The e-commerce market will be worth $200 billion by the turn of the century provided global standards are agreed by industry and government, according to IBM chief executive Lou Gerstner.
Speaking at the Cebit trade show in Hanover last week, Gerstner focused on the much hyped e-commerce market, its business potential, and the obstacles facing mass adoption of the technology. He shared the platform with German chancellor Helmut Kohl.
Gerstner said: 'It's not hyperbole to say the network is quickly emerging as the largest, most dynamic marketplace the world has ever seen.'
Citing online bookseller giant Amazon.com as an example of successful internet commerce - 24-hour access to about 2.5 million titles - he argued that e-commerce was also spreading fast in retail banking, car sales and education.
Gerstner also addressed the more tricky issues of online security and international standards for data and encryption. 'We've got to reach agreement on standards for communications, security, software and development,' he said, in a week when the US government and software vendors made tentative steps towards such agreements.
The Big Blue chief called for an unrestricted market for encryption products.
'We're not as far along as we need to be, but I'm confident we'll get there,' he said.
Gerstner also argued against imposing a special tax on e-commerce transactions since this would 'stifle a nascent market'.
Commenting on the speech, Beth Barling, a consultant at Ovum, said Gerstner had shone a spotlight on crucial issues facing e-commerce players. 'IBM on its own is powerless to forge standards on security, privacy and taxation. These issues are a global concern which groups of vendors need to take forward.'
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