Cut to the Chase – Tacoma's Tech Column – Fridays in the IndexSeize Tacoma's Wired Advantage for Traditional Businesses

“A new partnership emerged in 1999. Traditional businesses started using more high-tech services to increase productivity, reduce labor costs, and attain lower overhead inventory prices. Until recently most companies have used the computer primarily as a tool for storing and analyzing proprietary data related to internal operations or to customers, according to John Wenninger of the Federal Reserve Bank of New York.Today traditional businesses are accepting bids for contracts, selling services, and providing interactive customer service online. Benefits from the partnership between old and new industries can be seen in the stock market and for Tacoma’s businesses. BusinessWeek reported on the affect of the partnership on the stock market, …nothing could beat stocks in companies that teach General Motors Corp. and General Electric Co. how to be e-business. Three in five US companies are using e-commerce to some extent. (E-commerce is intercompany trade where the final order is placed online.) Several companies in the greater Tacoma area provide examples of this revolution.Leap Computer Solutions is a full service consulting company that assists Tacoma’s traditional businesses in taking advantage of e-business opportunities. Bruce Jennison, President of Leap Computer Solutions Consulting Services Division, states his company provides e-commerce design, deployment and support to traditional local institutions including the Pierce County Sheriff’s Department.Leap integrates and configures websites and knowledge management systems, provides networking and telecommunication support, data mining, integration services, and custom application programming to clients enabling them to take traditional business services online.One company seeking to help Tacoma’s businesses take part in the e-commerce revolution is ContractQuest. The company is a contracting website providing traditional businesses free access to post contracts requesting products and services online. The firm’s CEO, Scott West states, ContractQuest will replace paper based systems for managing the flow of information, because they are slow, prone to error and difficult to update. Our service allows traditional contractors to do their job more efficiently.The money saving opportunity for small businesses and large corporations is quickly becoming evident. Gary M. Reiner, GE’s chief information officer, reported in BusinessWeek, making purchases offline can cost between $50 and $200 per transaction because of all the paperwork involved. The cost online? Only about $1.Suzanne Bonne, Business Services Coordinator of Tacoma’s Private Industry Council approximates 30 percent of Tacoma’s traditional businesses are integrating an online presence into their strategic planning. The Private Industry Council encourages traditional businesses to utilize the services of their high-tech counterparts. According to Boone a partnership between the two sectors establishes sustainability for the economic prosperity Tacoma is currently experiencing. Considering the United States tops the Economist Intelligence Unit’s list of e-business ready countries and that Tacoma is the #1 wired city, it should follow that Tacoma’s traditional businesses lead the e-commerce revolution. Estimates by Deloitte Consulting LLC show 91% of US businesses will do their purchasing on the net by the end of next year. This casts a shadow on Tacoma’s meager estimate that 30% of traditional businesses are integrating online strategies.Many communities do not have the opportunities presented to businesses in Tacoma. Limited bandwidth (the capacity to move information over network connections) is a global obstacle to the spread of e-commerce. Tacoma does not face this stumbling block. The Click! Network provides Tacoma’s businesses the ability to access the Internet through a high-speed fiber-optic network.Why in the most wired city are traditional businesses not taking full advantage of their high-tech counterparts? Could the tech-culture be intimidating?For many executives the jargon surrounding e-commerce is more intimidating than the intangible benefit of using the service. Members of the tech-community should use basic English and leave out acronyms at Technology Consortium meetings when speaking to the public at large. To be brutally honest, acronyms are intimidating to even the savviest high-tech public relations director.Finally, high-tech firms should think locally while implementing global business models. Initiating local partnerships with existing businesses has two benefits. The local economy is propelled by high-tech generated revenue and the significant savings traditional businesses experience. Moreover, high-tech firms who partner with established businesses gain credibility and respect in the market. These firms are significantly more attractive to investors and prospective clients.To find out more about partnering opportunities with Tacoma’s high-tech companies or traditional businesses contact the Tacoma Pierce County Chamber of Commerce or type www before and .com after the name of the high-tech company to visit their website.Please call or email Jamie Chase at with comments on the following future topics: The Climate of Innovation in Tacoma; Local Government Facilitation of a High-tech Economy; The Relationship between Seattle and Tacoma in the High-tech Revolution; and, The effectiveness of Online Advertising.Jamie Chase is director of public relations for Nhanced Media, a Tacoma high-tech firm. Chase is involved with the promotion of Tacoma’s high tech industry, and is on the steering committee for PBS affiliate KBTC.Coming Tuesday in the Index -Tacoma – Where do you want to go today?Where are Tacoma’s fledgling dot.coms going?Will they survive the trip?Read about it Tuesday in the Index and online”