Last week we took a stroll down DLA memory lane and the evolution of eBusiness with A Look Back: eBusiness Retrospective. This week let’s take a look at how the DLA leveraged technology to support business processes in the post-Internet era.

Enter the Internet. The concept of AUTODIN was harnessed for much broader use both in who would use it and what would be transferred across it. Email was the first thing most people encountered that got them on the World Wide Web. Then a colleague showed me how you could look stuff up using something called AltaVista. (If you’re wondering what happened to those early search engines, read more here.) With the Internet you could send large files to other people using “ftp” (this was the first time I remember using lower case letters for an acronym). And then another miracle happened: two people could look at the same thing on the Internet at the same time.

Smart people in DOD realized that we needed a concerted effort to get the best from this new, amazing resource that we now take as a given here in the 21st Century. The Joint Electronic Commerce Program Office was established with Scottie Knott at the helm. From this think-tank-with-an-action-plan came such web-based systems that have become a familiar part of the landscape like Wide Area Workflow, used for invoices, material inspection and receiving reports; DOD EMALL, the one-stop eCommerce site for DOD; Contractor Central Registry, where all vendors doing business with the government have to be registered; Electronic Document Access, which holds a copy of all DOD contract documentation; and FedBizOpps, which advertises opportunities from the government to the vendor community. With that, eBusiness was born.

So where to go next? Everyone’s money is on mobile technology and I hope that’s where we go. Talk about bringing the power of computing right to the person doing the work! Mobile computing does one better by bringing the power of computing to the person doing the work WHERE the work is being done. I don’t know who will be reminiscing about the early days of mobile computing in 20 years from now, but I’m sure it will make computer users of the time smile.