Convergence is Making the Difference
The most striking trend in Communications is the tendency to convergence among the various media and the speed in which communications gets out and gets to work! This convergence is shaping our experience and making a difference.
The diffusion of new communication devices and experiences will soon change our online experience. The new tool for the developing nations is not the internet - it's the cell phone.
Suppose our cellular telephone could connect to the Internet at speeds faster than many DSL or cable modems or even corporate local area networks. How would that change things? That's a question we may find out the answer to much sooner than we expected, now that fourth-generation (3G? forgetaboutit!) cellular devices are appearing.
New forms of content will emerge, representing complex or real life objects, perhaps designed to be shared between collaborative user groups.
How do we face this new challenge?
Web managers must actively promote a cross-disciplinary approach into content management, multimedia content processing, visualization and language technologies, to make the whole larger than the sum of the parts. Today these areas exist with too little interaction.
The functional driver is the user perspective and the way in which content gains new value in by improving its usability. The challenge is not just a question of more technology (IT departments beware).
In fact, we would be missing the point if it did not facilitate increased enrichment and satisfaction for users as a result of using advanced services, or joining in to online interaction of any sort. (Semantic web, anybody?)
To be successful, we have to provide new content and services, not just new technologies.
For instance, lite portals (for Blackberry's and Smart Phones) will be intelligent and knowledge-based. They will enable knowledge acquisition and retrieval. They will have advanced features and will support information transformation and integration models e.g. process support and up-to-the-minute knowledge transfers and alerts.
In order to sustain this vision it is necessary to model the process of knowledge transfer as well and to apply new findings about user behavior to the whole 'information flow' lifecycle. And if the ultimate goal is human-to-human interaction in a networked context, the knowledge process in a device-to-device environment is vitally important as well.
Key questions Web Managers will have to answer are:
- How can heterogeneous information be handled in knowledge and information environments?
- How can it be delivered and which form is optimal?
- How can contextual content be valued and translated?
- How do we measure success?
- How can performance be enhanced?
We will need to provide some guidelines for understanding the processes - construct identities, create communities and make meanings - in order to create the most advanced communication.
These topics directly involve critical issues for designers and users BUT management has to understand that to take advantage of opportunities, they have to change their organizations, define what they want to achieve and by when.
It's not hocus pocus - our job is to instigate and support the process.
Assessing the meaning and impact of new communication planning is always a challenge. In fact it is very difficult to separate 'social' from 'technical' issues. It's our job to identifying some key paths for reaching this goal. Who else is going to do it ... Consultants?
Not only a lazy way out .... But it ain't happening. It's up to us!