January 28, 2006



Posted: 08.15.05

Applied Wisdom and Cyber Cultures in a People Driven World

In my last column I shared with you a personal experience and a vision of a future, a not so distant future that brings with it a connected world; one that weaves your physical, digital and spiritual states of being around you. Imagine a world where technology is a transparent enabler that seamlessly facilitates conveniences and quality-of-life services for people as individuals, communities and cultures. A harmonious and rich world with preference, presence and content orchestrated in the wisdom of context and coordinates. With you at the center of your universe, in your home, your car and anywhere that you may be, your assets, resources and support systems are within reach of your senses whenever you want them, in a form that you can use: simple, applicable, relevant and fun.
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By Lubna Dajani

This vision of a globally connected world is not far fetched, rather it is an inevitable reality. It was not so long ago when the Internet revamped the communication infrastructure shattering geophysical boundaries by connecting us through a virtual world we often call cyberspace. Mobile technologies un-tethered these connections, allowing us to maintain contact while roaming about our physical world. In the genesis of tomorrow’s world, our individual persona and relations are echoed throughout our cyberspace, freeing us beyond our physical boundaries, all while maintaining critical reference to our location in time, place and dimension.

However wonderful this could be, it is important to point out that in execution the timetable, richness and quality of the experience—and ultimate impact—hinges on the balancing act currently in play between the stakeholders. Not an easy endeavor given that this new world is the result of an unsurpassed convergence of industries and cultures. The diversity of the players ranges from ambitious entrepreneurs, global governments and the dinosaurs of three disparate industries: telecom, IT and media. Clearly the issue here is not one of technology, innovation or value to the consumer: It is one of people, politics and business models. In short, it is about control.

So do we really need this connectedness?

By now you know I like to share personal stories with you. Last weekend I was soaking up the majestic beauty and power of Washington State’s rainforests. It is wonderful to be one with nature; to experience the harmony of its sights, smells, textures and sounds. I was high on the thrill of the adventure and also curious. How old is this forest? What treasures and dangers does it hold? Who else has traveled this path before me, and what stories could they tell? I found myself craving the instant gratification of having my questions answered at that instant. I would have loved to be able to learn about what I was experiencing as I experienced it. To learn of other people’s stories and to share mine, or maybe not!

The tomorrow I describe appeals to our basic human need to belong, learn and share. Enriching our earthly experiences as it enables us to tell stories, share experiences, lend a hand or seek help all within our cyber dimension. All without litter or disruption to our physical environment whether it’s the rainforest or the corner of 42nd street in New York City.

Now, I would not blame you if you make a face at me and say, “Yeah, right.” But if you think about it, this is sensible, technically doable, the market will love it and the universe will be better for it.

How can we get to this happy beginning? That takes us back to the stakeholders shaped by their guiding principals, business models and Wall Street expectations. There must be a shift in industry thinking from “How can we get the most out of the customer?” to “How can we serve our customers such that we earn their business, trust and loyalty?” The trick here is to establish an ecosystem that is dynamic, kinetic and adaptable to consumer needs, which would naturally yield benefit, profit and evolutionary progress.

We can start by creating a fertile ground for innovation in offerings that bring convenience, comfort, safety and warmth to everyday life rather than add complexity, confusion and clutter. This can be accomplished by opening up the choke points from operators, service providers, governments and media, and inviting people to drive context. Commercial success will follow. The Internet has already demonstrated that success can be achieved through openness, familiarity and simplicity. I will leave you with this to think about for now and perhaps in a following column we can chat more about some of the key enabler ingredients that we touched up on like, presence, location, preference and the communal nature of people.

As always please continue to share your thoughts with me [email protected]

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