• United States
Contributing Writer

Mailbag: Hitting a nerve with the home digital nerve center

Mar 06, 20034 mins
Enterprise Applications

*Your hopes and concerns about the digital nerve center in your home

Okay, so maybe I’m a little ahead of my time in thinking that service providers are ready to handle the digital nerve center challenge. My belief is that someday remote office/home office workers will be offered a full-service package that will get them up and running at home with little to no hassle. Here’s what you think about that idea:

One reader wrote: “I am a home technology expert.  Love you like a sister.  But, I can tell you first-hand that you’re out to lunch on this one. The melding of all this stuff involves some element of structured wiring, independent technologies, competent design work, and custom installations.  Give me one example of any ‘service provider’ attempting to do anything even close to this… and doing it well.  Speechless, huh?  Me too.” 

She adds, “Sure, there are some households that will take advantage of this type of scenario. My research indicates a single digit percentage of households, at peak demand.  Marketing Intel and [marketing strategies] are the names of this game.  And, my consulting rate is $155.00 per hour.”

Another reader contends that much of what I talk about in the article is available today, but there are other obstacles to making the home a unified environment.

“It is interesting in that talk of this always speaks to a do-everything-from-home solution,” he says.  “Well, frankly, without much effort you can do all that, it is here today and available.  If I want, I can order up a movie, a pizza, work on a VPN to my corporate office and not move a muscle outside my home office except to open the door for the pizza delivery.

“However, there are certain social mores at work that make the scenario you are talking about available yes, but not practical – at least by today’s standards.”

He adds: “There are still those in management finishing schools who believe that you must have your fingers on people at all times to get productivity out of them, or to have them together as a group to create synergies of thought and idea that better serve the whole.  Having been in the professional world for 20 years, I’ve seen the ebbs and flows of the distributed model and the centralized model – and the one constant is that it seems to change emphasis from one or the other every few years.  I don’t know that those types of people management techniques will ever change enough to allow the melding of the technology and the workplace in a seamless environment.”

I did get some support from readers who were looking at melding the home and work environments due to social concerns. “I believe that you are right that this is going to be the wave of the future, especially since the baby-boomers are beginning to get closer to retirement age and healthcare costs [are increasing at] skyrocketing levels,” he says. “More of them are going to have to work at home, [as will] their children who are going to have to become their constant care providers. I find myself in this same situation now, and can’t wait for these things to become more affordable so that I can work at home, and also take care of my elderly mother.”

Another reader agrees, but is not happy about that. “I don’t think you are that far off.  And it scares me to death,” he says.  “Big Brother had nothing on the capabilities such a system will provide for snoopers of all stripes. I would hope (and rate the hope as faint indeed) that people will pay attention to the privacy and Constitutional issues involved in such a system.  In our headlong rush to convenience we are giving up every First and Fifth Amendment right we ever had.”

What do you think? Should we meld the home and work environments through technology? Let me know at

Correction: In the e-commerce newsletter dated  02/25/03 and headlined “Interaction: a big challenge for e-commerce,” the correct spelling of the featured company is e-tractions, and its Web site URL is  We apologize for the confusion.