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Issue No. 05 - May (1997 vol. 30)
ISSN: 0018-9162
pp: 44-47
<p>Picture a massive economy of online services linked together so that businesses routinely outsource functions such as fulfillment and shipping. Distributors themselves will go virtual, outsourcing the physical warehousing and movement of goods to logistics specialists such as Federal Express. But why stop there? How about a virtual FedEx that outsources the heavy lifting to independent warehouse operators and truckers to reduce costs and improve flexibility? How will it all come together? </p> <p>Though people in the industry tend to talk about Internet commerce in more arcane terms like public-key infrastructures, digital signatures, and payment protocols, Marty Tenenbaum, chair and founder of the CommerceNet consortium, summarizes the barriers in three words: content, convenience, and confidence. </p> <p>There must be incentives to purchase goods over the Internet, be they a better selection, service, or price. It must be convenient, as simple to use as ATMs and as ubiquitous. Finally, users must have confidence that their transactions are secure, their privacy is inviolate, and they will not be subject to liability. All three of these areas call for collaboration to build a marketplace, an infrastructure, and a legal and regulatory framework. </p> <p>Launched in 1994 as a not-for-profit organization, CommerceNet is dedicated to advancing electronic commerce. The group's nearly 250 member companies seek solutions to technology issues, sponsor numerous industry pilots, and foster market and business development. </p> <p>If the projects, some of which are profiled in this issue, succeed, we might well experience the new "ecology" of global Internet commerce Tenenbaum envisions-with buyers, sellers, and intermediaries forming numerous industry-specific Internet markets that in turn form extended trading communities. It's a vision suited to the speed of the Information Age, promising rapid transformation-and threatening radical dislocation-of business and even society as we approach the next century. </p>

S. Hamilton, "E-Commerce for the 21st Century," in Computer, vol. 30, no. , pp. 44-47, 1997.
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