The other day I was in a Tacos del Mar munching down a burrito and scanning through email on my BlackBerry. An email push from Yankee Group CEO Emily Nagle Green caught my eye. She was hyping her new book called ANYWHERE about the global connectivity revolution.
The email made it sound intriguing so I clicked the “more info” link and instead of jumping to a Web page where I presumably could learn much more about the book and possibly even order up or download a copy, I got an error message that the location I was in couldn’t handle data traffic.
Oh the irony.
Here I am reading about how connectivity will transform our businesses and lives, only to not be able to access it ANYWHERE. Instead I had to access it from somewhere else.
Recently my daughter came up to visit from college on the bus. Being a diligent student, she was working on the bus but was ultimately frustrated by the lack of connectivity and power for her laptop. “Why is that dad?” she wondered. On the University of Oregon campus, there are plenty of power outlets and Wi-Fi signals are strong, plentiful and free.
My colleague Megan, who has a 3G USB modem for her laptop, has a persistent problem on the ride from Portland to Seattle. About 20 minutes outside of the urban centers, connectivity disappears. No connectivity = no productivity.
I definitely share Yankee Group’s enthusiasm for ubiquitous connectivity. I look forward to the day when it becomes reality, and agree with the premise that we should all be preparing for the connected future, especially those of us in the PR and communications field. But the full realization of that vision won’t happen until the following developments are in place:
- Battery technology takes a significant step forward – at least 2x capacity compared to today’s best in smaller packages
- High-bandwidth wireless blankets the country, and works reliably in both cities and rural areas
- The cost of data connectivity drops significantly so everyone can afford a seat at the ANYWHERE table – $40 to $50 per month per device is too much.
Building out a truly reliable, ready-for-prime-time network is not a trivial undertaking. But it is just as important to our national competitiveness as highways and bridges. Perhaps more so. Are we really doing everything we can do to improve on the ANYWHERE experience? I’m thinking not.