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limit. Add high-speed communications and you begin to approach a new kind of mind space where everyone is able to know what everyone else knows instantly. Thought and action fuse in an ornate ballet of power. In Desert Storm, military hypermation led to an unprecedented degree of what military commanders call "situational awareness" among troops at the hands-on level of operations, both combat and logistical. Out the window went the old stereotype of the GI Joe who had to "hurry up and wait" for orders. Along with it went soldiers' reliance on the "scuttlebutt" rumor mill for clues to their mission and role in the grand plan of battle. The new hyperwarrior gets intelligence more nearly in "real time." Hyperwar also shattered old hierarchies. Instead of trickling up and down the old chain of command, hyperwar's complex computer communications networks moved torrents of data horizontally around the combat theater. Soldiers became both sources and consumers of knowledge. JJThe key to hyperwar," says John Warden, commandant of the Air Force's Air Command and Staff College, "is empowering those charged with the hands-on work of fighting the war to act." The sheer speed and power of ever more intelligent weapons and communication systems force hyperwarriors to rely increasinglyon judgment, initiative and collaborative teamwork, and less on either permission or orders from bureaucratic gatekeepers. If these themes have a familiar ring to business managers and consultants, it's because hyperwar and hyperbusiness are driven by the same tcchnological forces. Desert Storm marked the debut of a new age not just of combat but of commerce as well. The lessons of hyperwar are the keys to hyperbusiness: the new rules guiding success or failure in a technologically transformed economic age.
HYPERLEARNING: THE IMPLOSION OF DIGITAL TECHNOLOGY
Artifidal life A simulation process in which purposeful entities (sometimes called cellular automata) compete, cooperate and otherwise interact to evolve as a synthetic ecosystem. Asynchronous transfer mode (ATM) A communications technology that permits isochronous transmission of multimedia information. ATM generally allows one network to smoothly handle video conferencing, document shoring and other groupwore functions. Cyberspace A term coined by novelist William Gibson for the virtual environment where all on-line information can be accessed and manipulated. Documents (or compound documents) Bundles of information, including text and formo"ing information (for example, forms, editing comments) as well as other media such as graphics, sound or video. The common currency of groupware communications. Electronk data interchange (EDt) Includes communication protocols and software standards designed to enable different computers in different organizations to exchange data and corry out business transactions, such as ordering products or paying accounts, without human intervention. Embedded learning A feature of performance-support systems. Instructional aids are built in to the workers' tools or workplace sa that they are available on demand. Groupware Computer/communications network technologies that combine software and hardware elements in systems that enable groups of workers to shore information.
Hl loop Because learning is a cyclical
Isochronous communication Voices, images, data and other media elements can be sent and received on the some channel at the some time with no delay or interference. Performance support A systems framework that emphasizes providing individual workers with the knowledge, skills and other support needed to corry out a business process. Moreover, workers control that support, accessing it where and when they need it.
PSS Performance support systems (sometimes preceded by "electronic," Han-line," "integrated" and so on).
Seamless Characterizing a user's smooth, easy and nondisruptive transition from simulation to practice or from performonce to support.
STEP Standard for the Exchange of Product model data. An international EDI standard de-
veloped to provide a computer-readable format for data that represent the features of a product throughout its life cycle: from design to production to support to disposal. Synthetic environment A virtual space used to develop and evaluate the performance of both humon workers and their tools under authentic cenditions. In the military case, a virtual bo"le zone where teams can simultaneously practice war games with simulated weapons and operations systems. Systems integration Combination of computer, communications and other information technologies in arrays or networks organized to perform a variety of business tosks. Virtual corporations or organizations Organizational structures to which people and other assets are committed only temporarily to achieve a defined mission. Virtualizing Applying virtual reality, artificial life or related simulation technologies to a process. Virtual reabty (VR) The use of Visual, auditory and other displays to give the user the sense of being in an alternative, synthetic environment in which the user can move and manipulote objects in a way similar to the real world. Work flow Broadly, the flow of steps needed to carry out a business process. Work-flow systems use groupwore and other information technologies to track, control ond manage processes more efficiently.
