Global PC sales up despite weaker US market

Strong sales of portable PCs and demand in regions outside the US will spur global personal computer shipments to 40.15 million units in the fourth quarter of this year according to a revised forecast from International Data Corp (IDC). The new forecasts from IDC also predict that overall PC shipment growth will drop to 16.6 per cent globally for 2001, down from the 18.8 per cent expected for this year. Global growth is forecast to continue to slow long term because the business and consumer markets are becoming saturated and growth in emerging markets is becoming more moderate.

On a quarterly basis, the unit shipment forecast of 40.15 million amounts to 19.6 per cent growth compared to the fourth quarter of 1999 and 19.8 per cent sequential growth compared to the third quarter of this year. PC demand from US consumers was robust through last quarter, but appears to be weakening this quarter according to IDC, which predicts that situation won't change for two or three quarters.

Storage rental companies look for cred

While they still lack the credibility needed to entice many large corporate users, storage service providers (SSP) that offer data storage capacity on a rental basis continue to grow and will be joined by more competitors in the coming months, according to a report by consulting firm Summit Strategies. Dot-com ventures and other start-up companies that lack money and technical expertise and have unpredictable growth rates are the most likely customers for SSPs, Summit analysts explained.

Paying monthly per-gigabyte rental fees to an SSP gives users the potential ability to scale their storage capacities as business needs dictate, in a manner similar to the way more established application service provides (ASP) work with their customers.

Include the external when measuring-business performanceE-business measurement as it exists today is broken, according Forrester Research. Companies will not achieve growth and success in the emerging e-business marketplace using traditional statistics like ROI as e-business measurements but instead, need to fund and measure e-business based on three classes of externally oriented objectives: end-customer success, hyperpartnering efficiency, and multicompany financial performance across a company.

Just as businesses develop specialised organisational characteristics when they move online, they must also employ nontraditional methods to fund and track e-business projects. Companies that lack the flexibility or foresight to implement an e-business plan risk both financial and qualitative losses.

Asia to drive telecommunications growth

Having moved back into growth mode after the economic turmoil of recent years, the Asia/Pacific region is poised to regain its place as the pre-eminent telecommunications growth market in the world, according to a new report on the region's telecommunications industry published by the International Telecommunication Union (ITU). Currently, the Asia Pacific region accounts for almost 60 per cent of the world's population but only 30 per cent of the world's telecommunications subscribers. That fact alone, said the ITU, demonstrates the considerable potential in the region.

The roll-out of telecommunications in the Asia/Pacific region is expanding rapidly, not only in absolute terms but also in its relative share of the world market. In 1990, the region's fixed telephone lines made up 23 per cent of the world's total of 490 million lines, a share which by January 2000 had grown to 33 per cent out of a total of 905 million lines.

By 2001, that share is projected to reach 46 per cent of the total 1.5 billion fixed lines the ITU believes will have been installed at the end of this decade. At the same time, 10 years from now, two out of every three new fixed-line telephony users in the world will be Asian.

In mobile telephony, the impact of the rapid growth taking place in Asia/Pacific is even more striking, the ITU added. In the early 1990s there were less than one million mobile phone users in the region for a 13 per cent share of the world total. By early 2000, that had expanded to around 170 million, or 35 per cent of the total of 490 million mobile phone users worldwide - and growth in the region continues to outpace the rest of the world. The ITU predicts that in 2010 half of the world's 2.2 billion mobile users will be in the Asia/Pacific region.

E-marketplace services are booming

Worldwide demand for e-marketplace services will balloon from $US2.5 billion in 1999 to more than $US15 billion in 2004 and along with the market's strong growth will come a significant shift in its customer base, according to IDC. Currently, the e-marketplace services vendor's biggest customer is the e-marketplace itself, but this will change soon, however and e-Marketplace participants will become the primary clients, IDC believes.

The greatest opportunity for e-marketplace services companies will be in integrating participants' internal systems with those of the e-marketplace. Integration with an e-marketplace will tighten integration between suppliers and purchasers and help participants streamline processes and reduce costs.

Nowhere will the changing type of customer be more apparent than in North America. IDC found that in 1999, nearly all the region's e-marketplace service revenues were generated from the actual e-marketplaces, but by 2004, their share will be less than 50 per cent.

Because of the changing customer base, IDC believes it will be essential for services providers to provide implementation and integration services. While there is certainly room in the market for specialised consultants and application hosting and management suppliers, the companies that are able to provide implementation and integration services will have the greatest ability to acquire and maintain market share.

Incentive compensation extends beyond sales forceA recent report from Aberdeen Group states that incentive compensation is growing beyond the sales force. Incentive compensation is the single most effective lever for aligning sales performance with business goals. Both the baseline business goals and the company's values are demonstrated to employees through variable compensation systems. Employee motivation is the primary reason for implementing commission-based compensation systems. However, the current employee management systems are often delivering untimely error-prone rewards, which can actually deter employee motivation.

Traditional homegrown proprietary management solutions are limited in scope, inflexible and difficult to manage; therefore, these solutions are unable to respond to the rapid changes in today's business climate. Automated solutions reduce administrative costs and errors through the use of flexible software that allows compensation analysts to accurately manage and control multiple complex plans, and allows employees and their managers to review their progress towards goals in real time.

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