Editorial: E-li’s Coming

I hope your millennium is off to a good start. If not, you can try again next year with those who believe the next century really starts then. Hey, why not? You don’t often get a second chance in life. Second chances are even rarer in the e-commerce, e-business game. As IT managers, you’re already familiar with the sport. That’s where every vendor puts the letter "e" before as many nouns and adjectives as possible to convince you that their products are the end-all and "e"-all.

And if you buy the wrong e-technology from the wrong e-vendors, there’s not a bigger game of chance around. Your odds are better in Las Vegas. And unlike the IT business, you know you’re paying for the smoke and mirrors. So, if you haven’t been ousted from your comfortable cubicle or dropped like a bad connection from the corporate payroll for not taking care of the Y2K problem, you’ll want to improve your chances of sticking around one more year.

That’s why in our first issue of 2000, you’ll find several articles about — what else? — e-commerce. But take note we’re talking business-to-business or b-to-b e-commerce here. On the way to $1.3 trillion in revenues by 2003 (according to Forrester Research), b-to-b e-commerce makes the more visible business-to-consumer e-commerce numbers ($108 billion by 2003) look like chump change. Not that there’s anything wrong with that.

Nevertheless, the editorial staff of HP Professional has been burning the midnight nanoseconds on Internet time to bring you e-commerce the way we see it happening now — in real-time. That’s why our feature story reports on vertical "trading communities" as HP refers to them. A trading community leverages supply chain management, ERP and data warehousing technologies. But once you do manage to get these technologies working together to make everyone happy, how do you keep them running at the 24x7 uptime required by the new rules of e-commerce? You need the assurance of a bulletproof system, says Mark McFadden, Contributing Editor, in his lead story. And if you’re not satisfied with just thinking about the present, then let HP’s Ulrich van der Meer tell you about the next big thing in e-commerce: Value Collaboration Networks.


With everyone’s thoughts still on the shiny, bright new e-future, I thought it was only fair to take stock of my first-ever predictions from January 1999 issue. So, in case you don’t still have a copy, here’s the list:

When it comes to products and services, HP will continue to undermarket them. I think I was dead-on with this one. Although the marketing pace has definitely picked up since CEO Carly Fiorina took over the reins from Lew Platt, the impact still leaves a lot to be desired. And HP’s current television campaign (with the voice over from Carly Fiorina) does more to reinforce the "stodgy" stereotype of HP Ways past, then create a new image of HP as an Internet startup company, its ostensible purpose.

HP’s corporate culture will undergo a fundamental shift to centralization. Check. Fiorina has taken HP’s organizational chart (which at any given time could be described as a script for a Chinese fire drill) and put four people in charge of the new HP Way. At Fall Comdex, Fiorina unveiled a new branding campaign with a new HP logo and a single unified message for HP’s more than 100 sub-brands.

Merced (IA-64) will be a lukewarm winner for HP. The jury is still out on this one. Merced became Intel’s Itanium this past year. And you should be aware that HP’s newest HP 9000 L-class is Itanium-upgradeable. As the co-inventor of the IA-64 architecture, HP execs have claimed advantages to running HP-UX 11.0 on Itanium. But as of this writing, they haven’t yet readily exploited any opportunities or, more importantly, clearly explained their advantages.

The HP 3000 will be the technological surprise of 1999. Surprise! The high-tech equivalent of the Energizer Bunny keeps on ….; you know the rest. And the HP 3000 has also proved to be a successful testing platform for many of HP’s new E-services offerings.

I was skeptical about the HP/Agilent split. I didn’t think it was likely. Nobody’s perfect — ok? Still, I’m quitting while I’m ahead. It’s just way too unpredictable out there. Anything can happen in the e-world of tomorrow. If I want to predict outcomes, I’ll just fly to Vegas from now on.