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Publisher's Outlook
November 2002

Rich Tehrani

The CFO, Wang & A Floppy


The Wang word processor is mostly forgotten these days. Even when we talk about the history of computing, Wangs name is but a footnote. Yet its an important footnote -- one worth discussing. TMC, (our magazines parent) has been around for over 30 years. In the early days of our existence, the typewriter ruled the roost. A few people were called upon to type forms, letters, and other documents when mere handwriting just wouldnt do.

The typist(s) always had a healthy dose of liquid correction fluid nearby in order to cover up any mistakes. While this error-eliminator was a savior for those who made frequent errors, the unfortunate downside was the extreme patience required while the fluid slowly dried to a point that it could be once again typed over.

It is no wonder that later-generation products, such as correctable typewriters, and early word processors, were snapped up immediately. The word processor was the ultimate typewriter. It was the most coveted tool of secretaries and assistants of the early 80s, and no wonder: With the ability to correct entire documents or rearrange whole blocks of text on the fly, the typewriter was doomed.

Then, companies decided to stop spending money on independent word processors, and began to purchase PCs. PCs allowed employees to be much more productive for just a little bit more money. The financial minders at that time naturally advised caution (Financial people are generally cautious -- if they arent, theyre probably not good at their jobs.) Those companies that listened to the CFO lost precious time and money by investing in obsolete technology. In hindsight its clear, but at the time it made little sense to many on the financial side of the house.

Fast-forward twenty years, and you enter a time when PBXs and ACDs are taken for granted. The technology has advanced little in many decades. Why would anyone advocate changing these devices or altering them in any way? Spend money in this economy? Are you crazy! Those are words we hear all too often nowadays.

History shows that at times it makes sense to invest in technologies that are changing the workplace. We saw this happen with fax machines, the PC, voicemail, networks, Web browsers, cell phones, and now of course IP telephony.
You probably think that as Group Editor-in-Chief of INTERNET TELEPHONY magazine, Id be the industrys biggest cheerleader. Correct! I am however going to back up this column with more than evangelism and passion; for this argument I am going to add undeniable facts and show you how they tie into the IP telephony space and why every corporation needs to start evaluating and purchasing IP PBXs and IP ACDs now.

There are four growing trends in the workplace -- these trends are exactly why we will see that investments in IP telephony today will keep your corporation ahead of the competition for years to come.

ONE Telecommuting. The remote workforce is growing and IP telephony is the ideal way to allow this workforce to access full workplace communications functionality from their home. IP telephony allows workers to seamlessly connect to your telecom infrastructure with a simple IP phone or a soft client resident on their PC. IP telephony is the best technology to implement to allow remote access to the communications network.

TWO WiFi. 802.11b (and increasingly 802.11a) networks are everywhere and growing fast. If you are looking for wireless access points in your area, take a look at www.warchalking.org to learn about all the activity in this space. Since telephony travels so well in packetized form, who needs wires? Indeed, WiFi Telephony is growing quickly and it is apparent that using this technology, workers will be able to have access to all the features of their office phones regardless of their location.

THREE Pen-Based Computing. PDAs have taken companies by storm. Tablet and wearable computers will soon do the same. These devices will generally be connected to WiFi networks and as such will make perfect platforms for soft telephony clients. 

FOUR Video Conferencing. I talked about this last month. Mobile devices are beginning to sport cameras and in time we will see video conferencing pick up in the consumer and then enterprise spaces. Video conferencing does have its place in the corporation and will take the place of more and more face-to-face meetings over time, making us more productive.

FIVE If youve been paying attention, you know I set out with only four points. But in technology, when open standards are adopted, it is impossible to predict how other sister technologies will combine to make the original technology more powerful. Show your CFO an IP phone you want to buy for your company. Tell him it costs more than a regular telephone, and hes likely to dock your next paycheck. After all, it looks just like a regular phone! The old phones work just fine! Why pay more for something that seems so similar to what we have?

If this happens to you, please have your CFO explore http://www.obsoletecomputermuseum.org/wang/ and while he or she is busy, fire up your computer, log on to the Web, and gather up as much information as you can from www.itmag.com. This way, just as the CFO is sharpening his red pencil, getting ready to debit your paycheck, you can present reams of info showing that IP phones enable all sorts of money-saving, efficiency-increasing, productivity-enhancing app- lications into the enterprise, and that ROI studies have shown IP phones to be a key element of an intelligent strategy to upgrade existing communications infrastructure. And you might wish to take advantage of that little break in the action situation to snap the point off his freshly sharpened pencil.

[ Return To The November 2002 Table Of Contents ]

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