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THE LIMITATIONS OF HIGH TECH
As highlighted in "The networked corporation" (Information Technology Annual Report, June 26), the potential of the World Wide Web (WWW) seems to me to be greatly misunderstood. It is not a substitute for print: You can't read the Web easily over the morning cornflakes or on the bus. Nor is it a particularly good place for stand-alone corporate ads, because users can easily avoid these by not accessing them.
In my view, one of the greatest potentials of the WWW, with its low entry and distribution costs, is to allow niche players and specialists to gain a nationwide or global reach that would be prohibitive through other forms of marketing (direct mail, print advertising, etc.). The key, however, is that the WWW presence must provide useful information--not just an ad--to give targeted users an incentive to keep "tuning in."
The WWW has turned the cost calculations of publishing on their head. We just launched a Russian Business Information Service, including articles and other information provided by Russian companies. Printing and distributing this would not have been viable.
Of course, low costs also mean that much low-quality material is placed on the Web. The challenge, then, just as in print publishing, is to provide high-quality information in an easy-to-use format and to stand out from the clutter.
Image Alpha Ltd.
Your headline "Groupware requires a group effort" (Editorials, June 26) is very telling. Technology usually does not meet its full potential.
Voice mail is a good reminder of what happens when we provide technology to people. While the technology is truly phenomenal, what happens more times than not is that people hide behind their voice mail. Ultimately, voice mail gets a black eye. However, once again, it is really a failure of the people that use the technology. Don't expect nearly all of what is promised when reading about groupware.