- Hardcover: 496 pages
- Publisher: Grand Central Publishing; First Edition edition (March 1, 1999)
- Language: English
- ISBN-10: 0446525685
- ISBN-13: 978-0446525688
- Product Dimensions: 6 x 1.2 x 9 inches
- Shipping Weight: 1.9 pounds (View shipping rates and policies)
- Average Customer Review: 3.9 out of 5 stars See all reviews (178 customer reviews)
- Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #437,314 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)
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Business @ the Speed of Thought: Succeeding in the Digital Economy Hardcover – March 24, 1999
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So where do you want to go tomorrow? That's the question Bill Gates tries to answer in Business @ the Speed of Thought. Gates offers a 12-step program for companies wanting to do business in the next millennium. The book's premise: Thanks to technology, the speed of business is accelerating at an ever-increasing rate, and to survive, it must develop an infrastructure--a "digital nervous system"--that allows for the unfettered movement of information inside a company. Gates writes that "The most meaningful way to differentiate your company from your competition ... is to do an outstanding job with information. How you gather, manage, and use information will determine whether you win or lose."
The book is peppered with examples of companies that have already successfully engineered information networks to manage inventory, sales, and customer relationships better. The examples run from Coca-Cola's ability to download sales data from vending machines to Microsoft's own internal practices, such as its reliance on e-mail for company-wide communication and the conversion of most paper processes to digital ones (an assertion that seems somewhat at odds with the now-infamous "by hand on sheets of paper" method of tracking profits that was revealed during Microsoft's antitrust trial).
While Gates breaks no new ground--dozens of authors have been writing about competing on a digital playing field for some time, among them Carl Shapiro and Hal Varian in Information Rules and Patricia Seybold in Customers.com--businesses that want a wakeup call may find this book a ringer. With excerpts in Time magazine, a dedicated Web site, and an all-out media assault, Microsoft is working hard to push Business @ the Speed of Thought into the national dialogue, and for many it will be difficult to see the book as anything but a finely tuned marketing campaign for the forthcoming versions of Windows NT and MS Office. Nevertheless, as Gates has shown time and time again, him, Microsoft, and perhaps even this book you may ignore at your own peril. --Harry C. Edwards
There's a companion Web site , and the back cover carries the message that Gates is donating his share of proceeds to charity. See also Clark's Netscape Time, p.1450. Bonnie Smothers
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Top Customer Reviews
The book is probably a 3.5 star read today as it is dated, however I uprated it because it is just amazing to see how close to the pin Bill Gates got. A good and interesting read for certain.
Bill Gates' focus in Business @ The Speed of Thought is teaching us how to build a "digital nervous system" -- a real-time and complete information flow. Gates is famous for valuing "information smarts," where the only statements allowed in a discussion are based on actionable facts; going-nowhere drivel has no place in Microsoft meetings, and now, at his Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation.
Here are Bill Gates' steps to building a digital nervous system, which is at the heart of the success of Microsoft and the Foundation:
1) Think hard and write down, What facts are actionable for my company?
2) What are questions to which the answers change my company's actions?
3) Build an information system that answers these questions.
4) If my current business information system does not answer these questions, build one that does.
The book in detail, always with data and examples to back each statement, goes into how to build this information system, and why. Each chapter ends with "Business Lessons" -- a summary of chapter key points -- and "Diagnosing Your Digital Nervous System" -- a set of questions for improving your information system. The "Diagnosing Your Digital Nervous System" questions alone are worth picking up the book.
I found the book dense with facts and examples (relevant at least as much now in 2013, if not more so, than when the book was written in 1998). I recommend you listen to the audiobook of Business @ The Speed of Thought to get through the content, and buy the hard copy, which is useful for referencing certain points, especially the diagnostic sections ending each chapter, and the appendix.
Don't pass up an opportunity to learn from someone who has achieved so much.
BRANDED BY HER: "A Scorned Woman is The Most Destructive of All Man Made Disasters."
If you're expecting any earth-shattering or even informative new developments, then you probably won't like this book. If you're interested in an overview of the basics or how companies have solved past problems, then I think this book is worth a look. I liked how examples ranging from McDonalds to Coca-Cola and from Boeing to Jiffy Lube were used to demonstrate how the same concepts can be applied to every kind of business. Some have wondered whether or not Chairman Bill used ghostwriters. It's possible because he did have people help with research, so it would not be surprising if people also helped him with writing. Either way, I enjoyed this book and definitely recommend it.