While the Web has allowed companies so far to sell products and services online and to improve their business processes, a whole new wave of services is rising up now, a Hewlett-Packard executive said yesterday.
"This is just the beginning as far as the Web is concerned," said Ann Livermore, president and chief executive officer of HP's Enterprise Computing, during her keynote address at the company's E-servicesWorld event. "The Internet has reached another inflection point."
The logical next step for the Internet is to evolve from being simply a new sales channel and a new venue for business operations into a repository and provider of myriad interconnected electronic services, Livermore said.
"The Internet is shifting from being a collection of Web sites to a network of nimble interconnected e-services," she said.
These services will fall into the categories of business services, such as billing and supply-chain management; computing services, such as data mining and directory services; and consumer services, such as travel and financial planning services, she said.
These new e-services would be delivered not only to PCs but to a variety of devices, Livermore added.
HP is betting that several new markets will grow up around new e-service business models, and will experience explosive growth in the coming years, Livermore said.
One of them is application hosting -- eOnline's business -- which could become a $US21 billion market by 2001, Livermore said, quoting estimates from market researcher Forrester Research. Between 15 to 20 per cent of applications in 2001 will be purchased this way, she added, again quoting a Forrester estimate.
For e-services to be provided successfully, users need reliable servers able to provide Internet access and support transactions, network and systems management tools to monitor performance, and middleware to tie front-end and back-end systems, she said, adding that HP is focusing on these technology areas.
"Every company is suffering from some sort of Internet anxiety," she said, referring to companies that fear it is too late and too expensive to integrate the Internet into their business processes.
But e-services are levelling the field and providing an opportunity for companies to enter the Internet space.
"Everything touched by electronics in the marketplace is up for grabs," she added.
There are about 700 clients at the event, HP officials said.