The phenomenal growth of the Internet is a problem for everybody. Software and hardware go out of date in next to no time. The browser you installed six months ago is already several revisions behind the times.
But if it's a problem for end users it's a much bigger one for businesses.
For companies, particularly large ones, it's a bit like setting off towards the high jump only to find the bar's been moved up another six inches in the time it took you to reach it.
Large companies are used to mulling over their information technology decisions for months or even years. Do that with the Internet and you'll not only have made the wrong decision, you'll have missed an opportunity.
Our Executive Class feature explains many of the problems businesses are facing in developing an Internet strategy.
Yet the Internet remains a brilliant opportunity for small, agile companies to jump in and exploit the technology. The many Web design companies springing up are a good example. Although the days of the one-man Web weaver came and went a year or so ago it's still possible for a small team - a programmer, a graphic designer and a copywriter/editor - to produce Web sites which are every bit as good, and often better than, the ones large corporations can manage. Interbeer, our Site of the Month is a good example.
With Internet service providers or ISPs it's a different story. Most observers are predicting a rapid consolidation of ISPs from the current 200 plus to perhaps a couple of dozen major players.
For small ISPs to survive they will need to specialise. There's little point in a small company trying to compete with the marketing muscle of an AOL, but there are still opportunities for companies that target the more specialised business market and offer leased lines or ISDN access.
But perhaps the biggest Internet opportunity in the next 18 months is in intranets. A recent IDC report shows that the return on investment in an intranet is consistently more than 1,000 per cent. Implementing an intranet is as near to a no-brainer as you're ever likely to get in the ever-changing world of the Internet. Our Inside Track feature explains just how to do it.
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