or public cables, telephone lines, satellite relay systems,
or microwave circuits.
When communications software exists in both the sending and receiving computers,
they are able to establish and relinquish electronic links, code and decode data
transmissions, verify transmission errors (and correct them automatically), and check
for and handle transmission interruptions or conflicting transmission priorities. E-mail
and desktop videoconferencing rely on communications software.
Speech-recognition software. Two categories of speech-recognition software are
available today: discrete speech and continuous speech. Discrete speech recognition
can interpret only one word at a time, so users must place distinct pauses between
words. This type of voice recognition can be used to control PC software (by using
words such as “execute” or “print”). But it is inadequate for dictating a memo, because
users find it difficult to speak with measurable pauses between every word and
still maintain trains of thought.
Software for continuous speech recognition can interpret a continuing stream of
words. The software must understand the context of a word to determine its correct
spelling, and be able to overcome accents and interpret words very quickly. These requirements
mean that continuous speech-recognition software must have a computer
with significantly more speed and memory than discrete speech software.
Many firms and people use speech-recognition software when use of a mouse and
a keyboard is impractical. For example, such software can provide an excellent alternative
for users with disabilities, repetitive strain injuries, or severe arthritis. The following
example demonstrates use of speech-recognition software.
Handling calls with speech recognition. JetAir Belgium (, a travel company,
handles 3,000 calls a day from 2,000 travel agents. Before installing its voice-
104 Chapter 4 Computer Software
Figure 4.4 Computeraided
design (CAD).
recognition system, JetAir lost 20 percent of its calls, because operators were busy or
the calls were too complicated for tone-activated voice mail. The speech-recognition
system recognizes both Flemish and French among 13 supported languages. In addition
to retaining the lost calls, JetAir estimates that it handles 150 extra calls daily,
worth up to $25 million in annual revenue. ●
Groupware. Groupware is a class of software products that facilitates communication,
coordination, and collaboration among people. Groupware is important because
it allows workgroups—people who need to interact with one another within an organization—
to communicate and share information, even when they are working together
at a distance. Groupware can provide many benefits to businesses, including more efficient
and effective project management, location independence, increased communications
capability, increased information availability, and improved workflow.
Groupware comes in many varieties. The most elaborate system, IBM’s Lotus
Notes/Domino, is a document-management system, a distributed client/server database,
and a basis for intranet and electronic commerce systems, as well as a communication
support tool. This class of groupware supplements real-time communications
with asynchronous electronic connections (e.g., electronic mail and other forms of
messaging). Thanks to electronic networks, e-mail, and shared discussion databases,
group members can communicate, access data, and exchange or update data at any
time and from any place. Group members might store all their official memos, formal
reports, and informal conversations related to particular projects in a shared, online
data store, such as a database. Then, as individual members need to check on the contents,
they can access the shared database to find the information they need. An example
of the latest type of groupware, collaboration software, is shown in IT’s About
Business Box 4.1.
Section 4.3 Application Software 105
A bb oo uu tt B uu ss ii nn ee ss ss
Box 4.1: Collaboration software helps Procter & Gamble
Procter & Gamble’s computer network links 900 factories
and 17 product development centers in 73 countries.
The global network enables the $39 billion consumerproducts
company to produce and market 300 of the
world’s best-known brands, including Tide, Folgers, and
Crest. However, it has become increasingly difficult to
make such a wide variety of products with speed, efficiency,
and quality.
To help solve the problem, P&G uses software from
MatrixOne ( to automate P&G’s productdevelopment
process. The software lets researchers comb
a database of 200,000 product designs to see if they already
exist in another part of the company, eliminating redundant
efforts. The software has also reduced product design
times by half, because it lets geographically dispersed
developers produce formulas together on the Web and
enables managers to measure their progress against
timetables. When product development falls behind schedule,
the software automatically sends an e-mail reminder
to a worker when he or she needs, for example, to approve
the packaging of a detergent.
Companies have been using the Web to share information
and streamline purchasing, and now they are
using new Web software tools to help employees and
business partners work together to make products faster
and more cheaply. The increase in collaboration stems
partly from a dissatisfaction with the limitations of electronic
marketplaces. Many public e-marketplaces are essentially
auction houses. They do not offer the means to
form deep business relationships online. Through online
collaboration, a manufacturer can, for example, share its
sales forecasts with suppliers so they can fine tune inventories,
resulting in potentially enormous savings.
Source: “Simultaneous Software,” BusinessWeek, August 27,
2001, pp. 146–147.
1. What is the relationship between corporate intranets
and collaboration software? Between corporate
extranets and collaboration software?
2. Can collaboration software work between companies?
Give an example.
Other groupware approaches focus on workflow, enhanced electronic mail (e.g.,
listserve), calendaring and scheduling, electronic meeting support, and videoconferencing.
Microsoft’s Exchange is primarily an electronic messaging server that incorporates
groupware functionality for sharing information. It provides e-mail and supports workgroup
activities with additional features such as interactive scheduling, built-in access
to shared bulletin boards, forms design, and access to publicly shared folders on computer
networks. It also offers built-in connectivity to the Internet or corporate intranets.
Other leading groupware products provide functionality similar to Microsoft
Exchange. These products include Netscape’s SuiteSpot Servers, Novell’s GroupWise,
and Oracle’s InterOffice. For Common Groupware Features, see the Web site.
