Pulp and Paper Canada

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MAKING THE INTERNET CLICK

I am often surprised at the relatively large proportion of managers and senior staff people in the industry who pay little or no attention to the Internet. A considerable proportion of readers of Pulp...


August 1, 1999
By Pulp & Paper Canada

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I am often surprised at the relatively large proportion of managers and senior staff people in the industry who pay little or no attention to the Internet. A considerable proportion of readers of Pulp and Paper Canada has Internet access at the office, although some companies restrict access to electronic mail.

Many senior staff largely ignore the Internet, as evidenced by an interview with Carl Landegger in the March issue of International Paperworld. Despite being a very senior manager in a major multinational paper company for many years, Landegger admitted to having only started to use a computer himself quite recently. He predicted that as the Internet revolution spreads around the world, it would change the way the industry does business.

On the home front, only about half the computers use modems or other devices to access the Internet, although the technology is readily available and the costs are low. (Refer to sidebar.)

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We discussed E-mail a couple of years ago in this column. Today, its advantages remain the same, except that now even more people can be contacted by E-mail. What about other uses of the Internet?

The principal feature of the Internet seen by most users is the “World Wide Web”, or “the Web” for short. This is a software system linking most of the public information available in the Internet in a way that makes it very easy to browse (or “surf”) through it or to search for specific items.

The information available is roughly equivalent to all the bookstores, newsstands, magazine racks and libraries in Canada being assembled in one warehouse, and being readable on your computer screen at the click of a mouse. You can find news on current events, sports statistics, catalogs from many mail order companies, pornography, educational information, medical information, phone numbers and addresses for most Canadians, discussion groups on thousands of subjects, and more.

Some of the information may be directly useful, such as pulp prices, (www.foex.fi) and stock prices, including latest quotes and historical price trends. Other data is for recreation, such as reports on sports events that the newspapers do not cover.

If you wish news to appear on your screen as it breaks, this is easy to arrange by subscribing (at no charge) to appropriate services.

E COMMERCE

It is increasingly common to buy goods over the Internet, and I suspect that such sales will largely replace traditional mail order as well as some over-the-counter shopping. Anything that does not need to be fitted personally, or “seen and felt” to evaluate can be sold effectively on the Internet. Vendors can produce up-to-date catalogs and prices more cheaply than by paper copy, and users need only click on pictures to order.

Payment is normally by credit card, and I feel safer using my card on the Internet than when I hand it to an unknown gas station attendant or waiter.

After some resistance, the major stockbrokers are rushing to set up trading mechanisms accessible directly from home, 24 hours/day. Commissions are substantially lower than those charged when you telephone your friendly stockbroker. As the software develops, securities regulations mature, and users adapt, I expect the classic stock markets to disappear.

The quality of catalogs on the web varies widely. Some such as bookstores, are excellent, and include reviews written by customers for most of the books. In others, the information is inferior to that found in paper catalogs.