The future of e-business will see an increasing merge of technologies as the lines between EDI and Internet commerce become less defined. The major impediment to most organizations (and individuals) conducting business over the Internet is the concern about security. Yet the advances in Internet security have been significant in the past few years, with the potential major beneficiaries of e-commerce leading the charge. For instance, software companies like Microsoft and Netscape, along with financial providers Mastercard and Visa, have been in the forefront of development efforts to assure safe use of the Internet in commerce.
The evolution of EDI practices toward the Internet and XML will initially involve increased use of corporate intranets. Moving EDI applications to an intranet environment can help simplify processing while maintaining high levels of control and security. These intranets will be opened to business partners using programs, referred to as tunneling software (or VPNs, virtual private networks) that limit intranet access to selected business partners. As security increases, the Internet will increasingly become a viable alternative as the communications infrastructure of choice.
These increases in security will help to fuel the growth of Internet commerce. As the Internet becomes an increasingly acceptable channel for doing business, companies will experience newfound opportunities for reaching customers; and for many companies, will bring globalization of their customer bases. On the other hand, there will also be new competition from distant companies who have access to the same customers.
Entering the e-business domain is not simply a matter of switching on the connection, however. E-business is nothing less than a fundamental change in the way organizations do business and as such, is a driver of organizational change. To succeed in an e-business environment, an organization must recognize the need to embrace change and must effectively plan and manage change.
It is thought to be an ancient curse to wish upon someone “may you live in interesting times.” We are certainly not wishing a curse upon you, but the reality is that we are all living in interesting times. E-business success will rely heavily on understanding how to manage and control change at a fast pace. While these are interesting times, they are also exciting times.