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Super Highway – Super Hype?

This article appeared in The Sydney Business Review on 15 December, 1994

When even the Open Road carries stories about the information superhighway, it is time to look at what this much-hyped phenomenon is really all about. If you believed half of what you see on TV or read it will be like the dreaded "computer literacy" and those without it might as well give up now, plant some vegetables in the back yard, and return to subsistence farming. This is nonsense.

Let's look at what the superhighway is not. It is not pay TV, or the Internet, or CompuServe, or electronic data interchange (EDI), or banking from your PC, or home shopping, or video conferencing, or telecommuting, or electronic mail. What it is is all of those things, or at least the common element, which is communication.

Business is about information and its communication. Every business needs to talk to its suppliers and customers, its workers, organisations in the community and any number of other interested parties. The superhighway is another step in the evolution of effective communications and it may take some time to happen. Remember that fax machines were rare ten years ago but anyone without one today is seen as an oddity. The fax machine was invented before the telephone – it just took longer to become indispensable.

Don't be frightened. There are ways for your business to make communication cheaper and more effective. These don't cost much and are often simpler than the methods you use now. You don't have to change everything at once but all businesses must be prepared for some change.

In fact, be wary of some people trying to frighten you. The name "Internet" has somehow been registered in Australia by a crowd who tell people that if you don't join them your business is doomed because of coming changes in the way business works. These people have nothing to do with the international computer network called "Internet". They are just offering a retread of that tired old multilevel marketing scam. Be warned!

Copyright © 1998- Peter Bowditch

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