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Global Commerce Growing Fast on The World Wide Web

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RESEARCH TRIANGLE PARK — Have you shopped online yet? Most of us haven't, but that's changing. Internet industry observers say shoppers will spend $2.3 billion online this holiday season.

You can buy most anything right now on the Internet, from equipment for your company to art from Japan. The World Wide Web is the fastest growing technology in history.

"Today we've got about 200 million people on the Internet," says Futurist Dr. James Canton. "I'm looking at a billion people in less than five years on the Internet."

Governor Hunt is nowcourting Chinafor new business. With wireless and satellite technologies, much of that business will be done on the Internet.

"Anyplace in the world you're going to be able to wirelessly be on the Internet," says Canton. "That means do business. That means buy and sell because it's a marketplace, a virtual marketplace."

According to industry studies, about 90 percent of online usersdohave concerns about security. Nonetheless, 43 percent are expected to shop online this holiday season.

Software engineers like those atIBMare making electronic business secure for the world. And businesses that fail to go on the Internet may fail at business.

"Is really going to change significantly, every institution that we're commonly familiar with," says IBMs Al Zollar.

Buyers have more power than sellers on the Internet, and that power lies with anyone on the 'Net.

Internet-related stocks have recently zoomed on the stock market, particularly those having to do with electronic business.