A lifetime ago, as a young Wall Street reporter, I would frequently walk through a major brokerage or banking firm on my way to an interview and see a dormant PC on every desk. Most of these machines were not even plugged in; in fact, you would often see phone numbers or names fingered in the dust that had collected on the otherwise blank screens.
It was a classic example of the business acumen of the financial services industrythe first to grasp the need to adopt and invest in business-propelling technologies. It may have taken awhile for corporate-wide support of the massive PC investment to have an appreciable effect, but no one doubted the wisdom of the strategy. Most firms simply expected their most ambitious advisors to figure outin their free (?) timehow to use those boxes to attract new clients.
This month's special section on e-banking reminds me of those days, how the financial industry is where you usually find the first impressive installments of state-of-the-art technologies and services. Competition fuels such commitment. Indeed, in the banking industry, Internet technology introduced a world of new players to an already crowded field. It was clear the winners would be the banks taking advantage of what the technology had to offer in terms of learning more about the needs of their clients and providing better, faster, more convenient online services than could be found in their physical counterparts. Guest editors Rajiv Dewan and Abraham Seidmann guided this section to produce a well-rounded account of the current environment and future opportunities in e-banking.
Competition also fuels the goods and retail service industries, as our other special section attests by illustrating how network technologies have changed the rules of the game and extended the arena to a global scale. Enter supply chain management (SCM) technologies and the opportunities, challenges, and competitive advantages they offer. The "chain" in SCM is an ongoing revolving and evolving process with no real beginning or end. Guest editor Kuldeep Kumar spearheaded this collection of pieces he calls "tales from the field" of SCMnot just in the developed world, but the challenges of economic contributions such services bring to developing economies.
Our thanks to all who shared their time and experience with us.
©2001 ACM 0002-0782/01/0600 $5.00
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