process, the basic structures of hyperlearning systems are looping circuits rather than oneway channels. Knowledge and expertise are embodied in the network as a whole rather than in a specific node (person, deportment, library). Allnodes both support and learn. Hyperlearnlng The multidimensional "space" formed by a matrix of digitally integrated information technologies in which learning, both by humans and nonhuman components, is the generic process common to all work tasks and business processes. Hypermatlon Application of hyperlearning technology to business processes across on enterprise. Hypermation is the simultaneous reengineering of multiple interrelated business processes.
t the core of the hyperrnation of business, war, politics and everything else is the accelerat-
ing translation of knowledge into digital form. The result, in the information universe, is a reversal of physical evolution. While the physical world began with a big bang and has been flying apart ever since, the information world started with a Babel of different forms and languages, and is now rushing inward, converging and imploding toward a single, universal digital utility. True, it often appears otherwise. The reality of quickening unification has become enshrouded in a crazy quilt of jargon, and each of the many application fields of information technology seems to gush its own cryptic
SURGERY AT JOHNS HOPKINS
terminology. But behind all of that fractured technobabble, a dazzling array of computers, communications and software is congealing into the core technology and business process of the 21st-century economy: hyperlearning IHL), the central feature of which is a radically shrinking "loop" that connects learning to work in real
The basic structures of hyperleaming systems are looping circuits rather than one-way channels. Knowledge and expertise are embodied in the network as a whole rather than under the auspices of a person, department or library. Everyone in the hyperenterprise becomes both a learner and a teacher, supporting the performance of others in the team. HL both enables and compels the entire hyperenterprise to learn
YOURHEART WRENCHES as the surgeon, Dr. Craig Vander Kolk, shows you slides of his patients: a child with a jawbone fused and locked in a desperate gape, another with a cheekbone mashed into his eye, a third with her head weirdly flattened sideways. You grow queasy as you look at the photos of gory openhead surgery needed to fix these deformities. Then you see the Wand. Technically, it is the Viewing Wand of theAllegro Medical Imaging Workstation, developedby ISG Technologies Inc. of Toronto. But Vander Kolk, associate professor of surgery at Johns Hopkins University, Baltimore, occasionally lapses into calling it the "magic wand." The Wand is attached by a steel post to the operating-room bed, where the patient'S head is also held rigidly in place. Its many sensor-laden joints enable the Allegro computer to determine within one to two millimeters [a bit wider than the ball in a ball-point pen] the three-dimensional position of the Wand's pencil-like tip. "The most difficult part of craniofacial surgery is repositioning the bones in three dimensions," says Vander Kolk. "With traditional xrays, you get a flat, two-dimensional image that gives no sense of spatial relationships. Even with CT [computed tomography, or CAT] scans, the surgeon has to look at the image and then walk back to the operating table and try to mentally picture the bones' locations and judge where they should go." With the Wand and the Allegro system, Vander Kolk can now plan and carry out this kind of delicate surgeryin virtual reality. First, the computer transforms a stack of digitized CT scan "slices" of the patent's skull into an exact, solid-form 3D image that can viewed and rotated 360 degrees around any axis. A skilled cybersurgeon can even "travel" into the skull to exam-
ine internal structures such as sinuses. Next, just like an engineer using computer-aided design to plan a machine, the surgeon can cut and move bones of the virtual skull to plot the precise correction desired. The simulated structures stay where the surgeon puts them, and the computer tracks their exact relative position. Using color coding, the surgeon can show "before" and "after" versions on the screen. Finally, during the actual operation, when Vander Kolk touches the tip of the Wand to a point on the patient's skull, he will simultaneously see a colored dot on the computer's virtual skull that matches the location. Using the Wand as a compass, Vander Kolk can then map the bones to be operated on to those on the CT model, moving them where the Wand indicates they should be placed to match the reconstruction he designed on the computer. "This is really a learning system," says Vander Kolk. "The richer, more precise data the system provides helps us learn to do the surgery better each time we use it. "Over the longer run, I'm working with Joan Richtsmeier [Ph.D.],an anthropologist at our medical school, to develop a database of these CT images," Vander Kolk explains. "That's essential for us to learn more precisely how the bones of young children grow and change as they mature. We need that knowledge to learn how to do the surgery so that the results will look right and work right after the children become adults." Another health care miracle, but what about the cost? An operating room costs about $10 a minute, Vander Kolk estimates. "Instead of fiddling around to see where you want it to be, now you can actually plan it all out ahead of time, go in and do the operation, and get out." Not only can that save 10 minutes to an hour in the OR, he points out, but by getting the operation right the first time, you avoid the common costs of complications and follow-upsurgery.
