The super highway of information

The Roman Empire in ancient history was one of the largest and most powerful empires in the world’s history. The huge territory covered about 50 modern nations throughout Europe, Northern Africa, and the Middle East. One of the secrets of the Roman Empire was the network of Super Highways they created during the centuries.

The advanced system of Roman roads enabled the empire to grow. The main purpose of the road network was to allow land transport to deliver goods within the empire. Even more important benefit of the Roman roads was the control effect that it gave to the emperor. The design of the road system allowed fast information flows, and was the basis for the Empire’s powerful defence plan. The only way to get information quickly from the other side of the empire was high-speed messengers utilizing good-shape highways – and strong horses. Actually, the first properly documented postal system was created in Ancient Rome. It served first the government correspondence but was also opened for the citizens later. The phrase, All roads lead to Rome, could easily sound, All information lead to Rome.

The next big invention of information sharing was the printing press that started in Europe about 600 years ago. Suddenly the information could be printed and spread quickly to thousands of people. This was not a very desired progress from the emperors’ point of view, because the information was not in his own control anymore. The early forms of digital communication have been in use already over a hundred years. Telegraph, Telefaxes and telephones made the world smaller than ever before. Television visualised the news that before could only be listened from the radio.

There’s no doubt which communication format is most utilized in the modern business environment. Electronic Mail, better known as Email, became a standard of exchanging messages between computer users around the world. Easy access to the internet boosted this progress.

Email is a brilliant communication method but it, unfortunately, has several challenges too, including the following. 1) The email-user receives unsolicited mail that we call spam. 2) The unstructured information overload makes us ineffective in our work. 3) It’s not possible to send big attachments with the email. 4) Email is not a secure method to send business-critical information between people, especially across the company borders. 5) When people leave the company, the valuable information in the inbox gets lost. As a summary, utilizing email as an information management tool, the information is not available, visible and reachable for all the people who need the information. Whatever you might think about email, those challenges are certainly not increasing the white-collar productivity.

During the latest decades, IT providers have built more and more sophisticated systems to manage the resources and documentation of enterprises. Meanwhile, the business environment has changed from company-based value creation towards network-based value creation. This means that the crucial information flows are not only inside the company anymore – nowadays those information flows exists between companies. This is the area where the IT systems, designed for company-based value creation, fail and do not cope.

The Romans built their superhighways of information such as Via Flaminia and Via Aurelia over 2000 years ago. The target was to establish a road network that ensures the protection of the empire with fast information flows throughout the huge territory. My colleagues and I share precisely the same mission in the modern business environment. Our passion is to bridge manufacturing companies by building superhighways of information – Via Collaboration –  between customer and supplier companies.

The blog post was published originally in the Jakamo Official Blog on 11 August 2016.

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