Ron Harris deserves the jackpot he hit this week when he sold his company to Coles Myer.
For as much as we are bombarded with messages about how the Internet is going to revolutionise business, it still took plenty of courage and vision to re-engineer his business and charge into what were largely uncharted and supposedly loss-making waters.
Every single business needs to go through the same re-engineering process that Harris went through. Every single business needs to sit down and seriously think about how the Internet is going to affect its business and examine what opportunities and threats it presents.
And if you haven't done it already, you need to do it today. In fact, even if you have already done, do it again.
I think most resellers would agree that the Internet is going to be revolutionary. But having listened to Ira Magaziner, who up until December last year was Bill Clinton's senior advisor on electronic commerce and the "digital economy", I also think most resellers underestimate exactly how revolutionary the Internet will be.
After all, ARN has reported a number of times on research which has indicated that resellers have not exactly rushed en masse to catch the e-commerce ship.
It's quite amazing to hear Magaziner talk about how committed the US Government is to ensuring that the Internet and e-commerce grow and prosper. And why wouldn't it be? Magaziner said that over the last four years, 40 per cent of the growth in the US economy has come out of the physical building of the Internet. Magaziner uses the word "revolution" frequently when referring to the Internet. He compares the Internet revolution with the industrial revolution, and talks of the incredible opportunity the people of today have.
"Revolutions like these come along only every couple of hundred years," he said.
If you believe Magaziner, the Internet is an opportunity like no other we will ever see in our lifetime.
Australia cashing in
While the US is riding a wave of prosperity driven by the Internet, Magaziner is also very upbeat about the chances of Australia cashing in on the revolution as well. A strong acceptance and use of the Internet makes it natural for Australian companies to launch onto the Web. That presents a great opportunity for Australian IT companies to build strong businesses around delivering the Internet applications driving those Web sites.
The trick is, according to Magaziner, to not just think of this opportunity as a local one. Think global and push the applications you have developed for local customers onto the world stage.
The fact that Asia, for example, has been slow to develop as an Internet force means there is a massive opportunity for Australian Web and Internet developers to go into that market.
Most Australian resellers and integrators are recognising that services are everything. Most recognise the importance of the Internet. Put the two together. If you aren't offering Internet services like Web development you really are missing an opportunity. And remember, it's an opportunity, which according to Magaziner, is only going to come along once in a lifetime.