New England's high technology newspaper
Oct. 12-Nov. 2, 1997, Volume 15; Issue 43

Movers & Innovators A down-to-earth global perpective

Name: Anika Elllison Savage (formerly Audrey Ellison Schriefer)
Occupation: Principal, Art of the Future
Education: Pratt Institute, B.A. ; University of California, M.A. ; Babson College, MBA
First Computer: The Robin
Current Project: Corporate strategy consulting to high tech, telecommunications and health care industries

A typical day of laboring in cyberspace would suggest that the Net is by Americans, and for Americans.

Audrey Schriefer knows better. She recently completed a 10-month international study of how the Internet is changing the ways a range of companies work.

She visited corporations in Europe, Asia and South America. When she emerged, it was with an increased respect for the scope of the Internet.

The Internet is really connecting the world,” said Schriefer, a corporate consultant. “We have the same tools, and we access things the same way.

The U.S. might be one or two years ahead of other countries, but they are learning quickly. (Foreign) Companies see the Web as a means to really open their market reach.

Schriefer recently completed a lengthy research project that focused on how companies around the world are being changed by the Internet.

Though academics frequently pontificate about upcoming changes, Audrey visited almost three dozen leading-edge companies to get specifics on changes. She calls the leaders of such firmstechnopioneers.

Among the companies she studied were the following:

  • An engineering firm in Scotland that began marketing golfing gear after putting up a site reflecting the glories of golfing in that country.
  • A publishing company in Brazil that is developing a community much like AOL, but communicating in Brazilian Portuguese.
  • A corporation in Turkey that has become a stock trader as a result of new access to Wall Street and transaction technology.
  • An engineering company in San Francisco that has branched into Web hosting after realizing many small engineering concerns needed help in benefiting from the Net.

Schriefer will use her research in her consulting practice, which helps corporations deal with changes in the marketplace.
She confirmed several generalizations about shifting business environments: Small companies can project themselves in big ways on the Net; “Disintermediation” threatens such professionals as bank tellers, travel agents and security brokers; managers and workers involved in dispersed business operations must learn new methods of communication. And in some cases, the 24-hour nature of Internet commerce could make life even more hectic for Web-oriented Americans.

In the 1970s there was talk about what people would do with their leisure time," she said. "But now, with people connected at home and in the office, it's getting harder to get away from work." Schriefer, who spoke at recent meeting of the Strategic Leadership Forum, allowed that the Net is not a compelling force for everyone. It is a provocative tool for those who use it, but not all have access at this stage of its evolution

Dyke Hendrickson, MHT staff reporter