The other e-vening I was e-laborating to my business partner Sid Seer about the future-our favorite subject. We had just returned from an e-conference and were not feeling e-lated. In fact, we felt deflated. Why hadn't we, proprietors of Age of Aquarius Astrology Inc., seen this coming? The message of the e-conference was simple: If you are not already e-merging on the Web, you had better redouble your efforts and get some e-tools, e-advice and e-clat (as the French say). And really, handing out fliers in the subway to drum up business has been taking its toll. To get going, we decided to look in the Yellow Pages-what better place to find an e-consultant? But there was no heading that said e-advice. We stumbled on relocation, which sounded close. The first listing under that heading was 2 Fellas.

"Hello, we are wondering if you can help our business relocate," I said.

"You betcha," came the response.

"We need to get to the Web."

"Is that in this country?"

"It's everywhere. It's global. We need global presence." "You want a cruise? We're not a travel agency. Maybe you should call a travel agent." "No, I don't think you...." But it was too late. 2 Fellas had hung up on us.

So we found a business-to-business book and looked up Internet, and-alakazam!-we found Internet organisations and Internet service providers.

Instead of calling the first name, we thought we'd try some e-verse psychology this time. We dialled up the World Wide Web Consortium, even though we were a little frightened by the cryptic code below the phone number: http://www.w3.org/pub/WWW.

No one was home at the W3C (I think I'm getting it), but we left a message and waited for someone to call back. But what about the Internet service providers? Under that heading it said, "see also Electronic Mail, Freenets, Online Services, World Wide Web Search Engines." Maybe we needed an engine to get on the Web. How many cylinders, I wondered. This was starting to look expensive.

If there were Freenets, maybe that's the way to go. (Here at Age of Aquarius Astrology the prophets e-clipse the profits.) We started down the list: Buffalo Free-Net? Are there still buffalo? Do they roam free on the Net? Or maybe they are prohibited; it's a buffalo-free zone.

There's HoosierNet, but I'm a lousy free-throw shooter. And what does any of this have to do with giving me a global presence and improving my personal e-conomy? Given the logic that surrounds e-commerce, we turned to our Ouija board, sort of an old-fashioned search engine. It picked a name from the middle of the list. Who says the Web will eliminate middlemen? Our call put us in touch with someone who shoots questions like bullets: Do we have a webmaster? (Is that anything like a warlock?) How much traffic do we expect? Is this for promotion or transactions? What ROI (French again!) are we expecting? Servers? Are we being served? Do we want to advertise on a...did he say porthole? For $20,000? And people accuse us of mumbo-jumbo! Is Sid really ready to be a Netizen? Our lack of e-xertion in this so far testifies to our reluctance to take giant leaps while wearing Birkenstocks. But isn't that what draws people to us in the first place? Maybe someday we'll join the new economy, have a URL and a galaxy of advisers. Someday.

Copyright © 1999 IDG Communications, Inc.

6 digital transformation success stories