Bill Gates, Microsoft’s founder, and the richest person in the world by several billion dollars, is convinced that the huge access to information will trickle down to the consumer. In another two years, he predicts, most decisions such as hiring a part-time worker for your home, buying a consumer product, choosing a lawyer, will be made on a much more informed basis because of electronic communication.
It changes the nature of competition, because in a networked world, we can ignore geographic limits to our shopping. People, information and services are merging together, all in the name of time-based competitive advantage.
Here is a check-off list of important considerations. How many on the list are part of your daily life?
E-Mail is now the most popular method of communication next to the telephone in the industrialized nations. And, you can now transmit your e-mail by voice mail. It is possible and reasonable to expect that you can answer 30 e-mail messages in one hour, or one every two minutes. This is equivalent to answering personal correspondence at the rate of 30 letters per hour, without a secretary.
If you communicate long distance, nationally or globally by phone through the use of Internet phone or software – you can talk indefinitely without long distance phone charges over the Internet. By paying only the monthly, on-line service charge, you can reduce your long distance phone bills immeasurably by communicating verbally, computer to computer, with individuals having compatible software.
Since it will be desirable to be multi-national in your business and personal relationships, by installing foreign language software you’ll be able to have all of your word processing appear on the screen in two languages.
Select at least one new language you feel will be desirable to learn during the next few years and install the software for that language. By having your correspondence appear in both your native language and one new language, both in text and audio, it is a great way to learn.
As you look toward the future, be prepared to have at least one of the following: An ISDN phone line for your modem. A cable service for your modem. Or a satellite dish for your modem. Cable and satellite modem services will be mandatory as requirements for speed and quality of downloading large quantities of information and graphics increase.
Ensure that your computer is upgraded for real-time audio, MP3, and video streaming, so you’ll be able to receive information from the Internet in real time. Consider investing in video conferencing equipment that allows you to hold live video conferences at multiple locations nationally and internationally, with multiple clients. Although video conferencing will not replace live seminars and meetings, it will reduce the costs and greatly increase the number of clients that can be served at the same time, in the knowledge century.
Action Idea: Pick at least two friends or business associates living in other countries, or in other parts of this country, that you will e-mail at least once every two weeks.
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