The CEO - Corrected Vision

The events of the past few months and the rapid uptake we're continuing to see in the Internet space have made dotcom start-up companies a popular topic of discussion, even among those who were burnt by the sharemarket correction.

A growing number of companies are beginning to release details of revenues generated online as a per centage of overall turnover, and business-to-business transactions are playing an increasingly important role in the day-to-day operations of many organisations.

And, despite the recent crash, we're continuing to see a situation where many established businesses are choosing to spin off their e-commerce operations as an independent entity.

Our main feature in this issue explores the experiences of a number of dotcom companies that have chosen to stage an initial public offering (IPO), discussing why some succeed and others fail. It makes valuable reading for anyone involved in the e-commerce sector.

Of course, there are still a number of hurdles to be overcome before we can expect to see e-commerce really begin to achieve its enormous potential, with the security on online transactions remaining a significant concern for many people.

I believe many consumers will remain cautious until this issue has been clearly resolved and the industry still has some work to do in order to win the trust of the average person on the street.

Personally, I've done a fair bit of shopping online, mainly for standard products like software and books, although on one occasion I convinced my wife that we should experiment by buying our fruit and vegetables over the Internet.

This proved to be a very positive experience. The site was intuitive and efficient, the service delivered on its promises and the quality of the produce was high. Despite this, my wife in her wisdom decided she would prefer to see and touch the fruit before she buys it. Like a lot of other people, I think it will be a long time before she chooses to change her ways.

While I have no complaints about the way the organisation presented itself on the Web and the service supplied, and while we will probably remain on their customer list, I don't expect that we'll be making further purchases, at least in the short term.

In the meantime, enormous gains are being made in developing the various technologies associated with e-commerce, with substantial efforts going into mobile e-business or m-business.

People will soon be able to buy movie tickets via their cell phones and have the cost charged to their telephone account. Other potential applications just around the corner include buying drinks from vending machines and trading stocks and shares via mobile phones or PDAs.

We've come a long way since the first ARPANET international connections were made from the United States to the UK and Norway in 1973. During that time we've seen the World Wide Web grow from just 130 sites in July 1993 to well in excess of 10 million today.

Those members who are interested in e-commerce should pay particular attention to the articles in the Society pages which outline different areas in which the ACS is providing forums for research and discussion on these topics.

On a final note, our new Member Advantage program is also discussed in the Society pages, with additional information in the brochure inserted in this issue.

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