NetWatch

Issue No 9

12 March 1997


GLOBAL VILLAGE

Asia Booms

The Internet is booming in Asia and becoming a major means of commerce. This was the view at ``Wired Into Asia'' a gathering of about 300 high-tech executives and entrepreneurs sponsored by BizTech, a U.S. subsidiary of Japan's Nikkei Business Publications ``The Net can connect businesses to customers and businesses to businesses,'' Robin Palmer, head of KPMG Peat Marwick's Global Electronic Commerce, told the conference. ``It will radically change the entire way that industries work.''

By 2000, as much as $200 billion of business will be done over the Internet, according to Mark Ginsburg, managing director of Lotus Development Corp., an Australian information technology company. And given that the centre of gravity of the global economy is shifting toward Asia, much of that business will be done there, he said. In the six-month period from January to July 1996, the number of Internet sites in China increased 426 per cent, to 11,282. In India, they increased 176 per cent, to 2,176. In Indonesia, they grew 124 per cent, to 5,262. In Malaysia, they more than doubled, to 8,541.

Asia/ Pacific Regional Development

According to a new report 'Asia Pacific Internet and Interactive Services', the number of Internet users is set to triple in the Asia/ Pacific region over the next five years. Revenues will quintuple. This will mean that there will be more than 28 million users by 2001. Within five years nearly 30% of households in the highly developed economies of Japan, Taiwan, Australia, Korea, Singapore and Hong Kong will subscribe to Internet or online services.

According to the study, Internet subscription revenue in the Asia Pacific region is projected to grow from $2.9 billion in 1996 to nearly $14 billion by 2001, with over $10 billion coming from the six highly developed nations alone. http://www.strategisgroup.com/pressrel/ap-ims.htm

Paddy's rich uncles in the EU

In a number of areas Ireland benefits enormously from membership of the EU. The Internet is no exception. In a national conference and exhibition at the University of Limerick on Monday director of Limerick company, BTiS, Martina Flynn, urged local companies to "open their eyes to the ever increasing commercial opportunities available through the Internet.

Stressing the importance to companies of fully exploiting new technologies in order to prevent business opportunities slipping away from them, Ms Flynn said the conference would allow delegates to check out at first hand, aspects of multimedia and the Internet - relative to their respective business.

"The objective is to take the mystique away,to explain in simple, jargon-free terms the range of EU supports vailable under the INFO2OOO Programme, including the new Midas-Net Ireland nation-wide help desk for multimedia and the Internet, which will be officially launched on that day," she explained.

If you got a few of days to spare try your hand at chess.

Deep Blue, IBM's chess computer, is setting up on the Internet. Last year it took the first of five games against Gary Kasparov before losing the remainder. Check it out, it's not hopeless, the first one might have been a fluke! It did lose four?

Less TV and less time nattering long distance

According to Odyssey's latest Homefront survey Television stations and long distance telephone operators had better watch out. The Internet is gobbling up their users. Almost half (46%) of US households with computers are now on-line. The survey also finds that on-line households are spending an average of 9.4 hours a week on-line, at the expense of TV, housework, and families.

The number of women and children on-line has continued to rise, now accounting for 44% of on-line household users, up from 31% at the beginning of last year. Email is used by 23% of on-line households, who send an average of 12 personal messages per week and receive an average of 16 personal messages. Reasons cited for using email include: greater convenience over mailing a letter; and time and money saving compared with long-distance calling. The increase in household Internet usage comes mainly at the expense of television according to 30% of users.

Other activities that are put aside whilst going on-line include household chores, reading, and spending time with the family. Research is based on interviews with 2,500 consumers.

What makes you click that button

I/PRO Research and DoubleClick have teamed up to analyse the results from hundreds of millions of Web advertising to reveal what makes people click those ads. Factoids: 2.11% of Web surfers viewing an ad banner will click on it. Adding animation to banners boosts response rates 25 per cent. Banners that pose a question, elicit a 16 per cent higher click-through.

Call-to-action - Asking prospects to "See us now" improves response rates by 15 per cent. Free! - The effectiveness of free offers depends on the quality of the offer. Hardware or software offers raised response levels 35 per cent. Travel offers, on the other hand, produced a 10 percent lower transfer rate, while money offers performed 6 percent below average
http://www.cyberatlas.com/wip2.html

Intranet Development

A new survey from Infoworld reveals that 63 per cent of respondents have plans to implement an Intranet with 70% of respondents planning to purchase or already using Netscape Navigator. However, a reported 43% of users surveyed prefer Microsoft's Internet Explorer. Microsoft leads in the Web server market with a slim 46% to 43% lead over Netscape, compared with the 33% to 24% lead Netscape held in a previous study in April.
www.mmp.co.uk/mmp/informer/netnews/HTM/24n1j.htm

World User Figures

According to Matrix Information and Directory Services - MIDS there are approximately 57 million users of the Internet as of January 1997 and 71 million with access to email. They predict that by the year 2000, this will have risen to 707 million and that 827 million will have access to email. http://www.mids.org/press/pr9701.html

E-mail Harassment

There is, no more harassment by e-mail than by telephone but sexual harassment of women by e-mail is four to five times more likely than racial or ethnic harassment. The Prejudice Institute, found that 10% of the women who responded to its survey said that they received threatening e-mail, while 3% of the survey respondents said they had received racial or ethnic hate mail.

