Everyone is grappling with the power of information technology. Starting on May 14, you can log on to the Fleet Owner Web site (www. fleetowner. com) and keep up with events as they unfold at the International Trucking Show in Las Vegas. Throughout the three-day show, the editors will post news and commentary from the show floor, giving anyone with an interest a way to at least vicariously participate in one of trucking's major events.
It's certainly exciting to provide readers with near real-time reports from a large industry show. But this Internet show daily is just one piece in the development of an electronic publishing effort that will complement and extend the current print version of Fleet Owner and this supplement, truck.com.
Information technology, especially the Internet, is forcing the publishing industry to rethink and recreate every facet of its business. Our business charter hasn't changed -- readers still want useful information. But your own business pressures have changed the definition of "useful information" dramatically, as well as your expectations about how that information is delivered.
As a publishing company serving the truck industry, we have to figure out how to use the new technology to satisfy those changing expectations and at the same time find new ways to continue returning that universal business imperative, a reasonable profit.
That's a fine line, and it must be walked in the dark because these changes are being carried out largely without any historical guidelines or precedents. It's exciting and unsettling at the same time, and it's also unavoidable. Activity at our Web site will continue to escalate in the near future with what we intend to be valuable and unique content.
Of course, this environment of change isn't unfamiliar to you. Trucking, too, has been completely transformed by modern information technology. Your core business -- delivering freight or service -- hasn't changed, but everything involved in carrying out that business has been touched by sophisticated information systems. Take the "Fleets Online" case study closing out this issue. Here's a carrier that sees itself as running "a virtual fleet," a trucking operation with no centralized facilities other than a strong information system wedded to mobile communications.
Leaving the virtual environment for the real world, our feature story focuses on the other end of the spectrum -- fleets taking the first steps to implementing computerized information systems. As strange as it might seem to someone from outside trucking, both stories reflect the current state of the industry when it comes to new technology. Some fleets are moving quickly because they see competitive advantage, and others are taking cautious steps, but all acknowledge the inescapable transformation under way.
Whether you see it as a curse or a blessing, we are living in interesting times. I hope you'll continue to find that truck.com and Fleet Owner, no matter what forms they take, help you navigate these interesting times.