New times, new concepts

1812IE Focus | By Enrique Dans, Professor at IE Business School

The concept we have had of computers to date is set to disappear under a landslide of Internet realities that offer a new way of working online. Google´s announcement of its project to launch an operating system, Google Chrome OS, is not just another announcement in the hyperactive wasteland of technology news. The announcement is something more than that. It is a change of concept that affects the definition of a computer and what we do with it. Something that is going to change the way we work.

For many years now a computer has been the machine used to do the same things that were done without it, only more quickly and more efficiently. The word processor was a post-modern typewriter that produced results that were aesthetically better in less time by separating the composition process from the printing process. The spreadsheet was a “calculator on steroids”, which avoided the sequential repetition of chains of operations by placing them on coordinates. A bookkeeping or salary application was the fast way to tackle a monthly task that was both tedious and repetitive. For workers, a computer was a machine they used for doing the same thing, but more quickly. And to do that, they needed hardware, an operating system and the right applications. Last century´s computing system: buy a computer, which comes with a large, heavy operating system “that has everything” (including a computer and a game of solitaire!) and then buy the programmes you need to “do things”.