would like to welcome Bill Smith as a new writer in our Online Columnists section. Smith will be focusing his columns on e-business and will be using his experience gained at Deloitte Consulting as a senior manager. Smith can be reached via e-mail at

The goal of this new column is to keep e-business technologists informed of the reliability and marketability of the technology that is enabling e-business as well as discuss trends and products in this space.

To do this, I will examine e-business technologies as they proceed along their S curves which describe the stages of a technology from inception through growth and on to maturity. S curves are helpful to investors and technologists, but they are even more useful when they describe how the technology is being used. S curves are enhanced when they describe – in detail – the conventional use of the technology as it proceeds through the maturity stage.

My columns will also pay special attention to the architecture and use of e-business technology. The very essence of e-business is all about using information technology to improve business performance and gain a competitive advantage. Without technology there is no e-business.

Finally, I will provide insight into the products of different manufacturers to ensure that understanding of the architecture of the product and how it is being used in e-business situations (by paying customers) is kept top of mind.

However, before we begin this ongoing discussion of e-business technology, we need to paint some boundaries around the phrase "e-business technology." Like the blind man and the elephant, everyone seems to have their own definition of e-business technology. The best way to paint these boundaries is to describe what we see as the emerging e-business technology architecture. Many are describing e-business business models, but technologists need a corresponding model that describes the technologies that enable the business model.

E-business technology is not a single product. It is a variety of technologies, and they all interoperate to enable the e-business model. Figure 1 illustrates what is emerging as an e-business technology model. It includes four types of technology:

  1. The Internet application integration (IAI) platform manages the interaction between the Internet and the internal technologies of the business.
  2. Middleware is responsible for ensuring that the interaction among business applications, both internal and external, is managed efficiently and securely.
  3. Transaction processing systems record business events and allow the business to control and communicate these business events.
  4. Information systems provide views of all types of information in a format that is tailored to the requirements of different users.

Figure 1

The focus of this column will be on the IAI platform and middleware. While we will discuss transaction processing and information systems from time to time, we will do so as they relate to special features that enable e-business.

Because we are especially concerned with the reliability and marketability of technology, we will examine the products of many manufactures that supply IAI and middleware technology. These include BEA Systems, NEON, IBM, Oracle, Microsoft, Vitria, Active Software, Sun, Tibco and others. We will work with the manufacturers to understand the architecture and uses of their technology so we can provide reports to our readers that allow them to understand where the products are within their respective life cycles and make reliable forecasts of where the technologies are going. My hope is that this will allow you to plan and feel secure in where you and your company are going in e-business.

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