Trung T. Pham, Ph.D., Chief Technology Officer, DIcentral Corporation
Electronic commerce is expanding at an exponential rate. This expansion is partially attributed to the availability and maturity of computer networking, and partially to enterprisesí need to be cost effective.
The initiative to trade through electronic commerce normally requires initial investment for setting up hardware and software. Off-the-shelf hardware and software have been provided by leading industries but often priced at a level affordable only by large enterprises. This financial requirement is the main barrier preventing medium and small-sized enterprises' entry to electronic commerce.
A hosting model can be utilized to allow medium and small enterprises to share resources while significantly reducing their cost of entry. This hosting model puts emphasis on the host to provide a scalable environment at a diminishing cost and to achieve computational efficiency. Scalability at a diminishing cost is essential for the host to manage an increasingly large number of enterprises. Computational efficiency is crucial for the host to handle massive data sent and received by enterprises conducting electronic commerce through the host.
Front end resources provided to enterprises must also be easy to use and address their specific requirements. There are two popular approaches to providing resources: (1) integration of available off-the-shelf software, and (2) development of customized software. The main advantage of off-the-shelf software is their immediate availability. However, this advantage is often negated by the cost of licensing, and the lack of specific solutions. Customized software is best known for its efficiency, specificity, and scalability at diminishing cost. One major obstacle to customized software is the development time that a host must balance against its startup funding. A host that can overcome this obstacle is normally capable of timely response to changes in a variety of standards in data format and in enterprise resource planning systems.
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