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Challenges confront growing E-business

Wednesday, July 1, 1998

The article reports on a meeting of the Financial Executives International organization’s Committee on Finance and Technology, which was held at an IBM facility in New York. John Patrick, vice president of Internet technology at IBM, was one of the featured speakers. He described five challenges that could limit the growth of electronic commerce and the Internet industry: security, content labeling, privacy, governance, and infrastructure. Patrick supports universal security standards and does not support increased government oversight or regulation of the Web.

Financial Executive – Jul/Aug1998, Vol. 14 Issue 4, p53

Before the Internet truly takes hold, private industry needs to take the lead in resolving the big issues that currently limit the expansion of electronic business. So says IBM Vice President of Internet Technology John Patrick , who was one of the featured speakers at a recent meeting of FEI’s Committee on Finance and Information Technology at IBM ‘s Sleepy Hollow, N.Y., facility.

Patrick outlined five major challenges confronting the growth of electronic business:


He suggests that security standards be universally adopted, monitored and enforced, and that businesses take security very seriously, just as they do auditing of their books.

Content labeling

With more than 100 bills pending before Congress dealing with regulating the Internet, the free flow of information is at risk. IBM sponsors a helpful site at www.incongress.com to search for information on any bill pending before Congress, including a section on Internet legislation. Many of the bills generated in Congress dealing with content regulation stem from outcries from parents and teachers, Patrick says. The current PICS (platform for Internet content selection) standard provides a basis for a content rating system for web sites, much like how movies are rated. He adds that parents need to do more “parenting” as well. Increased government oversight, however, is not the answer.


Many web sites fail to disclose how the company intends to use the personal data it collects from browsers. Privacy policies should clearly state whether the company makes its personal data available to others or not. For guidance, Patrick suggests visiting his own site at patrickWeb or www.trustee.org. Also helpful is the site maintained by a consortium of 50 hightech companies promoting adoption of online privacy standards, found at www.privacy alliance.com.


By default, the U.S. government is serving as the chief Internet arbiter and operator. The private sector should lead the way in setting standards for conducting business on the Internet, says Patrick .


Faster applications are on the near-term horizon that will greatly speed up Internet commerce. The frustrations of today over slow downloads will vanish. “The biggest mistake a company could make would be to assume that there will not be enough bandwidth to make the Internet useful over the long haul,” says Patrick .

These issues are explored in detail by the Global Internet Project at www.gip.org. For more information on the Committee on Finance and Information Technology, contact Susan Koski-Grafer at (973) 898-4607 or [email][email protected][/email].

Editor’s note: John Patrick is among the invited guest speakers for FEI’s Forum on Finance & Technology, March 11-12, 1999, in Chicago. Stay tuned for more details.