IBM has kicked off next year's push into the electronic commerce market with a $10 million (#6 million) investment in a new research centre. The Institute for Advanced Commerce (IAC), which will open for business on 1 January, 1998, is designed to investigate the effects of Ecommerce on future business practices. The Institute, at IBM's research centre in New York, will house work on a range of short and long-term research projects. These will include developing new capabilities for cyber-auctions and electronic promotions, and conducting complex simulations of the "information economies" that could develop in cyberspace several decades from now. Members of the IAC will initially include representatives from IBM, Carnegie Univerisity, Safeway and General Motors. More than 50 scientists from IBM will be dedicated to the Institute, focusing primarily on advanced solutions and technologies for complex business-to-business applications. Stuart Feldman, director of IBM's worldwide research into Internet technologies, will be the Institute's director. "The Institute will practice 'physics in the marketplace'," he claimed. "The results - research papers, conferences, products and services - will benefit scholars and the business community alike." "Electronic commerce is just beginning to enter its adolescent stage and will change tremendously over the coming years," added Irving Wladawsky-Berger, general manager of IBM's Internet Division. "By tightly focusing critical research resources on these business and technological issues, we can help the industry, and our customers in particular, to understand and implement electronic commerce solutions." "It looks like IBM is co-operating closely with large user organisations to provide a test-bed for core Ecommerce applications," commented Mark Lillycrop, a senior analyst at the Xephon market research firm. "Our research shows that most businesses are in the early stages of developing Internet strategies but cultural and technical issues such as management problems and security risks remain. Companies who work hand-in-hand with IBM can overcome almost any technical obstacle."
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