for its living. "A huge transformation is now underway," observes Bill Bramer, managing partner of Andersen Consulting's Change Management Services, Chicago. "For the past 25 years or so, we've just been automating and 'informating' the tail end of the industrial age." Now, says Bramer, "the order of technology-organization integration we're working on is a leap beyond that-to a truly new era." In other words, technology can join knowledge and action in one continuous grid. Seamless, integration and performance have become the buzzwords of today's enterprise. But how do you move hypermation from the realm of theory to that of practice? The experiences of high-performance business and military suggest two key requirements: virtualizing tasks with the intensive use of simulation technologies, and providing performance support for front-line workers in the form of just-in-time knowledge and learning systems.
FROM Now ON-SIMULATE FIRSTI
lmost from their inception, computers have been used to answer the question, What if... ? But today's 50-MIPS desktops and tomorrow's supercomputer laptops will vastly expand our ability to mimic or create sights, sounds and experiences of stunning richness and complexity. "Simulate first!" may become the clari-
on call of hypermation: Simulate before you build. Simulate before you buy. Simulate before you employ. Simulate before you go into battle. The key to Desert Storm's hypercombat was the fusion of training and operations-of learning and doing as a team-that had been accelerating in U.S. and NATO armed forces for nearly two decades. That fusion was made possible by HL technology'S increasing ability to bring the benefits of simulation-based learning to groups. '''Simulate before you build' will be the watchword in most industries," says Richard Van Atta, an official with the Institute for Defense Analyses, a federally funded research and development center in Washington, D.C. "Whether you're talking about total quality management, virtual corporations or any level of integration across or within enterprises, distributed simulation is going to be key." More and more high-tech workplaces demand that high levels of human skill be exercised only in relatively infrequent crisis situations. A modem airliner, for instance, is quite capable of taking off, flying and landing itself-unless something goes wrong. Studies by President Jimmy Carter's commission on the Three Mile Island nuclear power station accident in 1979 found a problem shared by many modern industrial operation control centers: Most of the work is routine, constant and boring. The operator's most important function is to solve unusual and thus unpredictable problems, and to manage the rare but critical disaster. The commission concluded that operators not only needed better -designed operating displays. They also required continual practice with simulators to hone their crisis-management skills. Similar needs exist in complex air traffic control; electric, gas and telecommunications grid management; and chemical and other industrial operations systems. In fact, the ability to use initiative and innovation to solve ad hoc, critical problems under often chaotic circumstances is fast becoming a skill required in almost every line of work. Simulation isn't just for disaster control. Henry Duignan, chief operat-
ANDERSEN'S WINDOW OF KNOWLEDGE
ANDERSEN WINDOWS INc., Baypoint, Minn., makes windows in a wide variety of shapes and sizes, including made-to-order units designed to meet myriad home and office design needs. Multimedia software called Window of Knowledge provides Andersen dealers with an interactive, on-line tool they can usc to both demonstrate and design customized window systems. The same software provides specifications of Andersen products (as well as information about competitors' products), and supports a full menu of administrative and sales tasks, from creating proposals to pricing installations and calculating the energy efficiency of designs, placing and tracking orders, and managing accounts. Dave Coraccio of Harvey Industries Inc., a supplier to building contractors in Woburn, Mass., is a big fan of the Window of Knowledge system, which runs Andersen's custom-designed software on an Apple Macintosh Quadra 950 computer. "The system has enabled me to work with customers faster, more accurately and with more professional-looking results," Coraccio says. A recent customer of his wanted to redesign a room around a painting. Using the Window of Knowledge at his desktop, Coraccio was able to work with her, demonstrating on the monitor (after she had provided the room's specs) how a variety of window styles and placements would work with the picture. The system also allowed him to quickly quote a price for the installation they had worked together to design. IfA quote like that used to take an hour and a half," Coraccio figures. "Now I can do it in 10 minutes or less." Coraccio appreciates other features of the system as well: Price changes that used to take a month to reach him from Andersen Windows now get there the next day. And he praises the company's backup support. "If I run into a problem, I call their toll-free number and someone is there to help me inunediately."
