Wednesday, June 20, 2001

High Marks for The Conference Board

The results are in and The Conference Board's "2001 E-Commerce Conference: Profitability and Sustainability for the B-to-B and B-to-C Business Models" was such a well-done event that it's receiving The Cyber Scene's official "Gold Star" award in the conference category. Conference Program Director and NYU Stern Graduate School of Business Professor of Marketing Al Lieberman was a gracious host and excellent moderator who fielded questions from the floor with aplomb and panache.

All the speakers were excellent, informative and enthusiastic in each of their respective panels and fields of expertise. Mastercard International Electronic Commerce & Emerging Technologies and Corporate Payment Solutions VP Philip Philliou divulged information on his company's global technology cards. He also revealed that B2B business makes up about 4 percent of the US market right now and is even smaller in Europe. Citibank VP and Director Electronic Bill Presentment & Payment (B2C) Nancy Goodman went through new scenarios for online bill paying, pros and cons of different payment methods, and coming attractions in this arena. Currently 8 million households are paying bills online, but there are major improvements that could be made to improve the entire process for consumers and merchants.

Barry Felder, partner and head of litigation at Brown Raysman, Millstein Felder & Steiner, spoke on the issue of privacy. He told us that few of us consider privacy issues in the same breath as cookies -- just seven of 1,000 Internet users reject them at sites they visit. Felder also conveyed that there are no general federal or state privacy laws concerning cookies. The laws that do exist, such as the Computer Fraud and Abuse Act, the Electronic Communications Act and the Wiretap Act, are for specific sectors. He raised a basic question: Should there be a broader legislation or would that infringe on 1st Amendment rights? There are some proposed bills coming up, including the Online Privacy Protection Act of 2001, the Consumer Online Privacy, and Disclosure Act and the Consumer Internet Privacy Enhancement Act.

NowDocs, Inc. Director of Business Development Bosy Colak spoke on the topic of "Utilizing the Web to Streamline Operations and Minimize the Cost of Supplies." United Messaging Chairman and Founder Stephen Layne provided a history on B-to-B and B-to-C models in his talk on "Which Business Models Work and Which Ones Don't." The end result was that a big market for B-to-B still exists; the surface has only been scratched. Multimedia Live's Founder, President & CEO Ken Burke's white paper on "Intelligent Customer Service: Improving Your Online Customer Interactions" was packed with information and solutions for businesses to become profitable.

At the cocktail party that followed, the hors d'oeuvres were divine and the wine flowed in rivers. We chatted with Union Pacific Railroad Industrial Products Director Robert Toy, Standard & Poor's Market Development SVP Sarah Hammann, BlueCross BlueShield of Florida's Advertising & Market Communications Susan McKindles and Aetna's Strategic Planning e.Aetna Services & Programs Director Dorothy Paleologos. Everyone said they thought it was the best conference they'd been to in a long time. And they all seemed to enjoy themselves immensely. Hurrah! Finally a conference that delivered impact with information - and kept attendees happy.