INSPIRATION FOR SMALL- AND MEDIUM-SIZED INDUSTRIES
Thank you Jacques, and good morning. I'm delighted to be back in Montreal and to keynote this CEFRIO conference. We're all here to talk about a revolution. The revolution is e-business, and in five short years, it has utterly changed our world. Five years ago, Ebay and Amazon and Priceline and E*Trade didn't exist. Now they're household names. To some, that's scary. To others, that's opportunity. I hope you all see it that way, because I can tell you with certainty -- you should.
Today, I want to talk to you first about what e-business entails, and to give you some examples of successful e-businesses. Then I want to discuss the state of e-business here in Quebec -- which is striving to become an e-business powerhouse. And to conclude, I want to consider what must be done to make and keep Quebec and indeed the nation e-business strong.
But throughout the talk, I want you to keep in mind this point: there is no business that is too small or too large to join the e-business revolution and profit by it. What CBC and CBIC have done -- so too can the apothecary down the street. That's the amazing thing.
Now -- what is e-business?
In its plainest sense, e-business is about the transformation of key business processes through the use of Internet technologies.
Take Heineken, the Amsterdam-based beer company. Not much the Internet can do for an industry like that, you might think. Think again.
With the help of IBM, the company developed a Web site called BarTrek -- a virtual bar. You don't drink there, of course. But the bar is designed to assure that you do drink more Heineken.
BarTrek is a mix of Web, satellite, and digital map routing technology to create an interactive consumer services platform. Through downloadable digital maps, it directs customers to real, Heineken-carrying bars in 15 major cities worldwide. There's a chatbar for them to talk. And when they visit the site, it collects detailed information on them -- allowing Heineken to market to them more precisely.
Even small alcohol companies can benefit from the Net. In the quaint Scottish hamlet of Lugton, a four-person cooperative called Scottish Craft Brewers went online. It sold, suddenly, to places like Slovakia. In months, sales rose a thousand percent.
Indeed, e-business is about using the Internet to reach new and existing customers -- but that's just the tip of the iceberg. It's about using the Net to unify supply chains and redefine customer care. It's about using the Net to train employees and get them to work together -- across time and space and the toughest divide of all: different departments! And it's about using the Net to simplify procurement and sharpen logistics.
In a word, e-business is about the turbo-charging of your company. It's like going from a 747 to the Concorde. Things get done better and faster and with fewer resources. Revenues rise while costs fall. Customers love it while competitors start to tremble.
But e-business takes some planning and care -- as we at IBM well know. In fact, we invented the term, and in the over-20,000 e-business engagements we've handled over the last five years -- including our own -- we've seen that the move to e-business is a four-part process.
We call it the e-business cycle, and these steps are in no particular order -- in fact, they're often simultaneous.
One step is the transformation I mentioned above -- business transformation. Transforming your relationships with customers, partners, suppliers, and employees.
To fully exploit the networked world, businesses have to fundamentally change the way they do things.
At IBM, for instance, we early noted that our procurement …