U.S. YEAR 2000 BILL TO REACH $114 BILLION

WASHINGTON -- In a report on the impact of the year-2000 computer glitch on the U.S. economy, the U.S. Department of Commerce predicts a $114 billion government and business repair bill by 2001. However, the report notes that spending has likely passed its peak levels. Projections for retail's share of the computer repair costs have not been tabulated, but Cathy Hotka, vice president of information

WASHINGTON -- In a report on the impact of the year-2000 computer glitch on the U.S. economy, the U.S. Department of Commerce predicts a $114 billion government and business repair bill by 2001. However, the report notes that spending has likely passed its peak levels. Projections for retail's share of the computer repair costs have not been tabulated, but Cathy Hotka, vice president of information technology for the National Retail Federation here, says it is safe to "the multiple billions." The business sectors best prepared for the year 2000 are those that provide critical services, energy, finance, telecommunications and transportation, according to the report. While Y2K is not expected to affect overall economic growth for this year and 2000, it may influence the pattern and the timing of this growth.

IBM Expands Innovation Concept

NEW YORK -- IBM Global Services said it will launch a worldwide network of e-business innovation centers to bring together business strategists, marketing specialists, interactive designers, application developers and systems integration experts to help companies explore the next level of e-commerce. Already centers have been opened in Chicago, Dallas and Washington, D.C., and plans include openings in Boston, Los Angeles and here in the next six months. "These centers will provide a place for customers to work collaboratively with industry experts with the business knowledge and technical insight to manage the complexity, so our customers can manager their businesses," said Doug Elix, senior vice president and group executive, IBM Global Services.

Retail Sites Said To Lack Human Touch

NEW YORK -- According to economics research firm Datamonitor here, only 1% of U.S. on-line retailers have live customer support, resulting in $1.6 billion in lost sales. Leonard Chang, author of the report on web-enabled call centers, predicted that under-investing in call centers this year will result in $3.2 billion in lost sales. Chang also said that, "10% of sales that were lost could have been saved by real contact with a person." Chang said the 10% figure was arrived at through end-user surveys and interviews with solutions providers. While he admitted that vendors were likely to pad their numbers in this regard, Chang said this fact was taken into account when aggregating results.

Ernst & Young Debuts Storefront

NEW YORK -- Ernst & Young LLP here has debuted eStorefront, a prebuilt electronic commerce retail storefront application that rapidly decreases time-to-market and development costs for companies looking to implement on-line retailing solutions. eStorefront utilizes Microsoft BizTalk, an electronic commerce platform that makes it easier for companies to conduct business on the Internet. eStorefront is particularly suited for those companies that have yet to explore e-tailing but want to create an electronic commerce presence quickly and cost efficiently, according to Ernst & Young. eStorefront is an end-to-end solution that is customized to meet the creative and systems integration requirements of the client. The customization of the solution takes place at the firm's Advanced Development Centers (ADC), jointly staffed by Microsoft and Ernst & Young.