We know infrastructure from such basic things as gas, water and electricity. They have always been there and they are so basic that you do not know what to do when it is not there. A day without electricity during a hot summer can give a real problem. Internet is also part of infrastructural support. One important characteristic of infrastructure is that it serves a group of people in the same way. It comes with a standard. The water you tap from your home is of the same quality as the water you will find in a restaurant. But the level of an infrastructure could vary from one supplier to the other and according to the service level you have contracted it.
Internet is again a good example. The penetration of internet is very high in most countries, but the quality if the connection shows also a high variety; from a simple modem connections to a high-speed broadband connection. Without digging in to theoretical foundations we can easily see that a high-speed connection will increase our productivity - if all other aspects are left the same; you have to wait less and you are able to access more functionality (video, news) etc. that was otherwise out of your scope.
For the content part, internet has also increased our productivity. We are able to reserve online, we can lookup a roadmap, we can exercise an online assessment without leaving your desk, and the main search function served for general inquiries that you need for your work. Internet also brought new productivity issues - people that are surfing for fun without a real purpose but this is something you can handle at the organizational level.
The point is that internet the infrastructure has changed our lives, only by providing support. All those extra functions are possible because of the “availability" of the service.
Just try one day at the office without Internet and see what work you can do. Experience the impact on your productivity level. Internet is an enabler of a higher productivity, but at the same moment, when the service fails, your business is also more vulnerable. It serves everyone and it may hurt the whole organization.
And this is only internet. Infrastructure is more than only internet. How about other infrastructural supplies? Office-ware for example.
© 2006 Hans Bool
Hans Bool is the founder of Astor White a traditional management consulting company that offers online management tools. Have a look at some of our free management tools