When more than 600 vendors convene to display Internet-related products and services to some 55,000 attendees, it signifies the Internet has become fundamental to performing a wide variety of everyday business functions.
Internet World 97 -- held in New York City in mid-December -- gave attendees a chance to check out the latest and greatest in Internet technologies. All sorts of people attended the show, including network specialists looking for the latest intranet/extranet solutions; organizations exploring the Web as a new medium; marketers comparing database building options; and webmasters looking for hot, new development tools.
Internet World's opening keynote address came from Stephen M. Case, chairman and CEO of America Online. Additional keynotes included Larry Ellison, chairman and CEO of Oracle; Alan Baratz, president of JavaSoft, Sun Microsystems; John Sculley,
chairman of LivePicture; and Michael Dell, founder and chairman of Dell Computer Corp.
Tools for building better, more commerce-ready Web sites took center stage at Internet World.
Vendors tempted attendees with off-the-shelf products that can build sophisticated Web sites.
In the commerce arena, a slew
of vendors rolled out products that let merchants build sophisticated, targeted Web storefronts using simple
template- and wizard-driven tools. Additionally, a major focus on products to personalize content and
provide marketing, sales and customer-care messages were shown.
Web development tools also made an impact. Vendors continue to make it as easy as possible for developers to build interactive Web sites without having to resort to heavy coding and development work.
Among the commerce tools launched at the show was The Vision Factory's Cat@log 2.5 catalog server, featuring enhanced statistics, tax and shipping support and more payment options. Another commerce tool launched comes from Encanto Networks. Its Internet server is aimed at small businesses that want an easy, one-stop way to establish a Web storefront. The company put together several alliances for its Java-based platform, including Hewlett-Packard, CommerceWave and Random Noise.
Among the other commerce news at the show, Intelligent Interactions announced a partnership deal with Oracle. Intelligent Interactions' dbCommerce system already runs on Oracle databases and enables users to build targeted, personalized storefronts based on an individual's transaction history, which is stored on legacy and Web databases.
Many vendors concentrated on Web sales, but SilkNet Software's latest product focuses on customer care and service via the Web. The company launched eService 98 -- an enterprise-oriented solution that integrates phone, Web and e-mail communications with customers.
On the Web authoring front, Claris showed its new Claris HomePage 3.0 -- a Web page and site authoring tool. On the high end, Macromedia introduced Dreamweaver -- its Dynamic HTML authoring tool -- and Open Market's new siteDirector 4.1 platform, which is the first release of the Web site publishing product it acquired as part of its buyout of Folio.
Internet Security Day focused on creating and maintaining secure Web sites and included panels on cryptography, Java and ActiveX security, virtual private networks and SET.
The Push Technology Summit covered technology issues like CDF, server technologies, wireless, audio push appliances and intelligent agents.
The Web Media conference discussed the role of the Internet press and included a roundtable of Internet catalog marketers.
Internet Document Day covered technical issues, such as Internet imaging, global distributed printing and new Internet printing standards. Additionally, there were discussions on document management on the Internet.
Appliances and Embedded Apps -- a new program for software developers and software marketers -- described the growth of the Internet beyond the desktop onto new platforms, such as Windows CE, Java, thin clients, Handheld Device Markup Language (HDML) and smart cards.
ISP World covered technology issues for commercial and enterprise ISPs, including cable, DSL, 56K, satellites, VPNs, http acceleration, faxing, integrated messaging and service metering. A roundtable of ISP CEOs identified ISP business opportunities and discussed the future of the Internet's bandwidth.
The Electronic Commerce conference covered online shopping technologies, payment systems and alternative ways of collecting money online and developing information markets. A panel of key industry leaders discussed customer service and fulfillment, taxation, regulation and politics.
The Internet Finance Symposium allowed companies to pitch their business plans to the audience and a panel of
big-name investors. The symposium covered the Internet stock market and provided a NASDAQ "Going Public" workshop for Internet entrepreneurs. During the symposium, institutional investors heard presentations from some of the exhibitors' CEOs and scouted out new companies for investment purposes at an invitation-only Internet Investment Conference.
The Net Telephony conference covered the state-of-the-art and state-of-the-market for Internet telephony, including enterprise fax channels, regulatory pressures, telephony gateways and the convergence of CTI and the Internet.
PRACTICING WHAT THEY PREACH
Everyone at the show, vendors and attendees alike, stayed in touch using the show's e-mail center. They could enjoy a cup of coffee and surf the Web at the Internet World Cafe. In vendor booths, companies used the Internet to display their latest products and services.
But in order to do this, a high-speed network had to be built for the show. The network -- built, managed and maintained by IBM -- was designed to provide high-speed Internet access using state-of-the-art Internet standards and technologies. All Internet traffic at the show was carried over the IBM Global Network -- a high-speed data, voice and video network.
Part of the challenge of Internet World's infrastructure was to provide an unlimited number of unique IP addresses. The system was set up so that regardless of the number of connections within an exhibitor's booth, the network could supply a sufficient number of addresses to support customer networking demands. Two network Help Desk centers managed the network.
Internet World Spring is slated for March 30-April 2, 1998 at the Los Angeles Convention Center.
Kimberly Maxwell is the author of "The Modem Coach." She lives in Tucson, Ariz. *
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