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Manzi sees dollar signs

Jim Manzi, chairman of Nets Incorporated, predicts that business-to-business commerce will outweigh the importance of selling to individual consumers.

ANAHEIM, California--Business-to-business commerce over the Internet will be far more important in the near future than selling to consumers, Jim Manzi, chairman and CEO of Nets Incorporated, told an electronic commerce conference here today.

That's because the purchasing process in business-to-business sales is far more complex than consumer purchases, he said, often stretching the buying process to months.

"Narrowcasting, a one-to-one discussion between a buyer and a seller, that is where the sweet spot is for business-to-business commerce in the next few years," Manzi, the former head of Lotus Development, told the attendees at IDG's Internet Commerce Expo conference.

"Our goal at Nets Incorporated is to apply Internet technologies to create electronic marketplaces that will allow buyers and sellers to interact in new economic relations to conduct business more effectively and at lower cost," he said.

Transaction costs in business-to-business sales account for up to 35 percent of a sales price, Manzi said. "If you can cut that by one percent, the economic benefit is enormous."

Manzi joined Industry.Net, which operates a Web-based market place for industrial manufacturers and distributors, early this year. In June, Industry.Net bought AT&T's new media unit and changed its corporate name to Nets Incorporated.

Manzi sees agent technologies as key to success in Internet commerce.

"Multifunction agents can assist buyers by knowing a buyer's preferences, individualized to that buyer," he said. "In one sense, the Internet will come to the specifiers, but we will drive information to a specifier's desktop."

In other news from the show:

--IBM-owned Lotus, announced that its Net.Action tools to design, create, and manage a Web site have gone into beta testing. The tools, formerly called Net.Presence, are based on Lotus' Domino Web server technology.

--Terisa Systems announced that its reference implementation of the Secure Electronic Transactions (SET) protocol, designed to enable secure credit card transactions via the Net, will be posted on the Web sites of Visa International and MasterCard International by year's end. Terisa also will incorporate the reference implementation ino a new version of its SecureWeb Toolkit, also due in 1996.

Novell will make SpaceWorks's OrderManager and ChannelManager available on Novell Connect Services, Novell's public data service. OrderManager manages ordering, supply, and fulfillment between a wholesaler and its distributors, while ChannelManager manages distribution of a manufacturer's information to its resellers.

WebBooth unveiled its public-access, Internet kiosk, equipped with both a touch-screen and a personal computer for users with or without a personal computer. The firm also will market a $25 smart card for unlimited use of its kiosks.