S o f t w a r e S u i t e s a n d O t h e r P e r s o n a l A p p l i c a t i o n S o f t w a r e
Software suites are collections of application software packages that integrate some or
all of the nine functions of the packages described in this section. Software suites can
include word processors, spreadsheets, database management systems, graphics programs,
communications tools, and other applications. Microsoft Office, Novell Perfect
Office, and Lotus SmartSuite are widely used software suites for PCs. Each of these
suites includes a spreadsheet program, word processor, database program, and graphics
package with the ability to move documents, data, and diagrams among them. Figure
4.5 shows how software suites can be categorized according to cost and level of
Surprisingly, there are even more types of personal application software that may
be of interest to businesspeople. See Other types of Personal Application Software
for Business people at the Web site.
B e f o r e y o u g o o n . . .
1. What classes of personal application software are essential for the productivity
of a business or other organization with which you are familiar? Which are
2. How can groupware add strategic advantage in that business/organization?
106 Chapter 4 Computer Software
Supports individual;
not customizable
Supports individual;
somewhat customizable
Supports group;
customizable to an
extent to allow
individual needs
Supports group;
customizable to
individual and
organizational needs
Cost to user
Level of customization
Figure 4.5 Off-the-shelf software suites for personal productivity can be categorized according to cost and level of
The importance of software in computer systems has brought new issues to the forefront
for organizational managers. These issues include software evaluation and selection,
software licensing, software upgrades, open systems, and open source software.
S o f t w a r e E v a l u a t i o n a n d S e l e c t i o n
The software evaluation and selection decision is a difficult one that is affected by
many factors. Manager’s Checklist 4.1 summarizes these selection factors. The first
part of the selection process involves understanding the organization’s software needs
and identifying the criteria that will be used in making the eventual decision. Once the
software requirements are established, specific software should be evaluated. An evaluation
team composed of representatives from every group that will have a role in
building and using the software should be chosen for the evaluation process. The team
will study the proposed alternatives and find the software that promises the best
match between the organization’s needs and the software capabilities. Software Evaluation
Criteria are shown on the Web site.
S o f t w a r e L i c e n s i n g
Vendors spend a great deal of time and money developing their software products. To
protect this investment, they must protect their software from being copied and distributed
by individuals and other software companies. A company can copyright its software,
which means that the U.S. Copyright Office grants the company the exclusive
Section 4.4 Software Issues 107
Manager’s Checklist 4.1
F a c t o r C o n s i d e r a t i o n s Software Selection Factors
Size and location of user base Does the proposed software support a
few users in a single location? Or can it
accommodate large numbers of
geographically dispersed users?
Availability of system Does the software offer tools that
administration tools monitor system usage? Does it
maintain a list of authorized users and
provide the level of security needed?
Costs—initial and subsequent Is the software affordable, taking into
account all costs, including installation,
training, and maintenance?
System capabilities Does the software meet both current
and anticipated future needs?
Existing computing environment Is the software compatible with
existing hardware, software, and
communications networks?
In-house technical skills Should the organization develop
software applications in-house,
purchase off the shelf, or contract
software out of house?
legal right to reproduce, publish, and sell that software. The Software Publisher’s Association
(SPA) enforces software copyright laws in corporations through a set of
guidelines. These guidelines state that when IS managers cannot find proof of purchase
for software, they should get rid of the software or purchase new licenses for its
use. A license is permission granted under the law to engage in an activity otherwise
unlawful. The SPA audits companies to see that the software used is properly licensed.
Fines for improper software are heavy. IS managers are now taking inventory
of their software assets to ensure that they have the appropriate number of software
Although many people do so routinely, copying software is illegal. The Software
Publishers Association has stated that software privacy amounts to approximately $15
billion annually. Software developers, failing to recoup in sales the money invested to
develop their products, are often forced to curtail spending on research and development.
Also, smaller software companies may be driven out of business, because they
cannot sustain the losses that larger companies can. The end result is that innovation
is dampened and consumers suffer. Consumers also pay higher prices to offset the
losses caused by software piracy.
As the number of desktop computers continues to increase and businesses continue
to decentralize, it becomes more and more difficult for IS managers to manage
their software assets. As a result, new firms have sprouted up to specialize in tracking
software licenses for a fee. Firms such as ASAP Software, Software Spectrum, and
others will track and manage a company’s software licenses, to ensure that company’s
compliance with U.S. copyright laws.
S o f t w a r e U p g r a d e s
Another issue of interest to organizational management is software upgrades. Software
vendors revise their programs and sell new versions often. The revised software
may offer valuable enhancements, or, on the other hand, it may offer little in terms of
additional capabilities. Also, the revised software may contain bugs. Deciding
whether to purchase the newest software can be a problem for organizations and their
IS managers. It is also difficult to decide whether to be one of the first companies to
buy and take strategic advantage of new software before competitors do, and take the
risk of falling prey to previously undiscovered bugs.
O p e n S y s t e m s
The concept of open systems refers to a model of computing products that work together.
Achieving this goal is possible through the use of the same operating system
with compatible software on all the different computers that would interact with one
another in an organization. A complementary approach is to produce application software
that will run across all computer platforms. If hardware, operating systems, and
application software are designed as open systems, the user would be able to purchase
the best software for the job without worrying whether it will run on particular hardware.
As an example, much Apple MacIntosh application software would not run on
Wintel (Windows-Intel) PCs, and vice versa. Neither of these would run on a mainframe.
Certain operating systems, like UNIX, will run on almost any machine. Therefore,
to achieve an open-systems goal, organizations frequently employ UNIX on
their desktop and larger machines so that software designed for UNIX will operate on
any machine. Recent advances toward the open-systems goal involve using the Java
language, which can be run on many types of computers, in place of a traditional operating
system. Programs written in Java can then be executed by any machine (as will
be explained in a later section).
