upfront: Opportunity Abounds

I heard last month, while at LotuSphere, that "no two implementations of Domino are the same." After seeing the large number of applications being developed to front-end Domino's basic capabilities, I'm convinced this is true.

The same can be said about e-business. From Web publishing to order entry to online transaction processing and Internet EDI, there are many roads to e-business. What's also becoming obvious to the legions of application developers out there is the fact that the AS/400 ties all these roads together.

Wherever there's a need to automate a business function, whether it be the recruitment and hiring of personnel, the tracking of customer purchasing tendencies or the protection of enterprise systems from new strains of computer viruses, there is a way for the AS/400 to meet those needs.

The AS/400 is versatile, and much of this versatility can be attributed to IBM's development team staying ahead of the userbase. One Gartner Group analyst observes that e-business initiatives are important to probably about five percent of the AS/400 installed base at this time. This percentage is expected to grow and, if you consider all the capabilities introduced with V4R4 and Domino R5, I anticipate the AS/400 userbase will find a way to use the e-business-enabling technology available to them. After all, as the Gartner analyst points out, the AS/400 owns a lot of business within the supply chain.

It's important to keep in mind is that technology is a road, not a destination. E-business is no exception. One study conducted by the Cambridge, Mass.-based Giga Information Group points out that, despite reports of soaring revenues due to holiday shopping, many companies are a good 12-to-18 months away from e-business profitability. Other benefits, such as improved customer and supplier relationships and the reduction of the cost of doing business, have a more immediate impact.

Giga reports that less than five percent of all online business ventures will show a profit over the next year and a half. The report goes on to urge the business community to focus more on e-commerce goals than revenue generation. Getting onboard the e-business express will pay off over the long term, particularly for AS/400 shops, as IBM continues to fine tune its e-business initiatives.

Please e-mail me with your thoughts or comments: greenemeierlg@midrangesystems.com.