*E-Business Goes Beyond Internet

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ORLANDO -- The Internet is reversing the way business to business marketers reach customers and that role reversal is occurring on corporate Intranets and Extranets, said Chuck Martin yesterday during his keynote address at the 10th Annual Direct Marketing to Business Conference here.

Martin, author of the Digital Estate and the Net Future, explained that e-business is not e-commerce but a reorganization of the distribution channels of BTB marketers. Instead of pushing products on customers, companies need to focus on ways of pulling in customers and making it easier for them to buy. Firms like Dell Computer and Access Communications are seeing success by letting customers control the process and share the information that will get their needs met.

This customer pullcasting, as Martin calls it, is occurring on Extranets (private online networks between a corporation and its client base) and Intranets (private networks within a corporation) that enable the sharing of information across the entire enterprise. Extranet communication, in which the customer supplies the data and targeting, is more timely and cost effective than marketing a product that appeals to a customer and creates an aggregate of demand rather than supply.

When the business already knows what its customer needs, it can focus on providing other services that will enhance the relationship. Cisco Systems, for instance, can identify customers facing similar problems and connect them to colloborate on finding a solution in much the same way communities of similar interest come togther on a Web site.

The immediacy of online communications also enables business to act on real-time feedback. Online auction sites like Onsale that use the public Internet to sell products are moving into the BTB arena and changing pricing dynamics in minutes rather than months.

The future Martin sees is the melding of three Nets together to create a sweet spot of business and customer interaction.

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