108 Chapter 4 Computer Software
O p e n S o u r c e S o f t w a r e
Open systems should not be confused with open source software. As discussed in the
chapter opening case, open source software is software made available in source code
form at no cost to developers. There are many examples of open-source software, including
the GNU (GNU’s Not UNIX) suite of software ( developed by the
Free Software Foundation (; the Linux operating system; Apache Web server
(; sendmail SMTP (Send Mail Transport Protocol) e-mail server (sendmail.
org); the Perl programming language (, the Netscape Mozilla browser
(; and Sun’s StarOffice applications suite (
Open source software is, in many cases, more reliable than commercial software.
Because the code is available to many developers, more bugs are discovered, are discovered
early and quickly, and are fixed immediately. Support for open source software
is also available from companies that provide products derived from the
software, for example, Red Hat for Linux ( These firms provide education,
training, and technical support for the software for a fee.
Programming languages provide the basic building blocks for all systems and application
software. Programming languages allow people to tell computers what to do and
are the means by which software systems are developed. This section will describe the
five generations of programming languages.
M a c h i n e L a n g u a g e
Machine language is the lowest-level computer language, consisting of the internal
representation of instructions and data. This machine code—the actual instructions
understood and directly executable by the central processing unit—is composed of binary
digits. Machine language is the only programming language that the machine actually
understands. Therefore, machine language is considered the first-generation
language. All other languages must be translated into machine language before the
computer can run the instructions. Because a computer’s central processing unit is capable
of executing only machine language programs, such programs are machine dependent
(nonportable). That is, the machine language for one type of central
processor may not run on other types.
Machine language is extremely difficult to understand and use by programmers. As
a result, increasingly more user-friendly languages have been developed. Figure 4.6 (on
page 110) gives an overview of the evolution of programming languages, from the firstgeneration
machine language to more humanlike natural language. These user-oriented
B e f o r e y o u g o o n . . .
1. What are some of the legal issues involved in acquiring and using software in
most business organizations?
2. What are some of the criteria used for evaluating software when planning a
3. What is open source software and what are its advantages?
Section 4.5 Programming Languages 109
languages make it much easier for people to program, but they are impossible for the
computer to execute without first translating the program into machine language. The
set of instructions written in a user-oriented language is called a source program.
The set of instructions produced after translation into machine language is called the
object program.
Programming in a higher-level language (i.e., a user-oriented language) is easier
and less time consuming, but additional processor time is required to translate the
program before it can be executed. Therefore, one trade-off in the use of higher-level
languages is a decrease in programmer time and effort for an increase in processor
time needed for translation.
A s s e m b l y L a n g u a g e
An assembly language is the next level up from machine language. It is still considered
a lower-level language but is more user-friendly because it represents machinelanguage
instructions and data locations in primary storage by using mnemonics, or
memory aids, which people can more easily use. Assembly languages are considered
second-generation languages.
Compared to machine language, assembly language eases the job of the programmer
considerably. However, each statement in an assembly language must still be
translated into a single statement in machine language, and assembly languages are
still hardware dependent. Translating an assembly language program into machine
language is accomplished by a systems software program called an assembler.
P r o c e d u r a l L a n g u a g e s
Procedural languages are the next step in the evolution of user-oriented programming
languages. They are also called third-generation languages, or 3GLs. Procedural languages
are much closer to so-called natural language (the way we talk) and therefore
are easier to write, read, and alter. Moreover, one statement in a procedural language
is translated into a number of machine language instructions, thereby making programming
more productive. In general, procedural languages are more like natural
language than assembly languages are, and they use common words rather than abbreviated
mnemonics. Because of this, procedural languages are considered the first
level of higher-level languages.
Procedural languages require the programmer to specify, step by step, exactly
how the computer must accomplish a task. A procedural language is oriented toward
how a result is to be produced. Because computers understand only machine language
(i.e., 0s and 1s), higher-level languages must be translated into machine language prior
to execution. This translation is accomplished by systems software called language
110 Chapter 4 Computer Software
Figure 4.6 The evolution
of programming languages.
With each
generation, progress is
made toward a humanlike
natural language.
1st 2nd 3rd 4th 5th
translators. A language translator converts the high-level program, called source code,
into machine language code, called object code. There are two types of language
translators—interpreters and compilers. Figure 4.7 shows the translation process for
source code.
The translation of a high-level language program to object code is accomplished
by a software program called a compiler, which translates the entire program at once.
In contrast, an interpreter is a compiler that translates and executes one source program
statement at a time. Because this translation is done one statement at a time, interpreters
tend to be simpler than compilers. This simplicity allows for more extensive
debugging and diagnostic aids to be available on interpreters. For examples of FORTRAN,
COBOL, and C, see Examples of Procedural Languages on the Web site.
N o n p r o c e d u r a l L a n g u a g e s
Another type of high-level language, called nonprocedural languages, allows the user
to specify the desired result without having to specify the detailed procedures needed
for achieving the result. These languages are fourth-generation languages (4GLs). An
advantage of nonprocedural languages is that they can be used by nontechnical users
to carry out specific functional tasks. These languages greatly simplify and accelerate
the programming process, as well as reduce the number of coding errors. The 4GLs
are common in database applications as query languages, report generators, and datamanipulation
languages. They allow users and programmers to interrogate and access
computer databases using statements that resemble natural language.
N a t u r a l P r o g r a m m i n g L a n g u a g e s
Natural programming languages are the next evolutionary step. They are sometimes
known as fifth-generation languages, or intelligent languages. Translator programs to
translate natural languages into a structured, machine-readable form are extremely
complex and require a large amount of computer resources. Therefore, most of these
languages are still experimental and have yet to be widely adopted by industry.
