The Real Internet Revolution

Business Week has an article by Christopher Kenton:

Now that Internet hype and disaster have long since faded from the headlines, it’s interesting to watch the pattern of businesses making a play for the Web. You probably won’t see it on the cover of Fortune or Business 2.0, but there’s a surprisingly consistent profile of small businesses that are quietly picking up the pieces of the dot-com wreck. They’re not venture-backed technology firms or Global 2000 incubator projects, and they’re not eBay-style (EBAY ) entrepreneurs turning their living rooms into warehouses. These are small companies that have been around for a long time with steady sources of revenue. They didn’t make big investments during the Internet boom-and-bomb, but suddenly, they’re responding to an opportunity — and a need — to bring their businesses into the Internet Age. And their successes are built directly on the failures of the dotcoms.

Now, small businesses are benefiting from [the] lessons underwritten by the great VC bubble — not only by way of abstract business concepts, but in scooping up talented veterans who understand the pace and process of new ventures. For now, the bootstrapped businesses I’m seeing are making tentative grabs at the low-hanging fruit. They’re investing in their public Web sites — remarkably cheap these days — and in Internet marketing. They’re exploring simple programs to automate key bottlenecks in supply chains, sales channels, and customer support. They’re investing modestly in the technology infrastructure of their business offices. It’s not a transformation happening in what we used to know as “Internet time”, but that may be one of the fundamental lessons from this phase of the evolutionary cycle: Not every step is a revolution.

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