ITXPO: Focus on e-commerce, wireless, sourcing

Participants at the Gartner Group's European Symposium/ITxpo '99 this week should expect to hear much about electronic commerce, wireless technology and sourcing - a new buzzword that Gartner uses to describe the various ways that corporations can staff IT projects.

The Symposium is being held in Cannes, France, from November 1 to 4. Attendees will include IT directors as well as executives from IT vendor companies, said Gartner.

It's hardly surprising that European IT directors are focused on e-commerce, considering the difficulty many of their companies are having in making the transition to e-commerce. In fact, said Gartner this week in a study, European businesses are drastically underestimating the costs of becoming e-businesses, by 50 per cent.

The main fault for the underfunding, said Peter Sondergaard, a group vice president of Gartner Group, lies with the vendors of IT products for large corporations.

"They (IT directors) buy into the marketing of the vendor community that you just buy this package and it's everything you need," Sondergaard said. Almost 70 per cent of the cost of implementing online commerce is people costs.

As finding good IT staff continues to be a problem, companies will need not only to think about outsourcing, said Sondergaard. They will have to look inside and see if they have the expertise in house. Sondergaard calls this extension of outsourcing sourcing, since the solutions lie within the corporate boundaries. "Medium and large organisations find they have the ability in house."

Much of the symposium will also focus on emerging wireless technologies. In Europe, Gartner predicts, the GSM protocol will be the primary Internet access device by 2003 and companies are looking for ways to reach those customers. Businesses are "looking for more sophisticated ways of using wireless technology in general for business," Sondergaard said.

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