NEW ORLEANS (04/09/2000) - The two components of electronic-business success are so simple that they sound cliched, but Computer Associates International Inc. (CA) Chairman and Chief Executive Officer Charles Wang said here tonight that making it in the dot-com world isn't as easy as the platitudes might suggest.
"First, you have to move fast. Second, you have to get it right," he said in the opening keynote of the annual CA World user show here, adding that "this plan sounds simple, but in reality it's very hard to do."
In part, that's because moving fast often means sidestepping doing things right, particularly in the fast-paced dot-com world, Wang said, expanding a theme begun here earlier in the day in briefings he and other executives gave the press. CA's main focus this week is clearly e-business and how it fits into that market.
According to Wang, successful e-business companies build strong visual Web sites that offer "dynamic personalization," which automatically tracks and updates user preferences and information using software that "learns" user patterns. Successful e-business companies will further focus on security, and on providing a seamless online experience for users. They also will use a common platform for software integration.
Of course, another main message at CA World is that successful e-business companies will use CA products to achieve the desired, positive results, and Wang noted what he sees as the advantages of the Unicenter TND (The Next Dimension) management tool and the company's Jasmine ii platform, as well as its Neugents, neural intelligence agents, which is the CA technology that "learns" patterns and behaviors and predicts what will happen next.
For instance, Neugents can be used to track the habits of insurance customers and predict which ones will not renew, say, an automobile policy. It can then suggest to an insurance agent what changes might be made in the policy to get the consumer to renew it.
The technology also can be employed to keep track of individual users and their online preferences so that users at e-commerce sites don't have to input the exact same information each time they log on, and so that their purchasing history and the like will be factored in each time they access a Web site.
Even traditional brick-and-mortar businesses can reap benefits, Wang suggested.
CA is working with traditional stores, including a grocery chain, to let shoppers scan product bar codes using a handheld device before they place items in their carts. The device analyzes what shoppers are putting into their carts and then suggests complementary purchases like red wine.
Ultimately, companies on and off line probably don't have much choice but to enter what Wang characterized as a "crazy world." On one hand, Wang said, "we have cyber terrorists shutting down key Internet sites" and "the Nasdaq stock exchange behaving like a trillion-dollar yo-yo," but on the other hand technology is being used to help all manner of worthy nonprofit causes as well as to drive the global economy.
Companies that strike first are the ones that are most remembered and subsequently become most popular, Wang said. It's common knowledge that eBay.com is the top Internet auction site, but the No. 2 place holder is less well-known, he said.
"Being first on the Internet gives you a tremendous edge," Wang said.
Wang's message rang true with Gordon Calland-Scoble, e-business management services tools competency manager at Compaq Computer Ltd. in Reading, U.K. His group at Compaq does not yet use CA security software, so Calland-Scoble is at the show this week exploring those options because "our prime consideration is security, managing the customer environment and making sure that transactions are handled securely," he said.
A U.S. bank employee who didn't want to be identified also is at the show to learn about security and said he agrees with Wang that "there's got to be a personalized customer experience online that is reliable and secure." And he agreed with Wang's contention that businesses must integrate their brick-and-mortar assets with their online efforts, saying customers ought to have a common experience whether they are visiting the bank's branch offices, accessing its Web site or calling its customer-service telephone number, he said.
CA World continues here through this week.
CA, in Islandia, New York, can be reached at +1-631-342-6600 or http://www.cai.com/.
(Elizabeth Heichler, editor-in-chief of IDG News Service, contributed to this report.)