Did you know the Internet will be 47 years old in December this year? It first comprised four computers in four American universities which were connected together to form the initial ARPANET and voila, the Internet was born!
For many of us, our experience with the internet started with email in the 1990s, followed by the World Wide Web (WWW) and search engines. Local Area Networks (LAN) which link computers internally in an organisation, and then Wide Area Networks (WAN) which linked disparate organisations together, really became commonplace. This is now such accepted technology, most people don’t even think about how it all happens, unless the network goes down!
Email was a great breakthrough for work. While productivity is not as immediate as a phone call, it is, of course, so much quicker than a courier or normal paper mail. Being able to email a document for approval to one or more parties simultaneously, even beat the fax machine and enabled online, real-time interaction.
Every day billions of people, at work and at home, connect to the internet to communicate, collaborate, do research, do their purchases or play games. Google is firmly in all our vocabulary even as a verb, ‘googling’ or ‘googled’ and has become the default search mechanism for all sorts of people, and for all sorts of reasons.
Instant messaging, chat sites, Facebook, LinkedIn, Instagram, Twitter, Pinterest, Snapchat – the list is endless – are all dependent on the WWW.
Blogs, forums and wikis, again are dependent on the WWW and are gatherings based on industry, jobs, common ideas and so much more. They have also become a staple business activity, a genuine marketing tool.
Internet savvy organisations definitely have an online presence and in addition to the standard “news” option, they have a blog, they are on Twitter, Facebook, LinkedIn and so on. There are staff employed to look after social media, not only posting to the platforms but checking and responding to comments made about the posts. This is a key aspect of work today. It has become the “shopfront,” the means for customers to find out about a business and to interact with it.
In some ways, the internet has brought people closer together. If your organisation is spread across the country, it is now possible to connect more efficiently than ever before. Video/web conferencing enables face-to-face communication even if you are thousands of kilometers apart. The same collaboration tools allow teams to share a screen, work on a document together, share documents in real-time, see each other and of course talk to each other. This can be done at any time, from anywhere, as long as the parties can connect to the internet.
Then there is the Internet of Things (IoT). Inanimate objects communicating with each other and with people. One explanation is a “network of physical devices, vehicles, buildings and other items, embedded with electronics, software, sensors and network connectivity enabling the objects to collect and exchange data.” Forbes also states if a something has “an on and off” switch, it can be part of IoT.
According to Gartner, Inc., there will be nearly 20.8 billion devices on IoT by 2020, this will again revolutionise how we work, when we work and the type of work we do.