We are witnessing the incredibly fast-paced Internet and e-commerce market place maturing and thriving. Peter Drucker believes ecommerce will be to the Information Revolution what the railroads were to the Industrial Revolution. To oversimplify, the Industrial Revolution was a time in which tools were produced that replaced people in the manufacture of goods. In the first thirty years, all was devoted to producing known products with machines.
While there were drastic social changes with the massive shift from rural to urban living, there was little change in the products produced and purchased. They only became more readily available at ever more modest cost.
Only later did the Industrial Revolution produce something new - the railroads. For the first time in history, people could readily move great distances inexpensively. (Hauling freight came much later.) Railroads brought a thirty year boom inEurope, and an even longer one in the United States. While manyother parts of the world got started somewhat later, the boom did not end for them until the outbreak of World War I.
What Will Arise From The Information Revolution? The parallels between the Industrial and Information Revolutions are astonishing. Thus far computers, the Web, and information technology have created nothing dramatically new. They have merely changed the ways in which information is gathered, managed and reported. And to some extent, the way in which consumers purchase goods.
Computers themselves have changed the way in which products are manufactured, including their design. And a few new spin offs have come to the fore. But there has not been anything revolutionary in any of this. Nothing yet has had the impact of railroads on the whole of the social fabric.
If Drucker is correct, ecommerce will have an impact equivalent to that of the railroads earlier. Thus far the Web has produced less change in the way business is done than ore cars running on steel rails effected mining. In short, the real drama and excitement is yet to be revealed.