What questions should leaders in business be asking about how the
Internet and its related technologies will affect them and their companies
in the future?
The International Forum in San Francisco and the Silicon Valley is
about the strategic implications of the Internet for business and for the
societies in which they operate. Participants will examine the concept of
their own business and its value proposition in the context of the changes
taking place. They will explore ways of redefining their business in which
the Internet is "always on" while simultaneously considering the
changing role and demands of their stakeholders, the role of governments
and non government organizations as they together define new patterns and
roles for players in the Internet Era.
The Forum begins with a historical perspective on technological changes
that facilitated the creation of great wealth and new means of creating
commerce. Where have we been and where we are going? What are the enablers
and constraints on future transition and transformations? Participants
meet with leaders of companies who have reinvented businesses because of
the Internet and information and learn from their experiences.
Understanding the "ecosystem" in which the Internet itself
exists is part of the process of rethinking what the business will be in
the future. Seeing how the Internet may affect the company from the
outside means understanding how its customers, suppliers, distributors,
employees, competitors, partners and communities will themselves be
affected by the Internet. What important changes in patterns of behavior
are likely to affect the products and services of the business and how it
is to be organized in the future?
Forum travels from San Francisco, with its own history of gold rushes,
wealth creation, social activism, creativity and innovation to Silicon
Valley where participants visit a wide selection of enterprises that have
produced a steady stream of innovations and new ideas. As they encounter
different situations and experiences, participants will draw their
conclusions on the reasons why the Silicon Valley environment continues to
produce new technologies—ownership, venture capital, financial fortune,
self-fulfillment, invention, creativity, making a difference—all part of
a complex system that produces results.
By special arrangement, the Forum will spend time at the NASA Ames
Research Center to understand the special relationship that this large and
somewhat bureaucratic resource of NASA has with the commercial
technologies of Silicon Valley. The creative management style and
remarkable achievements of the Ames Research Center provide powerful
lessons in leadership and organization.
The Valley is not without its own kind of problems—similar in many
respects to those at the time of the California Gold Rush more than a
century ago. The quality of life, the value systems, the pace of change
and the pressures of watching things go up and down produce a contrast to
the remarkable productivity that the people in these creative
organizations can achieve.
The Forum takes a global perspective on how the Internet is driving
change. The experiences of Asia and Europe are brought to the Forum by
those who are actively involved in China and Southeast Asia, Japan and
Europe. As a global phenomenon, the Internet affects everyone, but there
are important differences in the way companies and industries are using
these new technologies and the degree to which customers, producers and
societies are adopting it.