eBiz on the Net

Business Week writes about how the Net and eBusiness, long written-off, is alive and booming:

It’s now apparent the Internet is connecting farflung people and businesses more tightly than ever. It is helping companies slash costs. It is speeding the pace of innovation and jacking up productivity. And even some of those seemingly harebrained business models are working. Says Andrew S. Grove of Intel: “Everything we ever said about the Internet is happening.”

And more. Remember those starry-eyed projections in 1999 that had U.S. e-commerce between businesses reaching a staggering $1.3 trillion by 2003? Turns out they were too low. Networked business-to-business transactions now stand at $2.4 trillion, says Forrester Research Inc. That means that just as investors were reeling from the collapse of Internet stocks, the technology was taking off. And Forrester’s bold 1999 prediction that U.S. consumer e-commerce would reach $108 billion by 2003 wasn’t so far off. Despite recession, terrorism, and war, the number is expected to come close, at a projected $95 billion this year. Says Gartner Inc. analyst Avivah Litan: “The hype is gone, but the numbers are in.”

Writes Business Week on the future:

Companies have spent the last three years figuring out what really works and what delivers a return — quickly. Now, they’re breaking up e-business tasks into bite-size pieces. Says venture capitalist Vinod Khosla: “Runaway tech projects don’t work. You need the revolution by 1,000 small cuts, not one big dramatic change.”

Further out, bold new projects will unfold, providing a glimpse of the next generation of e-business. The range is every bit as vast as the Internet itself. It extends from drug researchers collaborating in virtual labs to computers monitoring thousands of diagnostic machines on three continents. It features gobs of wireless systems for tracking inventory, reading electric meters, and connecting with customers. And on the far fringes of this next Net are tiny silicon chips, so-called “smart dust,” that may well be built right into roads and bridges, ready to send Web alerts if the wind blows hard or a pylon pries loose.

The next big challenge is getting SMEs as well integrated into the eBusiness ecosystem as the larger companies.

Jared Diamond

I have been reading Jared Diamond’s book “Guns, Germs and Steel“. It is a fascinating account of human history and why it unfolded differently on different continents. To get an idea, read this article on Edge. There is also a summary of the book.

Recently, he gave a talk in New York on “why do some societies make disastrous decisions?” The video and text of the talk is available at Edge (scroll down on the page for the full text of his talk). An abstract:

What I’m going to suggest is a road map of factors in failures of group decision making. I’ll divide the answers into a sequence of four somewhat fuzzily delineated categories. First of all, a group may fail to anticipate a problem before the problem actually arrives. Secondly, when the problem arrives, the group may fail to perceive the problem. Then, after they perceive the problem, they may fail even to try to solve the problem. Finally, they may try to solve it but may fail in their attempts to do so. While all this talking about reasons for failure and collapses of society may seem pessimistic, the flip side is optimistic: namely, successful decision-making. Perhaps if we understand the reasons why groups make bad decisions, we can use that knowledge as a check list to help groups make good decisions.