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e-Business: E-business a qualitative revolution

Internet is no longer the academic communications environment it was only a few years ago. Some 200 million people will be on the Net by the end of this year, while even conservative estimates project 500 million connected users by the end of 2003. Over 62,000 new users will come online every day in the US over the next several years; outside America, growth rates are even higher.
It's impressive. But I don't believe the sheer scale of what is happening constitutes a revolution. I believe the real revolution lies in what all these connected people, businesses and institutions are doing on the Net. What's generating all the excitement is a fundamental transformation in the way things are done in the world. We're certainly seeing this in commerce.


Espen Ramsbacher

Internet is no longer the academic communications environment it was only a few years ago. Some 200 million people will be on the Net by the end of this year, while even conservative estimates project 500 million connected users by the end of 2003. Over 62,000 new users will come online every day in the US over the next several years; outside America, growth rates are even higher.

It's impressive. But I don't believe the sheer scale of what is happening constitutes a revolution. I believe the real revolution lies in what all these connected people, businesses and institutions are doing on the Net. What's generating all the excitement is a fundamental transformation in the way things are done in the world. We're certainly seeing this in commerce.

Three years ago, we didn't even have an adequate word or phrase for what was happening. That's why the term 'e-business' was created - to describe all these Net-based transactions, and to capture the idea that this revolution isn't really about technology, but about the urgent search for new models - new models of commerce, marketing and distribution, as well as of governance, education and healthcare delivery.

I believe we're actually witnessing the creation of a new kind of economy, the e-business economy. It isn't built solely on online retail sales of books, airline tickets, hotel rooms, software or stocks. Some of the most important Net-based transactions are not very visible. These include transactions among employees within businesses, across supply chains, or online procurement applications, as well as vital online transactions in the public sector.

Not long ago, the PC was the only device which was used for connection to the Web. With pervasive computing, IBM introduced various wireless devices connected to the Web. Surveys show that by 2001, more than 50% of sales will be done by non-PC Web-enabled devices, while 16% of all Internet accesses will be performed by non-PC devices.

Although Internet penetration is still low in Slovakia, the country's future membership in the European Union is a great challenge. Public and private sector organizations which want to be ready for the European Union should prepare in advance. IT vendors can help these organizations to prepare their information systems for the EU and the new business models by offering 'e-business network services', where IT companies are paired with telecom firms to change entire markets and transaction methods and to provide networked applications and services that do not come in a box you purchase, but rather are found on a network you access.

More and more leaders of public and private sector organizations are waking up to the incredible - I'd say historic - opportunities and threats the networked world creates for them. They are looking for new models of retailing, distribution, customer relationship management and knowledge management. In the coming articles, I will share with you some e-business trends, practices, and ideas that will help you understand this historic transformation of our society and how you can become a e-business company.

Espen Ramsbacher is Marketing Director for IBM Central Europe, Russia, Middle East & Africa. His column appears monthly. Send comments or questions to ramsbacher@ibm.com.

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