From the Director

A Word from Our Executive Director

Well Done, UniForum Trinidad and Tobago!

The beautiful island nation of Trinidad and Tobago, located off the northeast coast of Venezuela, is a tropical paradise and a vibrant economic engine for the entire Caribbean basin. Trinidad's economic base--for years oil and now, more so, natural gas--has allowed it to develop a sophisticated computer infrastructure. With this growth have come the demands of users to understand how systems can be implemented more efficiently, with more power and function.

Taking a leadership role in providing solutions for both industry and users is UniForum Trinidad and Tobago, one of our 30 affiliates around the world. Its efforts have gone a long way toward enabling the islands to compete in the international arena.

UniForum Trinidad and Tobago, like all our affiliates, is in the business of education and training, and for the second year in a row honored us with an invitation to address its annual conference and trade show. I had the distinct pleasure of giving a keynote address at that event in June and participating in the excellent plenary discussions. My keynote topic--"Emerging Technologies"--and the plenary session on the Internet as the ultimate open system were emblematic of the grasp this small country has on the need for fast, reliable information systems. Indeed, the entire conference program, which was of outstanding quality from start to finish, focused to a great extent on how the applications of computer technologies and the Internet allow companies to become virtual traders in an instantaneous worldwide market.

I was impressed with what I saw and learned from the attendees and other speakers, as I was with the fine trade exhibits that were on display for the several hundred people who came through the hall. All in all, UniForum Trinidad and Tobago put on a world-class event that made a real difference in the education and careers of its membership.

In fact, its success holds this group up as a model for other user groups. It set and followed a conference theme that was presented in true tutorial fashion without commercial hyperbole; it presented thoughtful discussions that examined all sides of issues; and it also displayed a vendor showcase of pertinent, up-to-the-minute technologies from the leading companies in our industry. My thanks to my hosts there for providing me with the opportunity to speak and to learn.

The emerging communications technologies I spoke about in Port of Spain included, of course, the Internet, the World Wide Web and intranets--all technologies that are in place and functioning in Trinidad. These topics are, as well, the subjects of two of the tracks that will be presented at the UniForum '97 Conference next March. It is no coincidence that their importance and relevance are being discussed and explored in all corners of the world.

The impact these technologies are having on the way business is conducted internationally is profound, and their future impact is not known to anyone at this time. It is this sense of the unknown, coupled with the exhilaration of "full speed ahead" in all directions, that makes for such a dizzying ride. For UniForum overall, and for UniForum Trinidad and Tobago, the hope is that we can help provide the semblance of a roadmap, some encouragement and some truths to hold on to as this wild ride takes us all for a spin.

Richard H. Jaross is the executive director of the UniForum Association. He can be reached at