New Context Magazine Focuses On The Impact Of Technology On Business

Posted on December 31, 1997

With 1998 rapidly approaching, experts predict the pace of technological change will continue to accelerate during the coming years, having widespread implications for how corporations will conduct business. Context, a new quarterly business magazine focusing on the strategic uses of technology, features an exclusive interview with Microsoft Chairman Bill Gates in the cover story of its premiere issue. Gates discusses his views on the coming widespread availability of information and how this will fundamentally change the way businesses compete in the future.

Dubbed "Gates' law" by Context editor-in-chief Paul Carroll, a partner at consulting firm Diamond Technology Partners, the article states that within a decade, business information will become available to everyone, transforming the way corporations compete.

If you've followed information technology, you're bound to have heard of Moore's law, which states that the processing power of computer chips will double every 18 to 24 months. When Gordon Moore, Intel's chairman emeritus, made this observation back in 1965, he had no idea just how accurate it would be. But now, more than 30 years after he formulated it, we can see that Moore's law has been incredibly accurate.

"Unlike Moore's law, which has taken several decades to prove itself, we'll know whether Gates' law proves as accurate much sooner than many businesses would like," says Carroll. "Those companies that fail to keep up with the breakneck advances in information technology will find that the new millennium could bring the end instead of a new beginning."

"Imagine," Gates tells Carroll, "that information was just totally available. All the information you wanted about what is going on with customers, the market, resources, and possible partnerships was totally available to you. In 10 years, you'll just take it for granted."

"Knowing something your competitor doesn't can provide critical advantages in a highly competitive environment. With Gates' law of ubiquitous information, it will be very difficult for one company to have access to information that its competitors don't," says Carroll. "So the companies that survive and prosper will be those that do the best jobs of using this information to their advantage."

Will all of this information be free? No, according to Gates. But executives "will be able to take advantage of the incredible building blocks that are out there" to make changes to improve business, such as making it easier for customers to give them feedback and tailoring their dealings with customers, suppliers, and others to become more responsive and efficient. "It's not like just one company will figure out how to do it. But between now and 10 years out, there will be a few who get it faster than the others," says Gates.

Context, published by Diamond Technology Partners, is a controlled-circulation publication that is distributed quarterly to approximately 35,000 senior executives in the United States. The magazine explores how to do business in a world transformed by technology and challenges readers to consider new theories of doing business.