Niels Bohr, the father of quantum physics, once said that if studying quantum mechanics doesn't make you dizzy, you haven't understood it properly. Break out the seasick pills, this bizarre field of science is going to take its rightful place in the world of e-business.
Stories by Dan Blacharski
The nature of software has changed a lot over the years. When I was in college, I wrote computer programs that were stored on cardboard punchcards. When everyone started to get PCs on their desks, innovative companies started to write general-purpose software like word processing
programs and spreadsheets that you could buy in a little shrink-wrapped box, and a whole new industry was born.
My next few e-business insights will be posted from various European locations as I and my son spend the summer in a sort of combination father-and-son-bonding/midlife-crisis wander around the globe. Last week in London I saw my first Internet booth while traipsing through Soho - it looked like a phone booth, just out on the street corner, and provided a convenient way for passersby to check e-mail, and for errant correspondents to stay in touch with their editors. My son and I marveled also at the fact that there was a free e-mail station in the dining room of the local Burger King.
Recently, a friend of mine asked me to recommend a set of web site development tools and a hosting service that would be (a) inexpensive
and (b) easy to operate, and would (c) allow her to set up a basic e-commerce operation with which she could take orders and accept credit
The paper shredder's not enough to hide the evidence any more. Some pretty high-profile companies have learned that lesson recently. The
majority of business critical data is stored electronically in one form or another, and that's a lot harder to get rid of than the old-fashioned paper trail.
Long before the Internet was fashionable, companies used electronic data interchange (EDI) to electronically share information and documents with one another. It was a wonderful innovation that eliminated the need for a lot of paper, faxes, re-keying, phone calls and messengers. It was, and still is, also very complicated and expensive.
Patents. They protect us when we come up with a great piece of technology, and allow us to reap the rewards from our hard work and intellectual property. As a creator of intellectual property myself, I thoroughly understand and support the need for patent and copyright laws. Without them, innovation and creativity would be severely stifled.
There are people who think up new high-tech buzzwords for a living. They may call themselves analysts and work at prestigious think tanks, but when it comes right down to it, what they do is think up buzz words for a living. It is my task, then, to relay those buzzwords to you.
Computers should, ideally, be intelligent enough to understand spoken language, demonstrate logical thinking and anticipate the needs of the user. In my own wired household which one day I will build (after I finish remodeling the bathroom, fixing the garage, putting on new gutters, and repairing the plumbing), the entire house will be a single network, and it will understand my coffee drinking patterns such that the coffee pot will know when it is empty, and will anticipate whether or not I am likely to want more any time soon.
B2B e-commerce, despite predictions for rapid growth, is still in the "early adopter" stage. But, the concept behind it is nothing new, and companies have been doing business electronically for years before the Internet came into the picture using proprietary EDI mechanisms.
Buying an ad in a print publication won't include statistics tracking the number of people who actually saw the ad or even opened the page featuring your ad. You can't rotate ads based on the number of times someone opens the same page -- i.e., the first time someone opens the page, ad number one appears while ad number two appears the next time.
The idea behind the public e-marketplace was to create a huge electronic meeting place where buyers and sellers could conduct business; vendors could find new customers; buyers could find bargains; and the enviable middleman takes a fee or a small percentage for every transaction. Although this did work to some degree and plenty of public marketplaces still populate the Internet, the initial vision and the eventual reality never quite matched up. In hindsight, the reasons seem obvious now.
When the specter of fraud on the Internet is raised, it usually is done so from the consumer perspective; that is, with an eye towards unscrupulous operators who sell shoddy goods, steal credit card numbers, and generally do a disservice to everyone they become involved with. However, an even bigger problem than fraudulent Internet commerce sites exists -- fraudulent consumers.
When my grandpa sold bootleg whiskey during prohibition, he understood that commerce doesn't end when the money changes hands and the goods are delivered.
Today, we're going to talk about toilet paper. I know, the title says something about operational efficiencies and I'll get to that, but the fact of the matter is: everyone, all around the world, uses toilet paper (although my mother tells of a time when it was replaced by pages of last year's Sears catalog in order to gain economic advantage).