Where are the good ol’ times of the ’90s? When I was still in the academy in the early ’90s there was this mentioning of the unlimited amount of work that would pile up in the IT and web sector. ‘Web’, a word that no-one really heard of outside of the nerd-crowd or the huge data centers of financial and government institutions.
And then, say around ’95… BOOOM! There it was, the masses discovered the Internet and computers started flowing into each and every household. And every company needed to go ‘online’, because if you were not there, you were showing you were not really a company prepared for the future.
Well… now we know that the companies who were really not were prepared for the future were the millions of web companies that popped up. What most companies then did not realize is that most sites that were created were produced by people who more or less had no idea about IT, did not understand the technical demands and problems. And no one cared. If a site was IE or Netscape incompatible, you would simply put a logo on your homepage to show what browser it WAS compatible with, and voila! You were done.
Around that time I worked as an IT consultant, and was often called in to clean up the mess. Companies, even the bigger ones, just wanted to go online, as cheap as possible and actually without any work. It was just for window-dressing, and nothing really serious. This is why ‘bad’ web companies were able to flourish.
But then, besides the whole financial bubble, also on the technical and marketing part of the ‘web’ companies started to see the negative publicity or responses they received if their site was not performing well. And for the first time, the idea of flexibility, maintenance and durability started to pop-up. So, web companies who did not have the technical know-how to get along with this demand, were not only put under pressure by investors to make money, but also on the account side to make things work. And there simply were not enough people with that know-how to keep things rolling and fulfill these demands. * POP * And there it all went.
By now, this is all well known. Personally, I think it made the market healthier. Come on, Web companies having marble bathrooms, sauna’s, whenever-you-want-to-work policies, alcohol on the job and BMW’s as company cars for everyone. I never worked at one of these companies, but I saw them around… a lot. I remember even a Dutch IT-firm delivering their client computer on-site in Ferrari’s, simply to show that they were the fastest. But they were faced with the problem that the Ferrari-dealer refused to install a towing-hook on the cars.
My own company went belly-up just before the bubble burst. Although that was due our own stupidity; forgetting to take care of sales. Sigh… experience comes with the years, I guess 😉
But, it was showing something very clearly: A market that cannot justify it’s own expenses and cannot deliver to the expectation will fail.
And that is a rule that works, not only in IT, but everywhere. Not that the web-industry is all healthy, but no market really is. One, for example, is SEO. Oh, I do understand the importance of it, but I cannot see why SEO is, for example, a separate business. I personally think SEO, should be part of a marketing-communication firm, not a stand-alone business. Just like social-media. These should be services that should be combined to deliver one whole package to a business. With Google’s changed in their SEO-rating things might be thrown around in the search result business, and not everyone can be guaranteed a page-one rating, although these companies still do that.
I mean, sure, I can also guarantee you a page-one SEO rating as long as someone fills out as a search-term ‘IT web company nowhereville Pennsylvania’. It is again hot-air. Leads too. Sure, they are worth money for a retailer or a manufacturer knowing who is interested in buying their product, but getting them and selling them, is a whole other deal. Because, since there are no guarantees that they are valid, how much can they really be worth?
Personally, I have the feeling that in not too long a timeframe the stand-alone SEO companies or Lead companies will also be merged into the marketing companies. A lot of them already do. The good thing though, compared to the web-companies of the ’90s is, that there is not a lot of the excess in luxury and ego in these companies. IT became a lot healthier, and continues to do so. It might require more less of a Yi-hawww! attitude that we had in the ’90s, although a bit of that is healthy too, but that will be something again for the next new market that will boom in the next following years.