GatesaddressesCEOSummit,May21,2003:OurviewisthatITlongagomovedawayfrombeingsimplyaboutback-officeactivities。

AddressingrecentquestionsovertheroleofITincorporatecompetitiveness,GatesnotedthatIThasbeencomparedtotherailroad,wherenowthatthetrackshavebeenlaid,thereisnoadvantagetobehadfromhavingbetterITsystems。

Onthecontrary,Gatessaid,OurviewisthatITlongagomovedawayfrombeingsimplyaboutback-officeactivities。

IT,hesaidhasbecomethetoolthatdetermineswhetheryourinformationworkerscandotheirjobeffectively。

Dotheyknowwhatsgoingonwithcustomersatisfaction?

Aretheyengineeringnewmodelsinaveryeffectiveway?

Aretheyfindingpartnerstoworkwithinastrongfashion?

UnderestimatingPotential

Concedingthatafewyearsagotechnologysufferedfromtoomuchhype,leadingtospeculationthatoverestimatedthefunctionalityofsoftware,Gatessaidthattoday,weareinsomewaysunderhypedpeopleareunderestimatingwhatcanbedone。

Incontrasttoone,staticbreakthrough,suchastheintroductionoftherailroadsysteminthe19thcentury,technologytodayrepresentscontinuingwavesofinnovation,whichpoweroneproductivitybreakthroughafteranother,Gatessaid。

HecitedthebirthofthePC,theadventofe-mailandtheInternetasexamplesofnewtechnologiesthathavegonethroughacyclefromintroductiontoacceptancethatfundamentallychangedthewaypeopleliveandwork。

Gatesdemonstratedseveraltechnologicaladvancesthatcandirectlyprovidereturnoninvestment,suchastheWeb-conferencingapplicationPlaceWare,SharePointcollaborationtechnologies,andtheTabletPC。

EachofthevisitingCEOsattendingthesummitreceivedanewNECVersaLitePadTabletPC,loadedwithcustomsoftwarethatenabledthemtoaccessconferenceinformationandcollaboratewitheachotherduringthesummit。

Gatesalsoofferedhisaudiencealookathowheusespersonallyusestechnologyinhisday-to-dayconductofMicrosoftbusinessincludinganonscreenpeekintohise-mailInbox。

NextWaveWillSupportEntireRangeofBusinessNeeds

Inhiskeynote,GatesoutlinedsomeofthefactorsinthetechworldsrecentdowncycletheInternetbust,thecomplexityofmanagingmultipleinformationsystems,securitycrisesande-mailspam,amongothers。

Whileenterprisesoftwarehasdonemuchtoimproveandautomateprocesses,Gatessaidingeneralithasnotprogressedtothepointwhereitcanefficientlydealwithprocessexceptionsandotherirregularities。

Automatedelectronicprocessesmuststillbesupplementedbythephone,e-mailandfaxtoaddressbusinessissuesthatfalloutsideofthecapabilitiesofsoftware。

ButaccordingtoGates,thenextwaveofinnovationwillbringsoftwarethatintegratesthesemodesofcommunicationonalllevelsandsupportstheentirerangeofbusinessneeds。

TheideathatwhenyouhavetheseWebservices,thatyoucancapturethefullrichnessofwhatsgoingonwithcompletevisibilitytotheknowledgeworkers,toupdatethosethingsandbenotifiedappropriatelyofthings,thatiswhereyougetrealbenefitofsayingthatthepaperapproachreallyiscompletelyobsolete。

Gatessaidsuchadvancesinsoftwarefunctionalitywillbetheprimarydriverofthenextwaveofinnovation,butsomeadvancesarealreadybeingmade。

Today,companiesusesoftwaretomanagetheirentireinformationinfrastructuresfromonecentrallocation,toperformcomplexbusinessprocessessuchassalesforecastingandanalysis,ortounifyacompanystelephoneandITsystems。

Thechallengenow,Gatessaid,isforITdepartmentstohonethesenewcapabilities,furthertorealizethepromiseofbusinessagility。

GatesnotedthatMicrosoftitselfhasdeployedaWi-FinetworkacrossthecompanysRedmondheadquarters。

Thewirelessnetworkallowsemployeestoaccesstheire-mail,applicationsandotherinformationanywhereacrosstheseveral-acrecampus。

AccordingtoGates,thismodificationtothecompanysinfrastructurehashelpedincreaseefficiencyandsavecostswithminimalinvestment。

Forexample,Gatessaidprintoutsformeetingsarebecomingobsolete。

SoftwaresKeyRole

WhilehardwaremodificationslikeWi-Ficanproviderealvaluewiththeincreasedprocessingpoweroftodayscomputers,thekeytorealizingsuchreturnsformostbusinessneeds,accordingtoGates,istheadvancementsthataretakingplaceinthesoftwareindustry。

Softwarewillalsoplayakeyroleintheunificationofinformationsystemswithtelephonesystems。

GatesdemonstratedMicrosoftPlaceWaresoftware,whichallowsgroupsoftwopeopleuptothousandstobebroughtintoameetingthroughboththePCandthephone,allowingcompaniestobringworkerstogetherfromacrosstheglobeforminimalcost。

Gatesalsoshowedoffthecompanysreal-timecollaborationtechnology,whichcanintegratethetelephoneandPCforindividualworkers,allowingphonecallstobeforwardedautomaticallybysoftwaretocellphonesorotherdevices。

Thetechnologyalsoallowsfore-mailalertstobesentwhencallsarereceived,soworkersinmeetingsorotherlocationscanseewhoistryingtoreachthem。

Alotofpeoplethoughtabout(thisfunctionality)asrequiringyoutochangethewholetelephonyinfrastructure,hesaid,referringtothetraditionalphysicalseparationofacompanystelephonePBXsystemanditsITinfrastructure。

Butevenwithoutchangingoutanyoftheexistinginfrastructureyoucanstarttogetthesebenefits。

GatesalsodiscussedhiscompanyswidespreadadoptionoftheTabletPC,newinnovationsinthecompanyse-mailapplication,Outlook2003,andthecollaborationandknowledge-sharingbenefitsofthecompanysSharePointServicestool,whichallowsnearlyanyonetoquicklysetupaWebsiteforsharingdocuments,calendarinformationandotherproject-specificdatawithco-workers。

Gatesclosedbyemphasizingthebottom-linebenefitsofcontinuedinvestmentinthedramaticnewfunctionalitybeingcreatedbythesoftwareindustry,andthehardwareplatformsthatsupportit。

Itsimportanttoseethat,althoughthoseharshrealitiesarethere,softwareismakingbreakthroughstoturnbackthoserealities,hesaid。