Dec. 21, 2004
A special report on how the world of manufacturing is changing as a result of Web-based commerce. Two years ago IndustryWeek initiated a four-part series on manufacturing and the Internet. Called "Success in Cyber Space," the award-winning series explored how to use the 'Net to gain competitive advantage. At that time, many manufacturers had yet to make their first sale over the Web. Much has changed since then, but much has stayed the same. Companies such as Cisco Systems Inc., Inc., and Dell Computer Corp. remain leaders in Web-based commerce. Following their lead, many manufacturers have embraced the Web as a means to sell products. Others, while using it to connect with customers, prefer to stick with more traditional means of conducting e-commerce, such as electronic data interchange. In this section, IW will take a look at the future of e-commerce, assess the changing world of salespeople and distributors, and assess how the CEO's role is evolving to meet the challenge of the Web. The first article ['Net Gains] envisions the ways the Internet is likely to transform business in the future. Largely a U.S. phenomenon today, it soon will become a global pipeline for commerce. But the picture's not all rosy -- taxation and security issues could put a drag on the e-commerce bandwagon. Internet-based commerce is putting the squeeze on traditional distributors, dealers, and sales staff [Death Of Salesmen]. Many industries have been slow to embrace Web-based sales, in fear of alienating their traditional channels. Finally [Piloting Companies In The Brave 'Net World], how has the role of the chief executive been affected? Do you manage any differently now that the customer has direct access to data on the company's products, inventory, and financial results? Must the CEO become be a daily Web surfer to be an effective leader? Should e-business be delegated?

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