March 14, 1997 11:00 AM ET
IBM Net exec: 'Tremendous growth' in E-commerce
By Michael Fitzgerald

  LOS ANGELES--Will the Internet bring about the 48-hour day?

That's one contention John Patrick made in his keynote here at Internet World.

Patrick, IBM's vice president of Internet technology at IBM, painted a future for the Net that looked like a rose but was difficult to smell, and was filled with heady ideas, such as the notion that companies can gain time by having employees on opposite sides of the world use the Net to collaborate.

He also argued that demand for "E-business" will mean bandwidth and security limitations on the Net--which all will be addressed. It also will force vendors to work together, rather than pushing proprietary technologies.

"Tremendous growth" in the number of Web users in 1997 will make electronic commerce take off, he said.

"People want to be connected to one medium, and while connected, they want to be able to do everything they want to do," Patrick said.

To make his point, Patrick zipped through an array of diverse Web sites, such as the L.L Bean site, which in addition to clothing features a supercomputer-driven guide to the nation's recreational resources, and SmokeyNet, a Web site teen-age students assembled about their high school. He gave a sneak preview of the interactive Web site for the Winter Olympic Games in Nagano, Japan, showed American Airlines' online ticket auction and discussed projects to bring all the rare documents in the Vatican library online.

Patrick downplayed limitations, saying public-key encryption will become as matter of fact as spellcheckers in a word processor.

"This universally connected world will result in the natural evolution to the new medium, where everything and everybody can communicate," Patrick said.

For instance, a car might have a Java applet that sends an E-mail to its owner when the oil needs to be changed.

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