Sunday, October 09, 2005

By Bill Gates
(Warner Books)

EVERYBODY who owns a computer at home knows who is Bill Gates. Many have tried to follow in his footsteps but can't last the distance. Gates is one-of-a-kind but definitely God's gift to the world of user-friendly PCs. For that, we salute you, Bill!

BILL Gates is not a man who wants to be forgotten, much less ignored.
Therefore, when he released this book, information technologists and those
who desired to know his bandwith (the number of projects a person can
think about or work on at once) quickly sat up and took notice.
Business @ the Speed of Thought deals with a subject close to his heart
- the digital nervous system. By definition, such a system comprises "the
digital processes that enable a company to perceive and react to its
environment, to sense competitive challenges and customer needs, and to
organise timely responses. A digital nervous system is distinguished from
a mere network of computers by the accuracy, immediacy, and richness of
the information it brings to knowledge workers and the insight and
collaboration made possible by the information."
Gates predicts that this wired system is the key to success in the 21st
century. Considering his credentials and financial empire, few would dare
challenge that viewpoint.
Some sections in this book will bore some readers to death. Not that the
richest man in the world is talking through his hat; rather, he eludicates
too methodically about subjects the layman has no inkling of.
For example, PC-based software system in medical care. The Acadian
Ambulance and Air Med Services in Lafayette, Lousiana, uses the TriTech
Software System to accelerate its response time. For someone in need of
emergency aid, minutes, or even seconds, can literally mean a matter of
life and death.
We have to forgive Gates his lengthy explanations on how digital
technology can best serve mankind. His panaromic vision of the wonders of
the entire process will befuddle large sections of the populace;
nevertheless, that does not diminish its growing importance.
Technology can only be used to maximum effect if one has the know-how
and financial resources to obtain hardware and software. The author leaves
no door unopened in his quest to inform and educate the world on what
Microsoft has to offer. Actually, the primary aim of this book is quite
clear: Bill Gates is Microsoft and Microsoft controls about 80 per cent of
all the PCs used in the world.
Although, Gates does not hardsell the services and software products his
company produces, nonetheless the shadow of his mighty empire looms large
over every aspect he covers. And the ground this book covers stretches
from this planet to the outer limits, that is, satellite technology.
In this speed-of-thought age, you may think you have a megabucks PC-
based project but chances are that somewhere in the world, somebody has
implemented it and got it running.
Gates leaves a generous list of tips and techniques on his electronic
table for those keen to know. With sections like Manage Knowledge to
Improve Strategic Thought and Bring Insight to Business Operations, only
fools will continue to do things the old-fashioned way.
Most people do not like bad news. Gates is a strange man. He likes to
hear bad news because that was what gave Microsoft fresh impetus and
propelled it into the stratosphere of electronic domination.
As he puts it: "I have a natural instinct for hunting down grim news. If
it's out there, I want to know about it. The people who work for me have
figured this out.
"You focus on bad news in order to get cracking on the solution. As soon
as you are aware of a problem, everybody in your organisation has to be
galvanised into action. You can evaluate a company by how quickly it
negates all of its available intellect to deal with a serious problem.
"Sometimes I think my most important job as a CEO is to listen for bad
news. If you don't act on it, your people will eventually stop bringing
bad news to your attention. And that's the beginning of the end."
There are gigabytes of information in Business @ the Speed of Thought to
hasten any enterprising young person on the path to monetary glory. Gates
has covered almost every topic an imaginative mind can think of. In case
readers get a mental seizure over the many nebulous computer terms
mentioned, there is a glossary. The path to knowledge sometimes involves a
well-worked thumb that flips easily to the back pages.
This book is not required reading for current millionaires, but if you
want to remain a member of that exclusive club, it is advisable that you
read it twice.
A word of caution here. By all means ponder over what Gates has written,
but as a wise man once said: "The same formula that works for one does not
necessarily work for another."

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