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In the digital economy, traditional thinking is proving its futility. Assumptions from the old economy that most of us are comfortable with do not carry over to the now-mainstream digital economy. The proof is in the mirror. MrWakeup.com calls my phone at 7 a.m. to wake me to a fresh cup of Starbucks.com coffee brewed in a coffee maker bought at Gevalia.com. As I munch on a bagel that WebGrocer.com delivered last night, I read the NewYorkTimes.com delivered every 10 minutes to my wireless hand-held purchased from OfficeDepot.com. I am still waiting for a new suit that I ordered from LandsEnd.com, but I know that FedEx.com will send me an e-mail as soon as the package is delivered at my door. After a shower and quick shave with a DrugStore.com-delivered razor, I pick the navy blazer that I got from Overstock.com, get dressed, and drive to the subway station. I can't help but notice the blooming flowers that my neighbor bought at Garden.com, and so religiously waters with his Web-based X10 pump controller. A short drive filled with PhoneFree.com commercials brings me to the subway station.
I swipe the MARTA smartcard that WebVan.com delivers on the last day of every month as I notice the gloomy look on the newspaper vendor's face. A train finally arrives as I step away from the LastMinuteTravel.com banner only to end up sitting right under a big AtlantaYardSale.com sign. Do I care? Not when I listed my old notebook PC on eBay just the night before. The only "e-free" part of my daymy train ridewas ruined last year when Palm Computing took the Web wireless.
As I begin to pull out the latest issue of Business Week that I ordered atmagazineoutlet.com from my briefcase, I remember that I left my presentation Zip disk on my desk at home. I need not panic, because in just a few minutes I'll get into my iMac at home from my work PC through the Web. I continue browsing through my copy of Business Week and highlight a couple of interesting tidbits with my C*pen digital highlighter. As I step out of the train, I toss my magazine into the trash; I'll soon have all the highlighted material on my desktop PC as soon as I dock my highlighter. Thank God, I still write with a real Waterman fountain pen that I got from Ashford.com that uses real ink that I can always find at Onvia.com. The calendar in the hallway reminds me that Mother's Day is close. The card from Sparks.com must be in the mail.
As I step out of the station in downtown Atlanta, I remember that life was not this way a few years back. More daunting is the realization that all this is just the tip of the iceberg. Electronic commerce is hardly a whiff of the impending change of which e-business is a harbinger.
Whether by choice or lack thereof, we are all bearers of the Chinese curse-blessing, "May you live in interesting times." While the newspaper boy is among the many left far, far behind, the dot-com era is unstoppably altering the structure of our economy. This book is written for those who do not want to be left behind, and for those who are keen to understand how e-business success is defined by knowledge and relationship capitalthe only meaningful assets in the digital economy. Because it is meant to explain the underlying ideas behind relationship management and e-business applications of knowledge management to nontechnologists, I assume no significant prior knowledge of e-business or knowledge management. For readers who might want to dig deeper into the technicalities of knowledge management, I'd suggest taking a look at excerpts and chapters from my previous knowledge management book (freely available at www.kmtoolkit.com). Think of this book as a continuing dialogue between us, and feel free to carry on the conversation with me at firstname.lastname@example.org.