Cut to the Chase – Tacoma's Tech Column – Fridays in the IndexIs eBusiness just early business?

“The recent success of Tacoma’s eBusinessDay festivities and all of the other national media attention that Tacoma has recently received has helped raise Tacoma’s visibility as a growing high technology community to an even higher-level. All of this attention has sparked some controversy within the local business community.The Tacoma technology community, Tacoma-Pierce County Chamber of Commerce and the City of Tacoma are proud of all of this attention. At the same time some within this very same technology community want to gain more local acceptance from the more established business people.I am willing to stand up and say yes to the desire to be accepted and embraced by Tacoma’s older and more established companies. It has been a challenge recently to say yes, but nonetheless I am willing.New technology businesses are being characterized by some as either irresponsible dotcom’s or risky profitless eBusinesses with no prospect of a future. This characterization or generalization is unfair and dangerous to our fragile public image as a high-tech growth area. The current publicity opportunity could easily end because of infighting and negative comments within the local business community. This could be painful in the long-term to all companies who call Tacoma home. The loss could be silent and unseen, because it would be a loss of exposure and business opportunity.I need to define some e-concepts and answer a question before I can continue. What exactly is ebusiness? I pose this question for many reasons, but the main reason is that ebusinesses are primarily new economy businesses. These new economy businesses are regular new businesses that are using the Internet and computer technology to do new business models. These new business models are usually focused on brokering information over the Internet and are part of a fundamental economic change that is happening in the modern economic centers around the world. We have all heard of the recent dotcom business failures and dotcom layoffs, but through all of that Internet traffic and ecommerce continues to grow at a fantastic rate. The other unseen truth is that a very small percentage of all dotcom’s are actually going out of business. Most are thriving because most dotcom’s do embrace basic business practices. They are breaking even or are profitable. Don’t always believe what you read or hear, as it is usually representative of a very small sample. What does this mean you might ask?We are still in the very early stages in the evolution of this new information based economy. Locally technology companies are taking major risks and exploring new ways of doing business that could lead to the capture of major chunks of regional, national and world economic market share.The truth is that we have some local companies and industries here in Tacoma-Pierce County who may not have what it takes to compete in the new global economy. That fact is not something that is exclusive to the South Sound area. The technology community as a whole has recently been under fire about being not being profitable and not operating like older, more established companies.The question that keeps ringing in my head is whether this technology boom in Tacoma is really about our level of technology achievement and ebusiness growth or about our future possibilities as a business center that supports smart global businesses in an economical way. At the most recent Tacoma Technology Consortium meeting the panel discussion was about whether Tacoma has sustainable competitive advantages in the area of business. The panel really never answered the question, but covered all of the resources Tacoma and the South Sound area has to offer the global business community as an attraction for doing business here. It is clear that with the Click! Network and our local resources give us the ability to compete with any city in the country. These vast resources can and should be leveraged as much as possible, but let’s all stand back and look at the big picture. This is why I propose my final question about our local embrace of the concept of ebusiness and ecommerce. How will we be viewing these successful eBusinesses 10 years from now or even 5 years from now after many other current non-eBusinesses have gone out of business. I am thinking that we need to follow the current technology industry thinking and start thinking of eBusiness as early stage new economy businesses that will over time become just Business.My vote is for all in the Tacoma business community to think of all businesses within Tacoma as just Tacoma business. Willing or not, we are all becoming bricks & clicks companies.Rob Greenlee is the Director of Marketing for ShopperBox Networks, Inc. in Tacoma ( He also founded/hosts the WebTalkGuys World Radio Show on KLAY 1180 AM every Sat morning at 11am ( “