How time flies! It seems like it was just a few years ago when I was working at Oracle's foray into e commerce and had the responsibility of managing its iPayment product. The bigwigs in the payment industry, including Mastercard, Visa, and all major banks, were struggling with the issue of handling Internet payments.
The year was 1996. The payment experts endlessly debated the issues of security and non-repudiation. Complex protocols such as SET were proposed, and a new e-cash mechanism went on trial every day.
Well, time passed and we did succeed in extending the Internet from an easy way to share documents to a full-fledged commerce platform.
As the saying goes, the more things change, the more they stay the same. Fifteen years later, the payment issue has been resolved for the Internet – but now, everyone wants to know how e-commerce will work in the brave new world of social networks and billions of "mobilized" human beings.
Just having a cool website is no longer enough. Customers want the ability to perform e-commerce everywhere in a seamless way. Whether they shop at your store on Amazon marketplace or bid for your product on an eBay App on Facebook or browse for it on the tiny mobile Web on their phone, they want a consistent experience.
And it does not stop there. Today, spoiled by Facebook and other social networks, they don’t only expect you to personalize each of these interactions and experiences and remember who you are, what you bought, what you like or dislike; they also expect you to track what their friends are buying or recommending via the simple "Like” or the more elaborate "Share."
Providers of middleware and database platforms such as Oracle have a major challenge: middleware now has to support multiple channels and protocols, not just HTTP, and the database has to not only track zillions of individual bits and pieces of information about you, your friends and acquaintances, but also to dynamically infer relationships among them.