E-Commerce Shining in Campus Spotlights

The Internet continued its rapid infiltration of academia this week, with an announcement from the highly regarded Haas School of Business at the University of California-Berkeley that it is adding four new e-commerce classes to its curriculum.

Meanwhile on the opposite coast, the Massachusetts Institute of Technology’s Sloan School of Business honored major computing industry companies Dell Computer Corp., Egghead Software, and four other companies as winners of the first MIT Sloan E-Commerce Awards. The program was also broadcast live on the Internet Tuesday night at mitawards.org.

Dell Computer picked up the Internationalist Award for expanding its online business to serve international customers. Dell, which was a co-sponsor of the awards and whose Chairman Michael Dell was a member of the MIT Awards Committee, offers online shopping to 44 countries in 21 languages.

Egghead.com won the Web Transformation Award for most effectively transforming itself from an established brick-and-mortar retailer into an Internet business. Egghead now operates solely on the Internet, offering more than 40,000 computer products.

Swimming with the Big Fish

Joining the big names at the MIT ball were four smaller companies focusing on specific niche needs in the e-commerce world. MIT named MP3.com, of San Diego, California, winner of the Re-Inventor Award. By distributing music in individual songs online, MP3 has changed the way the music industry operates and created opportunities for new artists as well as consumers, MIT said.

The Technology Innovator Award went to Minneapolis, Minnesota-based Net Perceptions, for technology it developed to help online merchants identify shoppers’ preferences based on information gathered from the customers while online. Net Perceptions enables retailers to customize their online appearances to appeal to each individual consumer.

Akamai was named Rookie of the Year for its FreeFlow service, which speeds up delivery of content-rich web pages and helps solve Internet congestion problems. Akamai was founded last November at MIT.

Last but not least was an award to recognize a company who uses the Internet as a “vehicle for social change and not just a way to make a fortune,” MIT said. The Socially Responsible Award went to Impact Online, of Palo Alto, California, for its VolunteerMatch service that pairs volunteers with non-profit organizations.

Back to School

MIT’s Sloan School was the first top-ten U.S. business school to launch a program on electronic commerce and marketing, but UC Berkeley is moving quickly to catch up, launching four courses addressing a variety of Internet-related issues.

Berkeley Professor Arturo Perez-Reyes called e- commerce “the single greatest change to business since the invention of money,” noting the Business School plans to use the courses to help students adapt their current thought processes about business to the new and changing online market.

The Berkeley courses include “Internet Marketing Strategy,” which examines online communication and advertising, and “Internet Business Design and Development,” which teams with IBM to help students design their own online businesses. IBM donated $40,000 (US$) of hardware, software and training to support the project.

Another course, “Journalism and Business Models in New Media Publishing” will target both business and journalism students and will address online advertising methods and issues such as the credibility of online reporting. Berkeley also offers a general course in “Business-to-Business E-Commerce.”

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