Of all the benefits the Internet provides, perhaps the most important is the opportunity for customers to interface with all types of retail and business-to-business organisations on a mobile basis. We are moving into a world where, to quote IBM, computers are pervasive - that is, located wherever customers might need them.
Some such computers might come in the form of Wap phones, wristwatches that double as mobile telephones and provide e-mail access, and mobile digital entertainment devices that incorporate a telephone and Net access. Yet these mobile devices only comprise a small element of the sweeping Internet-driven revolution in customer service that is almost upon us.
After all, why shouldn't the machines which might be the subject of a customer service inquiry be automatically linked to manufacturers and service providers?
Why should you need to report a fault with your fridge, oven, microwave, etc? Why should these machines not have the facility to communicate details of the fault automatically? A fridge might even be able to communicate to a supermarket details of goods that need to be replenished.
This is what pervasive computing is all about - bringing the benefits of computer-delivered information to society in a way that may soon make even the so-called IT revolution of the past 30 years seem like the discovery of the wheel.
Matthew Rees is principal consultant with strategic e-business consultancy Charteris.
This was first published in July 2000