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The Future of the Internet

Terry Brock

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 ever.

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 technology.

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.

Terry Brock
Terry Brock

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 places.

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 the future.

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 language.

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.

 


Terry Brock is an internationally recognized professional speaker, consultant and author in the fields of business productivity, technology and marketing. His is a syndicated columnist for Biz Journals across America.  
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