Instant access to information has change the world. In the early days of the Internet, people buzzed about the "Information Superhighway." Thinking back to the early 1990s and the first iterations of America Online and Netscape, everything seems so...quaint.
In the mid-1990s, it took two minutes or more for a modem to make a connection and boot the World Wide Web for your "surfing" pleasure. Two minutes is an eternity in today's Internet and communications landscape. The ability to send messages and find information in real-time has certainly changed the way we work and live.
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Communicating In the Speed of Now
One of the most disruptive innovations of the past two decades has been that of the instant message. It started with chat rooms in the early to mid-1990s and progressed to personal chat between parties. AOL's instant messaging was an addictive practice when it was released and was the first step in real-time messaging that has evolved into the unified communications industry.
Today, real-time communications can come from anywhere at anytime and include things that seemed like science fiction only five years ago. Whether it is online presence and chat provided by Google, Microsoft or Cisco or mobile video chat with Apple's FaceTime, the ability to communicate in real-time has created the ability for instant collaboration that increases worker efficiency.
Instant Information of What Is Happening Now
Search is a constantly evolving science. Yet, it was not until the last several years that search started to deliver result in near real-time. The effect is a gradual change in the way people create and consume information.
Twitter is the poster child of the real-time information revolution (actually, it is hard to find Twitter results that are older than real-time). People now know of events minutes after they happened, as opposed to hours later or the next day. In business, that can have a profound impact as decisions can be informed by what is happening now.
The present "now" can also be correlated into a previous "now" that happened in the past (think of the ability to see exactly what kind of data you had 10 minutes ago, an hour ago, at noon on a Tuesday last month or last year). Real-time data affects individual productivity as well as group mindsets, such as stock market data.
Real-Time Location Just Starting to Be Utilized
The Web is just starting to tap the potential of the confluence between real-time and location. You can now track objects and people from a mobile device or a desktop to monitor progress (such as tracking a package or a courier and your managers in the field).
There is extraordinary power in knowing where a person or an object is right now, as opposed to where it is coming from or where it is supposed to be going. Mobile devices and sensors have made this possible and it is one of the most rapidly evolving aspects of Internet innovation.
Photo by aurelio