The Internet is a fundamental part
of our businesses, our culture and our life. Just because many companies
with wrong business models have been hit doesn't mean that the Internet
is going away.
In fact, the Internet is a more vital part of what we do now than
Here are some specific ways the Internet will be part of our
businesses and our lives as we look to the future:
¯ Faster access to what we need. Right now most of those on the Net
are doing so with 56K modems or less. No wonder it hasn't changed
everything. As more and more cable modems, DSL lines and even faster
access (like T1 and T3 lines) become more cost effective we'll see more
added. Watch developments in the areas of lasers as we blow past copper
and fiber optic lines. What now takes 10 hours at fast DSL access speeds
to download will be accomplished in about 10 seconds with laser
¯ More multimedia. Because of the faster access we're going to see,
we will have more multimedia. That opens up huge opportunities.
Entertainment-on-demand will be more abundant. You'll be able to
download videos of movies or television shows you missed or what to see
again. This opens a huge market for education and training. Costs will
plummet and the quality of education will be able to soar. For example,
A rural school which normally couldn't afford the best German language
instructor could easily have a bank of quality instructors on taps
wherever they happen to be in the world. Think of how you could tap into
the intellectual brainpower of experts on an as needed and on-demand
basis. It would be good for the consumer. It would be good for the
experts as they will be able to open newer and more markets than ever
before. Everyone wins.
¯ Videoconferencing will finally come into its own. The tragic
events of Sept 11th, 2001 have brought home the benefits of using video
over the Internet more than ever. However, videoconferencing is not new.
We've seen the possibilities of videoconferencing since the 1939 World's
Fair, so this isn't new. The Internet is providing limited video
conferencing now. As the speed gets better this will be a viable and
much-wanted alternative to slogging through airports, dealing with
delayed flights, surly airport personnel and the hassle of traveling.
Sure we'll have face-to-face meetings but we won't need them as often.
This will also have greater security usage. Watch for concerns about
privacy but most people will want surveillance for security in public
¯ Faster wireless. I now check my e-mail regularly via my OmniSky
wireless modem connected to my Palm Vx. I can check e-mail from most
locations in the US. This type of access will become more common. Right
now the Ricochet modem from Metricom provides access at 128kbps to the
Internet on a wireless modem. It is only available in limited markets
but since the technology exists, we'll see greater adoption of this in
¯ Internet as Telephone. You don't see classes today on "how to use
the telephone to your advantage." It just exists and we use it. The
Internet will be as ubiquitous as the telephone and as easy to use. It
will be something we take for granted and use to order products, get
new, information and communicate. How this will effect the local Bell
companies is uncertain. If I were in the position of the Bell telephone
companies I would be very concerned with all that is happening.
¯ More International. Up to this point the Internet has been about
75% English with an American accent. That is good for us in the US for
doing commerce and understanding what is going on. It is bad for us in
that we get lazy and don't try to increase our ability to communicate
with others. Accenture, formerly Andersen Consulting, says that by 2007
Chinese will be the #1 language on the Internet---now it gets
interesting. They're right. As China and other countries become more
fully wired they will use their native written language to communicate
and do business. Make note of the sites that come on line that are not
English-based. Think globally and act "lingually"---learn another
¯ More power to the individual.
Already governments worldwide realize that they are not as powerful as
markets. The individual making buying decisions and acquiring
information will be a stronger force than any government. People are
taking medical matters into their own hands and using the assistance of
health care practitioners as close advisors. Sites already provide access to medical
experts worldwide for solutions on diseases and cures. We won't abandon
health care practitioners but we will take more responsibility for our
own health care. Voting will also eventually be on line and faster
interaction with lawmakers will be the norm.
¯ Buying will be "not either or but both and". We will want to buy
many items on the Net but still prefer the physical experience for some
purchases. Stores like Circuit City show the way it will be done. You
can browse their site and select the electronics or home appliance you
want. You can do your research and learn a lot without entering the
store. Then you can order the item and pick it up at your local store.
Buyers get the convenience and satisfaction of research and inquiry.
They also get the peace of mind that if something goes wrong they have a
physical store in town for remedies. No matter how much technology does
for us, we still want that human experience and touch.
¯ More concern about privacy and security. This is going to be
increasingly under observation. It is encoded into our DNA as Americans
to have privacy. Yet, in light of terrorist violence we are facing a
conflict. How do we monitor what the bad guys are doing, and planning to
do, while keeping the privacy and rights of individual Americans
private? It is a tough decision that will require much thought and
discussion among many groups. With all our information out on the
Internet, we'll be more concerned about keeping secret information
secret. The situation will be as security concerns have always been; a
continual leap frog game. It will never end. Begin now to educate
yourself on what to do and what not to do online to preserve the
security you want. The Internet with webcams will provide more
opportunities to view what is happening through never-blink cameras.
Some might object to a loss of privacy. However, that will be
overshadowed by surveillance for security in public places.
The Internet is not dead. It is going through a refinement and
readjustment. The future looks very bright and holds enormous
opportunities for profitability and business growth.