Section 4.5 Programming Languages 111
Figure 4.7 The language
translation process.
Ready to run
as machine code
Results are
Written by
a programmer
Data are
Converted by
a translator
Program is
We have now encountered the five generations of programming languages that
communicate instructions to the computer’s central processing unit. Table 4.2 summarizes
the features of these five generations. But we are not finished yet; there are
a handful of newer programming languages to look at before we finish this section.
V i s u a l P r o g r a m m i n g L a n g u a g e s
Programming languages that are used within a graphical environment are often referred
to as visual programming languages. These languages use a mouse, icons, symbols
on the screen, or pull-down menus to make programming easier and more
intuitive. Visual Basic and Visual C++ are examples of visual programming languages.
Their ease of use makes them popular with nontechnical users, but the languages
often lack the specificity and power of their nonvisual counterparts. Although programming
in visual languages is popular in some organizations, the more complex and
mission-critical applications are usually not written in visual languages.
H y p e r t e x t M a r k u p L a n g u a g e
Hypertext is an approach to data management in which data are stored in a network
of nodes connected by links (called hyperlinks). Users access data through an interactive
browsing system. The combination of nodes, links, and supporting indexes for any
particular topic is a hypertext document. A hypertext document may contain text, images,
and other types of information such as data files, audio, video, and executable
computer programs.
The standard language the World Wide Web uses for creating and recognizing
hypertext documents is the Hypertext Markup Language (HTML). HTML gives users
the option of controlling visual elements such as fonts, font size, and paragraph spacing
without changing the original information. HTML is very easy to use, and some
modern word processing applications will automatically convert and store a conventional
document in HTML. Dynamic HTML is the next step beyond HTML. Dynamic
HTML presents richly formatted pages and lets the user interact with the content of
those pages without having to download additional content from the server. This
functionality means that Web pages using Dynamic HTML provide more exciting and
useful information.
Enhancements and variations of HTML make possible new layout and design features
on Web pages. For example, cascading style sheets (CSSs) are an enhancement
to HTML that act as a template defining the appearance or style (such as size, color,
and font) of an element of a Web page, such as a box.
112 Chapter 4 Computer Software
Table 4.2 Language Generations Table
Portable Use of
(machine Concise Mnemonics
Language Generation independent?) (one-to-many?) & Labels Procedural? Structured?
1st—Machine no no no yes yes
2nd—Assembler no no yes yes yes
3rd—High level yes yes yes yes yes
4th—4GL yes yes yes no yes
5th—Natural language yes yes yes no no
E x t e n s i b l e M a r k u p L a n g u a g e ( X M L )
Extensible Markup Language (XML) is designed to improve the functionality of Web
documents by providing more flexible and adaptable information identification. XML
describes what the data in documents actually mean. XML documents can be moved
to any format on any platform without the elements losing their meaning. That means
the same information can be published to a Web browser, a PDA, or a smart phone,
and each device would use the information appropriately. Figure 4.8 compares HTML
and XML. Notice that HTML only describes where an item appears on a page,
whereas XML describes what the item is. For example, HTML shows only that “Introduction
to MIS” appears on line 1, where XML shows that “Introduction to MIS”
is the Course Title. IT’s About Business Box 4.2 shows the benefits that Fidelity has
gained by standardizing on XML.
Section 4.5 Programming Languages 113
English Text
MNGT 3070
Introduction to MIS
3 semester hours
Professor Smith
<TITLE>Course Number</TITLE>
<LI>Introduction to MIS
<LI>3 semester hours
<LI>Professor Smith
<Department and course=”MNGT 3070”>
Figure 4.8 Comparison of HTML and XML.
A bb oo uu tt B uu ss ii nn ee ss ss
Box 4.2: Fidelity uses XML to standardize corporate data
Fidelity Investments has made all its corporate data
XML-compatible. The effort helps the world’s largest
mutual fund company and online brokerage eliminate up
to 75 percent of the hardware and software devoted to
middle-tier processing and speed the delivery of new
The decision to go to XML began when Fidelity developed
its Powerstreet Web trading service. At the
time, Fidelity determined it would need to offer its most
active traders much faster response times than its existing
brokerage systems allowed. The move to XML
brought other benefits as well. For example, the company
was able to tie customers who have 401k plans, brokerage
accounts, and IRAs under a common log-in. In
the past, they required separate passwords.
Today, two-thirds of the hundreds of thousands of
hourly online transactions at use XML to
link the Web to back-end systems. Before XML, comparable
transactions took seconds longer because they had
to go through a different proprietary data translation
scheme for each back-end system they retrieved data
Fidelity’s XML strategy is most critical to bringing
new applications and services to customers faster than rivals.
By using XML as a common language to which all
corporate data—from Web, database, transactional, and
legacy systems—are translated, Fidelity is saving millions
of dollars on infrastructure and development costs. Fidelity
no longer has to develop translation methods for
communications between the company’s many systems.
XML also has made it possible for Fidelity’s different
databases—including Oracle for its customer account information
and IBM’s DB2 for trading records—to respond
to a single XML query.
Source: “Fidelity Retrofits All Data for XML,” InternetWeek,
August 6, 2001;
1. What are the different ways that having all data in
XML can save corporations money?
2. Could corporations standardize on other languages
and also save money? Why or why not?
Which languages?
‘s FIN
C o m p o n e n t w a r e
Componentware is a term used to describe component-based software applications.
Software components are the “building blocks” of applications. They provide the operations
that can be used by the application (or other applications) again and again.
