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Dancing bulls
and fat cows

December, 1999

disponibile anche in italiano

  Giancarlo Livraghi
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This time, it's true. After years of unfulfilled prophecies and unreliable statistics, the internet is really taking off, even in relatively "backward" countries such as Italy. Recent data confirm that the situation is changing. Our country is still far behind the most advanced in Europe, but the gap is beginning to narrow. As soon as we finish celebrating the non-millennium, and stop fussing about the bug, we shall need to find a quiet moment and try to figure out where we are and where we are going.

We are in a "bull market" and it's not a fad or a bubble. The ups-and-downs in the stock exchange can be quite bewildering, but there are some very real business opportunities and there is a lot of real money ready to back them. There is a bright future for healthy companies with effective, long-term strategies. But also a messy marketplace with too many poorly planned and confusing developments, often backed by much more money than they need or deserve. People with a bit of knowledge or experience in the internet are flooded with job offers; but there aren't enough of them and many don't have enough experience or training. Peter's principle is being applied on a large scale and with great haste; practically everybody is being promoted far beyond his or her level of competence.

There are dancing bulls everywhere, even less graceful than the hippos in Disney's original Fantasia and bumping into each other in all sorts of unpredictable ways. There are overfed cows being milked before they can stand on their legs.

Success will reward those companies that will be able to catch the short-term opportunities while working on sound strategies. A few years from now, some of today's young bulls or fledgling cows will have turned into strong and experienced elephants. The others will be forgotten, slaughtered in a fiercely competitive marketplace, or maimed by bulimia or an overdose of anabolics; leaving behind a few rich gamblers and lots of disappointed investors (and customers). Now, more than ever, it's time to follow the wise advice of Aldus Manutius: festina lente.

Happy new year to all. Best wishes for the turbulent times ahead of us and the great opportunities they offer. Let's hope to see and share success, especially for well planned enterprises with a sound understanding of the potential. The real results won't come from hasty fireworks, but from genuine and consistent dedication to quality, customer care and service.

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