Advisory Committee on Online Access and Security--Nomination, P004807

Marketing Department,
Georgia State University
University Plaza
Atlanta, GA 30303

December 30, 1999

Secretary, Federal Trade Commission
Room H-159
600 Pennsylvania Avenue, NW
Washington, DC 20580

Sir or Madam;

I wish to present myself as a nominee to serve on the Advisory Committee on Online Access and Security. Currently, I am associate professor of marketing at Georgia State University, in Atlanta, with lead responsibility for the development of Internet marketing programs. In 1997, I developed a graduate course in the area (MK 8700, Electronic Marketing), which was first offered in Fall 1998. I have since developed additional courses in the area for the Global Electronic Executive MBA program, involving a consortium of American, European, and Asian-Pacific universities. I have spoken to academic and business audiences about the special challenges in this area, and developed a strategic framework for evaluating commercial Internet initiatives (see: except over the Y2K weekend). I have also written and spoken on the application of artificial intelligence-based techniques for analyzing large quantities of data--what is known in the field as "data mining" or "knowledge discovery in databases:"

My personal involvement with the Internet extends back through 1993, when I co-founded an email discussion group ("SEMNET") devoted to a statistical specialty. Working with this group has forced me to confront issues of information access and privacy on a personal level.

Beyond these specific qualifications, I hold a Ph.D. in marketing and have taught courses in commercial marketing research and research methods since 1989. Thus, I well understand the very basic problems which businesses face in handling information.

I believe that I can usefully articulate a thoughtful business perspective on the issues facing the committee. My strategic framework highlights the role of information in offering new kinds of value to marketers and their customers. The Internet, combined with advances in "data mining," offers unequaled possibilities for targeting messages to individuals and monitoring their response. Indeed, in this framework, information about customers or audience becomes a strategic asset of the firm, being both highly actionable and difficult for competitors to duplicate. On the other side, one of the most highly valued forms of "content" which businesses can provide to customers online is information about the customers themselves.

Despite the promise, however, businesses still analyze only a fraction of the information by-products of their online activities. What this means is that, in the future, we will likely have a much more invasive information environment than we have today. Consumers recognize this, and cite privacy concerns as a key factor inhibiting their online activity. Yet, implementing fair information practices may pose special burdens for the smaller, more agile "virtual corporations" of the online world. Large departments devoted to "compliance" are the antithesis of these firms. Thus, the ideal program must allow for third parties to take a primary role in fulfillment and monitoring, while still protecting customer information as a key corporate asset.

The advisory committee faces tremendous challenges. I would like to contribute to those deliberations. My institution, Georgia State University, is well able to provide the financial support and flexibility necessary for my participation. My location, in Atlanta, provides convenient access to Washington and to other locations. I look forward to hearing from you.


Edward E. Rigdon