The wired world is easy to take for granted. I check the weather on my iPad over breakfast. I send e-mails from the comfort of the couch. I haven’t hooked up my cable box since we recently moved because I haven’t purchased a splitter for my coax cable, which I opted to connect to my modem. Fortunately, our DVD player is “Smart,” which, translated for the purposes of my wife and I, means it has access to Netflix. It wasn’t always like this. And for some people in the United States, it still isn’t.
This fact was made clear as we crafted our cover story (“The Connector,” p. 77) on CEO Maggie Wilderotter of Frontier Communications. A seasoned telecom executive who has worked alongside Bill Gates, Wilderotter is making a bold play: wiring rural America to bring data to those places where pavement turns to gravel. With the constant rumbling about how the Cloud will change the way we do business, the latest gadgets from Apple, and the shiny luster of Silicon Valley in general, it’s easy to forget that a good portion of Americans still lives in such areas. (The 2010 US Census put the number at 59.5 million, roughly 20 percent of the population.) For small- and medium-sized businesses, Wilderotter’s gambit is promising. On one hand, they get the connectivity they need to compete in the modern marketplace. On the other, their employees can live the lifestyle they want, where they want. It’s a win-win.
Connection is only step one. Elsewhere in this issue, we talk to executives who are changing the game with what the Internet has to offer. Web.com’s Jane Landon (p. 116) is giving entrepreneurs the website-design and analytics capabilities previously reserved for major corporations, and at pennies on the dollar of what the services have cost in the past. Albert Liu and VeriFone, whose POS terminal you’ve likely used before, are breaking into the mobile-payment market (p. 109).
This issue also debuts the new and improved Strategy department, packaging insight and expertise to help you make the most of your position. Having trouble with your strategic planning? On Assignment’s Peter Dameris discusses how to create a five-year business plan and have your executive team stick to it. And if you’ve long wondered how to establish a workplace that your employees brag about, then follow Nancy Long’s steps to create a great place to work (which is exactly what she did at Hitachi Data Systems). Enjoy, and let us know what strategies you want covered in future issues.