Future Challenge for CTO's: E-Commerce Decisions

SAN MATEO (05/15/2000) - Andy Martin, CTO, Garden.com Inc.

InfoWorld: What's the most important function of a CTO going forward? How do you see your job evolving?

Martin: The most important function over the next five years is to determine which technologies and products are the most suitable for your enterprise and how the different products work together. Avoiding the hype is going to get harder and harder, as more and more companies try to cash in on the Internet bandwagon. In the end, I think the CTO will be doing all the things we did five years ago but working with bigger building blocks. I hope to focus on more long-range solutions -- things that we have not even thought about today.

InfoWorld: What's your pick for the hottest e-commerce ticket in the next five years?

Martin: Monitoring. I think that we are going to be monitoring more and more about our e-commerce systems. Not just disk, RAM, network, Web-page downloads, database performance, and performance of Web servers, but correctness of pages, e-mails, customer feedback, and how long back-office tasks are taking. I think data mining will continue to grow and be more and more useful, particularly as we can complete the loop between merchandising and mining -- so that merchants can see the results of the cool new narrowcasted promo they just did.

Henri Asseily, CTO and co-founder, Bizrate Inc.

InfoWorld: What's the most important function of a CTO going forward? How do you see your job evolving?

Asseily: The CTO will need to focus a lot more on data management and will have to mentor cross-functional teams of product management, marketing, data systems, and engineering. CTOs cannot, in the e-commerce space, [be limited] to engineering projects.

InfoWorld: What's your pick for the hottest e-commerce ticket in the next five years?

Asseily: Segmentation and one-to-one marketing across sites with standardized data exchange protocols.

Jim Galley CTO, GoCargo.com Inc.

InfoWorld: What's the most important function of a CTO going forward? How do you see your job evolving?

Galley: While new technologies will always be right around the corner, the challenge is really finding ways to leverage these advantages to gain, or sustain, a competitive advantage in the marketplace. Strategizing, prioritizing, and ultimately implementing these initiatives is my objective -- now, and in five years.

InfoWorld: What's the biggest challenge you face in the next five years?

Galley: Finding time to see my kids and family. There's always more work than time. Past that, finding talented staff members has always been and will always be a challenge.

InfoWorld: What's your pick for the hottest e-commerce ticket in the next five years?

Galley: XML, without a doubt, will act as a catalyst to support the exchange of information between partners -- but it is far from perfect today. I also believe that personalization tools and alternative platforms will become more important as organizations learn how to create value [through them] ... for the members on their site.

David Holtzman, CTO, Network Solutions Inc.

InfoWorld: What's the most important function of a CTO going forward? How do you see your job evolving?

Holtzman: CTOs must be conversant with the intricacies of mergers and acquisitions, be good at sizing up new executive hires, know their way around contract language, be good public speakers, and be effective spokespeople for their corporations.

I see my own role as rapidly evolving into that of a technical business strategist. A strategist with a good technology background has a huge advantage over a nontechnical one and has greater credibility with investors, senior executives, and financial analysts.

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