Published March 2000
It's 5 a.m. and I'm on the job, covering e-business from my dining room in Albuquerque, New Mexico. It's 7:00 in New York and the e-news is starting to break. I go to work barefoot, in my robe. My commute is 40 steps. Halfway to work I stop in the kitchen for a cup of French-roast joe.
Three minutes into my day I'm clicking, a sleepy bear with coffee-warm fingers. I scroll through the breaking stories and hyped-up press releases, projections of multi-billion dollar business-to-business e-deals as millions of Asians and Europeans cram into Yahoo! and hackers chip away at our cross-eyed stock confidence. Yet it's quiet here at the edge of the revolution.
I can hear the sound on new business chirping happily as IBM, Ariba and eCompanies nudge their hatchlings out of the incubators. I watch eBay desperately slug it out with imagined foes as though the hefty shadow boxing will keep real competition from stepping into the tort-infested ring. I turn on the CD player. The Branderburg Concertos ring out like a floury of cheerful birds encouraging the sunrise. Pause. Sip the joe. Here's a report from Forrester suggesting the procurement efficiencies of e-Chemicals and CheMatch.com will send thousands of chemical salesmen jobless to the brick streets.
My four-year-old daughter walks into the dining-room office asking for water.
"Sure, Connie, but wouldn't you rather have juice?"
"No, Dad, water." A pouty little puffy-eyed face, more asleep than awake.
"Is that Nutcracker, Dad?" she asks as I get her water.
"No, Babe, it's Bach, and you're going back to bed."
"But, Dad, I want to watch the Nutcracker."
Her sleepy protest is easily overcome. I sip some joe and take her back to her room. Tuck her in, kiss the baby cheek and back to the revolution.
E-marketplaces emerge daily from under the skin of vertical industries. CommerceOne, Moai Technologies, VerticalNet. The good-ole-boy networks are demolished without fanfare. E-communities deliver procurement savings that shoot like heavy gold to the bottom line of American bricks-come-click corporations. A nickel saved in spending is worth $1.20 in sales, and the nickels are stacking up in billion dollar windfalls, promising years of inflation-free expansion.
My cynicism evaporates as I watch the immovable rock of traditional business process crumble before the simple gleaming shortcut born from the steel of pure logic. In other words, the big corporations will ditch their sales teams and go straight to the e-commerce exchanges if it saves a cool $500 million. Anyway, they know their sales guys are making deals on the side. The straight digitized arrow of e-procurement wins out over the gnarled roots of corruptive good-boy deals. My, what a fine, fine day.
My fingers dance across the keyboard of a new century, but my homelife's gone primitive. My kids are in the bedroom like an ancient cave as father-bear sits barefoot by the door watching strange shadows flare across the wall. High tech, high touch, indeed. We're going backward and forward at the same time and I'm reeling from the joe.
Outside the window, the morning sun fires through the clouds over the Sandia mountains, a blend of sharp pink and burning-orange. I sip a deep swallow of joe and pause, amazed. The computer screen takes me deep into the brilliant upheavals of a business world gone giddy with renewal. The carcasses of dying beasts stagger exhausted to the edge of the e-highway while the hatchlings breathe new life into the ancient air. The Concerto No. 6 in B-Flat mixes with the chirps of waking birds. My, God, it's good to be alive.