UMass Amherst Launches Interdisciplinary E-Commerce Center

AMHERST, Mass. - The Isenberg School of Management and the department of computer science at the University of Massachusetts are joining forces in a new academic center to study and teach about the rapidly evolving field of electronic commerce.

The proposed center, the Interdisciplinary Center for Electronic Enterprise (ICEE), will host a conference, "Electronic Commerce: Foundations for the Future," in Boston June 16-18 where business leaders, academics, consultants and students can learn about the latest developments in doing business on the Internet.

The conference will be held at the BankBoston Conference Center in downtown Boston. Keynote speakers at the conference include Stuart Feldman, director of the Institute of Advanced Commerce at IBM, William Sherlis, professor of computer science at Carnegie Mellon University and chairman of the National Academy of Science’s Panel on Digitial Government, and W. Bruce Croft, UMass professor of computer science and director of the Center for Intelligent Information Retrieval. UMass Professors Leslie D. Ball, accounting and information systems, and Leon J. Osterweil, computer science, will serve as co-directors of the center, which still needs final approval from University officials.

"The field of e-commerce is experiencing explosive growth," Ball says. "By the year 2002, the industry is expected to grow to $160 billion annually, compared to $7 billion in 1998. This center is designed to help provide trained people to build the industry, and to explore how it will change fundamental business processes in the future."

Osterweil says the center will provide the University with a unique opportunity. "Using the combined resources of the computer science department and the Isenberg School of Management is a first, and it’s exceedingly timely," Osterweil says. "Other universities are jumping into this field, but we think we’ve got the right combination and perhaps UMass will emerge as a national model."

He also says the new center will focus on the basic building blocks of the evolving field of electronic commerce. Ball and Osterweil are working to develop courses that offer both the technical and business training that will allow students to enter the new electronic marketplace.

The proposed center will also work to identify research topics such as: developing payment methods for Internet purchases; security and privacy for consumers; and refining the curriculum for both business and computer science courses.