Any given application may contain hundreds of components, each providing specific
business logic or user-interface functionality. Consider a database application as an
example: The data-entry screen may contain several user-interface components for
providing buttons, menus, list boxes, and so forth. There may also be business logic
components to perform validation or calculations on the data, as well as components
to write the data to the database. Finally, there can be components to create reports
from the data, either for viewing in an on-screen chart or for printing. Componentbased
applications enable software developers to “snap together” applications by
mixing and matching prefabricated plug-and-play software components.
V i r t u a l R e a l i t y M o d e l i n g L a n g u a g e
The Virtual Reality Modeling Language (VRML) is a file format for describing threedimensional
interactive worlds and objects. It can be used with the World Wide Web to
create three-dimensional representations of complex scenes such as illustrations, product
definitions, and virtual reality presentations. VRML can represent static and animated
objects, and it can have hyperlinks to other media such as sound, video, and image.
O b j e c t – O r i e n t e d P r o g r a m m i n g L a n g u a g e s
Object-oriented programming (OOP) languages are based on the idea of taking a
small amount of data and the instructions about what to do with that data (these instructions
are called methods in object-oriented programming) and putting both of
them together into what is called an object. This process is called encapsulation.
When the object is selected or activated, the computer has the desired data and takes
the desired action. This is what happens when you select an icon on your GUIequipped
computer screen and click on it. That is, in object-oriented systems, programs
tell objects to perform actions on themselves. For example, windows on your
GUI screens do not need to be drawn through a series of instructions. Instead, a window
object could be sent a message to open at a certain place on your screen, and the
window will appear at that place. The window object contains the program code for
opening and placing itself.
There are several basic concepts to object-oriented programming, which include
classes, objects (discussed above), encapsulation (discussed above), and inheritance.
For a more detailed discussion and examples of basic OOP concepts, see the Web site.
The reusability feature of object-oriented languages means that classes created
for one purpose can be used in a different object-oriented program if desired. For example,
if a class has methods that solve a very difficult computation problem, that
problem does not have to be solved again by another programmer. Rather, the class is
just used in the new program. This feature of reusability can represent a tremendous
reduction in programming time within an organization.
A disadvantage of object-oriented programming, however, is that defining the initial
library of classes is very time-consuming, so that writing a single program with
OOP takes longer than conventional programming. Another disadvantage is that OOP
languages, like visual programming languages, are somewhat less specific and powerful,
and require more time and memory to execute than procedural languages. Popular
object-oriented programming languages include Smalltalk, C, and Java. Because
Java is a powerful and popular language, we will look at it next in more detail.
114 Chapter 4 Computer Software
Java. Java is an object-oriented programming language developed by Sun Microsystems.
The language gives programmers the ability to develop applications that work
across the Internet. Java can handle text, data, graphics, sound, and video, all within
one program. Java is used to develop small applications, called applets, which can be
included in an HTML page on the Internet. When the user uses a Java-compatible
browser to view a page that contains a Java applet, the applet’s code is transferred to
the user’s system and executed by the browser.
Java becomes even more interesting when one considers that many organizations
are converting their internal networks to use the Internet’s TCP/IP protocol (more
about this in Chapter 7). This means that with a computer network that runs the Internet
protocol, applications written in Java can be stored on the network, downloaded
as needed, and then erased from the local computer when the processing is completed.
Users simply download the Java applets as needed, and no longer need to
store copies of the application on their PC’s hard drive.
Java can benefit organizations in many ways. Companies will not need to purchase
numerous copies of commercial software to run on individual computers. Instead,
they will purchase one network copy of the software package, made of Java
applets. Rather than pay for multiple copies of software, companies may be billed for
usage of their single network copy, similar to photocopying. Companies also will find
it easier to set information technology standards for hardware, software, and communications;
with Java, all applications processing will be independent of the type of
computer platform. Companies will have better control over data and applications because
they can be controlled centrally from the network servers. Finally, software
management (e.g., distribution and upgrades) will be much easier and faster.
The Unified Modeling Language (UML). Developing a model for complex software
systems is as essential as having a blueprint for a large building. The UML is a language
for specifying, visualizing, constructing, and documenting the artifacts (such as
classes, objects, etc.) in object-oriented software systems. The UML makes the reuse
of these artifacts easier because the language provides a common set of notations that
can be used for all types of software projects.
To respond to competitive challenges and opportunities, companies must frequently
streamline their organizational processes. This kind of reorganization frequently
means changing the IT infrastructure to better support the new processes. A serious
difficulty that confronts most organizations as they are in the throes of change is the
sheer complexity that arises from the variety of hardware and software in use. A large
B e f o r e y o u g o o n . . .
1. What generation of languages is popular for interacting with databases?
2. What language does a CPU actually respond to?
3. What is the difference between applications and components?
4. What are the strategic advantages of using object-oriented languages?
5. What is the Unified Modeling Language?
Section 4.6 Enterprise Software 115
firm may have thousands of software programs to run its various systems, and dozens
of types of hardware, with varying operating systems. Some applications may have
been custom-made in-house, some specially made by vendors, and some generic offthe-
shelf. Trying to get these elements to work in harmony in the first place is difficult
enough. Trying to reconfigure them is often a nightmare. Firms and their IT management
have to approach this new challenge differently.
