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December 5, 2006 General Meeting Review

The Future of The Internet

by Jamie Yates

John Patrick, President of Attitude LLC and ex IBM executive, gave his annual update on “The Future of the Internet” at our December General Meeting. This was his 15+ appearance and his presentation drew the largest audience of the year, with both DACS members and a large number of guests attending.

His presentation lasted over an hour as he explained his view of where the Internet is today and where it is going in the future. Following his whirlwind tour we had a lively question and answer session.

From John’s perspective the Internet has reached about 5% of its’ potential. That is up from the 2-3% number he stated last year and shows how long it really has to go to fulfill its’ destiny. He also pointed out that our expectations are rising faster than the Internet is delivering capabilities.

Some of the examples he cited were how some major companies still are behind the times in understanding that the Internet is a 24 x 7 operation and is accessible worldwide. He spoke about how some companies still take there sites offline for service during overnight hours, as they did in the batch world, when in fact the world does not have overnight hours. Some of the stories he shared were of companies asking for email requests and then stating that the issue could only resolved by phone during the normal work day by calling an 800 number that is not accessible outside the United States. All these stories brought smiles to the attendees faces as either they had encountered the same problems or could understand the absurdity of the situation. He pointed out that what is need by companies is a net attitude.

He also pointed out that the growth of gaming on the Internet has exploded while some of the real powers of the Internet have gone unexploited, even with the technology available, to solve important and critical people problems such as the sharing of medical records. Medical costs are skyrocketing in the US and the Internet and medical records sharing could save many millions of dollars. Why does each doctor have to send their patients for the same tests when they have recently been completed by a patient’s other healthcare provider. This information should be sharable among all medical personnel dealing with a given patient and the tools exist to do this.

According to John eventually everything will be connected to everything and he believes that security and privacy at all levels are possible.

Companies that began as Internet only enterprises have an advantage. They have no batch only baggage to carry around. They cut their teeth on the Internet and fully understand what it takes to support a worldwide Internet presence.

Other countries, with their industries, have been faster than us to exploit the opportunities of the Internet because they don’t have the history that we have. Their laws are less restrictive and companies don’t have the legacy investments ours have to protect. Because of this they are able to offer more functions at lower prices.

Countries themselves are doing well in gaining an Internet presence with the majority of them having a web site (91%) and their general population is beginning to take advantage of them. They still have a long way to go in terms of offering transactions their constituents can use.

John spent some time describing the Internet bubble of 2000 and why even though Internet growth is expanding rapidly today there won’t be another bubble. Back then people were investing money in hundreds of companies that had great ideas but no sustainable business plans. Today investors are smarter and asking tougher questions before they invest the millions of dollars needed to get an Internet business into the black.

The criterion for a successful Internet, as John puts it, is: fast, always on, everywhere, natural, easy, intelligent, and trusted. Some of these attributes, such as trusted, are clearly more difficult than others to implement and be accepted by the general public.

We now see that web 2 applications are quickly approaching. Social networking is thriving. blogging is expanding and pod casting is set to explode. Just like the line from the movie. “Build it and they will come.”

It’s a new world out there. Just ask the kids.

We are lucky to have someone as well known and informed as John supporting DACS.

Thanks John, for a very informative and enlightening presentation. Hope to see you again next year.

JAMIE is DACS program director, and a prolific volunteer in the area community.