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Are we fully enabled yet?

01 Jun 08

Recently, I was having a conversation with some friends about how slow their internet access is at work and how much time it takes them to do what they need to do. This triggered my memory to when I was starting out as a desktop engineer in the 90s and the systems we had, or didn’t have, in place back then.  I never would have imagined that I could have access to my email, my ERP applications and all the necessary information to do my job when working from home. Today, I have all this, even wireless. Before email was making its entrance to a broader audience, only a very select few had access to the ‘email system’ and to something called the World Wide Web via a dial up connection.

Nowadays when I don’t see an email coming through on my handheld for more than ten minutes or so, I wonder if the service is down.  We can now send and receive emails pretty much from everywhere except when you are mid-flight travelling between cities, though this is soon to be changed.  Back then I had to physically go into the server room, log-on to the server console to access, receive and send an email — I was one of those privileged ones to have access. In my current role, working with partners and customers to help deliver solutions that provide connectivity, protection and continuity, it would take me a lot longer to communicate and provide information on our solutions, not to mention fulfil the needs of our customers and partners.

In saying this, what is around the corner? How much more can we enable connectedness?  Well, we are very close to being fully connected, whether wired or wireless, but the next step is to ‘smarten up’ this connectivity by having the information available at an instant and in a format that I want to use.  An intelligent system also needs to filter out the data that I don’t need either right now or not at all, and must provide protection that allows the ‘right’ information through as quickly as possible, store it for later or delete it because it has no meaning or value to me.

Moreover, intelligent connectivity means that I have alternatives to choose from. I make decisions that are based on different requirements, such as relevance, different situations and environments, cost, and efficiency. For instance, I want to have options available on how to communicate with our partners, alternatives when hosting an event and when providing assistance on our solutions.  Before I make any decision, I am always answering the following questions: “Can I do something or achieve a goal in a more cost effective way with the same results or better?  Could I use the cost savings from this to do more for our business and customers?”  If so, why would I stick to just one service or product when I can achieve more for my partners when I have different alternatives to match different situations?

I find most of us are comfortable with making the obvious or socially acceptable choice, but with lots of competition in the marketplace and in every market space, differentiating your business without limiting it is the most critical success factor. Each time I see choices being made, I see the same challenges being faced. Just stop and think — maybe I can get a more substantial advantage or can better assist my customers by not doing what everyone else is doing.