Boom in e-commerce prompts four new spring classes at UC Berkeley's business school

By Jacqueline Frost, Public Affairs

BERKELEY-- Calling electronic commerce "the single greatest change to business since the invention of money," a professor at the University of California, Berkeley's Haas School of Business and several colleagues recently launched four new classes on the topic.

The goal of Arturo Perez-Reyes and others at the business school is to help students rethink and expand what it means to conduct business on the World Wide Web. In one new course, students are starting up their own Internet businesses with help from a team from IBM.

"The realities of e-commerce are astonishing and are rapidly changing the face of both corporate and Main Street America. Online spending might total $1.2 trillion by 2002," said Perez-Reyes, who teaches "Internet Business Design and Development."

IBM chipped in $40,000 worth of hardware, software and training to support undergraduates' new business ideas. One student team is placing Haas Gear - the business school's promotional product line - on-line; a second team is transforming the online marketing strategy of Boure, a Colorado-based mountain bike apparel firm.

Another new class, "Journalism and Business Models in New Media Publishing, " examines both business and journalistic issues confronting the burgeoning field of online publishing.

"This course is one of the first anywhere to address the issues of what business leaders need to understand about electronic commerce in order to stay competitive in the 'new economy,'" said Amy Shuen, a visiting professor in the Haas School's Management of Technology program. She is co-teaching the new course.

"On-line publishing is one area where strategy and timing are big concerns," she said, "Companies that adopt a 'wait and see' attitude will be left behind."

Her students are learning which advertising works best for online publications and whether these Web sites should charge their visitors. Students also are studying the content of these electronic publications and discussing the publications' journalistic credibility.

Another group of Haas students is finding out how businesses do business with other companies on the Internet.

"E-commerce is evolving at such a lightning pace that it makes even veteran information technology professionals feel dizzy and business professionals feel clueless," said Arie Segev, one of two professors teaching "Cases in Electronic Commerce."

"This course is intended to prepare students with the necessary concepts, models and best practices needed to carry out major business projects in electronic commerce," he said, "particularly in business-to-business endeavors."

The fourth new class explores how the Internet changes the way businesses communicate with their customers and how these companies market goods.

Florian Zettlemeyer, one of two professors teaching "Internet Strategy," said the Internet dramatically changes traditional marketing strategy because of lower costs in communication and product distribution and more efficient communication between companies and customers.

"At the end of the course," he said, "I want students to be able to possess a way of thinking about marketing on the Internet that is not outdated in six months."

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