Staying In Touch, It Means So Much
Posted by: on Jul 27, 2012
In early July, NISC hosted a “Tablet Cafe” at the annual Forum held by the National Rural Utilities Cooperative Finance Cooperative (CFC). CFC hosted a great event and we were pleased to support CFC by providing attendees wireless Internet service. We’re glad we did.
Granted, our goal was to show-off our new NISC utility “apps” for smart phones and tablets, but we also knew that access to a fast and reliable Internet connection would be valued by many of the 1000 managers, staff and co-op directors in attendance.
Some lucky Forum attendees told us they had free hotel “loyalty” Internet access in their rooms. Most, though, did not. Free Internet in the lobby was slow and unreliable. The hotel’s $15 a day wireless fee got under their skin. NISC staff heard many “thank yous,” for making Internet available and free.
These “thank yous” point to a significant technology trend in the rural utility industry. The place of business is becoming the Internet. Access is a key consideration when managers, staff and directors leave their utility office to go across town, visit a member, or attend an educational conference.
While CFC’s guests were far from home, gaining valuable industry insights, the utility world continued its rapid day-to-day pace-of-change. Nothing back home stood still. Attendees had business to direct, documents to check, messages needing a reply, and the marketplace to monitor.
In a world where corn is selling for more than $7/bushel and soybeans hit the market above $16/bushel, farmer directors were checking commodity prices and the latest USDA crop production projections. The ups and downs of the stock market were on the minds of many. One attendee connected her laptop to NISC’s iVUE so she could remotely manage payroll duties at her co-op.
Long ago, in a distant and forgotten world, rural utility staff sat at their desk and did what was needed to keep the lights on. Today, an invisible tether to the world and work has changed how we define office and desk. With a wireless connection, you can be anywhere and your desk top is a color display.
Having attended many industry events over the past 30 years, I have experienced the profound changes technology has made possible. There’s no doubt that Internet access, through a laptop, smart phone or tablet, has and will continue this redefinition of how we live, work and socialize.
At $15 a day Internet access is high-tech highway robbery, and hotels know they can get it. Internet connections are a fact-of-life and essential to the future of economic, community and personal development. And just like electricity and the broad menu of telecom services, being connected means you can stay in touch. In a world clamoring for a fast, reliable, Internet pipe, that means so much.