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4th Annual Netcentricity
The Future of Electronic Markets - April 23, 2004
This year, the Robert H. Smith School of Business dedicated its Fourth
Annual Netcentricity Conference, held on April 23, to the discussion of the
Future of Electronic Markets. Panelists and participants included nationally
and regionally respected e-marketers, professors of information technology
and e-commerce, e-government program directors, researchers, and MBA
students. The conference featured state-of-the-art multimedia presentations
and timely research initiatives that demonstrated how important digital and
information technology has become in our lives.
The event kicked off with Howard Frank, dean of the Smith School, who
discussed the definition and importance of netcentricity today.
"Netcentricity is the power of digital networks to distribute information
instantly and on a global scale," he said. Frank cited such examples as
retail-giant Wal-Mart and its advanced supply chain management system to
illustrate the "netcentric world" we live in today. He said that
netcentricity is a "transforming agent" that when leveraged appropriately in
the business world can create tremendous value.
Harvey Seegers, current executive
in residence at Smith and former chairman and CEO of GE Global
eXchange Services, gives his keynote address.
Keynote speaker, Harvey Seegers, current executive in residence at Smith
and former chairman and CEO of GE Global eXchange Services, gave a candid
discussion of the appropriate and inappropriate conduct that took place
during the volatile first decade of the electronic marketplace. Seegers
reasoned that there was a misconception among e-marketplace players that
"you could start an Internet business with a little capital, sprinkle
'Internet magic' on it and make a lot of money - a 'build it and they will
come' mentality." Seegers mentioned reasons for several failed attempts at
building sustainable e-businesses, including the weakened economy and the
inherent assumption that "profits didn't matter."
The electronic marketplace is a much more technologically complex and
capital-intensive arena than it was perceived to be. Seegers believes the
e-marketplace is now at an "inflection point" where the economy will bounce
back to "spark a resurgence of investment in e-markets." Now, e-markets are
much more widespread than most people think. Public and private
e-marketplaces handle the exchange of millions of dollars each day.
Graphical interfaces are more user-friendly, and business-to-business and
business-to-consumer transactions can now be handled through e-payment
systems. Web services can connect large corporate systems together in the
e-marketplace to provide better, faster service to buyers and sellers.
Seegers, in an amendment of his assessment of the future of e-markets,
asserts, "The future of commerce is electronic markets."
government has experienced much of the same evolution with its
e-initiatives. Though e-government did not attract as much press coverage as
the dot-com "boom" and subsequent "bust," its progression during the last
decade has been astounding. Alisoun Moore (right), CIO for Montgomery
County, Md., along with Roland Rust, conference co-chair and Smith professor
of marketing, and Janet Caldow, director of IBM's Institute for
e-Government, discussed some of the advantages the government and its
customers stand to experience given the anticipated future of e-government.
Not only does digitizing several government processes and services cut
costs, but Rust argues that it helps create increased revenue as well.
Many local, state, and federal government agencies have already moved
from publishing basic information on their Web sites for the benefit of
citizens to soliciting bids for professional services, and facilitating
customer services that would otherwise require complex scheduling and
face-to-face contact. Fifty-three million Americans filed their taxes
on-line last year and this year the IRS predicts even higher numbers. Now,
several agencies are moving toward "the development of integrated portals
built around the functional needs of any customer," Moore says. The move
toward a more customer-centric government is being made possible through the
Internet and Web services.
Other sessions included a discussion of digital versus physical goods by
P.K. Kannan, associate professor of marketing at Smith; Barbara Kline Pope,
executive director of the National Academies Press; and Joseph Bailey,
assistant professor of logistics, business, and public policy. Richard
O'Neill, chief economic advisor for the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission
and Professor G. Anand Anandalingam, Smith's decision and information
technologies department chair, offered insights into how to structure market
mechanisms that can clear the market of goods and services at the
appropriate price and time to be consumed.
"Most really do not know how far we've come," says Seegers about the
development of digital technology. The Smith School celebrates the
convergence of business and technology and offers the annual Netcentricity
Conference to precipitate invaluable knowledge sharing among the thought
leaders in the Smith School community and beyond. Please check back early
next year for details on the next annual Netcentricity Conference.