Too Much “T,” Not Enough “I”

The need for speed on the Internet has never been more pronounced.

In his State of the Union address last month, President Obama vowed that in the next five years, “we’ll make it possible for businesses to deploy the next generation of high-speed wireless coverage to 98 percent of all Americans.”

Then, this week, we read how the South Korean government intends to connect every home in the country to the Internet at one gigabit per second by 2012. “That would be a tenfold increase from the already blazing national standard and more than 200 times as fast as the average household setup in the United States,” the New York Times reported.

As the Korean official in charge of the program explained it, the government in Seoul wants to be ready as new products come pouring onto the market. Among them: 3-D TV, Internet protocol TV, high-definition multimedia, gaming and videoconferencing, ultra-high-definition TV and cloud computing.

[EXPAND More]At a business level, many of these technologies offer exciting possibilities. We’ve written, for instance, about the way that the cloud may reshape the nature of work.

But Peter Drucker cautioned that technology alone won’t get us very far. We also need to think through the quality of the information being produced. Does it really tell us what we need to know to run our organizations most effectively? By getting more data thrown at us more quickly, are we clarifying the situation—or only making it muddier? Have we learned to obtain meaningful information from the outside of our organizations (where our customers and noncustomers are) or are we still too inwardly focused?

The answer isn’t simply “more data, more technology, more speed,” Drucker wrote. What’s needed is to “redefine information” and cultivate “new concepts” that make the information being processed more salient.

“For top management tasks,” Drucker added, “information technology so far has been a producer of data rather than a producer of information—let alone a producer of new and different questions and new and different strategies.”

What do you see in your organization? Are we focused too much on the “T” in “IT,” as Drucker put it, and not enough on the “I”?[/EXPAND]