Beyond Y2K: The Turmoil Ahead.

Author:Pettibone, Thomas
Position:Corporate technological planning - Brief Article

So the Y2K crisis, feared as it was, has come and gone; the banks are solvent, the planes are flying, and your business likely made it through relatively unharmed. But what Y2K did manage to do in many cases is distract senior management from dealing with more momentous IT issues.

An IT project backlog has been building and now that these projects finally can be addressed, there is, instead, enormous pressure to devote the time and money to e-business and other Web-related efforts. Without doubt, Internet applications will derail other critical IT projects, and the long-term consequences are unclear. But firms have no choice but to focus on e-commerce.

It's no secret or surprise anymore that the Internet is changing the fundamentals of every business. The first crest was consumer-directed e-commerce, or B-to-C, which quadrupled last year over 1998, and still shows no sign of plateauing. An even hotter growth area is B-to-B e-commerce, which is already impacting companies in all industries and segments. Web-based applications that allow companies to find materials at the best price will drive down cost and time in their supply chain, reduce inventories, and improve customer service. Companies of all sizes will find suppliers they never heard of via the Web and begin buying globally, if they're not yet doing so. In order to stay competitive companies will have to do Net-driven procurement and even take part in on-line auctions. The biggest players, such as Ford, GM and GE, are already embracing it.

Here are some other trends to watch for:

* Y2K appears to have had minimal impact on larger companies that devoted resources to it. There are, nevertheless, more Y2K problems than some companies wish to concede.

* Time constraints and pressure to be first on the Internet are prompting more than a few development teams to cut corners. Many aren't following structured methodologies, which emphasize quality assurance and multiple levels of testing. Problems with back-end systems, moreover, will be showcased on the Web. There have already been failures of some early systems, and more can be expected.

* In addition to e-commerce, customer relationship management and business intelligence applications will be in growing demand. Supply chain applications will require attention to improve productivity.

* E-commerce units may increasingly function independently of traditional IT departments. Perceived and real priority conflicts will force separation and...

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