S t r e a m l i n i n g O r g a n i z a t i o n a l S o f t w a r e
Unless there are significant competitive advantages, building new custom application
software has become too expensive, time consuming, and risky. Instead, many organizations
are buying packaged applications. IT’s About Business Box 4.3 provides an
example of a customer-management software package. And organizations no longer
want packages that merely automate existing processes. Rather, they want packaged
applications that support integration between functional modules (i.e., human resources,
operations, marketing, finance, accounting, and so on), that can be quickly
changed or enhanced, and that present a common graphical look and feel, helping to
reduce training and operations costs. The scope of application development projects
now focuses on business processes, and therefore extends across the boundaries of the
enterprise, bringing partners’, suppliers’, and customers’ needs into the integrated
business solution. This new, expanded role is filled by enterprise software.
M i d d l e w a r e
Internet applications designed to let one company interact with other companies are
complex because of the variety of hardware and software with which they must be
able to work. This complexity will increase as mobile wireless devices begin to access
company sites via the Internet. Middleware is software designed to link application
modules developed in different computer languages and running on heterogeneous
platforms whether on a single machine or over a network. Middleware keeps track of
the locations of the software modules that need to link to each other across a distrib-
116 Chapter 4 Computer Software
A bb oo uu tt B uu ss ii nn ee ss ss
Box 4.3: Customer relationship management at Marriott
Weeks in advance, Marriott planning coordinator Jennifer
Rodas calls registered guests to ask them about
their plans. When all is set, she faxes them an itinerary.
What makes such velvet-glove treatment possible is
Marriott’s use of customer-management software from
Siebel Systems. The hotel chain is counting on such technology
to gain an edge with guests and event planners.
The software lets Marriott pull together information
about its customers from different departments, so that
its representatives can anticipate and respond more
quickly to their needs.
The biggest boost from the Siebel software is in the
hotel chain’s sales operations. Marriott is transforming
its sales teams from order-takers for specific hotels to aggressive
marketers of all Marriott properties. A salesperson
in Dallas—who understands both the needs of his
local customers and the chain’s world inventory of hotel
rooms and other facilities—can now book orders for hotels
around the world. The software helped Marriott
generate an additional $55 million in cross-chain sales in
one year.
Source: “How Marriott Never Forgets a Guest,” Business Week,
February 21, 2000.
1. What are the various guest needs that the software
can anticipate?
2. How would Marriott apply this software to firsttime
‘s MKT
uted system and manages the actual exchange of information. (For a technical discussion
of Middleware, see the material at the book’s Web site.)
O r g a n i z a t i o n – W i d e A p p l i c a t i o n s
Enterprise software consists of programs that manage the vital operations of an organization
(enterprise), such as supply-chain management (movement of raw materials
from suppliers through shipment of finished goods to customers), inventory replenishment,
ordering, logistics coordination, human resources management, manufacturing,
operations, accounting, and financial management. Some common modules of
enterprise applications software are payroll, sales order processing, accounts
payable/receivable, and tax accounting. For Other Common Enterprise Modules, see
the Web site.
Enterprise software vendors are producing software that is less expensive, based
on industry standards, compatible with other vendors’ products, and easier to configure
and install. The largest vendors—Systeme Anwendung Produkte (SAP) AG, Oracle
Corporation, PeopleSoft Inc., Baan Co., Computer Associates, and J.D. Edwards—are
developing software programs that make the jobs of business users and IT personnel
easier. Because of the cost, complexity, and time needed to implement enterprisewide
corporate applications, many companies are purchasing only the specific application
(or module) required, such as manufacturing, financial, or sales force automation.
B e f o r e y o u g o o n . . .
1. What are the strategic advantages of the enterprise software approach?
2. Why is adoption of enterprise software an inherently difficult process?
Section 4.6 Enterprise Software 117
Accounting application software performs the organization’s accounting functions,
which are repetitive and high volume. Accounting applications are data oriented
rather than information oriented, and their main functions consist of data capture,
storage, and manipulation. Each business transaction (e.g., a person hired, a paycheck
produced, an item sold) produces data that must be captured. After capture, accounting
applications manipulate the data as necessary. Accounting applications adhere to
relatively standardized procedures, handle detailed data, and have a historical focus
(i.e., what happened in the past).
Financial application software provides information to persons and groups both inside
and outside the firm about the firm’s financial status. Financial applications include
forecasting, funds management, and control applications.
Forecasting applications predict and project the firm’s future activity in the economic
environment. Funds management applications use cash flow models to analyze
expected cash flows. Control applications enable managers to monitor their financial
118 Chapter 4 Computer Software
performance, typically by providing information about the budgeting process and performance
ratios. These applications allow managers to compare actual and budgeted
expenses, produce reports, and compute ratios. Common ratios are the current ratio
(current assets divided by current liabilities) and inventory turnover (cost of goods sold
divided by the average inventory value).
Marketing application software helps management solve problems that involve marketing
the firm’s products. Marketing software includes marketing research and marketing
intelligence applications. Marketing intelligence applications collect
information from the firm’s external environment that affects marketing operations,
such as information about competitors. Marketing research applications collect information
on customers, prospects, and their needs.
Marketing applications provide information about the firm’s products, its distribution
system, its advertising and personal selling activities, and its pricing strategies.
Overall, marketing applications help managers develop strategies that combine the
four major elements of marketing: product, promotion, place, and price.
Managers use production/operations management applications software for production
planning and as part of the physical production system. POM applications include
production, inventory, quality, and cost software. These applications help management
operate manufacturing facilities. Inventory applications determine the quantity of
goods to reorder and when. Quality applications enable the organization to achieve
product quality by monitoring the entire production process. Costing applications help
managers control the costs of the production process.
Materials requirements planning (MRP) software is widely used in manufacturing.