ing officer of Ross Operating Valve Co., sees a revolution in "virtual products." Working closely with customers, the Troy, Mich., company's workers use advanced information technology to custom-design, engineer, evaluate and integrate specialized
valves in virtual space. By integrating manufacturing, engineering and marketing in one seamless function and solving problems in simulation before any physical materials are cast, cut or shipped, Ross can deliver such vi.J.tual products to its customers in 10 percent of the time and at a fraction of the cost required by traditional mass production. Next step: The company plans eventually to let its customers hook directly into the Ross computer communication network so they can design their own valves. Similarly, to achieve its goal of cutting 25 percent of its costs, Boeing Aerospace Co. is pushing the edge of computer-based design and engineering. In the past, most of a commercial jet's millions of parts were designed and produced separately by subcontractors and suppliers, then assembled in prototypes, and repeatedly re-
designed and reconstructed to get them to fit and work harmoniously. For its next-generation 777 jumbo jet, Boeing has charged teams of engineers with designing both components and production processes, and then testing their effectiveness through three-dimensional computer simulation. But the rush toward virtualizing isn't limited to manufacturing products. It's cropping up in services, management and just about every other aspect of the modem enterprise. The consulting firm Booz Allen & Hamilton has transferred its methods of developing war games for the military to three-day "competitive simulation" games in which executive teams representing each major player in an industry vie to win over a team acting as potential customers. The ultimate blurring of simulation and reality may have occurred when a major oil company, Chevron, contracted Maxis Inc., creators of the hit software SimCity, SirnEarth and other Sim-series computer simulation games, to develop an oil refinery simulation to be used by its staff to practice managing the intricacies of such a complex system (see sidebar, page 89). Indeed, the entire 21st-century economy is destined to be one vast hypervideo game: From making war to making money (maybe even to making love), it's all digital, all virtual, all interactive.
yperlearning technology demands a different relationship between systems and people than existed in the past. "Within a few years, every worker will be a knowledge worker whose basic job is to solve a customer's unique problem that may never have come up before,"
says Andersen Consulting's Bramer. "Systems must change from controlling the worker's performance to supporting performance. The whole focus of learning then has to switch from how to run the system to how to serve the customer." The work of trainers, for example, is becoming more like that of systems engineers. Carol Brickell, a training manager at Electronic 'Data Systems (EDS) in Dallas, observes, "Customers expect us to improve performance, not just install computer networks." Rather than training only in the classroom, Brickell's group builds on-line learning into systems that provide, for example, just-in-time learning support that ranges from simple Help menus to tutorials and simulation exercises. It's no surprise that the movement to "performance support" has presented systems engineers with a new challenge. "The focus has to shift from data to knowledge," says Joanne Warner, director of corporate data and transaction management at U.S. West Communications Inc. "The goal is to make knowledge instantly available to do the job accurately and completely the first time, without having to hand off or refer to someone else to find out what to do or how to do it." Eliminating hand-offs by empowering individual workers to oversee an entire process is a critical function of HL technology. "Hand-offs are what kill performance," says Michael Hammer, the guru of business process reengineering, In most companies, less than one percent of the time that is required to carry out a process is comprised of valuable work, he observes. Orders, claims and other jobs get handed off between six and 15 times before they are completed. Until recently, it has been difficult to bring about substantive change in business organizations-Hammer confesses that only about 25 percent of reengineering efforts have been successful-but the rapid advance of HL' technologies is steadily making Hammer's revolution easier to achieve. Electronic data interchange (EDI) and groupware are two core technologies (in addition to the dazzling matrix of virtualizing tools) that are being used
to link a growing n~bcr of human and synthetic minds into a common HL thinking/learning loop.
