E-Business Stands to Revolutionize Internet

IBM Corp.’s chief Internet technologist
says while many people have gotten accustomed to using the Internet, the
evolution of the network and how people use it has only just begun.

Speaking Thursday at Internet World
Canada ’99
, John Patrick,
vice president of Internet technology for IBM, said Internet users stand
to see more evolution and improvements — much of which will be
spearheaded by the potential of electronic commerce.

“E-business isn’t only about click here and buy. It’s click here for the
supply chain, order flow or to help a new employee join an organization.
We see the evolution happening across Main Street, the mainstream and
business to business,” he said.

Although the upstart e-commerce players tend to get the most attention,
Patrick said established, mainstream businesses are coming to understand
the Internet’s potential.

“Major companies are shifting resources to become e-businesses.
Ultimately, I think there will be many successes among mainstream
companies,” he said.

One of the shortfalls of e-commerce today, Patrick said, is many
businesses aren’t using it to its full potential. He said organizations
must be ready for the shift in power the Internet wil transfer to the
consumer. Instead of a business deciding its hours, soon consumer
demands will drive businesses to implement new ways for their customers
to connect to them around the clock.

Since e-commerce is almost certain to rapidly expand, Patrick said the
question then becomes can the Internet handle all the traffic. Patrick
is confident it will thanks to a combination of emerging, high-bandwidth
technologies combined with better use of resources through
implementations of caching technology and other innovations.

He said computer companies will keep up with the demand for high-speed
access by including chips in their systems capable of handling ADSL and
other high-speed alternatives. To handle the rise in high-speed
connections, Patrick said the Internet’s backbones will also keep
rapidly expanding. He likened today’s typical modem connection to a
1-inch garden hose that will expand to 3 feet with DSL. Likewise,
today’s backbones can be considered pipes 6 feet in diameter on their
way to 100 feet thanks to advances in fiber optic technology.

He also predicted standards will be developed to prioritize the way
packets are handled to ensure that mission critical information is
handled quicker than ordinary e-mail messages.

Patrick said portals, which today are typically aimed at consumers, will
greatly evolve. While today’s portals won’t go away, they will be
supplemented with many delivering very specific information to people,
depending on their needs. Companies targeting the same type of customer
will begin collaborating to set up their own destinations, he said.

New and emerging technologies, such as XML, Lightweight Directory Access
Protocol and digital IDs will make it possible for Internet users to
find information faster and will eliminate the need for consumers to
have a variety of user names and passwords to access the sites they
commonly visit. He also predicted public key encryption will join
biometric identification to strengthen security on the Internet.

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