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9/3/2004
05:41 PM
Bob Evans
Bob Evans
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Businesses Technology: Killer Businesses, Hubs of Commerce, And The IW Fall Conference

Small- and medium-sized businesses today have unprecedented opportunities to become deeply engaged in global business by aligning themselves closely with large organizations that are eager to have smaller partners work with them around the world on the condition that those partners follow tightly proscribed requirements for technology standards, business processes, product and service quality, and speed.

Remember the Charlie Chaplin film Modern Times, wherein he finds himself overwhelmed by automation, machinery, hyped-up assembly lines, and the general unquaintness of a rapidly accelerating job? In one scene, Chaplin, falling ever-farther behind at his station on the assembly line, jumps onto the conveyor belt with wrenches in hopes of catching up with the runaway stuff he's supposed to be doing--instead, he himself gets swept up in the giant gears and crankshafts before being spat out at the end of the line.

That must be the way some businesses are feeling these days as the pace of commerce increases, the degree of customization spikes, borders disappear, and the complexity soars: Figuring out what to do and how to do it and whom to partner with and how to make all the pieces fit around the clock and around the globe.

Now, because what goes on in movies isn't really real (or is it?), Charlie Chaplin makes it through the grinder in one piece. But in the real world, that's not the outcome today for unprepared companies that get sucked into the high-torque machinery of global commerce--they get destroyed. That does not mean, however, that only deep-pocketed giants can play in this game: quite the contrary. Small- and medium-sized businesses today have unprecedented opportunities to become deeply engaged in global business by aligning themselves closely with large organizations that are eager to have smaller partners work with them around the world on the condition that those partners follow tightly proscribed requirements for technology standards, business processes, product and service quality, and speed.

This is the concept of hubs of commerce that we've talked about in this space before and that's the theme of InformationWeek's Fall Conference later this month : "Creating the Killer Business: Technology-Powered Companies at the Center of Commerce", which will run Sept. 19-22. We've got an outstanding roster of speakers lined up, including top business-technology execs from General Motors, eBay, FedEx, Caesars Entertainment, Merrill Lynch, Bank of America, and The Standish Group. In addition, while I can't reveal the names yet, we'll have speakers from several of the highest-ranked companies in our annual InformationWeek 500 list of the most-innovative corporate users of business technology in the world (their names will be published in the Sept. 20 issue of InformationWeek).

OTHER VOICES
Florida ordered mandatory evacuations in parts of 17 counties and voluntary evacuations in five other counties....Florida officials said 2.5 million people are covered by the evacuation orders....Still, he noted that the storm-- the size of Texas, with winds upward of 120 mph --could affect the entire state.

-- CNN, Sept. 3


Plus, we'll have author Don Tapscott talking about his theory of "business webs" raised in his new book, "The Naked Corporation." I've spoken with Tapscott about his ideas for the ways in which technology will enable companies to interact with each other and with customers in unforseen ways, and he has a range of brilliant but challenging ideas he'll share at the conference. Venture capitalist Ray Lane , a Kleiner Perkins partner, will offer his perspectives on key business-technology developments in the coming year; management expert and author Jim Champy , Perot Systems' chairman of consulting, will discuss his perspectives on how hubs of commerce will include "business-service platforms" that lead to suites of business processes that are beginning to form the standards for how commerce unfolds in various industries; and two directors from McKinsey & Co. specializing in supply-chain and retail and packaged goods will share some secrets from industry giants they have studied.

And with the presidential election only weeks away, we'll also be featuring Saturday Night Live's Darrell Hammond to offer his, uh, uniquely intimate perspectives on the two candidates. But if none of that interests you and you just want to spend a few days at a nice hotel, we'll be at the Westin Mission Hills Resort and Spa in Rancho Mirage, just outside of Palm Springs.

Finally, since we all love competition, send me your thoughts on our conference theme and you'll be in the running for an all-expenses paid trip to our Fall Conference. But don't fall behind and wind up like Charlie Chaplin in the nearby photo--deadline for entries is Thursday, Sept. 9. See you in the desert!


To discuss this column with other readers, please visit Bob Evans's forum on the Listening Post.

To find out more about Bob Evans, please visit his page on the Listening Post.

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