Inside Track on the New Year

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What would a new year be without a few New Year's predictions? Here are a few you can bank on.

E-commerce will continue to skyrocket. Well there's a no-brainer. I wish I had a share of stock for every time I asked, "Why would people buy books online?" Experts described 1998 as the year the Internet showed its potential, and we'll now enter a hypergrowth period. Though final numbers aren't in for this past holiday season, it looks like they'll exceed everyone's expectations. And what marketer wouldn't salivate over predictions of online retailing increasing to $108 billion by 2003. As e-commerce explodes, look for direct mail to increase, too. People like written reminders in their mailboxes, not just on their computer screens. Therefore, marketers will need to increase their mailings to drive consumers to their Web sites.

The Y2K problem will be solved. It sounds like the larger DM companies are well on their way. Last week, President Clinton even announced that Social Security is year 2000 compliant. Luckily, we'll never have to deal with this problem again, though I'm still going to make sure I have a few days worth of cash before New Year's Eve.

More mergers and acquisitions are on the way. As long as the stock market keeps going strong, these bigger companies will have money to take over the smaller guys. They're looking for some good values, and there's lots of money out there to buy those good values.

E-billing will put a dent in First-Class mail. OK, so this prediction may not happen before the new millennium; but e-payments are going to start eroding the growth of First-Class mail. By 2007, First Class will make up less than half of the total volume of mail sent each year.

What I'm hoping for next is an easier way to balance my check book.

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