"Baptism by immersion" was among the requirements Information Technology professionals and students heard about during a summit held at the Fairpark on Tuesday and Wednesday.

"You can't learn about technology unless you immerse yourself in technology," said John Slitz Jr., senior vice president of corporate marketing for Novell Inc.For Novell, that has also meant staying immersed in the business it does best - computer networking - a focus the company doesn't hesitate to concede it lost for a time.

Slitz and other keynote speakers at the summit agreed there is no slowdown in sight in the development and implementation of new technology and the way changes will affect consumers, business and the work force.

Businesses will continue to streamline their operations by automating customer service and purchasing functions.

"We're expecting the future to be drastically different than now," Slitz said.

"We are on the verge of rampant innovation," said Netscape executive vice president Peter Currie. The technology of today takes people to the Internet. Tomorrow's technology will see the Internet more personally acquainted with users wherever and whenever they log on.

A worldwide Internet economy of $211 billion this year will swell to $949 billion by 2002. Even that will amount to only 1.6 percent of all commerce, Slitz said. "We don't expect to have milk delivered over the Internet."

"For almost every business, over time, the Internet will become part of their strategy," said Shikhar Ghosh, chairman and co-founder Open Market, which builds virtual stores, catalogs and order desks for companies choosing to do business on the Internet. "Some purchasers are requiring vendors to have fully capable Web sites to save transaction costs."

Their comments are not cliche but aren't unfamiliar in the industry, either. A new term repeated by several speakers Tuesday was "human modem" - the component in a business transaction that involves a real person on the phone tending to a customer's requests instead of a computer.

The "personal touch" in the arena of electronic commerce will be better computer programming, Currie said. "We can tailor the technology to be very personal."

Gov. Mike Leavitt was at the conference long enough to introduce the first keynote speaker and be introduced as the techno-savvy co-founder of the technology-dependent Western Governors University.

The summit, hosted by the Utah Information Technology Association, is in its ninth year and focuses on information for people who work in the information technology industry. Association membership includes computer hardware, software, networking and Internet businesses.

A career fair exclusively for students was added as a new component this year to involve both students and their professors in the summit's many discussion groups.

General sponsor Novell also offered a live Webcast of the summit and a speech archive from the company's Web site at (http://www.novell.com/webcast).