Today, sitting in Bombay, I am able to get access to news, information and services from across the world which just a few years ago would have been unthinkable. For many of us, the Internet has, in the space of five years, become a critical part of both personal and business life. And this is just the beginning. Says John Doerr of venture capital firm Kleiner Perkins, “I think we’re now quite early in the building of the Evernet, this always-on, high-speed, broadband, ubiquitous, multiformat Web.”
For corporates, the Internet is helping cut costs, generate revenues from new market opportunities, build closer relationships with customers, help in product design by linking together teams of engineers and optimize supply chains. In the future, according to Geoffrey Nairn (Financial Times), “every controller and piece of factory equipment will have a unique IP address and can thus be linked directly into an internet-based supply chain management system that adjust supply to demand in real-time.”
The so-called Old Economy companies will find the biggest use of the Internet: they have customers and they have the money. The Internet becomes a powerful strategic tool for these organisations to bring about improvements in their core business processes. This is where Indian companies also need to focus on – leveraging the Internet to be able to compete effectively globally.
For us in our personal lives, the Internet will bring convenience and personalized services, through multiple devices. In the past few years, the novelty of email, chat, instant messaging have spurred usage, building on our desire to communicate. Voice, Wireless, Broadband will in the next few years create a Net very different from the narrow-band one that we are used to now. We will see an always-on, high-speed connected Internet.
According to Steve Mills of IBM:
As the Internet becomes a pervasive part of our life, our biggest challenge will not be technology itself, but agreeing to the rules and standards that ensure it provides a common ground for everyoneWhen that happens, the Net will become the kind of public launching pad for global innovation the lines of which we have never seen.
In countries like India, the Internet offers an opportunity to leapfrog many intervening generations of technology and for the first time, make a genuine difference in enhancing quality of life and raising standards of living for the mass market. We need to make the Internet a utility in people’s lives, and in doing so, close the digital divide and bridge the gap between the haves and the have-nots.