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The importance of computer systems

Posted on: November 3, 2023
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In a rapidly developing and evolving modern world, one of the few constants has been the presence of computer systems. These systems, from personal computers such as desktop computers and laptops to smartphones and wearable technology, have become integral in our daily lives. They have helped shape our present – the way we live, the way we work, and the ways in which we communicate and explore the world.

Looking back to the first computers and microcomputers, and then looking ahead at what’s coming next in the use of computers, it’s clear that modern computer systems are helping to build our future, driving and supporting progress, innovation, and connectivity. And the advancement of computer technology continues to open up new frontiers of possibility.

So what, exactly, do we mean when we refer to computer systems?

A computer system is the term used for all of the interconnected computer hardware and software components that work together to run a computer, allowing it to receive, store, process and transmit information and data.

Typical systems will include a few key components that ensure their computers work. These include: 

  • A central processing unit (CPU), which executes instructions.
  • A motherboard, which is the most important bit of circuitry in the system, enabling all its other components to effectively interact with one another.
  • An operating system, such as Apple iOS, the Macintosh MacOS operating system, Linux, Unix, or the Microsoft Windows operating system. Operating systems like these provide the interface between the user and the computer as well as its peripherals, such as any monitors, keyboards, and mice.
  • Various types of computer software. This includes everything from word processors – the technology used for word processing tools such as Microsoft Word – and the web browsers that enable people to use the web when they have an internet connection.
  • Storage devices for short term memory – which is called random access memory, or RAM – and long term memory – such as hard disk drives (HDD) – which are housed on a computer’s hard drive. 

The benefits of computer systems

Computer systems offer a number of established benefits, including:

  • Increased efficiency and productivity. Computer systems help people perform complex tasks with unparalleled speed and accuracy. Automated processes save time and effort, which leads to increased productivity in people’s personal and professional lives.
  • Essential information management. Computer systems enable people to store, organise, and retrieve vast amounts of information. And with sophisticated databases and search engines, people can access knowledge with just a few clicks or keystrokes, making research and data analysis more efficient than ever before.
  • Enhanced communication and connectivity. The advent of computer networks and the internet has revolutionised communication. Email, social media, video conferencing, and instant messaging have transformed how people connect and collaborate with others around the world.

The importance of computer systems in the business world

Computer systems have become an indispensable tool in business. They have reshaped every aspect of modern organisations, from high-level decision-making and operations, to marketing and customer service. This is because computer systems support:

  • Streamlined operations. Computer systems automate routine tasks, optimise inventory management, and facilitate efficient supply chain operations. 
  • Business intelligence. Computer systems can collect and analyse huge amounts of data, helping businesses to gain valuable insights into customer behaviour, market trends, and financial performance. This means that businesses and organisations can make data-driven decisions, identify new opportunities for growth, and stay ahead of their competitors. 
  • Enhanced customer experiences. Computer systems support personalised marketing activities, more tailored and efficient customer support, and seamless online transactions. These enhanced customer interactions can help build customer loyalty – and business growth.

The importance of computer systems in education

Computer systems play a significant role in education, transforming the way knowledge is gathered and shared. This is because computer systems support:

  • Access to information. Computers and the internet provide pupils, students, and educators with access to virtually limitless amounts of information and educational resources. These resources, such as online libraries, digital textbooks, and educational websites, also expand learning opportunities.
  • Interactive learning. Computer systems offer interactive learning experiences through multimedia, simulations, and other educational software. Learners can engage in virtual experiments, immersive simulations, and collaborative projects to further enhance their understanding.
  • Digital literacy. Through computer systems, learners develop proficiency in areas that are crucial for people living in this digital age. Learning computer science, coding, and computer literacy equips people with essential skills for the 21st century, empowering them to adapt, innovate, and succeed in an increasingly technology-driven world.

The importance of computer systems in healthcare

Computer systems have enabled huge changes in healthcare – and have empowered healthcare providers, researchers, and patients alike. This is because computer systems support: 

  • Efficient medical recordkeeping and data management. Electronic health records and data management systems mean that healthcare providers can store, access, and share patient information securely. 
  • Advanced diagnostics and treatment options. Computer systems support medical imaging technologies, such as MRI and CT scans, which enable more precise diagnoses and effective treatment planning. Computer-assisted surgeries, robotic systems, and real-time monitoring devices have also been hugely beneficial for healthcare delivery and improving patient outcomes.
  • Medical research. With the aid of computer systems, researchers can analyse large medical datasets, which assists in accelerating discoveries and advancing medical knowledge. Artificial intelligence and machine learning algorithms also help in predicting disease patterns, identifying risk factors, and developing personalised treatment strategies.

The future of computer systems

Emerging technologies in a number of key areas are expected to further transform our world. These areas include:

  • Quantum computing. According to IBM, quantum computing “harnesses the laws of quantum mechanics to solve problems too complex for classical computers.” This technology is still in its infancy, but aims to support everything from electric vehicles to addressing energy challenges.
  • Artificial intelligence (AI) and machine learning. Advancements in AI and machine learning algorithms will support further development in everything from virtual assistants and self-driving cars to more personalised medicine and smart homes.
  • The Internet of Things (IoT). It’s predicted that the IoT will eventually connect billions of devices and sensors, creating a network of interconnected systems that support smart cities, industrial automation, and even precision agriculture

Accelerate your career in computer systems 

Join the high-demand field of computer science by studying the 100% online MSc Computer Science at Keele University. This flexible, part-time programme has been designed for ambitious individuals who may not have studied computer science previously, as well as computer science professionals who want an academic qualification to accelerate their career progression in information technology.

You’ll develop and extend the practical skills you need for designing, building, deploying, and evaluating software and computer applications in a variety of contexts. You will learn programming and web languages including Python, Java, and XML, work with mobile apps, and learn to develop modern software systems and applications.

Key areas of study include:

  • the fundamentals of computer science
  • design and programming
  • user interaction (UI) design
  • statistical data analytics and databases
  • software engineering
  • web technologies and security
  • advanced programming techniques
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