After I arrived in New York last Thursday, I jumped in a cab and gave the driver the address of InformationWeek's home office. "I don't know if it's there, but let's go," he said. I was confused. "Why wouldn't it be there?" I asked. "We aren't there yet, so how can we be sure?" he replied. "Well, it was there Monday when I was in town. It was there last week. It was there 10 years ago. That's enough to convince me," I said. "But have you been there today?" he questioned. "No. That's why I'm in this cab. I've spoken on the phone to people who are there today. I know it's there." By then I had grown tired of this, but he said, "How do you know they're there? You can't see them in real time." "Well, sir, your cab may one day have such capabilities," I said with a tone of finality so the conversation would end. "Why, what's the point? No one needs information that fast. We'll know for ourselves when we arrive. Why push the limits of time?"
I thought about explaining to Philosophical Cabbie the merits of building a real-time business-information network and how it can lead to greater efficiencies, new opportunities, and better decision making. But it just wasn't the right forum. So that gives me a good excuse to do so here (and a chance to share the pain of that cab ride!). I feel better already. Now, back to the important stuff. If you read our Sept. 16 issue (informationweek.com/thisweek/09-16-2002), you know what I'm talking about. But take a look, too, at this week's cover story on Home Depot (p. 20). A major IT overhaul will do a lot things, but ultimately it will help managers get the data they need to act, react, change, or strategize about their customers' needs, their internal operations, and their business partners.
Stay tuned for more on the benefits, challenges, and opportunities of building a real-time business.
To discuss this column with other readers, please visit Stephanie Stahl's forum on the Listening Post.
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