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Customer-sensitive network technology needs ‘subjective quality’

by Hans J. Schmolke

For many digital products and services, network-based applications are a platform that unites users and their suppliers. The omnipresence of a network infrastructure will be a prerequisite for social and business integration in digital times, with the network itself playing a central role in providing services. Transit data between applications can be an important contextual aspect – only the network can provide that kind of information. Ultimately, I prefer to treat all digitized businesses as a network-based business because the network architecture is actually laying down the ground rules.

There is no doubt about the future of our networked society in terms of new applications. The demand will grow immensely as an increasing part of daily life flows through and across the net. A revolution within the revolution will arise with the integration of an avalanche of “things” that interact and communicate with their users through network services.

Technical challenges are growing parallel to this development. Network elements are covering more and more dimensions of functionality, and the progress of networks is a never-ending challenge for developers and operators alike. The network itself – the technical ecosystem that addresses these challenges – is so rich that it tends to overlap with the underlying economic cause.

Every single technology lives from the money that individual consumers spend on their results. However, there is a gap in thinking between technologies and those who pay for them. The network is technically defined by software developers and network managers, and these act primarily according to technically necessary measures. These technical measures are not transparent to the user (and why should they be?). For users, the experience of the quality of a network results from thousands of interactions in different scenarios of context and demand.

Closing this gap requires deliberate bridging of quality criteria, “objective” technical measures and “subjective” personal assessments. As difficult as it may be, it can prove rewarding, allowing for a new dimension of innovation in products and services. Anyone who accepts this challenge can reap the economic success with the end user, still the source of income for all kinds of industries.

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