Digitizing and Informating

By Jim Euchner, Editor-in-Chief, Research-Technology Management Journal, and VP, Global Innovation, Goodyear

Twenty years ago, Shoshana Zuboff published In the Age of the Smart Machine, a seminal work on the nature of automation. Her focus was on the capability of machines that automated work to also informate their environment, a term she coined. Informating is the generation of information as a by-product of an action. Zuboff observed that “the same systems that make it possible to automate office transactions also create a vast overview of an organization’s operations, with many levels of data coordinated and accessible for a variety of analytical efforts” (p. 9).

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