'E-commerce lives' despite dot-com bust

E-commerce is a changed landscape for the pure internet business, says Bob Klepper, newly appointed Jade professor of e-commerce at Victoria University in Wellington.

E-commerce is a changed landscape for the pure internet business, says Bob Klepper, newly appointed Jade professor of e-commerce at Victoria University in Wellington.

But for the traditional business looking to integrate new technologies into their processes, the potential of the online environment is still very relevant.

The university’s courses concentrate on teaching students how the internet operates and equipping them with general-purpose tools, which they can put to use in any of the varied electronically-aided business environments that the future may produce, says Klepper, who hails from the US.

Obviously in future courses there will be less content on pure internet businesses, “but the university always has had a lot of emphasis on business-to-business applications and intranets”, he says, and these are the areas with a future.

Even in the pure internet space, there are still some clearly successful models like eBay and travel booking and information services, the latter particularly relevant to New Zealand.

In research, he says one of his priorities is the application of ideas from economics in the area known as "informational cascades", the process by which businesses adopt new technologies, sometimes before they are ready, apparently simply because others in the same industry are doing it. There seems to be a certain amount of “herding behaviour”, he says, and the mechanisms of this bear study.

A related area of interest is the role that trust and reputation play in fostering business-to-consumer e-commerce. His research areas also include overcoming barriers to e-business in developing countries and the role of distance in a networked world.

“I’m trying to get up to speed on some specifically New Zealand issues, such as tourism and how the internet relates to that,” he says.

Klepper is a former professor of computer management and information systems in the school of business at the Southern Illinois University.

He wrote Outsourcing Information Technology, Systems and Services and has acted as a consultant for a number of companies and public bodies throughout the world.

He succeeds inaugural Jade professor of e-commerce Brian Corbett.

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