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Too Much A Visionary? 11 August 2000 Edition
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There are three kinds of managers working in the Internet marketplace:
  • The visionary
  • The visionless
  • The ultra-visionary

The visionary is the kind of person who can accurately look six months and anticipate where the market and the technology is going. They can spot opportunities and exploit them with timing that matches the growth in demand for whatever service or product they're selling. This group makes up the most successful entrepreneurs and managers amongst us.

The visionless is the kind of person who simply considers everything on a day-to-day basis. They have trouble with trends and seeing beyond the next food-break. These people are often good workers -- but they're certainly not CEO or entrepreneurial material.

The ultra-visionary is the kind of person who has the rare ability to look out beyond the six-month mark -- sometimes producing accurate predictions up to several years ahead. They are both incredibly valuable and incredibly dangerous to any business.

At an entrepreneurial level the ultra-visionary often comes up with brilliant ideas well ahead of the rest of the market. Unfortunately they are sometimes so close to the bleeding edge of the market that they become a victim of it.

When you look at the success stories in the hi-tech marketplace you often see that it's not those who are first to market with a new service or product who win -- but those who come along second or third.

At an entrepreneurial level, ultra-visionaries, enthused and excited by their ideas and the commercial potential such ideas represent often appear to mis-time their launch -- unable to walk the fine line between being too early and too late. As a result, too many launch before the market is ready and consume their capital before revenues are able to support costs -- forcing them to shut-up shop and leaving a newly created market ripe for the picking by anyone who is following close behind.

The reason I'm talking about the ultra-visionary is because I read today that XTRA has further dropped the price of their flat-rate internet access. They claim that by cutting the cost of access, they'll boost traffic to their portal site and thus gain increased revenues from advertising and e-commerce.

I also notice that the growing number of free ISPs are doing a roaring trade -- even to the point where a number of people have commented that the busy signals are becoming bothersome during the early to mid evening period.

Many of you "old" Net users will remember the name Chris Tyler -- he was the American that was recruited to rescue XTRA from the hands of the local management who knew they had to launch an ISP but seemingly didn't have the slightest clue how to do so.

For all his other faults, which have become the subject of much scandal and near-tabloid coverage in Australia, Chris Tyler has to be acknowledged as one of the very few who qualify for the title of ultra-visionary.

I remember talking with Chris shortly after XTRA launched and he was adamant that for an ISP like XTRA, internet access would eventually become nothing more than a commodity -- to be given away or bundled to sell other services. He also said that the commercial future for an ISP like XTRA was to forego access revenues for earnings from advertising and e-commerce.

Of course when Chris Tyler left XTRA, his ultra-visionary view was too radical for his replacement, the non-visionary and now departed Bob Smith, who significantly scaled back the content production so crucial to generating the high levels of traffic needed for securing those advertising and e-commerce revenues.

While Chris Tyler was unliked by many, he must be smiling quite smugly now that XTRA have apparently finally returned to his original game-plan.

As always, your feedback is welcomed.

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Copyright © 2000, Bruce Simpson, free republication rights available on request