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Comdex Vision
Spring 1993
by Rick Smith (July 1993)

At this year's Comdex and Windows World, held concurrently on May 25-28, 1993 in the Georgia World Congress Center in Atlanta, Georgia, there were two keynote addresses and two CEO perspectives. In each of these speeches, there were several themes that will serve to guide the information industry for next several years. Although several of the speakers felt that their products were the only solution to everyone's computing needs, several made some interesting points and remarkably there were several recurring themes. What follows is a summary and compilation of these four speeches. (Hey, are we all headed in the same direction?)

Operating a business in the global nineties is far more complicated than it has been in the past. The pressures and challenges to be more competitive, more efficient, more productive while achieving higher quality have caused the recent trends to "downsize, upsize, rightsize and even capsize". Buying technology for technology's sake won't solve these new business problems. Information needs to be used by the professional front line corporate personnel who can make a difference to the clients of the company in how the company is perceived in the marketplace. Instead of using the old business strategy of shifting resources to maximize returns, the new business model of leveraging, utilization and sharing of knowledge, expertise and know-how will speed information flow and help to create new concepts, processes and products which will then increase returns. Getting this information to these professionals and doing it quickly is vital to serve customers, in getting new customers and in beating the competition. Since business processes are more communication-centric rather than data-centric, the hierarchies of information management need to be eliminated and workgroup teams need to be formed. These teams will cut across organizational charts, departmental divisions, companies, continents, hardware platforms and operating systems.

Shared information will go beyond formal discrete information into a realm of rich, interpersonal communications and collaboration and will allow staff members to facilitate a dialog in the organization. Many companies are now starting to become more productive through the use of enterprise-wide networks and workgroups. More integration between desktops and desktop applications will allow users to share data and work more readily, coordinate skills more easily and accomplish common goals. The information needs to be automatically replicated and synchronized around the network and into all mobile communication devices so that all users have access to the most current data. It is imperative that today's workers gain access to information, communicate that information and act on that information regardless of system hardware.

Companies will soon be investing heavily in new multiple-microprocessor based systems instead of "main-frame" technologies which have performed much of the "batch-oriented" clerical and billing functions in the past. As the performance of these microprocessor based systems continue to grow, phenomenal increases in computing capabilities will allow systems to be smaller and more personal than before and these systems can be connected together to create large powerful systems. The new portable computers will become the extension of the individuals who work with them.

With this immense processing power, richer interfaces will become available and object oriented technology will soon be a reality. Object oriented technology allows programs to be built from standard component program parts, which were designed to fit together and work together. Programmers will be able to modify, customize and create applications years faster than is presently possible with today's hand crafted programming techniques. With this new ability to create software at a faster rate, applications which are unthinkable can be created and systems will be far easier to use. Applications development costs will decrease. Using this technology, money can be used to develop new applications to conform to the way people think and work, instead of training people on how to use the current software. People can then modify these applications to fit the current business model. Processes such as visualization, simulation, large database analysis, decision support, artificial intelligence filters as well as more sophisticated workflow technology will soon be a reality.

As communication technology becomes cheaper, faster and more widespread, further distributed processing and flexible local networks will become a reality. People will get the information they want, in the format they want, when they want it. This has been called "information at your fingertips". The concept of client/server technology is a hot topic in this communication strategy. The problem of diverse hardware platforms, security systems, protocols and standards which have been optimized for performance and not interconnectivity are causing a delay with the implementation of the client/server technology. Agent programs and workflow engineering will free the worker from these routine communication and routing tasks. As the world becomes faster, simultaneous immediate information sharing to multiple decision makers will become a necessity. Low cost, high bandwidth communications will also cause a convergence between telecommunications, information technologies and entertainment.

By applying and using these new technologies in new ways to conform to the newer, flatter, de-centralized, leaner and less hierarchical organizational structure of today, along with more intuitive human-centric interfaces, the new technology will be much easier to use and allow people to easily share data. Speech, text and the printed word will become completely and easily interchangeable. In fact, multimedia is the natural evolutionary path towards this goal. Information of all types need to be stored in a wide variety of formats such as numbers, graphs, text, sound, video and other documents. People will be able to do far more with this information than was ever imaginable. With proper application of these technologies, the number of PCs used will grow and we as the developers of the future will be able to create these more powerful applications faster and easier than ever before.


Speeches were given by the following:

James A. Cannavino, Senior Vice President, General Manager, Personal Systems, IBM Corporation, gave the Comdex keynote address.

Jim Manzi, President, Chairman and CEO of Lotus Development Corporation gave the Comdex CEO Perspective.

Bill Gates, Chairman and CEO of Microsoft Corporation gave the Windows World keynote address.

Robert P. Palmer, President and CEO of Digital Equipment Corporation gave the Windows World CEO Perspective.

Comdex and Windows World was held concurrently on May 25-28, 1993 in the Georgia World Congress Center in Atlanta, Georgia.

Copyright 1993 Rick Smith All rights reserved.

   
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