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ORLANDO-By 2005, more than 500,000 companies will participate in marketplaces as buyers and/or sellers, triggering a frustrating maze for existing and startup businesses.

The prediction comes from William S. McNee, founder/president of Westport, CT-based Saugatuck Technology.

He is one of a dozen speakers at the International Development Research Council’s Florida World Congress at the Orlando World Center Marriott Resort here, Nov. 4-8.

“Three dominant e-marketplace business models will survive,” McNee will tell 2,000 professionals attending the five-day event beginning Saturday. They are business services, commodities and integration services.

The management consultant cautions, “Market markers will need to remain technologically agnostic, as no single vendor will be able to provide all of the components necessary for success.”

McNee cites 10 e-business “success imperatives” for companies determined to “harness and exploit e-business despite ever-increasing complexity and volaltility.”

The top 10 credos are:

* Never plan more than 24 months ahead.

* Do not develop an e-business strategy independent of the full business strategy.

* Use separate strategies according to industry, geography and culture.

* During analysis, give equal weight to the internal and external processes.

* Obtain total buy-in from the board.

* Deliberately execute alternatives to buy, spin off or transform the business model.

* Play by the “new” rules.

* Enhance or eliminate distribution channels based on their power and value.

* Establish a metrics program that measures the true effectiveness of the e-business initiative.

* Speed and ruthless execution are everything.

By 2003, McNee forecasts, “50% of e-business project initiatives will be based upon consensus-seeking committees, minimizing their business impact and value.”

The consultant feels “the most successful e-business efforts will be czar-driven, but only when enterprise revenues are at severe risk and when the czar has unqualified, direct access to the CEO.”

McNee defines a czar as “a single individual who leads all enterprise e-business projects; promotes consistency across all enterprise projects; and has the potential to create conflict with individual business units.”

Executives and managers need to be particularly aware of where work for their organization actually gets done by staffers. The location factor will be key to any strategic planning, the consultant says.

“Through 2004, 80% of knowledge workers in the Global 2000 enterprise with assigned workstations will be absent from their workstations at least 50% of the time,” McNee says.

Four “over-arching location strategies enabled by information technology” are:

* Virtualize office work.

* Shift office work to retail settings.

* Virtualize the retail channel.

* Shift routine work to lower-cost settings.

By 2004, McNee says “30% of the small-business market in North America and 15% of the Global 2000 market will be serviced by integrated workplace ESPs that host most employee needs, such as occupancy, connectivity and general office services.”

He concludes, “E-business initiatives must be based on sound business strategies. Avoid the common mistakes that condemn Web initiatives to failure. If your strategy aims for high customer focus, then your organization and processes should be re-engineered.”

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