QUICKER RESPONSE TO CUSTOMERS
MAXIS, WHERE GAMES AND INDUSTRY MERGE... SIMANT TO SIMREFINERY would have been a huge risk for us. The economics of that market are very different." Maxis finally delved into business simulation in 1992 when it hired John Hiles as vice-president and general manager of the business simulation unit, located in Monterey, Calif. He brought in the first business model, a simulation of the workings of Chevron, called SirnRefinety. Says Wright, "Chevron gave us a whole encyclopedia on how a refinery works. This was a stack of standard training documents that people weren't reading. Our challenge was to take what was in there and put it into a more presentable form." Wright explains that the simulations provide employees with a breathing, moving perspective of Chevron's setup rather than a bureaucratic skeleton in a weighty manual. Like watching the traffic levels increase in SirnCity, Chevron employees see the tankers bringing the raw product to the refinery and watch as it is transformed into various types of fuel. Instead of annual city budgets, SimRefinery creates financial reports. The user decides which fuel to produce and where to beef up or slash budgets. Wright speaks of Maxis' success: "It's the nature of the medium we are working in. You can read about the structure of our federal budget, for instance, and it's a very static thing on paper. When you are playing a game, you're involved in a process, not a static structure. Because it's interactive, you are actually shaping the process."
ent organizations share information, thus eliminating the costly and error-conducive task of manually filling out forms and entering data. The savings that can be achieved just by eliminating rekeying errors are substantial. Motorola's revamped financial reporting network, for instance, cut the error rate from one mistake out of every 75 bits (or characters) of information to less than one in 2,700. And zapping paperwork adds to ED!'s payoff. By replacing 100 percent of the paper forms used in purchasing, R. [. Reynolds has cut the cost of processing an order from about $100 to less than $1. ED!'s potential extends beyond these basic savings. "The real strategic impacts of ED!include improved quality and much, much quicker response to customer demands," says Howard McKenna, ED! program manager at Electronic Data Systems. Astonishingly, no more than one percent of Amcrican companies are currently using ED!. However, the cost, quality and competitive advantages of the services it provides would seem to ensure its rapid spread. Retailers like Wal-Mart, Kmart, The Limited, Home Depot and Toys 'R' Us have been pushing the leading edge of this information technology revolution. The stores' ED! systems permit suppliers, such as Procter & Gamble, General Motors (auto parts) and others, to monitor sales and shelf inventories virtually by the minute, write their own electronic purchase orders into the retailers' computers and get paid automatically via electronic funds transfers from the retailers' bank accounts to their own. That's just a drop in the bucket. The vastly greater reservoirs of realworld data-such as raw materials prices, analyst reports and government statistics-pooled by expanding EDT networks become fodder for applying supercomputer intelligence to detecting subtle patterns and trends. No one
D! lets computers within differ-
ONECOMPANY is looping the learning curve by playing around. Maxis Software, a $14 million game software company in Orinda, Calif., has taken its knowledge of simulation from the game industry and ventured into the uncharted waters of business simulation. Maxis released SimCity, its first product, in 19H9. In it, players boot up to find an overhead map showing a virgin frontier of forests, rivers and lakes. Using a bank of icons to build roads and zone plots, a series of maps showing crime and pollution density, and graphs of long-range fiscal indicators, players plan and build communities. As the years progress, the city either grows and prospers or struggles and collapses, depending on how the player "mayors" juggle tax rates, deal with disasters and mollify a moody public. SimCity has sold more than a half million copies for PCs and Macs and 1.1 million copies for Nintendo game systems. Maxis also developed several other simulation games, including the SimEarth model of evolution and the SimAnt model of an ant farm. Then a funny thing happened. SimCity hadn't been on the market more than a few weeks before Maxis started getting calls from organizations ranging from public utilities to government agencies that wanted to get simulated. "First it was one a month. Then three, then five," says Will Wright, co-founder of Maxis and chief designer of SimCity. "We had corporations calling us and asking us to do the same thing but wid] their companies as models. At the time, it should have been surprised when The Limited recently joined MCC, the Austin, Tex.-based advanced information technology R&D consortium. Leading retailers like Wal-Mart and Kmart already are important customers for supercomputers. ED!creates both the means and the
imperative to speed up marketing and production decisions. Example: Researchers now find that customers who are embarrassed or annoyed by human interviewers will respond to an "impersonal" computer survey that feels more like a video game than an oral exam. A statistical program, like one
from Sawtooth Software Inc., interprets the answer to one question and designs the next question on the fly, saving time by zeroing in on the tradeoffs consumers will make between, say, price and quality. Put that kind of information on the same EDI-linked network with sales, inventory and financial data. Then throw in artificial intelligence expertise like the automated concurrent engineering system being developed at Stevens Institute of Technology, Hoboken, N.T. For the first time, design teams can detcrminc-even as they are creating a virtual product-how much money and time it will take to produce, deliver and distribute a new product; who will be most likely to buy it and why; and who will be best able to sell it and how.
