Off the cuff

Leaders in the world of business share their thoughts on the way we work, spend, and prepare for the future.

Michael Koss is a self-proclaimed Internet "evangelist." When he isn't buried in the details of running Koss Corporation - his family firm that makes stereo headphones - he gives seminars to CEOs on how to make their Web sites more useful.

On a recent trip to Boston, he spoke with the Monitor's Eric Evarts about what would make the Internet more interesting and why it has yet to stand business on its head.

The Internet is way too boring. We all have to put more content out there. You've got to have a site that's just as interesting as a news site to get people to come back ... something new every day.

"One reason [businesses] are not developing content is, 9 times out of 10, it's the advertising department that puts the Web sites together. And they don't get that the content costs money and the [ad placement] is free. They've been trained just the opposite.

"The Internet is supposed to connect everybody to everybody. The whole key is the ability to [exclude] anybody in the middle. That has not happened yet.

"Retail is where you'd think you'd see it first. You're going to see much better relationships from the manufacturer directly to the end user.

"Prices are the first thing involved. You're going to see commodity pricing on everything, where prices change every day. [Businesses] are going to be expected to give stuff away to have somebody pay us later in another way. It completely changes the way we look at products.

"For a long time, everybody thought you should mass market to every one. And it became a one-size-fits-all world. Now we have the opportunity to work with an individual, very affordably, on a one-to-one basis.

"As I started talking to friends that were running companies, I'd ask them if they had e-mail addresses, and they'd say 'Oh, yes.' But their e-mail was being sent to their secretary and printed out and handed to them. So you know, they didn't get it.

"When I first got involved with computers, they were number crunchers. You used 'em for spread sheets. You used 'em for word processing. Now they're communications tools."

(c) Copyright 2000. The Christian Science Publishing Society

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