Business at the Speed of Thought

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Business @ the Speed

of Thought
BILL GATES
Level 6 Retold by Stephen Bryant Edited by Mike Dean Consultant Editor: David Evans Scries Editors: Andy Hopkins and Jocelyn Potter

Contents
Pearson Education Limited Edinburgh Gate, Harlow, Essex CM20 2JE, England and Associated Companies throughout the world. ISDN 0 582 34300 3 First published in the USA by Warner Books, a Time Warner Company 1999 This edition first published 2001 Original copyright ©William H. Gates, III, 1999 Text copyright Penguin Books 2001

page Introduction Chapter 1 Chapter 2 Chapter 3 Information Flow is Your Lifeblood Commerce: The Internet Changes Everything Manage Knowledge to Improve Strategic Thought Chapter 4 Chapter 5 Special Projects Expect the Unexpected 55 79 95 101 102 v 1 20

3 5 7 9

1 0

8 6 4 2

Typeset by Pantek Arts Ltd, Maidstone, Kent Set in ll/14pt Bembo Printed in China SWTC/02

Business Wordlist Activities

Published by Pearson Education Limited in association, with Penguin Books Ltd, both companies being subsidiaries of Pearson Plc

For a complete list of titles available in the Penguin Readers series, please write to your local Pearson Education office or to: Penguin Readers Marketing Department, Pearson Education, Edinburgh Gate, Harlow, Essex CM20 2JE.

Introduction
"As the boss of Microsoft, the world's most successful software company, I played a large part in the birth of the Information Age. In this book I explain the idea of a digital nervous system—the use of information technology to satisfy people's needs at work and at home . . . "

In this fascinating book Bill Gates offers the reader a better future. He explains how more and better information can mean more interesting jobs for workers, more knowledgeable customers, more interesting schools, and citizens who have a voice in the decisions their government makes. A "digital nervous system" can improve business, but this book is not just for people in business. It is for everybody. Bill Gates was born on October 28, 1955, in Seattle, where he grew up with his two sisters and where he still lives with his wife and children. His mother was a teacher and his father was an attorney. In 1973 he studied math at Harvard, where he met Steve Ballmer, now president of Microsoft. He left Harvard after a year and started Microsoft in 1975 with Paul Allen. In the year ending June 1999, the Microsoft Corporation had a total income of $19.75 billion. It employs more than 32,000 people in sixty different countries. In 1995 Bill Gates wrote The Road Ahead, which was number one in the New York Times best-seller list for seven weeks and is also a Penguin Reader. Business @ the Speed of Thought came out in 1999.

Chapter 1

Information Flow is Your Lifeblood

Information work is thinking work. When thinking and working together are significantly assisted by computer technology, you have a digital nervous system. It consists of the advanced digital processes that knowledge workers use to make better decisions —to think, act, react, and adapt. Michael Dertouzos of MIT writes that the future " Information Marketplace " will require a large amount of special software and complex combinations of human and machine processes—an excellent description of a digital nervous system at work. Do you view information technology as a way to solve specific problems? Then you're probably only getting a fraction of the benefits that modern computers and software can provide. Instead, you should be creating systems that will deliver information immediately to anyone who can use it—" digital nervous systems." As the boss of Microsoft, the world's most successful software company, I played a large part in the birth of the Information Age. In this book I explain the idea of a digital nervous system— the use of information technology to satisfy people's needs at work and at home, just as the human nervous system supports the human mind. Like a living creature, an organization...
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