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IBM gets down to business

IBM rolls out its electronic commerce strategy Internet strategy and introduced what it calls "e-business" applications for conducting business over the Net.

IBM (IBM) today elaborated on its Internet strategy and introduced what it calls "e-business" applications for conducting electronic commerce over the Net.

The company also formally announced the formation of its Network Computer Division tasked with coordinating the company's NC technology initiatives and alliances with partners.

IBM unveiled vertical applications for using the Internet for education and the petroleum, insurance, financial services, and utilities industries.

In addition, IBM signed up new merchants for its World Avenue online consumer shopping mall and demonstrated data-mining technology that lets Web catalog sites personalize what visitors see based on their past purchases on the Web site.

"E-business is more than electronic commerce," said an IBM spokesman. "It takes into consideration back-end integration, not just putting up a Web server but tying it to inventory, transactional programs, databases, and wholesale partners."

New e-commerce applications shown today included a service called the Energy Network Exchange, which will allow electric utilities to use the Internet to sell excess electricity. The first customer of the service is Pacific Gas & Electric.

Other applications introduced included an auto loan application that uses the Web and PetroConnect to let oil companies share geologic data.

The announcements augment IBM e-commerce initiatives outlined in September, and will involve IBM services, consulting, software, and hardware, as well as new incentives for IBM channel partners.

Previously announced World Avenue storefronts Express, a division of The Limited, and Robert Waxman Camera have been joined by Omaha Steaks, Avante Jewelry, and Wimbledon, a souvenir shop for the British tennis tournament.

Listed as coming soon to World Avenue are Smithfield's Ham, Gottschalks, Hudson's Bay, Fragrance Counter, Health & Vitamin Express, Eyemate, Spank The Store, The In Zone, Combo, Water Valley Outfitters, Sport Warehouse, Home Computing, and Pure Country.