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New UW consortium helping steer electronic commerce

Electronic commerce is expected to fundamentally change the way business is conducted, but companies have few unbiased resources to draw from when navigating this new landscape.

A new consortium developed by Associate Professor Dharmaraj ("Raj") Veeramani (industrial engineering) is addressing this problem by assembling a team of experts from the public and private sector. The Global E-Business Consortium, which debuted this fall, will provide an unbiased and non-commercial forum for companies in the manufacturing and construction industries.

Dharmaraj (

Dharmaraj ("Raj") Veeramani (large image)

Companies had their first chance to learn about the consortium at an inaugural symposium on Dec. 2 in Engineering Hall. With the theme "Gaining Competitive Advantage Through E-Commerce," the day-long event included an overview by Veeramani and presentations by experts from IBM Institute for Advanced Commerce, Arthur Andersen, Fluor Daniel and Sterling Commerce.

Veeramani said this consortium is unique because it brings a "holistic perspective" to the issues. The consortium will include a diverse team of faculty from disciplines such as engineering, computer science, business, economics and law. Together with industry experts, the group will cover corporate strategy, business processes and information technology underlying electronic commerce.

"Totally new kinds of business models are emerging with new rules of behavior," Veeramani said. "It is not just a technological issue. To survive and prosper in this dynamic environment, companies will have to completely rethink their business and how they conduct it."

The consortium will offer seminars, workshops, roundtable discussions and symposia that allow companies to identify the best business practices. It also provides a framework for low-risk and low-cost research projects that will be conducted by faculty, student and industry teams for either individual or multiple companies. Additionally, members will have access to a website with features including discussion forums, case studies, frequently asked questions, and a "help desk" to reach experts.

For more information about the consortium, contact Veeramani (phone -- 608/262-0861; email -- raj@ie.engr.wisc.edu) or set your web browser to www.uwebc.org.

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