Back to the Future

OK I’m going to show my age now. Follow me now back if you will through the mists of time….

My first recruitment job was at a start-up recruitment consultancy in 1994.  There was no email, no internet, no mobile phones and no lunch break.  Smoking in the office was allowed. Personal calls were frowned on.  When I joined the company it had a small but profitable business recruiting for Database Consultancies, Mailing Houses and List Brokers.  I was hired to develop the Direct Marketing agency market, and subsequently the Sales Promotion Agency market.  Which we did – very successfully over a number of incredibly busy and exciting years  and that’s another blog post.

Around 1997 we started to interview an increasing number of candidates from leading agencies who wanted to join a “dotcom”.  I had friends in the States who occasionally dazed me with tales of shares in dotcoms and how all their friends and neighbours were now dollar millionaires because of investments in same.  Articles appeared in the UK press about  US Vice President Al Gore’s “Information Superhighway” and we all sensed that something big was about to happen.  Or not.  But we felt like we should go and learn more about it in case we needed to (um – “we developed our innovation strategy) and set about finding out more about this strange new world.

So one night after work (which was usually about midnight, so we must have left early that day) we trooped off to the Institute of Directors for a lecture on the Internet given by a man whose name I have shamefully forgotten. I only remember that he was English and somehow associated with Imperial College, London and wasn’t Tim Berners Lee.

I say shamefully because this is what he told us that night.

  1. The internet is currently “flaky” (his exact words).  Lots of information is already there but it is too complicated to find.  However some clever people in California are currently developing something called a Search Engine and when they get it right then things will really kick off (not necessarily his exact words).
  2. Once this happens the internet revolution will truly begin and everything you’ve heard about it changing the way we do business is true.
  3. Eventually the key communication channels of Computer, Television and Telecommunications will merge, and this is when not only business but society itself will be changed by the technology.

Shortly after this we got email in the office. And I started working with Zinc, one of the first  Digital Agencies in London

So if anyone reading this was at the Institute of Directors that night and DOES remember the speaker’s name* will you please let me know because I think we should all be asking him – “What the hell happens next??”

* possibilities:

A. Andy Hobspawm

B. Dr Who

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