Services

Cheaper Firewalls equals more business

Firewalls those useful bits of software that protect network from the intrusion of Internet hackers and unwanted visitors are getting cheaper and offering the potential that trade will increase. Market research from International Data Corp., Framingham, Mass, indicates that there are 7.8 million small businesses in the United States, and although about 70 per cent have PCs, only 15 per cent have Web sites. In many cases, these organisations don't have the IT infrastructure to implement the necessary hardware and software to secure their networks from unauthorised Internet access. Watch out for cheaper firewalls getting a lot more small to medium sized business on line.

Real Estate Agents, Travel Agents Intelligence Agents?

You can now write software creating an Autonomous Agent. A "creature" creation whatever. Someone who does things for you. (makes coffee, fetches slippers?) No, who does things on the Internet. What things. Well, I am working on this. Who takes instructions and acts autonomously to deliver results There is potential for business to make use of such 'creatures' to make the chaotic mass of information and capacities of the Internet into commercial success is exciting.
The players in this arena had a conference last month and it's an area of the Internet development well worth keeping an eye on. Check http://www.isi.edu/isd/Agents97/info.html.

Want a job?

More sites are appearing offering to connect job seekers with job offers. Mainly US based but setting the style and tempo for a host of imitators and ground breakers in Australia. Generally they offer, send resume Job databases, and work related information. Some even let employers hunt through resumes. The main sector is the technology. http://www.4work.com - http://www.usjob.net/

Cookie cutter banner Ads?

The Internet Advertising Bureau wants proposes there be eight basic Web banner and button sizes supposed to be voluntary, an effort to save media buyers and ad agencies money by reducing the amount of custom design work that goes into each "The more money they save on design, the more money they'll have to spend actually placing ads, the thinking goes.

But if the IAB becomes a de facto online ad standardising body--and the big online advertisers like Microsoft adhere strictly to its guidelines—the market forces that drive innovation dry up. Why try to invent a better mousetrap when the nation's largest buyers and sellers of mousetraps have told you they won't buy the product no matter how good it is?" (Jason Chervokas) Don't look now but there's a chap with a red flag in front of that passing car. (from Boston globe)

Big bug in Microsoft server program

Paul Greene, a 28-year-old sophomore at Worcester Polytechnic Institute, discovered a simple, potentially dangerous flaw in Microsoft's Internet Explorer. With the help of two fellow students, Brian Morin, a junior chemical engineering major from Nashua, N.H., and Geoffrey Elliott, a junior computer science major from Vernon, Vt., Greene identified the Explorer problem and informed Microsoft and the world.

Dave Hester, lead product manager for Internet Explorer, said last Tuesday that Microsoft was testing a "patch" that will fix the problem. Hester conceded Microsoft had overlooked a serious flaw in its browser, but added, "Internet Explorer continues to be, bar none, the safest browser on the Web." But Eric Greenberg, senior security products manager for Netscape Communications Corp., said Microsoft's Internet Explorer is a relative newcomer to the market, and for that reason may not be as well engineered as Netscape's software.

E-commerce mainly among small companies.

Analysing data collected from more than 85,000 telephone queries Computer Intelligence (CI), notes that e-commerce via the Internet is not yet as popular as some other non Internet commerce applications They also discovered that businesses engaged in E-Commerce across the World Wide Web tend to be small firms (fewer than fifty employees) that are not generally affiliated with large U.S. corporations. In surveying U.S. computer installations, CI found that thirty-one per cent of the installations surveyed had some kind of Internet applications.

That base figure, projected to the total U.S. market of business establishments, indicates that more than 600,000 locations are now using the Internet for business purposes. They found that those locations with Internet installed used it for the following applications.

Research

62%

Intranet

48%

Home Page

29%

Education

6%

E-Commerce

5%

Publishing

2%

(% total not = 100 multiple use per site)


"While E-Commerce ranked fifth as an Internet application in our research, this does not mean that it is not a viable or growing market," said Jerry Berry, Senior Industry Analyst for CI. "As a matter of fact, our interviews show an increasing number of sites that indicate they have implemented or are planning to implement an E-Commerce solution at their location. In interviews completed during the past year, we have seen E-commerce triple in percentage as an Internet application answer."

