5. Wireless: Perhaps, the biggest visible technology revolution is happening with the proliferation of wireless networks. GSM and CDMA networks are making cellphones available to millions who were previously deprived of telecom services. Across countries like China and India, millions of new users get connected every month. WiFi promises to be next revolution, creating an envelope of hotspots which can be used for both voice and data services. SMS (Short Message Service) has been the surprise communications hit of the past few years. While so far it has been used mainly for person-to-person interactions, its use for employee-to-server interactions can create the foundation for real-time enterprises, as it has the potential to bridge the information gap. Event notifications can be provided instantaneously to people anywhere. In the coming years, cellphones will evolve into smartphones capable of providing voice, data and video services over ubiquitous wireless networks.
6. Instant Messaging: The other communications revolution is happening on the computer in the form of instant messaging. These short, sharp, chatty exchanges are providing an effective alternate to spam- and virus-ridden email. From connecting employees in real-time across locations to allowing enterprises to offer customer support, IM has, almost like SMS, made its way with its own vocabulary into mainstream consciousness. The new releases of the instant messengers also support video via webcams.
7. VoIP: The Internet as backbone now provides the perfect platform to carry voice. Voice-over-IP is the next big disruptive force in the world of telecom. A recently launched serviced called Skype connects people with real-time, landline-like quality via the Internet. Even before Skype launched, voice-over-IP has been used to dramatically slash cost of communications. The other thing to watch out for is voice-over-WiFi. Dartmouth College is already providing such a service to students across the campus. For SMEs, the benefits are near-zero cost of telecom and pervasive connectivity.
8. Google: No other service has become as useful in daily life as Google. With its promise to find accurately anything out on the Internet, it has become the first stop for finding information about people, businesses and any other topics. In fact, search engines, which for many were the first stop in the early days of the Net, are once again coming to the fore. For small- and medium-sized enterprises (SMEs), Google also offers the promise of cost-effective advertising. It is the small advertisers paying a few cents per clickthrough which have propelled Google to nearly a billion dollars in revenue in a short period of time.
9. Social Software: The next information revolution will be centred around the information refinery, powered by RSS (Rich Site Summary), an XML format for syndicating microcontent. Weblogs and Wikis are the unlikely partners in this emerging category of social software applications which help people work better in groups. In fact, personal and group knowledge management are increasingly becoming critical aspects in the real-time enterprise. The differentiation across organizations is likely to come less from their physical plant and machinery and more from their information plants and refineries.
Tomorrow: New Technologies and Trends (continued)