HBR Article: Computer Databases, The Future is Now


Write a short essay (1 or 2 pages) on the HBR Article: Computer Databases, The Future is Now.

Since many years, there has been a big debate about the existence of the database. Whether or not databases have influenced EDP operations within companies. This article clears any misconception about the databases by demonstrating them as beneficial, viable and real. The author provides insight into the construction and nature of the database in such a way that top manager can easily describe to the lower level manager about the EDP operations (Nolan).

The article describes the significance of databases through an example. One company was thinking about new sales plan with which they can easily control the entire market and get huge benefits. But there was some problem in warehouses. To produce the intended quality of products mentioned in the two sales plan, there was the possibility of a big problem at the warehouses. So, the President and the CEO decided to check the relationship between their sales, market, and inventories. When they approached ERD Manager, he said it is impossible to do so as it would require a large memory and take approximately nine months. Both CEO and Vice President were very angry because there all data was frozen. They were not preparing any database that leads them to disappointment (Nolan).  Therefore, it is clear that how the database is significant for the ERD operations of the company.

The benefits of the databases have been described below:

  • Databases are much more efficient and flexible in an EDP facility of different sizes and complexity to create any program.
  • The small and complex programs can be developed from the database rather than collecting data from several data files. In this way, it saves time and money.
  • There is a constraint on the programmer of working over, around, under, and through the different structures of separate files.

In the historical pattern, the author describes different traditional and modern ways of collecting and coding the data. “Exhibit I the Traditional Approach to Programs and Data” in which data collection and coding was done for specific programs only. But it has several disadvantages that include the tendency of files and records to become redundant, and programmers have the choice to build new files which were a time-consuming task. Also, the traditional approaches were aborting or undercutting the advancement in the computer technology. The traditional method blocks management’s increasing demands for applications that necessitate a database (Nolan).

In the modern concept, EDP activity is structured in such a way that all the data can be collected in a single pool. There are numerous benefits of the modern approach. It provides a special programming interface system and the database interface system. In this way, the main feature of the key-task strategy is the ability to answer management’s requests for analyses and reports. The author identifies these strategies as the piggyback strategy, the brute-force strategy and the database/key-task strategy (Nolan).

In conclusion, this article is a great source to understand the concept of databases and its importance for the companies. The biggest strength of the article is how the author used different examples to elaborate the concepts. But I think the author could use a simple language so that a layperson can also understand what database is all about.


Nolan, R. (n.d.). Computer Data Bases: The Future Is Now. Retrieved from https://hbr.org/1973/09/computer-data-bases-the-future-is-now