In 1999, Google was just months old. So was pets.com, which was also a year away from going defunct as a result of the dot-com bubble bust. People still booked travel arrangements over the phone, and they connected to the internet using dial-up modems.
That same year, Microsoft founder Bill Gates wrote Business @ the Speed of Thought, a book that, from the vantage point of 2015, offered astonishingly accurate predictions about the way the internet would change business.
In a new post on his blog, Markus Kirjonen, a business student at Aalto University in Finland, listed some of Gates’s most impressive forecasts. Here are a few:
Gates compared the commercialization of the internet to the introduction of electricity. When electricity was first brought into the home, it was intended to power light bulbs, Gates said.
But before long, others saw new opportunities to utilize the infrastructure, which paved the way for the invention of refrigerators, air conditioners, and televisions. Gates saw the internet as similarly fertile ground.
The book also highlights many internet uses that have yet to be realized–a.k.a., big business opportunities for today’s startups. So what areas of business haven’t yet been developed to their full potential, according to pre-Y2K Gates?
He identified four major categories that are critical for optimizing business: planning, customer service, training, and teamwork. Kirjonen argues that Slack, creator of a communication platform, is the dominant startup in the “teamwork” category.
But he says that the other three areas are missing major players. In other words, that’s where new startups might want to consider concentrating their focus.
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