Story Filed: Wednesday, March 24, 1999 9:04 AM EST

Business @ the Speed of Thought Examines How Businesses Must Adapt

                  to Succeed in the Digital Economy

NEW YORK, March 24 /PRNewswire/ -- Today, Warner Books publishes "Business @ the Speed of Thought" by Bill Gates, chairman and CEO of Microsoft, a milestone examination of how technology is rapidly reshaping business -- and society along with it.

"Business is going to change more in the next ten years than it has in the last fifty," Gates states in the book's introduction. The convergence of digital technologies -- PCs, e-mail, the Internet and new personal digital devices -- is already bringing about fundamental, irreversible change. New digital tools are being adopted more rapidly than the technologies that reshaped the 20th century -- television, telephones or even electricity. This accelerated pace of change requires businesses to adapt and act now.

"I wrote 'Business @ the Speed of Thought' because technology is changing everything," Gates said. "I wanted to give business people and other organizational leaders a roadmap that shows how they can take advantage of the incredible opportunities of the digital age."

At the heart of the new economy, Gates says, is a new way of doing business, using fast, accurate information to plan the right product, deliver unparalleled customer service, empower workers and react to changes in the marketplace. "How you use information will determine whether your business thrives or fails," he says.

    Twelve Steps to Digital Success

"The successful companies of the next decade," Gates writes, "will be the ones that use digital tools to reinvent the way they work." A central theme is the empowerment of people, from lower-level employees who can use information to lift the nature and quality of their work, to the CEO, who can use better information to drive the company's strategic direction. Gates outlines twelve steps that businesses should take to make certain they're getting the most out of their technology investments to get smarter workers, more effective overall corporate performance, and more satisfied customers.

1. Integrate e-mail into your organization so that you can act on news

        with reflex-like speed.

    2.  Use digital tools to get information out to everyone, to analyze 

        important business data, and to share insights.

    3.  Automate routine tasks so workers are free to think. 

    4.  Use technology to create virtual teams.
    5.  Replace paper forms with efficient on-line forms.

6. Use digital tools to replace one-task jobs with jobs that add value. 7. Use digital tools to get feedback on products fast, and use the

        feedback to improve quality faster.

8. Use technology to redefine your business and expand your boundaries. 9. Use technology to deliver new kinds of customer service. 10. Trade information for time, becoming a just-in-time operation. 11. Eliminate the middleman and deal directly with customers. If you are

        a middleman, use the technology to add value.

12. Let customers solve their own problems using new technology.

"The typical company has made 80 percent of the investment in the technology that can give it a healthy flow of information, yet is typically getting only 20 percent of the benefits that are now possible, " Gates notes. Success, Gates says, requires a company to build a digital nervous system, which he describes as the organizational equivalent of the human nervous system, "providing a well-integrated flow of information to the right part of the organization at the right time."

    Gates Offers Unique Perspective

"This book is for anyone interested in how the digital age will change commerce, work, government service, education and everyday life," says Laurence J. Kirshbaum, chairman and CEO of Time Warner Trade Publishing. "As the leading entrepreneur of the century as well as a visionary technologist, Gates is in a unique position to deliver this inspiring guidebook on how technology can help organizations make the transition to the 21st century."

"Business @ the Speed of Thought" covers three broad areas of business: commerce, business operations and knowledge management. Each chapter explores a particular question such as, "How can I use the Internet to improve customer satisfaction?" Gates then shows how a digital approach can be used to solve the problem or create new opportunities. Gates uses examples from companies in more than 20 industries, as well as examples from Microsoft involving product development, customer service, marketing, and human resources. A checklist of business and technical lessons concludes each chapter.

"Without the digital nervous system as Gates has defined it, Global 2500 companies will not be able to meet the demands of dynamic trade in the Internet economy," said John McCarthy, vice president, research, at Forrester Research. "Gates provides and easy-to-understand guidebook on the business and technical issues facing companies in the Internet economy."

"Business @ the Speed of Thought" is being published simultaneously in 24 languages and will be available in more than 60 countries. Gates's first book, The Road Ahead (Viking, 1995), was a New York Times bestseller with more than 2.5 million copies sold.

Gates has arranged for the author's share of the proceeds to be donated to support community-based programs, worldwide, that use technology in innovative ways to support education and skills development for disadvantaged children. Warner Books is also donating a portion of their proceeds to the same causes. An initial donation of $500,000 has been made to the International Youth Foundation of Baltimore, Maryland. The donation will fund projects in Poland, South Africa, the Philippines and the U.S. Founded in 1990, the International Youth Foundation is a leader in international youth development, supporting effective programs for children and youth in over 30 countries.

A useful companion Web site at provides more in-depth information on some of the examples and topics covered in the book, as well as complete ordering information.

"Business @ the Speed of Thought" is being published simultaneously in electronic book format by SoftBook Press. Electronic books are revolutionizing publishing because they offer special interactive features, such as touch-screen access to technical terms, and can be distributed instantly to individuals with a SoftBook(TM) Reader.


SOURCE Warner Books

CONTACT: Emi Battaglia of Warner Books, 212-522-3811, or [email protected]; or Caroline Boren of Waggener Edstrom, 425-637-9097, or [email protected]
Web site:
CO: Warner Books ST: New York IN: PUB ENT SU:

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