IBM Bullish about e-business Opportunity

Predicts e-business Opportunity will grow to $600 billion by 2002

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London - 01 Dec 1998: . . . Just one year after launching it's successful e-business strategy, IBM announced it has revised its estimates of how the market for e-business is growing, predicting $600 billion in worldwide e-business IT spending by the year 2002.

At a press conference held in London and simultaneously webcast to journalists across the globe, IBM highlighted the impact e-business is having today on businesses and institutions of all shapes and sizes. Leading e-business customers, including Safeway and British Airways, testified that e-business is now a part of their corporate strategy, giving them an edge over competitors and allowing them to strengthen relationships with both customers and suppliers.

Dr. Irving Wladawsky-Berger, General Manager of IBM's Internet Division, announced a new version of IBM's Net.Commerce that is one of the first commerce servers in the industry to support Euro currency. He also announced an exciting new e-education project in Spain, where IBM has partnered with La Caixa and Telefonica to create a virtual educational community for over 2300 schools in the Catalonia region.

Mike Lawrie, IBM General Manager, Europe, Middle East, Africa, opened the conference noting that emerging technologies combined with global networks are causing a major sea-change to occur in the global economy. "The Internet has fundamentally altered the nature of competition." he pointed out, noting that "today competition happens between business models, not between products."

He also cited IBM research that shows European firms are taking a much more pragmatic approach to implementing e-business solutions than their US counterparts, and are focusing primarily on the business-to-business opportunity. The study concluded that while 85% of European companies surveyed believe they must invest in e-business or face competitive disadvantage, there is a strong need for a much more strategic approach to conducting e-business in order to achieve real business value.

This view was shared by Pat Gaffey, Head of Global Distribution at British Airways. "Electronic Commerce is fast becoming a critical and integral part of British Airways' commercial strategy. We are already witnessing dramatically changing consumer behaviours - this new infrastructure, developed in conjunction with IBM, will help ensure our ability to meet changing customer needs."

Key features of the British Airways website already include access to mileage information for Executive Club members, fares, availability and online booking, and real time arrivals and departures information. This functionality will be expanded over the coming months, and be customised to provide a more tailored experience for customers online, allowing them to buy the way they want to buy.

"The platform which we are building with IBM will allow us to leverage our existing systems and assets across multiple channels," said Gaffey. "It will, we believe, give us a competitive advantage in maintaining an aggressive time to market in a dynamic marketplace."

Safeway's Director of Information Systems Services, Brian Keating, said that beyond the obvious boost to sales, e-business has helped Safeway improve relationships with suppliers and customers. "Since implementing our e-business solution, suppliers can access their own inventory by product, by store and then work with us to maintain supply so our customers are never disappointed when looking for an item." Safeway's award-winning Supplier Information System, based on Java technology and IBM S/390, has been on trial since January with over 100 major suppliers, and Safeway plans to implement a full rollout to it's 2,500 suppliers worldwide by mid-2000.

Looking at future developments that will drive the next generation of e-business solutions, Dr. Wladawsky-Berger outlined the initiatives which IBM will focus on in the coming year:

Citing IDC figures on the worldwide growth of Internet usage, Wladawsky-Berger was enthusiastic about both the business and social benefits of a connected world. "The Internet is not a strictly US phenomenon," he said, "The Internet is not limited to the industrialized world. It is a worldwide movement that is reshaping businesses of all sizes, and in more and more ways, society as a whole." He concluded by predicting that as access to the Internet becomes more pervasive, internet penetration will soar to over a billion users early in the next century.


Having completed over 4000 e-business engagements in Europe, Middle East, and Africa this year, IBM EMEA has 600 e-business solutions experts and over 2500 dedicated e-business services specialists ready to offer customers of all shapes and sizes the solutions that are right for their business. For more information and to hear and view the presentations delivered at the webcast, visit For more general information on e-business, please visit the e-business website or see the following related URL's:Knowledge Management Awards Computing Commerce Computing Internet2

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