Interesting week ahead with representatives from a group of non-tech organisations head quartered throughout the Asia Pacific region. The last time we spent time together was back in May 2000. I was brought in to facilitate a ‘where are things going in tech’ week long retreat. This talented and passionate group of people were extremely knowledgeable about their respective industries. However what impressed me most was their awareness of the impact the Internet was going to have on each of their business models as they entered the digital age. Relative to their peers throughout Europe and the US at the time they were ahead of the curve in openly collaborating to do so.
Conversations centered on a virtual storage solution provider called MySpace, a relatively unknown but recent Webby and Peoples Choice Awards winner for Best Technical Achievement called Google, Suns early access program for its StarPortal initiative, an ASP called cMeRun, the potential impact of Amazon and Ebay on the retailing environment and whether Apple, Microsoft and Sony would successfully make the transition from a products, to a products and services, to a life services driven organisation. At the time some commentators were drinking the ASP kool aid with abandon while others were obsessed with the platform wars and who was going to dominate the desktop.
Years on it is interesting to look back and reflect on the conversations which shaped the assumptions, predictions and actual outcomes. Listening to some present day commentators it would appear that Apple executed the right strategy well, Microsoft executed the wrong strategy well and Sony executed the wrong strategy badly. Regardless of whether one agrees or disagrees with the commentators our present day environment differs substantially from May 2000.
Firstly the Internet has arrived and is having a daily impact on all business models regardless of sector or geographic location. Secondly it is possible to directly and openly interact in real time not only with the producers who are providing products and services around the Internet but also with their end users thanks to the read/write web. Thirdly these producers are no longer exclusively working with established publically listed organisations but are just as likely to be working with a startup with fewer than 10 people. Lastly unlike our last meetup none of the participants will have to travel this week thanks to advances in VoIP. Interesting times indeed.