Rather than wait until it is time to reorder, MRP software identifies the materials that
will be needed, their quantities, and the dates on which they will be needed, thus enabling
managers to be proactive.
Human resources management application software provides information concerning
recruiting and hiring, education and training, maintaining the employee database, and
termination and benefits administration. HRM applications include workforce planning,
recruiting, workforce management, compensation, benefits, and environmental
reporting subsystems.
Workforce planning applications allow managers to identify future personnel
needs by addressing organizational charting, salary forecasting, job analysis and evaluation,
planning, and workforce modeling. Recruiting applications assist managers in
bringing new employees into the organization by tracking applicants and by monitoring
internal and external searches. Workforce management applications include performance
appraisal, training, relocation, skills and competency, succession, and
disciplinary actions. Compensation applications include the functions of merit increases,
payroll, executive compensation, bonus incentives, and attendance. Benefits
applications encompass defined contributions, defined benefits, benefit statements,
flexible benefits, stock purchase, and claims processing. Environmental reporting applications
include EEO (equal employment opportunity) records and analysis, union
enrollment, health records, toxic substances, and grievances.
1 Differentiate between the two major types of software.
Software consists of computer programs (coded instructions) that control the functions
of computer hardware. There are two main categories of software: systems
software and application software. Systems software manages the hardware resources
of the computer system and functions between the hardware and the application
software. Systems software includes the system control programs (operating
systems) and system support programs. Application software enables users to perform
specific tasks and information-processing activities. Application software may
be proprietary or off-the-shelf.
2 Describe the general functions of the operating system.
Operating systems manage the actual computer resources (i.e., the hardware).
Operating systems schedule and process applications (jobs), manage and protect
memory, ensure cache consistency, manage the input and output functions and
hardware, manage data and files, and provide clustering support, security, fault
tolerance, interapplication communications, graphical user interfaces, and windowing.
3 Differentiate among types of operating systems and describe each type.
There are five types of operating systems: mobile, desktop, departmental, enterprise,
and supercomputer. Mobile device operating systems are designed to support
a single person using a mobile, handheld device or information appliance. Desktop
operating systems have the least functionality and enterprise operating systems the
most, with departmental operating systems in the middle. Desktop operating systems
are typically designed for one user, departmental operating systems for up to
several hundred users, and enterprise operating systems can handle thousands of
users and millions of transactions simultaneously. Supercomputer operating systems
are designed for the particular processing needs of supercomputers.
4 Identify three methods for developing application software.
Proprietary software can be developed in-house to address the specific needs of an
organization. Existing software programs can be purchased off the shelf from vendors
that sell programs to many organizations and individuals. Or a combination of
these two methods can be used, by purchasing off-the-shelf programs and customizing
them for an organization’s specific needs.
5 Describe the major types of application software.
The major types of application software are spreadsheet, data management, word
processing, desktop publishing, graphics, multimedia, communications, speech
recognition, and groupware. Software suites combine several types of application
software (e.g., word processing, spreadsheet, and data management) into an integrated
6 Explain how software has evolved and trends for the future.
Software and programming languages continue to become more user oriented.
Programming languages have evolved from the first generation of machine languages
that is directly understandable to the CPU to higher levels that use more
natural language and that do not require users to specify the detailed procedures
for achieving desired results. This trend ensures that end users and the information
systems staff will become more productive. In addition, software is becoming much
more complex, expensive, and time consuming to develop. As a result, the trend is
toward purchasing off-the-shelf software, often in the form of components, rather
than developing it in-house. In the future, organizations will tend to buy component-
based software modules to reduce costs and development time.
Summary 119
7 Describe enterprise software.
Organizations want packaged applications that support integration between functional
modules (i.e., human resources, operations, marketing, finance, accounting,
etc.), that can be quickly changed or enhanced, and that present a common graphical
look and feel. In addition, organizations want individual components—software
modules—that can be combined as necessary to meet changing business needs. Enterprise
software consists of programs that manage a company’s vital operations,
such as supply-chain management, inventory replenishment, ordering, logistics coordination,
human resources management, manufacturing, operations, accounting,
and financial management.
120 Chapter 4 Computer Software
Go to the CD, access Chapter 4: Computer Software, and read the case presented. It
will describe give case scenarios in which you will be asked to choose the best software
to use for various activities. You will be presented with a list of options that will
allow you to make changes if you think changes are necessary.
For additional resources, go to the book’s Web site for Chapter 4. There you will
find Web resources for the chapter, including additional material about operating systems,
application software, and evaluation criteria; links to organizations, people, and
technology; “IT’s About Business” company links; “What’s in IT for Me?” links; and
a self-testing Web quiz for Chapter 4.
1. You are the CIO of your company and have to develop
an application of strategic importance to your
firm. Do you buy an off-the-shelf application or develop
it in-house? Support your answer with pros
and cons of each choice.
2. You are the CIO of your company. Which computing
paradigm will you support in your strategic information
technology plan: the standard desktop
computing model, with all the necessary functionality
on the local machine, or the network computing
model, where functionality is downloaded from the
network as needed? Support your answer with pros
and cons of each choice.
3. You have to take a programming course, or maybe
more than one, in your MIS program. Which language
would you choose to study? Why? Should you
even have to learn a programming language?
4. What is the relationship between network computers
and Java?
5. If Java and network computing become the dominant
paradigm in the industry, will there be any
need for in-house information systems staff? What
would the staff still have to do?
1. Research the costs and functionality of standalone
personal software products such as word processing,
spreadsheet, and graphics, and compare them to the
costs and functionality of integrated software suites.
