The E-volution of E-commerce: Part I

"Five years ago, the terms ‘electronic commerce’ and ‘e-commerce’ were virtually unheard of; today, they are household words.”

~ Advisory Commission on Electronic Commerce,
Report to Congress, April 2000

The incredible benefits and the enabling capabilities of the Internet are overwhelming. Not only can you “chat” over the World Wide Web, but you can also now have long-distance conversations, watch streaming videos, listen to CD-quality music, send real and virtual postcards, post family photo albums, keep calendars, and even — fall in love. Best of all, you can do all these things over the Internet for free. There is no doubt that the “Net” is changing the lives of many individuals. Moreover, it is also making an extraordinary impact on the world and how we interact with one another as societies, cultures and countries.

The Commerce Department has gone as far as concluding in its Digital Economy 2000 report that “the digital economy is now the driving force of the overall economy.” According to the study Digital Planet 2000: Global Information Economy released in June by the World Information Technology and Services Alliance and research group IDC, with an annual growth rate of 9% - faster than the growth rate of the global GDP - information and communications technology is one of the fastest growing markets and contributors to the global society and world economy.


The Internet undoubtedly has provided the greatest boost to such growth. When compared to the growth and acceptance rates of other technologies, the Internet is nothing less than extraordinary. Radio took 38 years to reach an audience of 50 million; television 13 years and the Internet a mere four.


The propulsion of Internet-based commerce is reflected in the similarly phenomenal growth of the information technology (IT) sector, which not only provides the underlying infrastructure for virtual trade, but is also taking credit for driving the new economy. The Commerce Department estimates that even though production by the IT sector only accounts for 8% of the Gross Domestic Product (GDP) its rapid real growth of 18.8% from 1994-98 accounted for 35% of the nation’s real economic growth. This is particularly significant in light of the fact that the overall economy only grew 4% on average over the same period. According to the study Digital Planet 2000 global spending on information and communications technology topped $2.1 trillion in 1999 and is projected to surpass $3 trillion in 2003.

Moreover, according to The Internet Economy (IE) Indicators published by The Center for Research in Electronic Commerce at the University of Texas at Austin, the IE now directly supports 2.476 million jobs. The report also claims that the number of jobs supported by the IE grew 36% during 1999, with revenues jumping to 62%, shooting up to $524 billion. In the U.S. alone the Commerce Department estimates that the number of employees working in the software and computer services arena practically doubled from 1992 to 1998, increasing from 850,000 to 1.6 million. The rise in demand for highly educated and highly paid IT professionals is even more dramatic, rising by 80% over the same time period.

Part II: E-commerce Defined Next
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Lorenzo D. Domínguez. All Rights Reserved.
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