The traditional IT organisation must radically reorganise for Internet commerce, changing the infrastructure, interface to users and the role of the IT organisation.
That is the message from leading IT research company Forrester Research. Speaking at the Forrester Forum Europe in London, group director Waverly Deutsch said the current infrastructure of Lans and Wans simply won?t work., mainly because traffic is undifferentiated - a downloaded picture and an urgent order are given the same priority.
Another problem is that the connections are predetermined despite the Internet having global customers that change frequently.
A major concern for anyone using the Internet is that transactions are not secure - Lans were designed for internal and not public use.
Deutsch said what is needed is an Active Network. ?These are networks that identify users and content to optimise delivery according to business priorities,? he explained.
The manufacturing buyer presents the certificate to the network, which then issues a priority boarding pass. ?Because the Active Network actually performs the actions of identifying and optimising the traffic it is better equipped to handle the demands of ecommerce,? said Deutsch.
Companies need to start taking steps to creating this type of network. Deutsch stressed: ?They must begin piloting certificates for identity with their own employees, companies must gets their directory house in order and then invest in Gigabit routing switches in the Lan backbones.?
The second part of the retooling process for I-commerce is the interface. Deutsch believes the current Windows-style user interface come to the end of its life once consumers use the Net to carry out actual transactions.
?The Windows user interface is broken. What is needed is new class of interface, one that moves away from the jumble of disconnected applications. It must be a personalised interface to transactive content applications," he recommended.
Transactive content is what Forrester sees as the new application vision. It is software that blends transactions with interactivity and content over the Internet.
The Internet desktop will not use the Windows file system but instead combine content and applications. Instead of a generic start bar it will have customised views that are context sensitive to the job being worked on at that particular moment.
And instead of a separate window for each application, the new Internet desktop will offer a context sensitive view of tasks by blending content, interactivity and transactions, Forrester believes.
The new desktop will display the user?s company and division icon as well as a personal calendar and possibly a scrolling bar for news.
Deutsch said: ?The Internet desktop will provide a higher level of synergy as Windows separates out the different applications. The architecture of the Internet desktop will give different level of customisation enabling greater collaboration.?
It will put information relevant to that person on a customised environment making the look and feel different for each class of user. The content, transactions and interaction will be melted together into a seamless view.
Deutsch said: ?IT needs a balance between employing the traditional Windows applications and the new Internet desktop environment.".
The companies Forrester expects to be at the forefront of this development are Digital Harbor, which is working on a Java based desktop, Wall Data with its Cyberprise products, content vendors Perspecta and Harmony as well as Microsoft, Netscape and Lotus.
The final part of the retooling is the organisation itself, which needs to shift its focus to external issues. Deutsch said: ?Most of what IT companies are working on is internally focused, ecommerce demands more than half is focused on external issues.?
What is needed is a new type of IT company, what Forrester termed as Catalytic IT, an IT organisation that produces fundamental, positive changes that catapult a company forward.
To evolve into this new type of organisation companies must measure their current performance to improve on efficiency. They must be proactive and experiment with many new technologies in order to find the one that best fits their needs.
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