From the News Desk

SAN MATEO (04/24/2000) - Lately those Internet pure-plays don't look so scary after all. After another week on Wall Street where Old Economy companies gained favor over New Economy hotshots, it seems that traditional companies are showing signs of catching up to the dot-com e-commerce pioneers. After years of fits and starts, brick-and-mortar heavyweights are exerting themselves online, while the established Internet brands such as Amazon.com extend their reach into new product categories.

The grocery industry showed the larger business community last week how to take advantage of the squeeze on online-only retailers. Dan Briody's story details how two heavies in the supermarket world went bargain-hunting and got an e-business strategy on the cheap -- a strategy that we'll likely see more of.

Perhaps most significant for the brick-and-mortar outfits seeking outside help is time to market. Companies continue to struggle with how to develop an Internet strategy internally, either by establishing a separate business group reporting to the president, or by spinning off a company and basing it in Silicon Valley. But with the speed of change, partners and acquisitions will be a fact of life as businesses aim for a hybrid model that combines the virtual and real worlds.

In the retail industry, dot-coms simply won't have the resources to invest in a long-term strategy that involves big changes in consumer behavior. And established stores have a huge advantage in marketing to consumers the potential advantages of ordering goods online with in-store promotions and pick-up.

For IT executives active in internal e-business projects, a change of plan caused by an outside partner is always a distinct possibility, particularly as the stock market dot-com bubble continues to deflate. To accommodate rapid changes in both the business-to-consumer and business-to-business realms, successful technologists will have a flexible enough technical architecture to meet the business strategy.

Do you see a quick change in your company's e-business strategy?

Write to me at martin_lamonica@infoworld.com.

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