Thought for the day:More aggregation, less aggravation

Hard-hitting IT columnist Simon Moores gives his personal take on the hot issue of the day.We are, it appears, leading an...

Hard-hitting IT columnist Simon Moores gives his personal take on the hot issue of the day.We are, it appears, leading an increasingly aggregated existence. It wasn't so long ago that searching for an item of interest, a mortgage offer, insurance, a book, a holiday, involved a visit to one Web site after another in an effort to compare prices and options.

Today aggregation is the name of the game and if your consumer-facing business isn't listed on one of the better-known portal sites, then your opportunity for business is limited and your claim to commercial existence is dubious.

Two months ago, my own fixed-rate mortgage expired and promptly ballooned into a higher percentage figure.

This week, I finally came around to doing something about it. I visited the John Charcol Web site, spotted a chart-topping offer from a leading Scottish bank and, having filled in the application online, I paused briefly to call my own mortgage lender.

"I would, of course, love to stay with you," I told the representative on the other end of the phone. "But if I press the 'Accept' button on the screen in front of me I can get an immediate 4.75% with no strings and only have to pay a £150 transfer fee."

With amazing speed I was passed to another person, who quickly advised me of my rights as regards the provision of financial advice. And then, like a magician pulling a rabbit from his hat, he produced a mortgage rate of 4.85%. Mine if I chose to stay put.

Now, for the extra time and paperwork involved, 0.10% isn't a bad deal and simply demonstrates the power of the Web and how haggling or, should I say, "flexibility", seems to have become a feature of today's high-street banking experience.

It's not just mortgages, it's cars and just about anything you can think of if you know where to go on the Web. Even news is aggregated and collated through different portals like the one here at CW360.com.

You want aggregated news headlines in Reuters-like style from a huge number of sources, then there's NewsNow.co.uk. If it's IT white papers you're looking for, then there's The ITPortal and if your interest is really vertical and includes eGovernment in the Arab world, there's even ArabGov.com.

If there's one good thing that can be said of the Internet today in Europe, then it's that it's a powerful force for competition and is driving prices down. Naturally, there's one problem for us in Britain, it's the Euro and it must present the Government with a dilemma.

On the one hand, we are being encouraged to go online as a nation at dizzying speed. On the other, it's clearly obvious that most of our European neighbours aren't squeezed as badly as we are where the cost of living is concerned.

Sign up to the single currency and aggregate the European shopping experience and you have to wonder how much of our spending money will stay in the UK as digital-savvy citizens decide that ordering a toaster from a Belgian Web site is cheaper and no slower in terms of delivery than ordering the same model from a Birmingham company.

Will it really make a difference? It's hard to say but, perhaps, party politics aside, the Internet and aggregated e-commerce could be as strong a factor in pushing Britain towards the single currency as any other.

What do you think?
Are you making the most of aggregration? Tell us in an e-mail >> CW360.com reserves the right to edit and publish answers on the Web site. Please state if your answer is not for publication.

Zentelligence Setting the world to rights with the collected thoughts and opinions of the futurist writer, broadcaster and Computer Weekly columnist Simon Moores.

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