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By Mark Henricks

Opinions expressed by Entrepreneur contributors are their own.

Manuel Castells, dubbed "the first significantphilosopher of cyberspace" by no less than The Economist, says the Net's influenceon commerce has only just begun. The Internet will, he says in hisbook The Internet Galaxy (Oxford University Press, $25),allow organizations to be both as tightly focused as traditionalhierarchies and as adabtable as networks. The payoff: Fastergrowth, easier change and tighter interaction with customers andsuppliers.

The essential commercial entity of this world will be whatCastells calls the networked enterprise. From the outside, anetworked enterprise looks much like any e-commerce company thatconducts the majority of its sales through a well-designede-commerce Web site where customers specify products, place ordersand arrange shipping. But, behind the scenes, a truly networkedenterprise feeds that information into manufacturing. Thereit's used to engineer products that better meet customers'needs. It also winds up in the databases of a global system ofsuppliers, who can use it to improve the systems and servicesincorporated into the end product. Such networked structures, hesays, can help companies of any size shine brightly in the newInternet galaxy.

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