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John Patrick’s presentation

by Marlène Gaberel December 2002

John Patrick at podium

The December DACS general meeting featured IBM now-retired V.P. of Internet Technology, John Patrick.
The December DACS general meeting featured IBM now-retired V.P. of Internet Technology, John Patrick.
It was John Patrick’s 11th talk to DACS members, going as far back as his OS/2 presentation. OS/2 was an IBM attempt to compete with Microsoft Windows. A trim John Patrick, who looks much younger than his 57 years, talked about the present state of the Internet. While looking casually, one may generally conclude that the Internet is a mature product. Patrick dispels this notion by saying that we have not seen anything yet, and that we still have a long way to go. He estimates that only 2% of the full Internet potential has been reached presently. He pointed out that the general attitude regarding the Internet will progressively change toward one of a more life-integrated product, but also that we may have to wait until the next generation, to achieve the right attitude toward the Internet.
Patrick described some examples of companies that have it and some that still do not get it, Internet-wise. Some sites meet a user’s expectation by making available all the necessary resources to complete a task. An example given by Patrick as a versatile site is myups.com. Such sites offer an end to end experience, where a visitor can start an enquiry, for example, a simple hotel reservation, and apply any bonus-points received from a frequent user plan, without having to go to another site. An ecommerce company that gets it will allow you to start a process and finish whatever is required, without having to make a telephone call, or fax, or send an email, or check another, unrelated, page on the web.
He then demonstrated that there are still numerous businesses where visitors transacting on the Internet cannot complete their applications right on that company’s web site. This is the reason we are not there yet. An example given by John was American Express, which requires a user of their web site to call during business hours. Many are just not able to call during business hours. In my own case, during business hours I usually conduct my employer’s business; I just do not have the time to do private stuff during the week. Sunday afternoon is usually when I have time to do some home office work and planning. I wish I could contact the doctor’s office to make an appointment, to contact my kids’ teachers for their progress reports and to re-schedule that hair cut appointment that was cancelled because of the ice.
Another business-related issue that John Patrick mentioned during his presentation is that a survey found that 77% of businesses do not reply to their email. Just imagine all the lost opportunities in leads, and suggestions on improvements and corrective actions that are wasted, in addition to the lack of courtesy to those taking the time to write.
With the future of the Internet in mind, Patrick talked about Wi-Fi, where people with portability can access the web just about anywhere. John described his experience working with his Thinkpad from a Subway fast-food place, using a connection that surprised him by its speed. He pointed out the potential of Wi-Fi, whence a chip will be implanted in our cell phones. This surely will be competition to Sprint, ATT, Verizon, Cingular, etc… It will be interesting to follow that development. He also mentioned instant messaging, the automatic translation of web pages, better intelligence in simplifying data, and the potential breakthrough in medicine by using instant information via the web. Another point he made is that with his cell phone he was able to close his garage door in the USA from London.
One of Patrick’s hobbies is blogging (from weblogging), or the sharing of a mutual interest among people with a similar viewpoint or interest, who use the web and share information among all concerned. His web page has such a feature. He directed us to check his blog.
Patrick closed his presentation by saying that attitudes toward the Internet need to change. Businesses need to incorporate the call center into the web and listen to customers comments.
Members of the audience had many questions to ask John. They were all duly addressed. He reassured one member of the audience by affirming that the backbone of the Internet is intact, despite the consequences of 9/11. In summary, his advice is to listen to your customers — their input is invaluable; listen to your kids — they are the next generation; and listen to the elderly — they have persistence.
Marlène Gaberel is a DACS board member and VP for Public Relations. You can e-mail her at: [email][email protected][/email].