GROUPWARE-MERGING WITH EDI
BOTTOMLINE-No AS USUAL
imulate first will be the watchword, whether it's for total quality management, virtual corporations, or .integration within or acrossenterprises.
roupware's impact on hyperbusiness is at least as profound as EDI's: it is making the shared expertise of teamwork the standard for almost every type of business and organization. Because the evolution of groupware standards is tied up with the move toward client/server architectures, it is a complex and uncertain process. The pioneering Lotus Notes remains the most influential product in the groupware field. When Mel Communications Corp. started dabbling in the use of Lotus Notes groupware in 1990, its management was cautious about the prospect of empowering employees but also determined to find ways to activate and improve teamwork, according to Peter Olson, Mel's vice-president for architecture and controL "Terminology is a huge block to teamwork," he explains, "but with Notes everyone agrees to terms in hours instead of months, and then they stay current all the time with what they're working on." Although Olson admits some status-conscious executives resisted, the grass-roots movement of die-hard Notes fans was unstoppable and insatiable. Today, 1,000 Me) employees use Notes to access 400 applications on 3S servers; eventually, the company plans to provide Notes to all 30,000 of
its employees. "We're spreading it by sending current users to work with other units," says Olson. The more serious obstacles to groupware's flowering are limitations in the communication links among the many workstation nodes of existing enterprise networks. "Existing digital networks are designed to move packets of information in a sort of stop-and-go traffic pattern," explains Toby Trowt-Bayard, a network architect at Sequent Computer Systems, Beaverton, Oreg. "Computers don't mind choppy, erratic information, but the human eye and brain are annoyed by it." To take groupware to the level of what Trowt-Bayard terms "virtual travel to virtual meetings," you need isochronous communications: voices, images and data must be so smoothly synchronized that they seem to be sent and received instantaneously. The good news is that the standard for that kind of communication has arrived, and it goes by names like isochronous Ethernet and ATM (asynchronous transfer mode-no relation to automated teller machines). Systems analysts expect that within about three years, isochronous Ethemet and ATM networks will be sufficiently widespread to bring the full potential of video groupware to fruition. There is little reason to doubt that EDTand groupware are poised not only to explode but to converge.
ypermation, virtualizing and performance support-putting it all together is now the major task faced by management. But the voices from the cutting edge of the HL revolution warn that organizational traditions stand in the way. As Peter Drucker wrote two decades ago, shedding the past is a prerequisite of strategic management. Hypermation demands that management undo much of what is perceived as "business as usual," or at least stop trying to preserve what the accelerating wave of digital implosion insists on sweeping away. In fact, many of the boundaries upon which traditional business organizations are structured have become barriers to hypermation. The traditional boxes that crisply separated owners, managers and workers are fast becoming transparent and fuzzy. The HL loop also obliterates the economic value of academic expertise, making such expertise the property of systems and networks rather than individuals. In cyberspace, ideas and performance are judged on their merit, not on the status or credentials (or race, gender, creed, national origin) of their source, which mayor may not even be human. Consultant Gloria Gery, for one, cautions that "one of the most costly mistakes a business can make today is to confuse performance support with training or education." Hypermation will require that businesses shed their infatuation with the "right" diplomas from the "top" schools, concentrating instead on people's knowledge and skills, and on providing whatever support the employees need to improve their performance. No company has to adopt any HL technology or practices, but every business will have to meet the challenge presented by leading-edge companies that have. Desert Storm served as a graphic harbinger of the basic strategic options now faced by all modem businesses: hypermation or Saddamation. The choice is yours. !M!IJ
Lewis 1- Perelman is the author of School's Out (1992, William Morrow).
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