Under what circumstances would you recommend
2. Different groupware products support different aspects
of group work; some support many, and others
only a few. With your job as an example (or one you
have had in the past), determine what features you
would want in your groupware. Then research the
different products and identify the one most suitable
for your needs.
3. Design a short program that you would like to have
written in a computer language (for example, one
that will calculate mortgage amortization or payroll
with taxes for a small hourly workforce). Then discuss
the desired program with an experienced computer
programmer to determine what language
should be used and why.
4. If you are not a programmer, or if you program in
only one language, investigate learning how to
program in conventional languages (C, for example),
visual languages (e.g., Visual Basic), and object-oriented
languages (e.g., Java). Which seems more intuitive
and/or easier for you?
P r o d u c t i v i t y a t a S h i p y a r d
Real-World Case 121
1. A great deal of software is available free over the
Internet. Go to and observe all
the software available for free. Choose one and
download it to your computer. Prepare a brief discussion
about the software for the class.
2. Enter the IBM Web site ( and search on
“Software.” Click on the drop box for Products and
notice how many software products IBM produces.
Is IBM only a hardware company? Select “Voice
Recognition” and write a brief discussion of the features
of IBM’s voice-recognition products.
1. Go to your campus computing center and research
the types of software that are available on the local
area networks in the different parts of the university.
Do different departments have their own stores
of specialized software, or is all software centrally
2. Discuss with your academic department’s office director
and IT support person the issue of software licensing.
How does the department maintain
compliance? You may also do this with the personnel
at the campus computing center.
The Business Problem Several years ago, Bollinger
Shipyards was, like most shipbuilding operations, an
old-economy, nontechnological, nonnetworked company.
Company headquarters received information
from a collection of outdated mainframe systems and
in-house-developed financial software, all running separately
at the company’s nine shipyards. Producing the
reports for basic payroll, finance, and procurement
functions was a difficult, time-consuming process. And
because the procurement system was nearly nonexistent,
ships often sat in repair docks for weeks waiting
for parts to arrive.
In the mid-1990s, Bollinger attempted to address
its administrative difficulties by upgrading its computer
systems. It tried two vendors of specialized enterprise
resource planning software, but ended up scrapping
both systems because they did not work properly.
The IT Solution The company decided to use Oracle’s
e-business software suite to solve its business problems.
The system, which cost $2.7 million and took eight
months to build, manages every function from human
resources, accounting, and finance, to procurement.
The Results The Oracle software helped the company
lower its overhead and increase its productivity.
Each of the company’s shipyards used to require two
full-time staff members to handle administration and
payroll. Now, the company uses one part-time employee
per shipyard.
The Oracle software also was useful when
Bollinger bought a rival, 800-person shipbuilder last
year. Normally, taking on an acquired company’s payroll
would mean heavy overtime and many temporary
employees pushing paperwork, but Bollinger’s 10-person
IT department just connected up the five new shipyards,
loaded the new employee data into the Oracle
system, and ran payroll as usual. Bollinger purchased
the shipbuilder on a Tuesday, and the next week had
800 new employees on the payroll.
Bollinger’s biggest gains have come from increased
productivity. Each shipyard used to order its own supplies.
Now shipyards send their requests to headquarters,
which coordinates orders so parts and other
materials arrive in a more timely manner. The company
has also saved 15 percent off the time it takes to
build a ship. For an 87-foot Coast Guard patrol boat
that is now under construction, that savings amounts to
But the biggest payoff for Bollinger is in procurement.
By centralizing procurement, the company can
now see where it is spending its money, and use that information
to negotiate prices with vendors. The company
expects to save as much as $5 million through
procurement, twice the amount the company spent for
its new information technology system.
Source: “Bollinger Shipyards,”, pp. 119–120, May
1. The new information technology system cost
Bollinger almost 1 percent of annual sales. Was the
decision to purchase the new system risky? Why or
why not?
2. Would Bollinger employees have resisted the new
system, worrying about jobs being lost?
3. Now that Bollinger has a successful ERP system in
place internally, what should the company do next
with regard to IT in order to further reduce costs
and increase efficiencies? (Hint: Consider the company’s
supply chain.)
122 Chapter 4 Computer Software
E x t r e m e D e s c e n t S n o w b o a r d s
Background Mark Brandy, one of the
founders of EDS invites you to lunch.
When you arrive at the restaurant, you find
Lori Saunders from the Marketing Department
and Jacob March already seated.
“Welcome,” says Mark and invites you to
have the seat next to him.
Mark introduces you to Lori Saunders.
Jacob continues his conversation stating,
“One of the most critical requirements for
our electronic site is an excellent user interface.”
Lori adds, “If the company does not
continually update and improve its Web
presence, we risk losing our customers to
our competitors. web sites should be constructed
to grab and keep the interest of a
Jacob interjects his thoughts that to the
end-user the software interface is the system.
Jacob winks at you and proceeds
telling everyone that he thinks this would
be a good assignment for our intern to help
us define what makes a good user interface.
Jacob turn to you , handing you a napkin
to make your notes on.
1. Using the World Wide Web, find two
companies theat have an excellent Web
presence for selling a service or product.
Provide the complete Web site address
(URL) for each web site. Write a report
that includes an evaluation of:
• Ease of navigation from page to page
• Ease of ordering the company’s product
or service
• Aesthetics of the site
• Functionality of the Web site
2. Visit the EDS Web site and compare it to
the two Web sites you have just evaluated.
What do you like about the EDS
Web site? What features from the other
Web sites could be incorporated to improve
the EDS Web site? How will your
suggestions increase sales from the Web
site? Write a report to Jacob March
summarizing you findings.


Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s