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Are dotcoms now history part of the folklore and fable of business?
The middle of a year (well, it's near enough for me) is a good time to take stock of the good intentions from the start of the year. But that is personal! It's also a good time to take the temperature of the economy and of particular sectors and businesses. Whither (or should that be wither?) the dotcoms. What are the lessons to be learned?
Are dotcoms now history – part of the folklore and fable of business?
There is still a "connected economy" but it seems to be the good (?), old-fashioned, blue-chip companies that are reaping the harvest. What does this tell us? Well, perhaps it tells us that the public wants the brands it already trusts. The marketing folk have long insisted that branding is important – perhaps this shows they have been right all along. Or, of course, it might simply tell us that many of the new e-businesses were either based on an unsound business idea or have been poorly managed. Certainly there is some evidence that the latter is true – the tales of unbridled spending by some of the less mature (in all senses of the word) startups show that control and prudence are very important in the early stages.
As ever, the truth will lie somewhere within that triangle of reasons. For someone like me (conservative, cautious, systematic and methodical – no, honestly, I am) it is quite reassuring. It suggests that these businesses might have been better managed – and still in business – if the bright, young (for they often are) things that manage them could have had a good grounding in work study and O&M techniques. The systematic, methodological, questioning approach means that issues are always fully addressed. It is arguable that such a methodological approach inhibits creativity but that has not been my personal experience. Constantly striving to look for alternatives forces a degree of thought that is the essential underpinning of creativity.
The big boys, now taking their ground from under the dead and dying dotcoms, have already learned. They may, at times, be slower (which is why they have come to the party late) but they do think things through and apply "business rules" to their new ventures.
So, there is still time for the tortoise to overtake the hare. The Internet economy is growing, albeit slowly, but it is being built carefully by the masterbuilders of old.