You may recall making copies on a mimeograph machine and typing on a manual typewriter. That was before Xerox and digital cameras, of course. My first point is this: the ways of doing things change. A few people may still use manual typewriters, but you’ll probably never see a mimeograph copy nowadays, or a slide rule. People can resist changing for a long time, but if they stick around, then they will have to adapt to some new things, because the old ones just won’t be there anymore.

Secondly, it seems that the early bird does indeed get the worm. Although we may live in the fastest-changing country, many of us won’t change until it hurts too much not to; such people seem to have a high threshold for pain.

Let’s get specific. Electrical contractors once did all their estimating the old-fashioned way. Some still do, but many progressive estimators could not work without personal computers and the latest estimating software. In fact, some projects can’t be bid without the necessary computing equipment and software, plus an Internet connection to download the specs and contract documents. Nowadays, you can also buy everything online, including electrical products and tools of your trade. Although it is still possible to conduct an electrical contracting business without a personal computer and Internet access, chances are that the next generation of contractors will not be able to work without them. In the meantime, your business will be in transition from what is to what will be. So, why wait until it hurts too much not to get on the Internet and find out what you might not be able to do without before very long? If you’re still not interested, consider the following experience.

Last spring I attended the AEC Systems trade show in Washington, D.C. This is a showcase for all the latest software and Internet services for architects, engineers, and constructors. I was amazed that most exhibitors seemed to spare no expense for their booths and demonstrations. There were hundreds of them.

There used to be many more auto makers, until competition and mergers, plus all those importers that compete with U.S. firms, reduced them to the few we have now. So it may be with all this new Internet commerce. Obviously, consumers vote with their wallets. Many of the early starters will not find enough early adopters to keep it going and will be selected out. Some will be good companies with good products that lack sufficient capital to provide the needed staying power.

How are these economic decisions made in a free economy? Well, standard marketing textbooks speak of a pure, open marketplace in which all the buyers have complete information about all the suppliers and the relative competitors’ features and benefits––including price––determine the winners. The trouble with this theory is that it is impossible to carry out in real life. Everyone can’t possibly know everything about all Internet providers––much less competently evaluate them––so magazines like this one can help by saving you time gathering information about trendy developments you may or may not need.

Thanks to Stamats Communications, Inc., over 100 Internet construction industry services were identified and evaluated recently. After discussions with users and consultants, Craig Ricks compiled a list of the “Best of the Web.”

These are providers of information, communications, training, software, and related services intended for your kind of business. They are here now, but could be replaced by more new ones tomorrow, depending on how people like you vote. Just like a democratic election, however, you must vote to participate. You vote by looking at these candidates, checking them out, and selecting the ones you want to work with by enrolling, registering, or ordering from their sites on the World Wide Web. Each site must be addressed with the http://www. prefix to work. For example, type in: http://www.amazon.com. If this task appears too time consuming, we suggest that you relay this information to a trusted person who will look out for your future. It could be your best gift of the season.

TAGLIAFERRE is proprietor of C-E-C Group, Springfield, Va. He may be contacted at (703) 321-9268 or via e-mail at lewtag@aol.com.

The “Best of the Web” Listings ––Craig Ricks, Stamats Communications

AECdirect.com;
Amazon.com;
Bestroute.com;
BidBuyBuild.com;
Bricsnet.com;
buildersupplynet.com;
buzzsaw.com;
constructware.com;
deltek.com;
thedigitgroup.com;
ebuyexpress.com;
e-IDC.com;
frontrunner.com;
nuspectra.com;
onebuild.com;
permits.com;
primecontractor.com;
projectedge.com;
projectgrid.com;
projecttalk.com;
rentmaker.com;
revit.com;
struxicon.com;
vianovus.com; and
viecon.com