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Information at your fingertips, 20 years later

Nov. 12, 1990. Las Vegas. Bill Gates was giving his keynote address at COMDEX, one of the largest computer tradeshows in the world. His speech was titled "Information At Your Fingertips," in which he presented his vision of personal computing where you could use your computer to get any information you wanted.

It goes without saying Gates' prediction proved be a major game-changer for the industry. In Inmagic's spring 1991 newsletter, Phil Green (then President, now CTO. We'll get to Phil's Inmagic evolution in another issue) pontificated about Gates' prediction.


As I read Phil's reaction, I couldn't help but think how his ideas about information at your fingertips can be applied to today's Enterprise 2.0 landscape. Here are some notions from our old newsletter article that still resonate today:
Improved collaboration. While you could say we've achieved information at our fingertips through Google and other technologies, we are a demanding bunch and "[relevant] information at our fingertips" is something we still strive for to improve collaboration across our organizations.

Great expectations. Phil wrote about how Inmagic had just gone through a corporate network upgrade. With this newfangled technology, employees at Inmagic would no longer stand for a network glitch where they "can't use the network for a day." A DAY? I shudder at the thought. Certainly expectations of our technology applications have gone up, and with them our demand for proof of effectiveness.

Increased productivity. Because of the network upgrade, employees wanted to use e-mail to communicate. The problem? "Now, we all have a new time-consuming activity: reading and responding to e-mail messages," wrote Phil. Sound familiar? Replace the last part of the sentence with "social media" and you've tapped into the great debate of the early 21st century: Will social technologies help or hinder the productivity of your organization? If we can take a lesson from e-mail, we should see social technologies as a strategic part of how we communicate and do business, not a productivity drain.
Philosopher and writer George Santayana said, "Those who cannot remember the past are condemned to repeat it." Throughout its history, Inmagic has consistently conveyed the importance of keeping business objectives in mind when implementing technology. Evidence can be seen in our spring '91 newsletter.

Phil wrote, "When making the decision to upgrade our network, we looked closely at the intended results." And in his recently contributed article to TechNewsWorld, Phil said, "Any E2.0 rollout big or small -- pilot or no pilot -- should be tailored to an organization's own culture and structure, and tightly align focus and context to the overall business objective."

And finally, I'll leave you with this quote from the guest columnist of this newsletter, David Strickler:

"As you find yourself lost in a river of data, think of Inmagic as a delta where diverse data flow together forming a coherent body of information. It is as much of a resting place for archived data as a retrieval bank for you latest corporate and personal knowledge. It is a valve that channels information, presenting it in a manageable format."

Have a look-see at our newsletter to read more first-hand.

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