There are three things I would like to say at the very beginning of
this new column. First of all, I tend to speak my mind very candidly; and some of my
opinions may be controversial. I am always willing to hear other people's opinions, with
interest and respect. Silvio Ceccato is well known in Italy for his teachings in
cybernetics, but he is also a teacher of humanity. He often quotes a saying that sounds
Confucian: If you give me a coin and I give you a coin, we both have one coin. If I
give you an idea and you give me an idea, each of us has two ideas.
My second observation is that if today I discuss numbers, I don't plan to do so very often. There are too many numbers floating around on the internet, and often they are quite meaningless - or confusing. We can ignore them. The net is not, and never will be, a "mass market"; it's an environment in which small numbers can be quite important.
Finally - sometimes, when I say that the net is in its infancy and there's a long road ahead of us, calls me a "pessimist". Quite to the contrary, it takes a considerable degree of optimism to believe, as I do, that the net is important and potentially a major revolution, in society as a whole as well as in marketing (it can, sometimes, be "electronic commerce" but certainly is not just that). So far, there is not much; and most of it is done poorly. Optimism can not be based on delusions or exaggerated expectations, that lead only to disappointment. It must be based on a serious evaluation of facts (that often are not encouraging) and on asking ourselves how we can do things better.
Let's look at his little graph, that is based on a simple analysis of publicly available data:
Internet hosts in European Union countries in relation to GNP
(Based on data by RIPE - Réseaux IP Européens
|The situation in France is underestimated, because the
data don't include minitel. If and when the French government succeeds in its
intent to encourage the switching of activity from the minitel
Italy is way behind. Our country has 12 percent of Europe's GNP, 14 percent of the motorcars, 10 percent of the telephones... but only 4 percent of the net. And we are not catching up. In the second half of 1997 Italy has a 1 percent monthly increase of hostcount, against a European average of 2.5 percent in the same period.
Should we have tantrums and weep? That's a waste of time and temper. We should roll up
our sleeves and try to fix the problem. We can