If you're one of those executives who is still resisting becoming computer literate either out of fear of failure or because you think that operating computers is "secretary work" that will hurt your status in the company, be forewarned: You are becoming an endangered species.

According to a research report conducted jointly last year by the National Association of Accountants (NAA) and Arthur Young & Co., eighty-three percent of senior financial executives say they now use personal computers on a routine basis and an overwhelming 98 percent believe the use of personal computers has added "measurable value" to their companies.The report surveyed 510 senior financial executives within the NAA membership. Most had the title of chief financial officer, controller, manager, or vice president in companies ranging in size from less than $50 million to more than $1 billion in revenues. Industries included manufacturing, finance, insurance and real estate.

The executives reported that computers saved them time, increased their productivity, improved timeliness, improved the accuracy of information, enhanced analytical capabilities increased flexibility in staffing, improved report presentation, and increased innovation among staff.

"Accountants should throw away their work paper pads and invest their money in computers," one executive said.

Of the 83 percent who use either a personal computer or dedicated terminal routinely in their work, 85 percent said they use spreadsheet software, nearly 65 percent use word processing capability, over 50 percent use database management software, and 49 percent use graphics software.

Based on these percentages and its experience with various clients, a spokesman for Arthur Young said it appears that senior financial management may be more aggressive in its use of office computer technology than its peers in other functional areas.

Technology, the survey found, is being applied aggressively in most of the major areas for which financial executives are normally responsible. Management reporting, budgeting, and forecasting were the financial programs most heavily used. Over 60 percent of the respondents indicated they use computer tools for financial accounting and financial planning.

"We believe that the workstation of the future will go beyond personal computers to the use of desktop systems specialized by job function," said one of the authors of the research report, Robert L. McDowell, a partner of Arthur Young & Co. and the national director of the advanced office systems consulting practice.

"In this scenario, relevant data will be easily available to individuals regardless of where those data reside. These desktop systems can include personal computers and terminals linked to large systems."