WITH NONE OF THE HYPE, online transactions between businesses is the silent "killer app" of electronic commerce. The worldwide flow of dollars in this quiet channel is expected to be five times as large as consumer spending over the Internet. Companies in the region are not lagging. "Latin America figured out that business-to-business electronic commerce is going to be much more dominant compared to business-to-consumer [commerce]," says Tony Rummans, IBM's regional vice president. In many cases, large companies are converting rigid old billing and logistics systems to the Internet. Recently privatized companies are fueling what some term a wholesale change in information culture. Two years ago, pushing web services would have been fruitless," says Bert Bertagna, head of information technology services for DHL Latin America. "But businesses realize that the Internet saves money and makes money."
Most interbusiness Internet commerce is being built parallel to existing systems or to strenghen.existing ties to suppliers and clients. "Things are very much in the copycat stage," says Ogilvy & Mather analyst Luis Deboy. "I'm not seeing any new business models." There are few examples in the region of new companies that rely on the Internet to drive revenue, though like Floraplex, such a future is coming fast.