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From The CriticsChuck Martin is no Nostradamus. But as a former VP of IBM and founding publisher of Interactive Age, he thinks he knows a thing or two about the future.
However, Martins future actually looks a lot like the present. It revolves around three important Nets: the Internet, the intranet and the extranet. Products become commoditized and customers become data. Consumers bank online, shop online and take classes online. Companies gather information about customers online. And collaborative filtering and data mining prove extremely useful for turning profits. Sound familiar?
Net Future intends to help readers deal with current realities by examining how others have dealt with the changing economic landscape. On the plus side, the book offers mini-case studies: company X handled a challenge this way; company Y did it that way. Martin shares letters written by other executives, and these are rather insightful. For instance, its instructive to read how Onsales Jerry Kaplan and Pricelines Jay Walker view the Internetworked world.
The book also contains a number of checklists. Lists of dos and donts for content creation, ad sales management and wiring the work force aim to help companies plan their business strategies. Other lists like Business Rules of the Net Future and Executive Prep for the Net Future include really obvious tips: Surf the Net, learn to filter your e-mail, get a bigger hard drive, acquire a domain name and buy something online. While such assignments may seem elementary to sophisticated readers, Martin has apparently found a comfortable niche helping nonwired execs read the Internets tea leaves. Its a bit pretentious to claim you have a bead on tomorrow, especially when it doesnt look all that different from today. But amid all the recent fin de siecle future-telling, this books strength may be in telling you about whats happening in the here and now.