Welcome to our new column, "The Enterprise." I am delighted to be joining DM Review as a regular columnist. Over the coming months, we will explore existing and emerging technologies and their application to the enterprise. My objective is to help you use these technologies to benefit your enterprise: its customers, suppliers, employees, business partners ­ in fact, all stakeholders who have a mutual interest in seeing your organization grow and prosper. I also write a free, quarterly e-mail newsletter ­ "The Enterprise Newsletter" ­ called TEN. The mission of the newsletter is to help enterprises achieve 10 out of 10 best practices in the application of information technology to business. This column has a similar mission. While my focus in the column will largely be on information technology, we will also consider other technologies when appropriate ­ where those technologies have the potential to confer competitive advantage.

My objective is to present each topic so that it can be understood by both a technical audience of IT practitioners as well as a business management audience. I will write mainly from a business perspective, with extensive use of business examples and anecdotes so that you will feel quite comfortable directing my column to the attention of your CIO, CFO, COO and CEO when I discuss technologies that are important to the future of your organization. But I will also include brief non- technical discussions of the technologies involved to support the business examples. References will also be given to other resources where more technical readers can find greater detail. In most cases, these will be in the form of links to relevant Web sites.

Over the coming months I particularly want to discuss emerging Internet technologies and their application to business ­ not in terms of building static advertising Web sites for your organization on the World Wide Web, but by using dynamic Web sites for business-to-business electronic commerce, heavily promoted by IBM as e-business. We will discuss the use of these technologies within the organization to build intranets, and we will also discuss their application in secure business-to-business communication across a "private" subset of the Internet with your customers, suppliers and business partners by using extranets.

I want to discuss the business implications of the rush to the Internet, and the strategies for success in the coming competitive Armageddon. I want to look at the emerging potential of Extensible Markup Language (XML) and its benefits to business. While the Internet and WWW today allow immediate communication with other computers (as Web servers or Web clients) anywhere in the world, that does not necessarily bring with it business meaning and understanding. We will see how XML holds the promise of making this communication meaningful.

Later columns will examine the business potential of Virtual Reality Markup Language (VRML). While VRML has seen only niche acceptance to date as a descriptive language to define and navigate through 3-D environments, we will see business potentials when we marry VRML with electronic commerce and with XML.

Once I have introduced these technologies over the coming months, I then want to apply them to problems that you encounter on a day-to-day basis. We will see how these technologies can be used with CASE tools and also with data warehouses and data marts. We will discuss competitive strategies that are feasible with these technologies, and we will see how they suggest business development and organizational restructuring opportunities. We will see how they can be used to provide assistance to senior managers in strategic business planning.

We are about to enter one of the most turbulent periods in human history over the next 10-20 years. The technologies that we already have today and the new technologies that are now emerging will totally transform the enterprise of tomorrow. The organizations that plan today to use those technologies effectively will be the winners of tomorrow.

I am delighted to have been invited to write this column. The technologies are exciting ­ breathtaking in their potential to change business as we know it today. But they are also dangerous if we don't understand how to use them effectively. Together we will plot our way through the maze of alternatives. I do not claim to have all of the answers ­ no one has today. But with your feedback and other input, we will chart a path together. We start our journey next month by discussing the competitive Armageddon in more detail.

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