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August 26, 1998


David Yuen on the technology of digital commerce

Priya Ganapati at Pragati Maidan

Email this story to a friend. Back to IIW coverage index. As a short oriental executive climbed the dais, expectations about how a presentation on digital commerce would be done was debated.

The sparsely filled room had executives looking for more information about how digital commerce would usher in the promised new order. But the presentation was a big disappointment.

David Yuen, regional director, ISEC, South Asia, Oracle Corporation, who presented the highly technical lecture was given a thumbs down by the 60 odd audience.

Yuen dwelled in great detail on the technical strategy that would help a networked economy give value to e-commerce.

There was little that an average IT manager would understand. The audience was looking for insights on the e-commerce front. After about 15 minutes of the presentation, executives started checking their brochures to make sure that they were at the right place!

Yuen declared that the Internet was all about communities. Here concept of 'communities' sprang up again. "Communities are about people with a communication channel to receive better services," he said.

Yuen then proposed the theory of an economic environment comprising five components: digitisation, globalisation, mobility, immediacy and disintermediation.

"Information is becoming more fluid and easily available. Digitisation is one of the key elements driving some of the changes that we see today. Globalisation is about changes in the delivery channels. Now we have a universal passport to information. Today, we can also get information anywhere which gives you a lot of mobility," he explained.

Yuen stressed that businesses are moving towards more direct customer contact. "CNN interactive has a personalised delivery system. So you can get the kind of news and articles that you always wanted to read. This is a good example of disintermediation, where companies are moving to be more in touch with customer preferences," he elaborated.

The business community is facing a lot of challenges today. Yuen listed out some of the more common problems faced by companies. He admitted that companies are more vulnerable as they extend their operation on the Net. "Smaller players are competing with the big ones on the Net. With a little creativity and attention, smaller organisations can appear to be really large," he pointed out.

Companies on the Net have to face the "reengineering trauma" where they have to restructure their products and services so that they can offer the best services. They have to create the opportunities for themselves.

Yuen cautioned that the advent of the networked economy would make the current business models redundant or unacceptable. The implications of the networked economy would be immense. The demand for information would shoot up and call for a change in information channels.

He also predicted the intersection of industries. "I think that there will be a convergence in terms of businesses. For example, a telephone company can now get into data service or even become a content provider. Singapore Telecom is already doing this. It has tied up with movie houses," he pointed out.

The networked economy would also broaden access to technology and lead to a distributed information architecture. Yuen is confident that bandwidth costs would keep going down. "Before 1995 there were cost benefits of using a PC-centric bandwidth but today network costs have decreased. So we can achieve a greater deal of leverage with ease of maintenance," he explained.

To build the network economy, the focus would have to be the underlying architecture and not just focus on applications. A broad framework would deem that it be open, yet secure, be standards based and have reusable applications.

The architecture would also have to take advantage of the robustness of the client server environment.

Back to IIW coverage index. Yuen explained the architecture in great detail. This saw most of the executive walking out, unable to grasp the complex issues involved.

The verdict: good but strictly for the technology geeks.

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