Tuesday, November 25, 2008

Online or Offline? Neither - it's 'Inline'


 I'm often asked if online interactions will replace traditional face-to-face ones. They won't - but they will co-exist. Let me tell you how based on some real-life experiences. I had at a conference I attended earlier this week. 

 I was sitting at the conference listening patiently to the presenter when I noticed that a guy I used to work with- Mike from Telstra - was sitting in the row in front of me. I wanted to make sure he knew I was at the event so I had a chance to say hello. I didn't have his mobile number but noticed that he was using Twitter (a messaging tool that allows one to post short messages often referred to as 'microblogging'). I sent him a 'tweet' (a twitter message) from my Blackberry Bold telling him where I was, he turned around to acknowledge me and we caught up briefly during the first session break. 

 As we went to the next session, I got a 'tweet' (a twitter message) from Michelle at IBM who noticed I was at the conference. Michelle is a working Mum and she couldn't get to this particular event. She asked me if I could send her some of the information from a presentation she was particularly interested in. I'll do so as soon as the slides are available in the next few days. 

 Just as we broke for lunch, I was approached by Bryan who introduced himself to me. Bryan is a recruiter who found me on Linkedin (online business network) two months ago. We spoke on the phone but never met face-to-face. He recognised my face from my Linkedin photo and at that moment, we decided to have lunch together. 

 After lunch, I recognised the face of a gent called Jye who posted one of my articles on Online Networking on HIS blog site. During the next break, I introduced myself to him to personally thank him for promoting my article. We'll catch up for a coffee meeting in the next couple of weeks. 

 I guess I could have organised face-to-face or offline meetings with Mike, Michelle, Bryan and Jye which would have taken time and effort. Due to the instantness and complimentary nature of online media, I utilised both to my advantage. In fact, it's what I call "inline", meaning (as the name suggests) an interaction outcome that's 'in line' with how one operates, incorporating online and offline worlds. As usual, would appreciate your thoughts..

Saturday, November 1, 2008

Connection Technology


 In the book I’m writing, I talk about the evolution of communication technologies like the telephone and telegrams to connection technology. I define connection technology as devices and applications that do more than provide communication capability – it provides a connection for people and information to people and information via a range of applications. 

A basic example is the mobile phone that began life as a mobile version of the humble telephone but has transformed into a phone, phone book (contact list), instant message vehicle (text SMS and video MMS), audio message bank (voicemail) and photo capture send and store (camera) to name a few current functions. 

 Today, more sophisticated devices such as the iPhone, Blackberry and PDA provide even more connectivity with built-in calendars, email, internet access and a range of customizable connection applications. This development provides society and business with a new way of connecting – not just communicating – with devices that reside in people's pockets or purses. 

Here’s a really good business example: When you arrive at the Malibu Beach Inn in California in the United States, you’re asked if you own an Apple iPhone or iTouch. If you don’t have one, they provide you one for the duration of your stay. On the device, they provide access to an application called Hotel Evolution, which displays a grid of icons that becomes your portable guest information and services portal. 

 From the menu items, you can access room service menus and place orders (including special requests and dietary preferences), arrange for your dry cleaning to be collected, request additional toiletries, change your do not disturb room status, set-up a wake-up call, receive messages, arrange a rental car and make a booking before you leave. By accessing the virtual concierge, you can view a local attractions map, shopping guide and even the tee-off times for the local golf course. This capability is available NOW. 

In future, I have no doubt that they will program the capability for the device to function as a hotel key for secure physical access to your room during your stay. This is one of many applications these connection technologies will provide society and business now and in the future. Some are being developed now - and some are probably being devised in your heads as you read this. If you know of any connection technologies and applications, please feel free to comment or send me a note. I love to share this stuff.