Hope for Small Business Computing
By Ben Delaney © 1997

Originally published in the Marin Independent Journal, March 1997.

[Author's note, 2014: It's very interesting to see which of these predictions turned out to be accurate. MS Office is still a disk hog. Overall, I was too optimistic.]

We all know that maintaining the technology to run a business is too darn complicated. But relief is just over the horizon, with the vanguard in sight.

In the immediate future, it's only going to get worse. Too often, software from different publishers doesn't play well together. Hardware is more confusing, with new technology being invented faster than the software to run it. For the next 2-3 years, this situation will continue, leading the small business manager to loose sleep, hair, and time trying to make everything work.

Those of us who survive this period will see great improvements.

Perhaps you have heard of Moore's Law, which states that computer chips will double in density every eighteen months. In seven years, computers will be more than 100 times more powerful. That means not just faster, but smarter.

Taking advantage of that power will be software objects. Objects can be anything you need; a calendar, a picture of your sweetheart, a fax program, whatever. Software will soon change from absurd disk-eaters, such as Microsoft's 120-megabyte Office '97, to small portable objects that you will mix and match as needed. Instead of buying an entire office suite, you'll get only what you need. Most importantly, the components you get will all work together.

Probably the most important change that this increase in power will bring is the ability to use advanced technologies like virtual reality. VR will enable you to navigate the Internet in 3D, and work with data in productive new ways. You may have a virtual desktop, wrapping around you and providing an infinite amount of space. 3D sound will clue you when things are happening, and you will be able to do a lot by simply talking to your computer.

Object technology, combined with VR, will make using your computer more like having a good assistant. Your computer will learn your preferences, and make intelligent suggestions. The 3D interface will provide a more natural way to work with your tools.

You can experience some of this today, at conferences that highlight advanced technologies, such as Virtual Reality Universe, in Santa Clara, April 2-5 [1997]. Computing will soon get a lot less frustrating. Just hang in there.

_back to top_