If companies make only a token attempt at e-business they will be squeezed out of the market, a recent study by Gartner Group warned. The company's vice president of e-business transformation, Alexander Drobnik, said that companies must ensure that e-commerce is at the heart of their organisation. Key to staying in the e-commerce race is choosing the right technology to build on. Gartner says that in Europe mobile and wireless technologies will be the main driver for e-commerce. One of the main technologies is Wireless Application Protocol (WAP) which allows applications to be accessed via a mobile handset. It's expected that over 95 per cent of new mobile phones shipped in 2004 will be WAP-enabled. The wireless communication standard Bluetooth is another technology being touted as an e-commerce enabler. Gartner claims that 75 per cent of new handsets shipped in 2004 will be Bluetooth-enabled and that it will be one of the biggest drivers of e-commerce in Europe. The right tools for the job This tight integration means that e-business will eventually cease to be a separate entity and integrate completely into the whole of the operation. "By 2004 we will see a steady 'slope of enlightenment' as true e-businesses begin to emerge. At this point e-business will be completely embedded into an organisation's business processes," he said. Drobnik added that getting to the point of complete integration would not be easy with many companies falling by the way side. "There is no doubt that the next few years will be tough on businesses making the e-transition and we expect to see a high level of disillusionment." Evidence that companies were feeling the heat from the huge costs and limited short-term returns associated with e-business is the recent example of clothing retailer Levi's which was forced to abandon its e-commerce strategy. The company ploughed headlong into e-commerce just over a year ago. However, at the start of the month the company announced that it was abandoning its estimated $8m (£5m) e-commerce venture. Paola Brandi, spokeswoman for Levi Strauss in Europe, said the decision was taken because e-commerce wasn't seen as core to Levi's main business. "We are a wholesaling company and have been for over a 100 years, we are not a retailer," she said. Melissa Bane, director of internet market strategies at analyst firm The Yankee Group, believes this could start a trend as other manufacturers review their e-commerce strategy. "We can expect to see some other manufacturers pulling back from the web and choosing to allow their online sales to be handled by their major retail partners," she said.
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