StratVantage Consulting, LLC — Mike’s Take on the News 01/22/01

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StratVantage Consulting, LLC — 01/22/01

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The News – 01/22/01

New Domain Names Delayed

Well, ICANN apparently CAN’T. Can’t get the new registrars for gTLDs (generic Top Level Domains) up and running as quickly as they promised, that is. ICANN is the relatively new authority that controls the generic TLDs such as .com, .net, and .org. They recently approved seven new gTLDs (.aero, .biz, .coop, .info, .name, .museum and .pro) but are having problems getting the registrars ready to go. Potential registrars had to apply to ICANN last year for the right to register the new gTLDs. Once accepted, they needed to get the registration systems together before opening for business.

Many people worldwide have been clamoring for new gTLDs because .com has gotten so crowded, and because they hated the monopolist policies of Network Solutions, who was forced to give up the monopoly last year. Somehow these (supposedly) intelligent people think it will be easier if there are more gTLDs. I don’t necessarily agree. I think more gTLDs solve little and add more confusion. As an example, do you think Coke will allow anyone else to register, or, or coke.anything? I think not. So the biggest brand holders will try to dominate the new domain landscape like they’ve dominated the current .com.

And think of the user confusion. Nowadays, if you want to find a company, you tack .com on the end of their name and take a stab at it. Chances are good you’ll find them. But with the new gTLDs you will have to think if they’re a museum or a professional association (lawyers, doctors, accountant) or a co-op. You may have to try .com AND .biz. It could be a nightmare.

The only ray of light is that the new gTLDs are not available to just anyone who wants to register a name. To qualify for .pro, for example, you have to prove you’re a doctor, lawyer, or accountant. But what if you’re an architect? Aren’t you a professional? What about an engineering firm? How about a strategic Internet consultant? I can see a world of hurt coming as various professional groups try to barge their way into .pro.

The other gTLDs are similarly restricted: .aero (air travel), .biz (businesses), .coop (cooperatives), .museum (museums), .name (family names). So will I need to give up and get Will companies be forced to give up .coms to get .pros? It’s hard to say, but stay tuned. It will be interesting.


B2B Means Back 2 Basics

Hold any B2B stock? If you’re like me, you’re a hurtin’ unit. Ariba is trading down from a high of 183 at about 52, Commerce One went from 165 to 22, FreeMarkets dove from 370 to near 19, PurchasePro only lost 80 percent of its value, at 16, down from 87, and former media darling VerticalNet is just above 5, down from a high of 148.

Chris Vroom, an analyst at CS First Boston, said he expects a “wave of recovery” because B2B technology is the next big thing in IT.

Why is this? Because, for the most part, B2B technology works, and it addresses real needs that real companies have. And companies are going to modernize their procurement and supply chain systems, maybe not this year, but certainly soon. All it takes in each industry is for one company to gain a competitive advantage by driving cost out of their supply chain, and the whole industry will tip.

So the technology enablers like Ariba, C1, SAP, Oracle, i2, and Manugistics should prosper. It’s not as clear that exchanges will flourish, however. See my presentation at a recent Delphi Group conference for my take on the subject. Basically, I believe that public exchanges will wither while private exchanges, AKA intelligent supply chains, become the dominant form of B2B e-commerce by the end of the decade.

The other news for exchanges is good, however. Some analysts are seeing reason and realizing their earlier irrational bias against transaction fees was misguided. Where exchanges provide value, expect to see them collect a transaction fee. It probably won’t be based on the value of the transaction, but businesses will pay it like they pay the phone bill.

Any way you look at it, it will be an interesting year.

[Standard disclaimers apply. If you
saw my portfolio, you wouldn’t take stock advice from me!]


A Revolution in Retail

NetPOS is selling an Internet Point of Sale (POS) system that uses the Application Service Provider (ASP) model to provide real-time purchasing information to a central site. They aim to replace cash registers and the headaches retailers have in keeping them running and extracting meaningful information from them. They are also offering various value added ASP applications like employee scheduling and video conferencing.

So the CEO is 23 and I think to myself, what can he know about the challenges of replacing cash registers in retail settings? Then I look a little further and see that Nathaniel Borenstein is Chief Scientist at NetPOS. Holey moley! This guy is really bright. I met him back in 1994 (AKA, The Dark Ages) when I was part of the Dun & Bradstreet Electronic Commerce Special Interest Group. At the time he was with First Virtual, the first serious online payments company. He also authored the MIME (Multipurpose Internet Mail Extension) standard, which is the reason you can get an email today with graphics imbedded, and he is the author of three books, two patents, and numerous articles. So now I’m interested, and impressed that this major smart guy is involved.

Do these guys have a chance against the NCRs of the world? Can’t really say. It will probably boil down to bandwidth. If they can get decent bandwidth dropped into the stores, they’ve got a chance. If they need to rely on modems, they’re toast.

Nonetheless, some kind of rapid transfer of POS data along the supply chain will be developed. It remains to be seen if NetPOS will be the ones to hit the home run.


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