I just landed in Dubai en-route from New York City to Chennai. I flew one of Emirates Airlines A 380 flights. Emirates has recently rolled out On Air Wi Fi services in its A-380 Flights, and I tried out one this time. The total flight time was around 12.5 hours from JFK to DXB and while I was not in the highest of energy levels, the concept of being connected from the sky was appealing and it was not something I was going to pass over.

The signup process was seamless. I turned on WiFi on my Galaxy SII, it detected the On Air hotspot, and connected. I launched a web browser, chose a username/password for the session, chose the package, provided my credit card details and once authorized I was on. The whole signup process seems to be carried out with a web-server that is placed in-flight, so the interaction speeds were really good. Even the authorization did not take much time … I saw that On Air had just run a $1 charge on my credit card to verify that I have a valid card. There were two packages .. I picked up the one for $15 for 30 MB of data and chose to cut out access when I utilized my data quota.

Most interesting to me was what I did immediately after finishing this. I launched Facebook, did a status update with a photo (low-res …. remember the cost of data here! – https://www.facebook.com/photo.php?fbid=3088528206860&set=p.3088528206860&type=1&theater) of me in the flight. I checked my company social network, and then my email. So, the urge was to get onto the social network and update/get updates, and that is the significant fact I learnt from this whole thing. Social Networks have become the hubs where we connect to the moment we have connectivity. I see a future in which inflight services are enhanced by additional services around social networks. KLM has already started trialling Social Seating, and I am sure this inflight time can fit into specific work patterns for people who are interested in more enterprise applications.

When it comes to communications, are we seeing a parallel to business planning? There is a popular approach adopted by a few prominent companies … which declared that in planning the “middle” is dead. They have a 10 year plan and a 1 week plan … but started de-emphasizing 1-2 year plans. In today’s globalized world, I see a lot of cross-country travel to get in front of the other party to collaborate closely. And I see multiple transient interactions over the social network. The “middle” like formal status calls are changing a bit, and getting subsumed by the constant stream of social updates using modern technology. What do you see happening in your world?