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ID number:809715
Published: 28.05.2006.
Language: English
Level: College/University
Literature: 1 units
References: Used

It is often said that we are living in an age defined by rapid change – the birth of
the ‘knowledge economy’, the dawning of ‘the information society’, the
‘communications revolution’. These terms, grandiose though they often sound,
are probably merited by the scale of the shift being experienced in almost every
aspect of the way we live: trade, employment, education, the environment, all
are affected by the phenomenal advances in the speed, range and richness of
communication seen since World War II.
Economists and historians have determined that we experience major
transitional shifts approximately every 200 years: transitions that alter
economic structures, influence our culture and affect our personal beliefs and
values. In the 1300s there was a transition from a rural-centred society to an
urban society. This affected where and how people lived, effectively creating a
new society. The Industrial Revolution, triggered by the invention of the steam
engine in 1776, perhaps offers a closer comparison to our current shift. Steam
power had the impact of changing society by affecting the way people worked;
in many urban areas education systems were built almost from scratch and
society was restructured into capital owners and workers.
In 1875, man (Bell) learnt how to transmit speech as electronic signals over
wire; in 1901, morse code was transmitted by radio wave across the Atlantic
(Marconi); and 100 years later, the globe is surrounded by satellites in space
transmitting data to and from a global village. The economics of satellite
communication in the 21st century are such that it is affordable for even the
smallest organizations to use for routine data communications.
As for our present transitional period, when it began is a matter of debate.
Several catalysts have been cited as the antecedent to this change, computer
technology being just one. ENIAC (Electronic Numerical Integrator And
Computer) – a massive room sized computer invented in 1945 – was certainly
one of the instigators in this change towards the information society. If this was
the beginning, then we should be approaching the end of the cycle, since the
duration of these shifts in history is commonly thought to be about 50 years.
Estimates of the end point for the communications revolution typically range
from the year 2000 to 2020. Peter Drucker (1987) suggests that the catalyst for
our current change was the post World War II American Bill of Rights, which
allowed veterans to attend university – this, he sees as the beginning of the
knowledge society.

Szukala, Brian(Author). 21st Century Communication.
Broadstairs, Kent, UK: Scitech Educational, 2001. p 10.
For organizations and their managers, it is important to try to understand how
the communications revolution is affecting behaviour, attitudes and
expectations. Among the key questions every organization needs to grapple
with are:
• • • How does the communications revolution affect the needs and
expectations of our customers?
How does it affect the services we provide and the way we deliver them?
What impact will it have on the way we work?
Shrinking the Globe
Globalization is perhaps the most significant effect attributed to the increasing
power and reach of communications. In truth a convergence of factors –
including cheaper travel and transport, reducing trade tariffs and the everincreasing
facility of information exchange between
distant points on the map – has brought about a situation
where organizations and individuals can shop across
continents for the best deal. It is well publicized that the
more attractive labour and overhead rates have
encouraged many leading companies to transfer
production to South East Asian nations – but cost is not
the only factor here. Skill shortages also play a part. It is
notable that in the year 2000, the UK government
announced separate plans to recruit nurses from the
Philippines and IT professionals in India. Whether
developments like this would have occurred without the increased capacity of
communications technology is doubtful, but it is important to be aware that most
often communication is the means rather than the driver of change.…

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