Pushing "Digital Nervous System" Concept
Key to tomorrow's
By Jim Bray
CEO's and CIO's should
shift their thinking toward building and implementing a "digital nervous
system" if they want to remain efficient, competitive and, therefore,
That's according to
Microsoft Canada Director David Wright, a member of the computer giant's
strategic management team. Wright was in Calgary recently to push the
digital nervous system concept, a concept his company and others have
been encouraging the corporate world to adopt for a couple of years.
Like a human nervous
system, the digital nervous system connects all the different "limbs and
organs" of a corporate (or even, increasingly, a home) environment. It
gathers, analyzes, tracks, controls, and transmits information between
the various parts, making them interact into a seamless whole. And, in
the same way a human nervous system also controls one's input and output
to the world (through eyes, ears, mouth, etc.) a digital nervous system
can connect a corporate whole to the world at large as well.
were arguably the beginning of the digital nervous system - those clunky
mainframe-based behemoths that are now becoming much smaller, more efficient,
more affordable - and ubiquitous. Telephone networks are also converging
with this digital nervous system, and the whole shebang is reaching out
beyond the corporate office thanks to the Internet.
While this technological
nervous system is made up of nuts and bolts (okay, circuits, wires and
chips) it's more than technology. It's a mindset, a way of looking at
the wired world in which we live that can be grasped by people who don't
pretend to understand all the technology that goes into it. It's also
a way for information technology people to show the "powers that be" what
the big picture is and now all this technology really fits in.
It's a leap of vision
for many corporate heads, however, who may have traditionally viewed their
IT budget as an ongoing and unfortunate expense that often causes more
trouble than it's worth. Wright says these people need to start looking
at their technological tools as integral to their company's functioning.
They need to understand that, in this fast-moving and ultra-competitive
global arena, this technological integration is essential - not only for
making their internal operations hum along, but to provide crucial interaction
and commerce with their suppliers and customers as well.
A bonus of this digital
universe is the move toward a truly paperless office, though Wright admits
the concept will probably never be completely realized. Still, when "virtual"
forms and letters become more universal and accepted, a "paper trail"
may become the exception rather than the rule - something sure to please
tree huggers (and crooks!) around the world.
The digital nervous
system is already happening - and it makes sense. In reality, it's merely
another way of looking at the ongoing evolution of information processing
and transmitting technology. After all, thanks to the vast web of cyberspace,
we already live in the so-called Global Village (though it's a darn big
village!) and there's nothing - except the will and/or the finances -
stopping companies and individuals from linking up to communicate and
interact with each other whenever and wherever - and for whatever reason
- they want.
Looked at that way,
the digital nervous system may be the glue that holds the "brave new world
of tomorrow" together.
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