IBM exec urges future business leaders to capitalize on Internet II
By Susan E. Fisher
EVANSTON, Ill. — To succeed in the e-business world, corporations need to find innovative ways to take advantage of increased Internet bandwidth and meet customers’ growing expectations for online service and support, said IBM’s Internet guru John Patrick, speaking at Northwestern University here Wednesday.
“The technology will take care of itself,” Patrick told a group of MBA students. “The real questions [for corporations developing e-commerce strategies] are people questions: Will we make it easy? Will we make it natural? Will we meet the expectations of people [by] doing what they want us to do?”
The Internet will be able to keep pace with explosive user and application demand because of competition between infrastructure builders, said Patrick, vice president of Internet Technology for the computer giant, and chairman of the Global Internet Project, a group working on both technical and policy issues affecting next-generation Internet development.
“We are going to be awash in bandwidth,” Patrick said. Competition between telephone service providers, cable companies, and wireless firms will ensure that high-speed access is plentiful, he said. Meanwhile, he noted, companies such as IBM and universities such as Northwestern are propelling Internet II, a high-speed next-generation Internet.
Northwestern, through its International Center for Advanced Internet Research, (iCAIR), is one of IBM’s research university partners. iCAIR is exploring digital video networks, collaboration tools, and techniques to boost network performance to support new media-rich applications for commercial purposes. IBM provides some staff for iCAIR’s base at Northwestern University and provides a home to part of iCAIR at IBM’s Schaumberg, Ill., facility.
As they evolve and benefit from increased bandwidth, Internet technologies that are in fairly rudimentary stages today could have profound impact on how business is conducted in the future, Patrick noted. For example, he pointed to instant messaging, a popular method of passing text messages synchronously.
Imagine the power of the instant messaging when coupled with voice recognition, text-to-speech capabilities and translation software, he urged.
“What do get when you combine them? Real-time, interactive, multilingual intercoms-that could, for example, aid a company’s global help desk,” Patrick said.
Tools that facilitate communication can quickly catch on, he noted. Without promoting the capability, IBM attracted 150,000 users to its internal instant messaging systems and last week tallied the one-millionth message, Patrick noted.
Patrick also pointed to the potential of video on the Internet. With improved bandwidth of the next generation Internet, full-screen video will replace today’s small-screen, frequently disrupted Internet video. That shift will enable global multiparty videoconferencing and interactive distance learning.
“Video is emerging very rapidly as just another form of data” and users will begin to expect high-quality video on Web sites, Patrick predicted.
To meet customer expectations and respond quickly to market demands, companies must tie together their disparate systems. “The Holy Grail, from the IT perspective is application integration,” Patrick said.
Separately, Patrick mentioned that IBM expects, before the end of the year, to add commercial customers as testers to its prototype network for high-quality streaming video over the Internet. Code-named the QBone, the IP multicasting test bed employs the emerging Differentiated Services (DiffServ) protocol to prioritize traffic.
IBM Corp., in Armonk, N.Y., can be reached at www.ibm.com
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