IBM Software chief Thompson & Computing Pioneer Negroponte Outline Vision at Major European Software Conference; Key Announcement on Tap


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VIENNA - 10 Apr 2000: -- A major IBM Software conference for customers and partners from across Europe opened in Vienna today with a keynote speech by IBM Software chief John Thompson, a talk by computing pioneer Nicholas Negroponte, and the promise of an important announcement Tuesday.

A capacity audience of nearly 1,000 people from across the technology spectrum -- from dot.com entrepreneurs to IT managers at multi-national corporations -- registered for the two-day "Soul of e-business" conference, sponsored by IBM's $13 billion-a-year software division. The event is spotlighting initiatives by IBM Software and its Lotus and Tivoli units to help companies benefit from the next wave of opportunities and efficiencies on the Internet.

In his keynote speech, Thompson, IBM Software's Senior Vice President and Group Executive, articulated IBM's vision of the evolution of e-business: from static Web pages, to business process changes, to business model innovation.

Business model innovation, Thompson said, is marked by e-marketplaces, virtual enterprises and expert organizations -- all operating in the frictionless, dynamic environment made possible by the Internet and dramatic advances in technology.

He noted that the success of these new e-businesses would hinge on their use of industry-standard technologies and swift adaptability to market and technology changes. e-business, he said, is the new commercial marketplace, requiring the same free-market concepts that have fostered capitalism.

Thompson prescribed four necessary capabilities as organizations move to e-business: transforming business processes for the Web and integrating them with existing IT systems; the ability to leverage information for rapid, strategic decision-making; using technology to harvest employee expertise and innovation; and, the ability to securely manage vastly complex IT systems and networks.

Developing nations and machines will play a much larger role in the digital world than is currently being estimated, according to Negroponte, co-founder and director of the MIT Media Laboratory and a trailblazer in the field of computer-aided design,

"The mistake everyone is making today is not the size of the (digital) pie (estimated at between $1 and 2 trillion by 2003)," said Negroponte. "It's the distribution of the pie."

The MIT Media Lab is supported by 170 corporations worldwide, and has led in the development of now-familiar areas such as digital video and multimedia. Negroponte also is general partner in a venture capital firm specializing in digital technologies for information and entertainment, and he has provided start-up funds for more than 20 companies.

At the conference on Tuesday, Janet Perna, general manager of IBM Data Management Solutions, will make a major announcement on a breakthrough IBM technology to help dot.coms, brick-and-mortar and B2B companies, and Application Service Providers (ASPs) improve customer relationships, make timely decisions and gain competitive insight -- at a significantly lower cost.

According to Perna, IBM is aggressively leading the charge to redefine the evolving data management marketplace and helping its customers stay ahead of the competition.

Perna also will outline how several customers are using DB2 Universal Database, IBM's flagship integrated data management foundation, to transform their core business practices. Customers include: preisauskunft (pronounced pre-AUS-kunft), Europe's largest Web shopping portal; Warranty.Net, an on-line service that helps companies track warranties and service contracts to gauge product performance; Tradename.com, providing a convenient way to search for and register tradenames; Subscription.com, enabling customers to subscribe to more than 4,000 Web-based or print publications, Web-broadcast channels and cable services; and Best-of-Italy.com, offering premium Italian products to consumers in 80 countries.

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Information Management, Lotus, Tivoli, Rational, WebSphere, Open standards, open source