Did You Hear?

***** Attempting to enhance its e-business position, IBM recently announced that it plans to open eight competency centers across the globe in the next six months to help companies tie together disparate computer systems. With the rapid explosion of the Internet and e-commerce, companies are facing the difficult problem of tying together myriad technologies not only within their company but also with suppliers and customers. The first competency center has opened in Chicago with others planned for San Mateo, Calif. and Hursley, England. Early in 2000, Armonk, N.Y.-based IBM will have centers in Stuttgart, Germany, Paris, Tokyo and Singapore.

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***** According to a Senate panel studying the Y2K problem, the year-2000 computer glitch is likely to trigger international supply-chain disruptions that may end more than eight years of U.S. economic growth. The special committee says it was concerned about the international picture for strategic and economic reasons. According to a published report, however, John Koskinen, President Clinton's chief adviser on Y2K, says he expects the millennium turnover to have no significant impact on the U.S. economy. Koskinen says the Y2K issues might shave one or two tenths of a percentage point off U.S. economic growth in the first quarter of 2000.

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**** More and more people will be doing their holiday shopping online. A Jupiter Communications survey reports online shopping will hit $6 billion this holiday season. The survey also addressed other online issues. According to the report, the number of satisfied online shoppers has dropped from 88 percent in July of 1998 to 74 percent in January of 1999. Jupiter also found that online shoppers aren't exactly patient. Thirty-seven percent of online shoppers said that when faced with a slow site they either stopped using it permanently or found another shopping alternative.

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**** The e-business explosion will not be letting up anytime soon. A recent report by investment banking firm Goldman, Sachs & Co. says it expects e-business to hit the $1.5 trillion dollar mark by the year 2004. The report also estimates that businesses generated $39 billion from e-commerce applications last year and will generate $114 billion this year. Despite the popularity of e-commerce companies in the retail sector, such as eBay Inc., the report predicts the business-oriented side of e-commerce will also take off during the next few years. The report named Oracle Corp., VerticalNet Inc. and Ariba Inc. as companies that may be poised to benefit from the growth in business-to-business e-commerce.

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***** According to published reports, an industry group trying to make e-commerce safe for consumers said that after eight months its more than 200 members have agreed on outlines for regulating the Internet. The group, called Global Business Dialogue on Electronic Commerce, was formed earlier in the year with the backing of more than two dozen computer and media corporations, such as Time Warner Inc. and IBM. The basis of forming this group is to hammer out global guidelines to clear the way for doing international business on the Internet. Despite agreeing on the guidelines, members see the regulations headed for a slow take-off because not all e-commerce companies see the need to develop a specific set of rules for engaging in e-commerce.

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