Upon successful completion of this chapter, you will be able to:
- Define the term software;
- Describe the two primary categories of software;
- Discuss cloud computing and its advantages and disadvantages for use in an organization;
- List the ways in which software can be obtained; and
- Define the term open-source and identify its primary characteristics.
You will remember from the last chapter that computer hardware is the components of information technology that you can physically touch. Computing hardware is getting faster and cheaper, creating all sorts of exciting and disruptive opportunities for organizations. However, it is the software that makes the magic of computing happen. Software refers to a computer program or collection of programs—sets of instructions that tell the hardware what to do, and without software, the hardware would not be functional. Software gets your computer to behave like a Web browser or word processor, makes your phone play music and video, and enables your bank’s ATM to spit out cash. In this chapter we will explore the different types of software, how to obtain it, and understand the importance of software from a managerial context.
Managers who understand software can better understand the possibilities and impact of technology. They can make better decisions regarding the strategic value of IT and the potential for technology-driven savings. They can appreciate the challenges, costs, security vulnerabilities, legal and compliance issues, and limitations involved in developing and deploying technology solutions.