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After Y2K, It's E-Commerce, Then E-Business
Monday, November 1, 1999
The number of Internet users in China today has increased to four million and is expected to more than double within the next twelve months. In India, the drive is on to bring the Internet to every village, even those in the remotest locations. India’s biggest challenge — its large population — is in the process of being transformed into its most significant asset. Just as the discovery of oil transformed countries such as Kuwait, United Arab Emirates, Saudi Arabia, and Bahrain, so will the Internet transform India – only, in this case, the impact will be far more extensive economically and the reach will be truly global.
Today’s IT-centric Businesses

Businesses worldwide are moving from a push-based (build-to-stock) manufacturing model to a pull-based (build-to-order) model, which requires a lot more IT and Web support. Because it is demand driven, the pull model entails additional support for increased product variability, reduced lead times, improved quality, lower unit costs, operational excellence, and comprehensive performance measures for control purposes. Companies committed to delivering the right product in the right quantity at the right time are highly dependent on the effective application of Web technology and IT support in all aspects of their business.

The lifeblood of any business today depends on the organization’s information flow. Yesterday’s intranets need to be positioned as tomorrow’s enterprise corporate portals. The need for dynamic organization and continuous updates of information has never been greater. Easy access to information will provide the opportunity for mass customization.

Having qualified Internet professionals with e-skills is the key factor for Internet technology deployment. Today, technologists must understand business, and business professionals must understand technology. Future-minded businesses are applying e-business solutions in such areas as corporate communications, marketing and advertising, manufacturing, production, sales, human resources, purchasing, R&D, finance and accounting. Professionals in all of these areas must have Internet skills: proficiency in authoring and scripting languages, content creation, digital media, as well as the ability to use development tools and implement database connectivity solutions, to name a few.

As the industry’s preoccupation with the Y2K issue passes, we’re left wondering: “What’s next?” Based on the shift in business models, it’s become clear that what’s next is e-commerce and the deployment of Internet technology in all aspects of all businesses. A bold statement, but absolutely true in it’s entirety.

Emerging Job Roles

The need for skilled and experienced e-commerce gurus that can help businesses leverage the broad reach of the Internet with the vast resources of IT systems has never been greater. Employers’ need for professionals in this space is unprecedented – there is an urgent need to Web-enable almost all business processes and operations with the objective of improving customer service, reducing cycle time, to get the most results from limited enterprise resources.

What is the working life like on the Internet? Here are some emerging job roles:

* Site designer — Designs, implements and maintains Web sites using authoring and scripting languages, content creation and management tools, and digital media.

* Application developer — Builds client- and server-side Web applications using Rapid Application development tools and component technologies to implement two-tier database connectivity solutions.

* Enterprise developer — Builds n-tier database and legacy connectivity solutions for Web applications, using Java, Java application programming interfaces (APIs), Java Database Connectivity (JDBC) solutions, middleware tools, and distributed object models.

* Server administrator — Manages and tunes e-commerce infrastructure including Web servers, FTP, news, and mail servers for mid-size to large businesses. Server administrators also configure, manage and deploy e-business solutions servers.

* Internetworking professional — Defines network architecture, identifies infrastructure components, monitors and analyzes network performance. This individual also designs and manages TCP/IP networks.

* Security professional — Implements security policy, identifies security threats and develops countermeasures using firewalls and attack-recognition technologies. This individual is an expert in transaction and payment security solutions.

* E-commerce professional — Expert in standards, technologies and practices in electronic commerce. This individual understands and manages the relationships among credit cardholders, issuers, merchants, acquirers, payment gateways and third parties. He or she understands and uses Secure Electronic Transactions (SET), cryptography standards, Certificate Authorities, and electronic services such as CyberCash.

Technology Leading the Way

The threat that businesses face today is unprecedented. The market value of eToys is greater than Toys ‘R’ Us. E*Trade is challenging the very foundation of transactions in the financial industry. eLoan and HomeSharks are challenging established leaders such as Norwest Mortgage.

Technology is no longer a back-end operation that exists merely to support business objectives. Technology is the enabler, the creator of new business opportunities and the catalyst for industry shifts. We are witnessing a transformation of data into information, information into knowledge, and knowledge into action. Skilled professionals are required to enable the transformation.

Because the Internet is made up of so many platforms and products, this big-picture perspective is necessary to build a solid understanding of the intricacies of the Internet. We must apply that knowledge to leverage the Internet’s capabilities.

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