Peter Drucker believes ecommerce will be to the InformationRevolution what the railroads were to the Industrial Revolution.* To oversimplify, the Industrial Revolution was a time in whichtools were produced that replaced people in the manufacture ofgoods. In the first thirty years, all was devoted to producingknown products with machines.

Peter Drucker believes ecommerce will be to the InformationRevolution what the railroads were to the Industrial Revolution.* To oversimplify, the Industrial Revolution was a time in whichtools were produced that replaced people in the manufacture ofgoods. In the first thirty years, all was devoted to producingknown products with machines.

While there were drastic social changes with the massiveshift from rural to urban living, there was little change in theproducts produced and purchased. They only became more readilyavailable at ever more modest cost.

Only later did the Industrial Revolution produce somethingnew – the railroads. For the first time in history, people couldreadily move great distances inexpensively. (Hauling freightcame much later.) Railroads brought a thirty year boom inEurope, and an even longer one in the United States. While manyother parts of the world got started somewhat later, the boom didnot end for them until the outbreak of World War I.

What Will Arise From The Information Revolution?

The parallels between the Industrial and InformationRevolutions are astonishing. Thus far computers, the Web, andinformation technology have created nothing dramatically new. They have merely changed the ways in which information isgathered, managed and reported. And to some extent, the way inwhich consumers purchase goods.

Computers themselves have changed the way in which productsare manufactured, including their design. And a few new spinoffshave come to the fore. But there has not been anythingrevolutionary in any of this. Nothing yet has had the impact ofrailroads on the whole of the social fabric.

If Drucker is correct, ecommerce will have an impactequivalent to that of the railroads earlier. Thus far the Webhas produced less change in the way business is done than orecars running on steel rails effected mining. In short, the realdrama and excitement is yet to be revealed.

Given easy access to the Web, you and I have been invited tojoin in. For myself, I don’t want to miss a beat.

A Radical Shift Is Upon Us

There appears to be an awesome and exciting shift emerging inthe way business is done. There are those who feel that if it’sgood for business, it’s good. Period. I hold a different view:If it’s not good for people, it’s not good.

Many with a business orientation are likely to abandon mythinking here. Those convinced people are sheep born to beshorn certainly will. But whatever your view, enormous changesin the way in which business is done are rushing down upon us. Companies who do not embrace them, will be swept away intohistory.

What Will Customer Service Come To Mean?

For example, automated telephone systems and elevator musicwill fade away, as will the companies that cling to suchbarriers. People will not be content much longer, with clutchinga phone to their ear, trying to accomplish some other task, whilewaiting for the answer they need right now.

“The customer comes first” will remain the driving forcebehind all successful businesses. Today, such phrases mumbled byall are generally mere tokenism. Tomorrow they will come to havean entirely new meaning.

Contemporary companies provide such services at theirconvenience. The endless round of voice mail and recordings in which busy people respond only to leave yet another messagewill come to a screeching halt. Successful companies will provide support when a customer requests it. And they willdo so quickly.

Conglomerates May Become Extinct

People have had enough of businesses concerned about theirbottom line. They are becoming increasingly concerned abouttheir own needs. They are even now turning away from those whofail to recognize this. Business success in the future willdepend heavily upon effective customer support providedimmediately upon request.

Conglomerates may be dinosaurs, so huge, so driven by theirown inertia, they will disintegrate back into the smaller partsfrom which they were created. Such companies talk of customerrelationships, but often do all possible to avoid any semblanceof one-on-one customer support. Smaller firms can be responsive. Those who are, will outperform those who are not.

I am excited about the future for Cyberpreneurs. They willunderstand they need their customers more than the customer needsthem. Untroubled by the constraints of contemporary businesspractices, they will see responsiveness to customers as anessential fundamental of their business. This characteristic ofitself will give them a competitive edge over large businessesthat do not.

The Future Is Yours For The Taking

One by one, creative people will consider ways in whichconglomerates produce and deliver products. They will thendiscover a way in which they can do so more effectively. Themuch larger company will hardly be aware of the tiny loss inrevenue. But given many such losses, the bottom line will beginto erode.

Completely new business models will emerge. They will seemso right, so perfectly attuned to both the needs of businessesand consumers, we will wonder why they did not appear muchsooner.

There will be a return to a “Rural,” rather than an “Urban,”pattern of living, one independent of where you choose to live. In this “reversal,” there will be a return to individuals beingvalued. Once again, as was so prior to the IndustrialRevolution, people will be both producer and consumer, making a significant contribution in both roles.

The Real “New World”

I continue to hear the Web is not real. That it is nothingmore than herds of impulses stampeding about on copper or opticalcables. What is reality? I will leave this to the philosophers. But there is no question in my mind; the Web is real. A newreality, at that.

You can feel the awesome power and unlimited resourcessurging from the collective dynamic of millions and millions of people the world over. People who are real. Our interactionwith each other is real, and now unlimited by nationalboundaries. The Web itself is but a tool. Not unlike thetelephone, but magnitudes more powerful. It facilitates theability to interrelate, to communicate one-on-one. And we willdo so in ways not yet imagined.

Welcome to today’s “New World.”

(Taken from “Your Path To Success” to be released in September, 2001)__________________*”Beyond the Information Revolution” by Peter F. Drucker, “TheAtlantic Monthly,” Oct 1999Psychology Articles, p47-57.

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