The introduction of the euro is expected to give a significant boost to the already healthy expansion of electronic commerce throughout Europe. The priorities of governments and regulatory bodies on the continent, however, will continue to be concentrated on eliminating obstructions to emerging opportunities and establishing a predictable legal framework that will apply to all members of the European Union.
Professors and students at the Center for Research in Electronic Commerce at the University of Texas at Austin are helping government and industry understand how business practices should adapt to the electronic age. By exploring the dynamics of the digital marketplace, center participants are gathering and providing knowledge about one of the world's most rapidly growing business arenas. Their goal is to determine where the world of electronic commerce is headed and how best to arrive there.
One of the world's largest automobile manufacturers has a goal-to operate in a paperless environment with its suppliers by the year 2000. A web-based tool, which also speeds response times to customers' requests, is bringing the company closer to that objective.
The Defense Department is melding the expertise of the business and technology worlds to embrace electronic commerce as its primary means of transaction. To enable the services and defense agencies to conduct business with private industry more efficiently, the department is working with its contractors to adapt their own best practices and technologies to military requirements.
The music of the e-commerce overture in Canada is getting louder and increasing in intensity. Even before year 2000 work began winding down, the country's government agencies began fine-tuning their ideas and following the lead of its prime minister in what has already become a global symphony of economic change.
Profound Internet growth and the changes it generates in the economy and society is a double-edged sword. Electronic commerce benefits are fundamentally altering the way people produce, consume and communicate. Yet, risks and vulnerabilities are inherent network byproducts. Growing electronic threats mandate risk management, customer confidence and at least some level of information protection.
A World Wide Web-based document coordination tool developed for the U.S. Army has become available for the entire federal government. The system enables multiple users to review a directive or regulation posted on a Web or intranet site and enter their comments. The recorded information is then used to modify the document efficiently as it moves toward completion.
The passionate debate about whether to collect sales tax on purchases made over the Internet has politicians, economists and industry searching for the right course of action to continue unprecedented economic growth while supporting the flow of revenue to states or to countries. Experts on both sides of the issue have strong convictions, leaving the legislators with some very hard choices to make during the next several years.
The economic wave that started out as a Tsunami has lost momentum, and the high tide of World Wide Web surfers as devoted consumers is beginning to ebb. Online start-up company owners who thought they would catch a wave and be sitting on top of the world have been caught in an undertow. Established firms that poured millions of dollars into creating an online presence are discovering that the same tried-and-true business practices that keep traditional business afloat are just as necessary in the cybermarketplace.
The worlds of wireless and Web-based technology are converging in a new generation of linked networks that could produce a vast computing and communications infrastructure based on the interaction of currently exclusive technologies. The integration of these independent communication architectures will result from a gradual dissolution of the physical boundaries of today's Internet, enabling the realization of a broader view of everyday computing.