52 Books a Year: #25 - Cyber Rules

Posted by Brian Sat, 05 Dec 2009 05:14:49 GMT

Cyber Rules: Strategies for Excelling at E-Business
By Thomas M. Siebel and Pat House


Yet another book I picked up at the annual library book sale. This one looked interesting because I was curious to see what the perception of e-business was in 1999. In some ways Cyber Rules was more accurate than I expected, but in others it completely missed the boat.

The biggest fault of the book is how it completely ignores the future of entertainment on the web and attempts to monetize it. He predicted that the role of the net as a business engine would totally eclipse its value as an entertainment vehicle, a claim that is yet to come true. You also get the impression that the only money to be made online is from direct sales to customers and business-to-business transactions in large business marketplaces. The first of these panned out, but the second has not materialized despite numerous attempts by various companies and industry organizations. Other notable mistakes are the concept of e-cash (he thought it would work), the omission of the driving role of the porn industry on the web, and the complete absence of any talk of privacy concerns.

A couple of other omissions are amusing as well. First, Google is never mentioned. While it would have been very small at the time, even in 1999 it was revolutionizing how information is found on the web. Siebel specifically mentions that at the time sites had to submit themselves to search engines, an idea that seems ludicrous today. He also had the idea of agents on the web being used by end users. For some reason he thought people wanted computers to do their shopping for them. In addition, he falls into the mistake of predicting the direction of the web with specific companies, many of which don’t even exist today. That more than anything serves to date the book.

Even with all of those complaints Cyber Rules managed to get a lot rightor 1999. He understood the importance of businesses sharing data across the web, even if he got the exact mechanism wrong. Overall it was a worthwhile read. However, I do get the impression based on reviews read elsewhere that it is weak in comparison with other e-business books published around the same time.


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