World Business Essays 2006: Convergence - The convergence challenge

BT is one of the world's leading providers of communications solutions, serving customers in Europe, the Americas and Asia Pacific

by Allen Ma, president, BT Asia Pacific

If you run a business that's dependent on technology - and, these days, most are - you are probably bored of hearing from innovators who believe they have something truly revolutionary to offer. In truth, many top executives are ambivalent about new technology, preferring to leave their IT managers to "just make things work". Often, that's just the right thing to do - after all, the board focuses on strategic business issues, not technical detail. When it comes to convergence, however, delegation is dangerous.

Convergence started as a purely technical phenomenon - the progressive elimination of the differences between voice and data, fixed and mobile, and IT and entertainment that once required delivery over separate networks. Now, however, that phenomenon is combining with other global trends to create an economic revolution we call the digital networked economy. Four trends are particularly relevant.

The first - and most advanced - is the switch to digital. Business documentation, marketing materials, live communication, graphics and video all exist in digital form, stored in databases and moved quickly from place to place through global data networks. Among other benefits, this allows work to be moved to people, reducing the need for people to travel.

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