The next generation internet will experience demand that is 50 times greater than today, but because of the huge ebusiness skills shortage, the online industry is going to have its work cut out to cope.
Scott Hebner, IBM's ebusiness director, speaking exclusively at Big Blue's ebusiness developer conference in Las Vegas to uk.internet.com, a sister website of vnunet.com, outlined how he thought it could handle the issue, however.
According to IBM, one billion people will access the web in five years' time - a thousand-fold growth on today's numbers. Business-to-business ecommerce is also expected to grow by 200 per cent during the same period.
This means that the creation of a fully internet-enabled world is only three per cent complete at this stage and IBM reckons it will take about 25 years for the full revolution to be realised. At the moment, integration and interoperability are still the main problems and generate the biggest frustrations for ebusiness around the globe.
Following a pattern for strategy
"The focus of the next generation internet will be standards," said Hebner. "Over the next three years, two-thirds of skilled positions will be empty, and the problem will continue to grow for five years at least. So ebusinesses need a standard cookbook or pattern to apply their strategy to in order to succeed."
He added that the key for such companies was designing the next generation internet around industry standards that were applicable to all platforms - including hardware, and development languages such as Java and XML - and then incorporating this into their business model.
"The point is not trying to reinvent the wheel," he said. "But the problem at the moment is that development resources are being expended, but no new developments are resulting from it because there is no global standards base to work on."
Hebner claimed the only way that ebusiness could survive was for the industry to ensure that the internet is developed in a platform-agnostic fashion, so that the tools and skills available are applicable to any platform, at any level.
"We need a framework of neutral certifications," he said. "If this can be established over the next five years, then the skills shortage in the industry will decrease dramatically," he said.
Outsource to survive
Outsourcing will also be key to the survival of ebusiness, Hebner added. "People still have to realise that the value of ebusiness is not at the infrastructure layer - so don't blow resources on that. Companies need to stick to their core competencies and outsource the rest."
According to Forrester Research, ebusinesses will outsource nearly $20 billion worth of strategy, design and technology work around their ecommerce sites this year alone. The analyst company said this trend would be driven by two-thirds of companies experiencing project delays because of the skills shortage, with 27 per cent of organisations experiencing delays of a year or more.
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