Cyberspace Increases Its Density

Stephen DeAngelis

October 4, 2006

“Instant messages. Text messages. E-mail. Voicemail. Blogs. Online social networks. And the good ol’ cell phone,” writes Associated Press reporter May Wong. “If you thought there were enough ways to communicate with others and express yourself, think again.” [“Communication Nation,” Washington Times, 25 Sep 2006]. Reporting on the DEMOfall 2006 conference in San Diego, California, Wong indicates that participating companies revealed at least half a dozen new ways of communicating with each other.

Cell phones are more powerful than ever. More homes have acquired high-speed Internet connections, helping to carve the path for new trends in online creativity, community building and communications. A voice-messaging service … introduced … by Pinger Inc. takes advantage of improved connections to zap voice messages between cell phones and personal computers. Ideas that pop into your head late at night or other impolite times to call no longer have to be confined to a written e-mail. Instead, you could pick up a phone, talk and send the voice message to your friends’ e-mail or cell phone text-message inboxes. You could even post the audio message, or “pinger,” as a comment on their personal Web page. Recipients then listen to your voice rather than read your words. … Another startup, GrandCentral Communications, seeks to help users streamline and better manage all their phone numbers and voicemail boxes by aligning them under a permanent phone number. Today, GrandCentral will introduce a public test of its one-phone-number-for-life communications service. Users can give out their Internet-based GrandCentral phone number and then control — via a Web account — how and where they want those calls delivered. An incoming call, for instance, can ring all your phones at once, or go straight to voicemail. Calls from certain numbers can be blocked. And for unrecognized calls, the system can be set up to force the callers to identify themselves. You can then decide whether to pick up the call or let it go to voicemail. The service could even convert a voicemail into the text of an e-mail, or record the call before you answer. It also will store voicemails for you on its servers as long you remain a subscriber.

In a follow-up article, Wong talked about other new products being offered [“Companies tap cellphones for podcasts,” Business, 26 Sep 2006]:

Two companies, scanR Inc. and Realeyes3D SA, introduced online services so their users can snap a photo of business cards, white boards or pages of documents. After the image is sent to the companies’ servers, they turn the image into a digital document that’s accessible online and can be delivered via e-mail or fax. Both services are free for a limited time, and service fees will be disclosed later. Another company, Fonpods Inc., debuted a free on-demand service to deliver podcasts to mobile phones, extending the increasingly popular audio programming from beyond its usual realm of computers and digital music players. … For those still trying to figure out how to get photos off their camera phones, PixSense Inc. is offering a service that will automatically upload to its online service every single video clip or photo you take from your camera phone. It will let users share the content with others, send it to blogs or other sites, or simply archive it — all done directly from the phone. … Flurry Inc. … is aiming to make e-mail accessible on most new, basic cell phones — and not just the pricier smart phones such as Palm Inc.’s Treo or Research in Motion Ltd’s BlackBerry.

The common thread that runs through these offerings is getting better control of the information you send and receive. Industrial age organizations were built around functional pillars like operations, finance, human relations, security, compliance, and so forth. Such pillars generated siloed systems and fractured information flows. Information age organizations are just starting to get a handle on how to deal with legacy systems, database integration, and the like. Resilient enterprises will be those that can tear down the silos and blend data in such a way that decision makers receive what they need to know, when they need it, and in a format that enhances decision making.