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August 28, 1998


Mike Antonelli of IBM gives the last keynote lecture

Priya Ganapati at Pragati Maidan

Email this story to a friend. Back to IIW coverage index. The last keynote address of the India Internet World conference today was probably the biggest disappointment of all.

Mike Antonelli, programme director, Asia Pacific, IBM, had a tough task before him.

In a presentation devoid of any humour and full of complicated slides that had the executives peering very hard to understand the concepts, Antonelli talked about e-business and the way to do it on the Internet.

For the gathering that was present it was one of the most monotonous lectures of their lives. However, Antonelli tried very hard to give a perspective on how to get return on investments over the Net and what e-business is all about.

"E-business is what happens when you combine the broad reach of the Internet with the resources of the traditional information technology systems. It is dynamic and interactive. This dimension is only two or three years old and we will continue to improve and refine how we understand the value of the Internet," he explained.

Today there are over 100 million people connected to the Internet. In less than two years the Internet has achieved a penetration of 50 million people and could go up to 200 million by 2000.

A survey carried in the third quarter of last year showed that 84 per cent of the current users of the Internet use it for email services.

Email has emerged as one of the most fundamental applications on the Net. Web access comes next with 72 per cent users. Web sites are used by 53 per cent while intranets by 30 per cent of the users.

"Think of e-business as one of the ways to provide connectivity. The Internet can be used to provide connectivity of supply-chain for the companies and also a important way to connect with the customers," Antonelli pointed out.

"Worldwide the Internet is transforming businesses, governments and even personal lifestyles. The market power has shifted to individual consumers and buyers. The networked enterprises are focussing on value Net linkages while technology changes extremely rapidly," he added.

Spending in the networked era that we have moved to from the industrial age has increased dramatically. The average spending worldwide is at 3 to 8 per cent of the GDP.

It plays an important role in the industry to help improve returns on investment and create new opportunities for growth.

"As you get on the network you become a part of the global connectivity. You think in terms of interacting on a international basis with your customers," Antonelli said.

The key variables that affect the pace of adoption are affordability and accessibility of the Internet, government leadership, technological capacity and cost price differential. The overall industry growth is at 12 per cent. Investment in traditional computing is growing only half as fast as network computing.

E-commerce has been identified as another high growth sector. E-commerce comes in two forms: business-to-business and business-to-customer. Antonelli felt that the potential of business-to-business e-commerce is much greater.

Education on the Internet is also identified as one of the key areas. "The fundamental reason to invest in educating the youth of any country is that the next generation, which I call the Net generation, will comprise these individuals," he revealed.

Nearly 10 per cent of the companies surveyed have generated an average 33 per cent return on investment due to intranets!

The expectations from e-commerce remain high but there are formidable inhibitions like security, start-up costs and lack of skills still remain. "Carefully think through your strategy before you enter e-commerce," is Antonelli's advice to e-commerce entrepreneurs.

Customers prefer Web sites that are compelling, fun and useful. The Web site should also be easy to navigate with a customised look and feel.

There are many constraints on the penetration of the Internet itself. The backbone to carry traffic is not geared to handle the large traffic demands. There are also no standards for distributed storage and advanced services.

The forum was also used by Antonelli to elaborate on IBM's strategy. "Our aim is to enable businesses to realise the full value of IT through offering them solutions. The key dimensions would be to enable customers move to e-business and shape the network computing era," Antonelli elaborated.

Back to IIW coverage index. For the audience of about 200 it sounded like another self-promotion by yet another company. But IBM is not just another company. That probably was the reason why they sat through one of the most boring keynote address.

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