Electronic Commerce is global, non-stop, instantaneous, and "Friction Free". This primarily involves transactions such as: business to business (b2b), business to customer, business to government and government to constituent. Electronic Commerce is made possible by the Internet and becomes more efficient each day. It is characterized by business, government and consumer interactivity from any place at any time. This activity includes: buying, selling, applying, approving, submitting and marketing anything from anywhere, at anytime. This is the most significant result of the Internet which is having a profound and fundamental impact on the way world society functions. There are 250 million potential customers on the Internet at the time of this writing (see date below). This pools is growing at 150,000 per day and the more it grows the more valuable it becomes.
Official attempts to manage economics will be less relevant than in the past. Many of the economic models that were taught in school a decade ago, no longer apply. Employment is high and demand is high yet costs go down. The more there are, the more valuable they are, which is the reverse of the old economy. Current economic forces are global and driven by instant, comprehensive and precise information that lead to an optimum economic environment. This Information driven economy is supported by accelerating and pervasive technology that eliminates economic friction and continuously drives costs down. Therefore, localized attempts to constrict, manage or regulate economics, have less positive impact.
This raises the question: who is in charge?
The answer is everyone. (This is not a facetious answer; however it is not at all clear, at this point, how the ability to move information about anything from anywhere, will be disciplined.)
In addition, E-Commerce is an absolute requirement for success in the Information Age. This includes public as well as private organizations. All major organizations must be able to conduct business 24/7/365, (which is to say, all day everyday) or risk being absorbed by a public or private organization that can. For example, the Big Three auto makers joined together in a common procurement system that will save a trillion dollars per year. Other automakers are at a distinct disadvantage and face increased risk of being absorbed by the Big Three. The airlines post email ads, about on-line prices, once per week; travel.com is now sending out the specials twice per day; soon the price will change from minute to minute as conditions dictate. There is no way for business to do that without electronic commerce. Let's take a government example; the IRS will accept your tax return on-line, do an automated review and deposit the refund in your account, all transactions untouched by human hands. Government, like business does not have a choice.
The organization itself, must also evolve in order to attract and maintain the skills needed to compete in the era if E-Commerce. (See Organizational Evolution)