Brave New World

Like the old joke about the weather, in the business world everybody talks about the New Economy, but nobody does anything about it. What's so new about this New Economy, and what do you need to know? We're glad you asked.


Bluelight's Goldstein has concerns that have already been addressed by the recent Wall Street slide, which he says is a slap in the face to many people. As he explains, the public finally caught on that New Economy success requires more than becoming a dot-com. You need real business models to succeed. You need to sell goods at a profit to survive. I think many people were so caught up in the glitz and glamour of the Internet, they forgot basic Business 101, and the fallout ensued. I think this has made a number of people gun-shy, which, in a way, is a good thing as they take the time to really develop their strategies when dealing with the Web. To some extent, the brakes have been put on the Internet Economy for now.


Dazed and Confused


Surace's concerns revolve around companies that miss out on opportunities. As he puts it, The risk in this New Economy is that many of the Fortune 1000 either don't recognize the power of doing that, don't have the expertise to do it or don't understand what to do, and they'll be left behind by competitors who quickly figure out how to streamline their processes.


According to Surace, part of this reticence can be attributed to the tech slaughter of 2000. As a result of that fallout, Surace says, I think the risk is that a lot of businesses will now write off the Net for a while and not see what other businesses will be doing. And they're going to get caught off-guard and clobbered.


Companies not wanting to join the ranks of the clobbered can take their cue from GE, which Surace calls very progressive. By the first of 2000, GE had automated many of their back-end processes, had already been purchasing many of their goods and services online at 20 different divisions, and by mid-2000 was named Internet company of the year. Now, if I were the CEO of a Fortune 50 company, that would have shocked the heck out of me, because you'd think it would be eBay or Yahoo! or Excite or some company like that. But GE was named Internet company of the year because, instead of setting up a store online, they put a billion dollars on the bottom line by automating processes. That is powerful.


Can't We All Get Along?


Shecterle is concerned about the increasing complexity facing B2B, the efforts of standards programs like UDDI and RosettaNet notwithstanding. He explains that while the connectivity and availability represented by marketplaces is a good thing in general, there are also dangers. [The presence of exchanges] is a good thing in terms of competition, because it implies you don't have to be a multibillion dollar traditional enterprise to play. It also means there's a lot of confusion in the marketplace. As a result, you get to a situation where there's going to continue to be many competing technologies, many competing marketplaces and exchanges, and, potentially, that could lead to a lot of complexity for the participants.


Shecterle believes that interoperability will be a crucial factor for success in the New Economy. I think the risk here is that if a lot of the current online exchanges and marketplaces are too parochial, too closed in their view, that drive toward interoperability will be slowed and not everyone will be able to realize all the benefits that are on the table. If it's just Covisint getting together with the automotive suppliers, that's not enough to really benefit the economy in general.


While it's clear that the experts believe there are upsides and downsides to the New Economy, Hemmings provided what might be the most telling comment on the whole situation. He said, I truly believe that work is going to be a much more fun place for people to come to, because they won't have to look forward to a bunch of mundane, repetitive tasks that, frankly, computers can do. Fun at work. What a concept.

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