Well Folks, Where Do We Go From Here?
You’ve all seen the Microsoft advertisements that ask us where we want to go today. This article will ask you where you want to go tomorrow.
With all the technology available today, where can we possibly need to go tomorrow? Most of us have plenty of computers in our offices and at our homes. Many of us have relatively fast internet connections and those who don’t will have it someday as soon as the infrastructure gets to our houses.
Some of us are old enough to remember the first IBM PCs and what a quantum leap it was to have an 80286 computer that operated at 12mhz. Ten megabytes of hard disk space was enough to hold all the programs and data we could ever want and our modems were superfast at 2400bps. Today, we measure the speed of our processors in gigahertz, our operating systems themselves take over 100 meg of hard disk space and 384kbps of speed is slow for our communication. What more could be on the horizon?
Can you believe we haven’t even scratched the potential of our technology revolution? Can you believe we have a lot of really thorny issues to address in the upcoming years? This article will take a very quick look at some of the technologies yet to come. We will draw on two major sources for these – The American Institute of Certified Public Accountants (www.aicpa.org ) and The Battelle Memorial Institute (www.battelle.org).
Naturally, the AICPA focus is going to be on what will drive accountants in the future and our main concern is safety and security of data. To that end, the AICPA’s list of Top Ten Technologies for 2002 reads like a roadmap for what problems we have encountered this year and, to a great extent, will continue to encounter.
In early 2002, the AICPA list included the following:
• Security for your network in this ever increasingly connected world
• XML (eXtensible Markup Language) to allow us greater flexibility in comparing
apples and oranges from the internet
• Bandwidth to help us get more data faster
• Information mobility to help us carry our offices on the road
• Wireless technologies to help us get what we forgot to download yesterday
or keep up with the changes in the world today
• Identification technologies to keep the good guys good and the bad guys
• The use of encryption to keep our secrets secret
• The ability to sign documents digitally and keep them signed
• The ability to get on your network from anywhere at anytime
• Designing databases in ways to make information retrieval quick, easy, and
Guess what? These technologies were viewed as challenging and important at the beginning of the year and they are no less so now. Companies and individuals will continue to spend significant sums of capital dealing with them.
If you’re reading this article, you’ve already experienced the need for security. Either that, or you know someone who has. Virus attacks are becoming more widespread and are costing billions of dollars in lost productivity each year. Firewalls to keep people out of your network that’s connected to the Internet all the time are gaining prominence due to hacker attacks. Given the current number of messages I get on new viruses running amuck on the Internet, these technologies seem destined to remain prominent in our thinking.
As more people sign on to the Internet and more business is transacted in cyberspace, XML will become more important. It’s ability to translate information between programs and computers will greatly ease communications. This will speed up user interaction and offer greater reliability of data for numerous purposes, not the least of which is eCommerce.
Despite recent events, many of us still venture outside our offices, even if it’s on foot. But even though we may not be in our offices, we still like to have the convenience of our offices’ information systems. Internet connectivity and bandwidth, PDAs, wireless telephones, remote control of computers and Internet devices all offer these conveniences in packages often small enough to fit in our pockets.
We now have the ability to ID people by unique codes, retinal images, fingerprints, pictures and combinations of all the above. Identification technologies and their deployment have become even more critical since the World Trade Center attacks and the ability of the bad guys and the good guys alike being able to encrypt information exchanges creates unique challenges for our law enforcement community.
Technologies are such that we can now sign documents electronically and, properly handled, we can even make them less subject to removal than their hard copy counterparts. The ability to sign off approval on documents as they flow through the electronic information channel will continue to grow for years to come.
Finally, businesses are finding it easier and easier to afford powerful database programs. This affordability allows us to obtain, retain and manipulate data to better manage our businesses. Continued improvement in this area will be important as we collect more data and need to manipulate it quicker.
Turning to the Battelle forecasts, we get into the less mechanical and more human side of technology. Their top ten technologies focus on broader human needs and include:
• Genetic-based medical innovations, including drugs, that can revolutionize
• Continued improvements in energy storage devices that can offer backup,
if not replacement, of energy for many of our appliances; their small size
will allow us to design highly portable machines which once needed a stationary
• Environmental friendly technology that will eliminate rather than reduce
waste products will be developed and improved
• Computers will grow like weeds and eventually permeate all levels of society
• Microscopic “nanomachines” will be developed and, perhaps, be
useful in many medical applications
• Continued population growth and environmental concern will increase our
dependence on public transportation and our personal vehicles will be able
to talk with our central traffic systems
• Genetically altered foods that can potentially eliminate world hunger; this
may be a difficult task given the public uproar over such foods in the past
• Appliances that can help us find telephone numbers easily, help us make
out our grocery list and, in general let the machine do a lot of our daily
mundane tasks or at least make the coffee right
• Advances in filtering systems will provide worldwide safe and inexpensive
• Enhanced “virtual reality” capabilities will help us augment our
own sensory input from our eyes, ears, etc.
Does all of this sound a bit out of the realm of reality? Consider the past century. Who would have thought at the beginning or even the middle of the Twentieth Century that by the end of that century we would have been to the moon and back and be setting up labs in outer space? It happened.
The technologies mentioned above are being developed as you read this article. They present numerous opportunities, but they also present challenges. The challenge is how to keep our individual freedoms and humanity while we also take advantage of technology.
Stay tuned to this newsletter for discussions of how some new and some old technologies can help you maximize your business and personal life. In the meantime, don’t forget to contact us with any needs you may have in your business or personal life. There just may be a technology to help you.
Have a really great 2003.