Thursday, June 12, 2008

B2B in a World of Controlled Vocabularies and Taxonomies

The e-readiness rankings have been released. And it reveals that the US and Hong Kong are the leaders in this category for e-readiness. How do you measure it? According to the Economic Intelligence Unit, connectivity is a measure of e-readiness. Digital channels in a country which are plentiful, fast, and reliable enough for its people and its organizations to make the most of the Internet is the basic infrastructure and measure for this to happen. But if individuals and businesses do not find the available channels useful in completing transactions, then the number of PC's or mobile phones in a country is a worthless measure.

Hence, the EIU designed its findings by looking at the opportunities that a country provides them to businesses and consumers to complete transactions. Market analysts Forrester estimate that online retail sales in the US grew by 15% in 2006; US $44 billion was spent online in the third quarter and the firm estimates that 2006 online sales in the Christmas holiday season alone reached US 427 billion. Another research firm, IDC, estimates that business-to-business (B2B) transaction volume in the US will reach US $650 billion by 2008, which amounts to two-thirds of the world's US $1 trillion B2B market by that time.

Even though there is concern that the great weight of the US in online activity takes away from the rest of the world, the fact that its online adoption also benefits other countries; China is one beneficiary of the growth of B2B volumes in the US, so much so that there has been the creation of some sizeable and sophisticated B2B transaction service providers, including one of the world's largest online B2B marketplaces, Alibaba.

Over 15 million business and consumer customers in China user Alibaba's online platform. While most do not pay to use basic services, more than 100,000 businesses do. In fact, Yahoo! had bought 40% stake in Alibaba for US $1 billion in 2005). The chinese firm is evolving into a comprehensive supplier of online business development resources for Chinese customers, many of whom would not be doing business online at all if not for Alibaba.

What does this mean for information professionals? A great deal. Look at the financial implications of B2B in the current telecommunications infrastructure. We're essentially running the online and digital economy on the bricks and mortars of outdated networks. We're in a good position to take advantage of the this upcoming economy.

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