13 Dec Business-school IT director points to reasons for wireless trend
Madison, Wis. — While the Madison chapter of the World Future Society is dedicated primarily to looking ahead for new social and technological developments, Scott Converse showed them how looking to the past can also be important if they want to see where the next big thing is coming from.
Converse, an information technology director at the UW-Madison School of Business and founder of the Web integration firm Can’t Dance Technologies, spoke to the society on Thursday at the Fluno Center about what he sees as the next big technoloy innovation.
Converse began by bringing up an article he had written in 2002, trying to predict the five major trends that would come over next few years. He was wrong about predicting that collaboration software such as file sharing would migrate to a business setting, and that internal search engines would become more popular among corporations.
To him, the blame for his missteps doesn’t fall on the technology, but rather that businesses have not chosen to use their options. He said “corporate propaganda” had misled him as to what was the next step businesses would take, saying that they had the right idea in many cases but never got around to finishing it off.
“There are applications out there, but nobody’s using them,” he said.
The topic that he made the “spot-on” prediction about was the rapid growth of wireless networking, down to the number of wireless devices that would be active and the fact that they would become “ubiquitous” in the business field. Converse said that he made this prediction based on what he saw in the rapidly growing interest in mobile technology such as Bluetooth mobile phones and PDAs.
Converse’s observations showed him that there was a market full of people looking to become “untethered,” and that the technology was developing at a fast enough rate to make it a reality. “The world of wireless is a big one, [but when] cut off on short-range, point-to-point communication … doesn’t allow for a broad sharing of information,” Converse said.
The worry that data will be corrupted or stolen has been one of the biggest obstacles to the growth of the wireless industry, he said. System address that problem by using techniques such as sending redundant data or network protocols that make it easy to fill in gaps in received data by requesting it again.
New security measures continually make the system more difficult to penetrate, and vendors have gotten the idea that standardizing the hardware for all systems is more efficient in the long run. If new frequency ranges can open up and government intervention gets out of the way, it should be smooth sailing, he said.
“Engineers aren’t fools. They know every year they have to take an existing technology and make it better,” Converse said. “If we can just get more people out there kicking around balls … I think that’ll help.”
Louis Loeffer, vice president of the Madison branch of WFS, said he agreed with Converse that wireless technology has a great deal of potential for the future, and Converse’s talk helped build a foundation for interested parties.
“It gave a nice history, which for many people is lacking, and also had some breadth that showed a reason why this is important,” Loeffer said. “There’s all sorts of areas that he didn’t have time to get into, because it’s going to be impacting businesses in so many ways.”
Les Chappell is a staff writer for WTN and can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.