CI's research shows that the companies actually transacting business over the Internet via E-Commerce are employing the twenty-year-old technology of EDI. As in the general E-Commerce market, most of those deploying EDI were small firms not affiliated with Fortune/Forbes-ranked organisations.

Here come the wowsers

The Centre for Media Education want Uncle Sam to investigate liquor companies use hip language, colourful graphics, games, chat rooms and "virtual bars" to promote products on-line claiming they are doing it to recruit underage drinkers The purveyors of spirituous liquors say online sites are not designed to lure underage drinkers but to attract legal ones.

The centre charged that some beer and liquor makers' Web sites are specifically designed to "promote drinking or smoking through a blend of youth culture, lifestyle news, interactive games, virtual chat and free give-aways that are particularly appealing youth." Some of the companies highlighted in the report do carry a warning on their Web sites that "`visitors" must be at least 21 years old.

On-line pool halls would seem to have a dim future!
Will the virtual Irish pub push the band out the door and pull it's last pint?

COMMENT

Internet - Assets and Liabilities

The development of commerce on the Internet in the next ten years is going to be a fascinating story.

It's not often these revolutions come along and rarely are they on such public display. On the Internet it's all very public as vendors rush products to market with the entrails of some programs hanging out for all to see.

The difference with the Industrial revolution is that the assets are often invisible and very intangible.

In the industrial age the assets were solid, buildings and plant. Manual labour was disposable. The tattooed yobbo on the back chain in the meatworks with the social graces of a Barbary coast pirate could earn a decent crust - and be sent down the road in the next downturn. By the 1980's it was dawning that managerial expertise might be an asset but most firms paid lip service to the notion and peanuts to the managers.

Internet assets need an investment of 25 years, careful rearing by parents and the infusion of manners, knowledge and social graces. That is very very expensive.

They always were. But then they were only needed at the sharp end of the economy. Now the need is spread over a wider range and extends down the chain. In an electronic economy where knowledge is the locus of value its actual location can be anywhere.

Your best product designer runs of with a Brazilian she met in a cyber chat session. But wait. All is not lost. They could both work under contract from Recife, when they can be untwined. Keep to mind the mantra, The Internet is not confined to time and place.

If the people are hard to get and difficult to keep try some real outsourcing. Out of the country. Bangelore, Calgary Dublin.

Employment recruiters might get their Internet act together: vet credentials, test capabilities, certify performance and put up an Internet site with a full suite of hirees wherever located.

The expensive ads in the newspaper would only be needed to proclaim the recruiter's skill at attracting the best. And directing traffic to their web site. There you should find a suite of potential staff, certified as to their capabilities to complete specified tasks.

Frederick - writes code at 80 words a minute, PCB boards in a day, delivers day and night, no pension costs, needs a two month online contract before going to the Bahamas in July.

Online contracts can be signed, trials undertaken and parties who have not met begin a profitable relationship. The recruiter may progress from being an introduction bureau but achieve that joy of brokers, an ongoing percentage.

The employment recruiter business may be stood on its head. If people with knowledge are assets then they should be sold in full colour with money back guarantee tags attached. People available not jobs vacant. Want an inventory system expert. See our picture file, Need someone to design PCB board? Check out our wares.

If the knowledge resides in people's heads there is a fair bit of it scattered round the company premises as well.

The knowledge assembled. in the company software that helps it retain a competitive edge in a constantly shifting market where options change yearly.

It's the age of knowledge the accountants have grudgingly allowed brands to come on the books. Patents are assigned value.

Will they allow knowledge mining on the Internet as a step ahead of allowing a major corporation to buy a few trade magazines.

How will they react to the notion that an Internet researcher buried in Alaska ferreting out the latest trade practices on the Internet in their area of business is a priceless asset? And that the contract with them should almost have a value on the books.

Can a quantum value be given to best practices and ideas held in the vault for future or current use. Research gathered by Internet professionals proficient in digging through chaos to produce information that makes money.

Of course it could be balanced against alternative costs of purchase. That of hiring a coterie of consultants who simply mine the Internet for the last paper their colleagues wrote on the matter three countries away and repackage it with a costly cover.

The trouble with knowledge as an asset is that it gets devalued faster than a Zairian prostate. It can quickly become a liability.

Your expensive EDI commercial document interchange system is superseded by a $99 dollar product from Sweden Your competitors have it now and you cannot migrate your data from the dinosaur on your hard drive.

A business opportunity exists for Internet professionals to fill ideabanks with processes, procedures, precedents, systems, sources for sale. A better way to figure the implementing of a business strategy than expensive "How to manage "books Packaged at no delivery cost.

It took a hundred years for the phone line to be used for more than idle chat and business contact.

Watch this space. Or is that location? Or connection?