Generation Two Is Transforming E-Biz

Whatever you may not like about e-biz, odds are Etilize has solved the problem.

When new technology comes along, generation zero merely replaces components. Old solder jockeys may remember solid-state modules that plugged into vacuum tube sockets. Eventually, though, entire devices were redesigned around what new hardware enabled, and our expectations became broader as well as higher. Were finally seeing the comparable transformation of e-business.

Generation Zero e-business merely put product catalogs on the Web, reducing printing and mailing costs. Customers had to call in orders and waste time finding out that something was out of stock or even out of production.

Generation One added real-time order taking, and there was a customer advantage: Orders could be based on current knowledge of price and availability, letting customers strike their own balance between time and money. Thats how I bought my newest laptop computer; over a period of several weeks, I tracked declining price against declining stock at the PC Mall Web site (www.pcmall.com), pouncing at what seemed the ideal moment—and saving almost 50 percent.

But what about adding value instead of just cutting cost? What about injecting expertise to put multiple vendors data into directly comparable formats, easing market entry—and helping customers get past the glare and noise of marketing hype to find what will best meet their needs?

Thats the Generation Two proposition embodied in operations like R2R Central (www.r2rcentral.com), which bills itself as "The First Complete IT Trading Post" with a "Virtual Collaborative Inventory Catalog." The engine under the hood at R2R is collaboration technology from Etilize (www.etilize.com). Whatever you may think you dont like about e-business, the odds are that Etilize has solved the problem, beginning with streamlining data entry from legacy sources and continuing all the way through order fulfillment. From parsing raw product data spreadsheets to pre-printing FedEx labels, Etilize ties it together.

Its time to get over the understandable backlash against dot-com hype. Its time to look at the innovation and the redefinition of e-business that companies like Etilize are already doing—perhaps for your competitors if not yet for you.

Tell me what promises you want kept at peter_coffee@ziffdavis.com.