What technologies will impact the way we do business in the not-too-distant future? Here, Daniel Burrus, a leading technology forecaster and author of Technotrends: How to Use Technology to Go Beyond Your Competition (HarperBusiness), predicts the top three technology trends for 1997--and reveals how they will affect your business.
1. The Second Internet
The current Internet gives users quick access to data and the ability to send and receive e-mail, but it doesn't transmit audio, video or extensive graphics very efficiently yet. Enter what Burrus terms the "second" Internet, which will, on average, deliver information about 1,000 times faster than the current Internet. Direct broadcast satellite, cable modems and broad-band ISDN are just some of the emerging technologies that will handle the job, Burrus says.
As a result, CD-quality audio, high-quality graphics, 3-D simulations and virtual reality will all become possible. "Smart" Web pages and, soon after, smart Web channels via cable and direct broadcast satellite will evolve to deliver information at warp speed.
It won't look like the Internet we know now, though. "We're going to see these technologies," says Burrus, "but the consumer will hardly know they're there because they'll be sort of `behind the scenes.' "
Entrepreneurs on the Web who believe they have several years to build high-quality audio, video and graphics for their Web sites are sadly mistaken, says Burrus. Now is the time to begin developing them if you want to be prepared for the coming changes, keep up with consumer expectations and remain on the cutting edge.
2. Digital Video Disc (DVD)
"DVD is going to be very big," predicts Burrus. "It's going to remain a high-tech platform with many uses limited only by the imagination."
The DVD player, due out this month, will run discs that contain as much data as is normally held on 13 CD-ROMs and store hours of high-quality audio, video and more. While it won't reach mass markets until the end of next year, when content developers have released a substantial number of useful DVD discs, Burrus says the "entrepreneurial window is now open" for building new content and developing new products and services around DVD.
Also, expect content providers such as software developers and online services to provide more proprietary information on DVD and then send periodic updates though the Internet. That means a lot of work will be done offline, saving entrepreneurs money, time and the hassle of having their phone lines tied up, Burrus says. DVD is also certain to revolutionize the way companies both offer and receive training and support.
3. Desktop Videoconferencing
In the past, many small-business owners were turned off by desktop videoconferencing because of its poor picture and sound quality--not to mention the exorbitant hardware prices. But now that prices are falling and the quality has vastly improved, you may want to reconsider desktop videoconferencing.
"Entrepreneurs have to move from the information age into the communication age," says Burrus. "We're heightening the ability to communicate, and `high-tech' and `high-touch' now go together."
The new high-speed Internet will make desktop videoconferencing over the Internet both possible and affordable, says Burrus. Many companies will be able to conduct meetings, particularly with overseas clients, and handle sales calls via desktop videoconferencing--thus reducing their travel costs. Opportunities to improve companies' customer service by providing face-to-face relations also exist.
Daniel Burrus, (800) 827-6770, http://www.burrus.com.