Information at the speed of light Featured

9:39am EDT July 22, 2002

One of my staff members received the "I Love You" virus a few months back, the very same morning that it made international news.

While other businesses scrambled to minimize the damage, we were lucky. Because our e-mail system uses Eudora instead of Microsoft Outlook, SBN wasn't infected. Never mind the fact that the staff member spent nearly half an hour trying to find a way to open the file.

Over the days that followed, I spoke with dozens of business owners who bemoaned the fact that they were picking up the pieces after one of their own executed the attachment. What amazed them most was the speed at which the virus leapt into their systems and wreaked havoc. But what amazes me most is the speed with which that virus -- and others like it -- spread over the Internet from their point of origin.

In our quest for speed, we've unknowingly unleashed the dark side that efficiency brings with it. But, as with any innovation, we must accept the bad with the good. In the early 1900s, automobiles (and the highway systems that followed) decreased the time it took to travel between home and work, allowing people to live greater distances away from the companies for which they worked.

I'd be willing to bet that there were fewer people trampled by horse-drawn carriages in the 1800s than people injured in auto wrecks during the 1900s.

Speed, however, isn't a bad thing as long as we're willing to recognize the inherent dangers that accompany it. Think about your business. Has your Web initiative made it easier for customers to place orders for products and services? If so, were you prepared for the influx of orders that accompanied more open access to your firm? And, have your shipping, billing and accounts receivable departments been able to step up their pace to keep up?

In our business -- information dissemination -- readers have become more demanding about the smart ideas we provide them with to help them grow their businesses. Business owners regularly ask me when SBN would use its Web initiative to provide smart ideas more frequently than just monthly.

Well, that time has arrived.

You may have noticed on our Web site -- www.sbn-online.com -- a new section under the Cleveland edition called "Top Stories." In it, we'll provide more smart ideas nearly every day. Most of the items you'll find under "Top Stories" won't appear in the monthly print version of SBN, but they'll be every bit as helpful in aiding your pursuit of entrepreneurship.

The next time you see a member of our editorial team around town, be prepared. The information they gather or event they attend may very well end up on our Web site within hours after you see them.

On a final note, we're pleased to welcome Courie Weston into the SBN ranks as a full-time reporter. Courie is a recent graduate of Case Western Reserve University. And, if her name sounds familiar, it's no surprise. Courie's been an editorial intern with SBN since January.Dustin S. Klein (dsklein@sbnnet.com) is editor of SBN