So what does the "Super Information Highway" mean for the business user? What can you achieve with the technology. Plenty of flashy promo videos have been made depicting a computer and communications lifestyle for the individual - more choice, downloadable videos and music, interactive games, learning facilities for the kids etc, etc - but in real terms, only a little of this is achievable here and now. Equally, many businesses have been sold the virtues of electronic trading and ended up, effectively, with an expensive fax machine printing out purchase orders which have to be rekeyed. It has been said that we are now travelling on the "Information Country Lane" - the highway is yet to be established.
The pace at which computer hardware and software functionality is improving has almost reached a level where companies are prepared to wait for a year before they commit to further expenditure.
"Keeping up with the Jones's" may make a business look great from the outside, but it costs a lot of time and money and, in some instances, can lead companies up the wrong path with regard to their own communications requirements. How many executives only use their mobile phone to call their spouse from a traffic jam?
What the future holds really depends on what stage a company has already reached in implementing in-house computer systems and communications links. If they have not travelled very far along that road, then the future, for them, could already be available. If they analyse what they are trying to achieve with the information their company uses, and consider the options for transferring that data in-house and externally to trading partners, they can then take advice on re-shaping that flow using existing standards and business processes that have been tried and tested for...