wave of information
will allow future businesses to make very precise decisions, predicts
by Alan Zisman (c) 1996 First published
in Business in
Vancouver , Issue #334 March 19, 1996 High Tech
forward to the
rest of the decade? Price Waterhouse is: the PW Technology
Centre recently unveiled its latest forecast of where it expects
in computing and communications to take us by the end of the century.
Here's a taste:
* The raft
and shakeups in the computer and communications sectors will continue.
Over the past year, we've seen IBM buy Lotus, Corel
buy WordPerfect, and Apple hover on the brink. Expect
more of the same.
* The move
isolated desktop computers to networks--including the biggest network
of all, the Internet--will continue. Client/server will remain a
for the rest of the decade, but it should be more of a reality, and
less of an abstract goal.
will remain the dominant computer architecture. Expect to find
operating systems on computers using keyboards and mice.
sort of computer
will you find on your office desk at the turn of the century? PW thinks
it will feature a processor running somewhere between 400 and 800
mHz--10 times faster than today's Pentium 100. You'll have between
64 and 256 megs of memory, and a 10-gigabyte hard disk, recordable
CD, video-capture capabilities, and high-speed ATM or ISDN connections.
it in new
ways--desktop video-conferencing, increased access to information
from far-flung databases, image processing, virtual reality and
changes in the communications industry as well, with increased
and competition between the cable and telephone sectors resulting
in rapidly falling costs and increased services.
increased and inexpensive
bandwidth making it easier to share data, look for an increased flow
of information that will transform the entire chain between
and retailer, creating a more direct relationship between customer
demand and production and distribution.
increasingly become a product to be distributed: "data warehousing"
has become a growth area over the past year or so, and increased access
to data will affect businesses in many key areas. There will be more
"micro-marketing" as knowledge of individuals' buying habits allows
each of us to be precisely targeted by advertisers. Lenders will be
better able to quantify risks, and inventories will be more precisely
managed as vendors at all levels gain access to more focused
about customers. PW sees computer and communications technology as
increasingly enabling "decision-support systems," meaning that
at all levels will be able to use customer information to make better
decisions. And the growth in groupware-using computers and networks
will bring improved communications within businesses.
gotten this far
and barely mentioned the Internet. Price Waterhouse wonders whether
the current Internet craze will crash, like CB radio in the 1970s.
Still, a core 'Net would remain, distributing information between
businesses, including electronic publishing and digital commerce.
out that no one really knows how to make money over the 'Net yet,
we can expect digital cash and home banking to grow, especially as
we begin to see solutions to the perceived lack of security.
for the 'Net. How will we get broadband access to homes? Can we ensure
universal service and equal access? What about censorship? Is the
'Net robust enough to handle increased demand? Will "Internet
computers priced at less than $1,000--change the computer market?
Will "network-centric" software models like Sun's Java change
how software is written and distributed and make computer operating
Price Waterhouse sees a transformation in many of the traditional
ways we've been doing business. Among the changes foreseen are more
kiosks and automated sales tools; focused direct marketing; changes
in advertising as consumers use the 'Net for entertainment and
fewer intermediaries, as consumers become more directly connected
to manufacturers; and major impact on content providers, such as this
newspaper. There will be less need for physical premises, including
banks and retail outlets, as consumers shop electronically or respond
to focused direct mail. There will be less need to maintain inventory.
Inexpensively-transmitted digital bits of information will replace
the expensive moving of physical products.
If the next
few years unfold
as the seers at Price Waterhouse predict, there will be lots of
opportunities. While some will find it hard to avoid being swept under,
the agile will succeed in surfing the technology wave.