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E-Xploring The E-Conomy - I

September 24

This is the first part of a multi-part article

I am putting together a number of thoughts that pertain to survival and success in the new economy. It is an exploration of what has become known as the new economy. It is based upon my work with companies that are pushing the envelope in pursuit of new frontiers, my own efforts to keep my company safe from death, and of course, the marvelous musings of thinkers and chatters on Internet message boards from all over the world, who are too numerous to list here.

These thoughts will appear as a series of articles in this column over the next several weeks. They deal with the impact of e-commerce, m-commerce, the new economy, how old economy companies are reinventing themselves, and how even new economy companies are reinventing themselves. They also deal with how individuals are retooling their own thinking, and in the process, rendering past practices not only irrelevant, but downright suicidal.

The structure of this compilation is as follows: I will introduce a number of concepts at the outset. Each concept will contain a brief description. Once all concepts have been introduced, I will go into the details of each concept. Naturally, with the speed of change around us, I am willing to bet a hundred bucks now that I will have to add to more concepts as I go along. I hope some of my readers will profit from these thoughts.

The Internet is a real play that is continually redefining markets and creating entirely new methods of wealth creation. For one thing, it was never easier to translate dreams into realities. As Gary Hamel reminds us, never before was the gap between dreams and reality narrower. Any one who dares to dream has a better chance than ever before to convert the dream into possibility. THIS IS THE AGE OF POSSIBILITY.

Concept #1 : Dare To Dream And Do

The dawn of the twenty-first century is fueled by innovation and aided by technology. True, technology makes that which was impossible yesterday possible today. But the real revolution is being hatched in the brains of those who dare to think beyond the narrow confines of yesterday or just today. Never before did entrepreneurs have it this good. Listen to the new economy's venerable sage, Vinod Khosla: "Just as oil fueled the old industrial economy, bandwidth will fuel the new knowledge economy". How I wish the top brass from countries supporting monopolist ISPs and telecom. providers care to listen to this!

Take stock of yourself. Go and have some real good [and scary] dreams. What are you dreaming about? How do those dreams look like? Are they timid and tepid? You are wasting your time. You need to be able to dare to dream about things and situations that will make you wake up in a cold sweat, scared witless, wondering if a battering ram just hit your broadsides.

And then you must be crazy enough to try out your dreams. It's a bit like being in love with someone you are not supposed to be in love with! You have to give up your thoughts of what is accepted thinking and what isn't. If you don't, let me tell you, a thousand others are, and they will bring to market a slew of products and services that will blow your boat off the water.

Concept #2 : Know That Time Has Shrunk

Ten years ago, you had the luxury of thinking carefully, cautiously, and calculatedly. Imagine yourself as a very capable aircraft pilot, who flew big birds and landed them on long runways. Now, you have to drop your bird on a runway that is a hundredth of the length you were used to. And, hello! The plane just got hundred times bigger! She also travels three times faster!!

I am exaggerating, right? Wrong. Consider these facts: By the time Motorola decides what to do with digital wireless technology, upstart Nokia moves at lightning speed and grabs market share in wireless telephony. By the time Toys "R" Us decides what eToys is all about, the market capitalization of eToys goes past that of the venerable brick and mortar toy retailer.

Do you think Amazon has a few weeks to consider what to do with the alliance between barnesandnoble.com and Yahoo!? Come again. Jeff Bezos has no more than a few hours to decide what to do.

Concept #3 : Know That The Scale Of Everything Has Changed

Just imagine this utterly probable scenario: we use thermometers to measure temperatures. These thermometers are graduated from minus 100 degrees to plus 150 degrees Celsius. Now, imagine that thanks to global warming, the depletion of the ozone layer, too many humans inhaling oxygen and exhaling carbon dioxide, two many vehicles puffing deadly carbon monoxide, too few trees taking in the monoxide to convert into oxygen, and temperatures begin to swing between minus 300 and plus 300. How useful are the billions of wonderful thermometers strewn all over the world? Not only are they useless, when the temperature is hovering around minus hundred and plus hundred and fifty [at the fringes of the extremities of what the wretched instruments can currently measure], we would puff and pant, but be blissfully unaware of the real trouble ahead.

Your plane can reach altitudes of forty five thousand feet. The cockpit altimeter measures up until fifty thousand feet. How useful is that altimeter when you are flying at a hundred thousand feet? I don't know about you, but I wouldn't like to fly that bird - not for all the riches on this earth. That would be suicidal.

And that is the scenario as far as business is concerned. The traditional measures of wealth creation that corporations use today were developed when Frederick Winslow Taylor's thinking held sway. When the scale of economic development and wealth creation change, know that you must change the measures as well. How do you think AOL bought Time Warner?

To be continued...

Sam Swaminathan



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