Electronic Commerce Is First Beneficiary of the Information Highway

Article excerpt

The electronic information highway has caught the imagination of the media and business pundits alike. In fact it's rare not to find at least one mention of the topic on any given day in your favorite daily paper or business periodical.

These stories are fuelled by a seemingly never-ending stream of enthusiasm for an electronic super highway that will give us the ability to command just about anything -- from special sports events, movies and home shopping, to banking, multi-media and global bulletin board access -- all from the comfort of our favorite chair at home.

Unfortunately, most of the articles, and the high technology gurus usually quoted in these stories, are lacking in any hard details of just how this electronic information highway will work. In fact, if anything, what details are printed often do nothing more than add confusion to the scene. After all, not too many of us care if the carriers are fibre optics, cable, or existing telephone lines.

Also, much of the media attention is focusing on who the major players will be (witness the case of Maclean Hunter vs. Rogers Cable) and who will end up running this super highway. I think it is pretty safe to assume that the proper infrastructure and regulatory bodies will be in place in the not too distant future.

What is missing in this scenario is some practical information about the highway and what it can do for business. Happily, I can report that the electronic information highway has already been laid and it's open for the business of moving information.

Electronic data interchange (EDI), bar coding, fax, imaging and smart cards are just a few of the technologies that are part of the growing list of electronic-based business tools that make electronic commerce, probably, the largest user of the electronic information highway, as we know it today.

The information highway is, in effect, enabling us to bring together these electronic business practices to the advantage of individual companies and organizations striving to increase their competitiveness.

This increased competitiveness often finds itself expressed as a result of the re-engineering of business practices promoted through the use of electronic commerce. …