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Using a Digital Nervous System
About Bill Gates
Bill Gates is one of those people who need no introduction whatsoever. Few common nouns would do: entrepreneur, investor, computer geek, business magnate, author, philanthropist. He’s also the founder and CEO of Microsoft Corporation. And yes: one of the richest men in history.
“Business @ the Speed of Thought Summary”
Now, let’s get one thing straight from the outset: “Business @ the Speed of Thought” will probably not live up to your expectations.
And It’s not that some of its information it’s outdated; in fact, that may be the more interesting aspect of it. It’s simply that it’s too long (more than 400 pages) for its own sake. And, yes – sometimes it reads as if a Microsoft commercial.
(Unfortunately, without the subtlety of David Ogilvy’s confessions.)
So, to understand the better side of it, it may be a good thing to have in mind that it was published in 1999. And that many of the things it states, even though taken almost axiomatically as true nowadays, were somewhat prophetic two decades ago.
Which brings us to the main premise of “Business @ the Speed of Thought.” Namely, that businesses which resist integrating technology into their core operations will lose the race to their competitors. Of course, everybody knows this nowadays, but not everybody was so certain back in the days of Windows 98!
So, Gates goes on to explain how a company can profit from streamlining its processes by using the right computer software. (That is, you know, Windows – cough, cough – or Microsoft Office – cough, cough…)
And he’s – not so surprisingly – well ahead of his time. (That’s how he made his fortune, after all). Gates is adamant that the human brain is incapable of collecting, storing, and using information the same way a computer can. And he goes on a tour of the best ways you can make your company more efficient.
The paramount: the advent of the then still-young Internet!
Because if computers can build the digital nervous system of your company, the Internet can connect it to other companies’ digital nervous systems.
And there it is: one giant virtual mind, organizing each and every process on the planet. Gates is certain that people will start using it to learn, to buy and sell stuff, to contact each other. He even says that in the future, people may own small wireless devices helping them do these things on the go.
And lo and behold – the man was right! The second wave of the digital revolution predicted from start to finish by the man who actually made it happen!
And he has even hinted about things that are yet to come.
Internet of Things, anybody?
Key Lessons from “Business @ the Speed of Thought”
1. Technology Is for Everybody
2. The Lifestyle of the Future: Web Lifestyle
3. Bill Gates Is a Computer Wizard
Technology Is for Everybody
Now, bear in mind that “Business @ the Speed of Thought” was written at a time when not many people owned PCs, let alone knew how to use the 32 Kbit/s dial-up Internet. Yet, that didn’t stop Bill Gates from being sure that in the future, everyone will own a PC. And almost everyone will know how to use it.
The Lifestyle of the Future: Web Lifestyle
And Gates is just as much certain in his next prophecy: that the future is Internet-based. Internet, he says, will make it possible for people to perform online transactions; it will also make possible for them to contact each other in a quite easy and simple manner. The commercial and the social effects the Internet will have on our society, he concludes, are hard to imagine!
Bill Gates Is a Computer Wizard
And yet – he imagines them surprisingly accurately. In fact, the main takeaway from this book is probably the title of this key lesson: Bill Gates is a genius. He envisioned the future we are living in 2018 back in 1998. So, next time you hear him talk about upcoming events, take notice.
Because, if history teaches us anything, it’s that he’ll probably be right!
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