CeBIT 98: Gerstner Keynote P2 - Pervasive Computing

Here are some of the highlights from Gerstner's speech.

The next milestone is what we call "pervasive computing." Fifty years ago, where did you find electric motors? In factories and power plants. They were big and expensive. Today, you might find 100 electric motors in the typical home. They're in appliances, the heating and ventilation system, the CD player, the VCR, and if you're fortunate enough, the electric toothbrush. We don't buy electric motors. They come inside all the things we use every day.

The same thing is happening with computing devices. Chips are getting so small and inexpensive, they're being embedded in everything: cars, appliances, tools, doorknobs, clothes. Most significantly, all these tiny intelligent devices will be interwoven in the global fabric of computing and communications.

What will this mean for consumers and enterprises? Quick example. Think about driving down the autobahn. Your "intelligent" car develops an engine problem, but instead of flashing you a warning light it sends a message directly to the manufacturer over a wireless connection to the network. The manufacturer's systems diagnose the problem and transmit a fix back to the electronics complex in your car. In fact, that corrective fix is transmitted to all models everywhere in the world, without ever having to notify the owners. All that's good for the driver. But it's better for the car maker. Instant information on performance is captured and sent immediately into product development and manufacturing. Continuous feedback loop, continuous improvement, resulting in better cars. Good for consumers. A competitive advantage for the business that gets there first.

And soon we'll see this hyper-extended networked world, made up of a trillion interconnected intelligent devices, intersecting with the data mining capability I spoke of earlier. "Pervasive computing" meets "Deep Computing." Companies and institutions will amass more data, more information than ever in history and for the first time be able to do something productive with it; turn raw data into knowledge and move that knowledge to the right people instantaneously. Personally, I believe that future leadership companies and future leadership institutions of all kinds will be those that know how to compete and win on the basis of knowledge -- learning, adapting and improving using this vital asset we know as information.