It's a proven fact that the progress of a nation, usually follows the progress of its roads and highways. Take Europe and the United States of America for example... they developed and gained from superhighways long before most parts of the world. And on the other side of the globe today, the Golden Quadrilateral Highway Project of the Indian government is changing the economic landscape and influencing the distribution of industries in India.
As we all know, highways and roads facilitate free-flowing movement and spread of people, goods, even mindsets - hence decantralises national/state economies from the conventional ports and capitals to inner counties and rural areas. And on this rides the spread/growth of knowledge, entertainment, lifestyles, and this raises the overall standard of awareness and living.
Good Highways and Roads are not only good for companies, but also their customers.
Likewise you'll find the information superhighway, a.k.a the Internet, with its bits and bytes is taking on the role once monopolised by concrete and cement.
Here's a quick overview as I see it:
1. Highways open up roads to previously unheard of places. The internet allows you access to companies and consumers you'd probably not meet even with 6 degrees of separation.
2. The spread of higways allows companies to design and develop new manufacturing, distribution, and sales maps. Likewise the spread of the internet allows you to source new material, knowledge, partners and consumers, anywhere in the world!
3. Highways have both drivers and passengers. Likewise, the internet has those driving, and those who just go with the flow.
I think you now get the idea (that is if you didn't already know this).
So what are the golden rules, to keep in mind when using the new information superhighway? Or how can companies/brands maximise the potential of the internet?
1. Know the layout and plans: Understand the internet: its users, its technologies, its growth, its spread.
2. Define your destination: Where do you want to go? Define your goals, define what you want to achieve: research your consumers? open a new line of sale? just promote sales? know the competition? find/solicit partners? Manage reputation? What?
3. Know the risks of highway travel: Is your car/company ready for it? Are you fit for the drive/do you have a good driver? Have you done your homework on the terrain - is it a desert, forest, mountains, what?
4. Identify the other travellers: What is their agenda? Where are they going? What is their mood? Is the highway friendly or hostile towards you?
5. Identify the pit stops and the highway patrols: In case of trouble, do you have a plan A and plan B? Do you know what evasive/engaging actions you can take?
Net-net (pun intended) the new information superhighways are just like the highways of old. They're all over the place, and going through all kinds of terrain. They're full of all kinds of people, with all kinds of agendas. Some are your friends, some enemies, but the most are unknown players.
To sum up this little intellectual journey:
1. If you want your company to grow, you cannot afford to sit at home.
2. If you're stepping out onto the information superhighway (the internet), it's better to be a driver in control, than a passenger who is swept along wherever the others are going.
3. If you are going to drive within the internet, you better learn to drive as well as, if not better than the other guy.