SAP guru predicts e-commerce boom

Electronic commerce will be to business what automatic teller machines and Eftpos have been to banking, says Price Waterhouse Urwick partner Christopher Bennett. Melbourne-based Bennett leads Price Water-house's package implementation practice for Asia-Pacific. He was in New Zealand last week to talk to business leaders about SAP's success and future prospects.

Electronic commerce will be to business what automatic teller machines and Eftpos have been to banking, says Price Waterhouse Urwick partner Christopher Bennett.

Melbourne-based Bennett leads Price Water-house’s package implementation practice for Asia-Pacific. He was in New Zealand last week to talk to business leaders about SAP’s success and future prospects.

He told the business leaders that SAP’s investments are well targeted to developments in industry. One of the developments he believes will have a significant impact on business over the next three years is e-commerce. He says businesses need to be investing in it now. “It will do for businesses what ATM and Eftpos did for changing the way we relate to banking. When was the last time you were in a bank?”

He predicts it is going to have a huge impact on business in the next three years.

“I’m talking about things like self-service between the likes of the retail outlet and its supplier. The capacity is already there, using Web browser technology, to do self-service in terms of order entry, order prioritisation and availability of stock.

“If a business is planning new systems today, and many are, and are not looking at that sort of stuff, they’re at risk — from the competitive advantage point of view —of losing market share.”

He says those businesses which are “early to market” will reap the benefits. They can increase their market share by getting at their competitors’ customers.

Bennett says he is constantly telling businesses they need to be aware of how e-commerce could change their business. It might not be suitable for everyone, but if businesses aren’t aware of the potential, they could miss out on any advantages arising from it. “E-commerce is here and is real. It will kill EDI. That will be will dead by the year 2000 and it will be all about real transactions.”

Businesses were not heeding the message yet and Bennett believes it will take a major retailer to make the first move. “Then watch them get in line to try to get in there, trying to knock off the competitors.”

“It’s a matter of: ‘Watch this space’. By the year 2000, we’ll see some real shifts.”

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