Sandra Morris, vice president and chief information officer of Intel Corporation, gave a keynote speech at the Oracle Open World 2002 in Copenhagen, Denmark, where she put the dot-com bust into perspective by reading an interesting story.
The economy is stuck in the doldrums thanks largely to the broken promises of technology. Dazzled by seemingly limitless returns, bankers had funded hundreds of companies all going after the same dubious markets.
Heedless, individual investors clamored to get into the stock market, driving stock prices to unheard of levels. Sound familiar yet? Soon, the overheated market crashed, turning the new heroes of business into goats and scoundrels. Now disillusionment reigns and nobody knows what’s going to happen next.
The year — 1850. The technology — the steam locomotive. The country — England.
Morris goes on to say that “Those goats and scoundrels of England, right? The parallels with the Internet are very strong. Railway mania is what this period of time is called. Hundreds of companies collapsed, tens of thousands of investors lost their money. But what happened after that breakdown was phenomenal growth for the next hundred years in the railway industry in Great Britain.”
The feeding frenzy surrounding e-commerce may be new to this generation, but the same patterns of behavior occurred in the development of earlier technologies, including the steam engine, telegraphy, automobiles, airplanes, and radio. Similar to those culture-changing technologies, many lessons were learned during the e-commerce gold rush. Sure, we lost our way a bit, too many thought everything “e” was a magic bullet. But the technology that fueled that initial Internet bubble is what fuels the successful businesses of today. So, in the long term, e-commerce changed how business is conducted — and it is here to stay.