Introduction to e-Business
The twentieth century will be remembered for the rapid changes in technology every bit as much as the social and political upheavals that changed the lives of so many people. In fact, such has been the speed of development of new products, devices and gadgets that it is often easy to become ambivalent about technological advance. However, some inventions are of such life-changing significance that they make everyone sit up and take notice. Few technologies can be considered revolutionary in the impact they have had on society. Certainly, the telephone, television, air travel and some medical advances can be considered revolutionary in this context.
To this list can be added the internet as a means of communication. Although there are some sections of society for whom the internet remains an alien device, the majority of people in countries with internet access have made use of this technology for a myriad of reasons, including education, entertainment, information, business and communication. The internet has been a catalyst for change in the way people communicate and has drawn the attention of diverse bodies including government, police and security agencies, the legal profession, public sector organisations, educational establishments and many, many more.
The business community has been fundamentally changed by the advent of the internet as a means of communication and trading. The development of the World Wide Web in the mid 1990s opened up the commercial viability of the internet as, for the first time, ordinary citizens were able to access the resources that it held. Soon, the number of websites increased from tens of thousands to millions. The internet has become an integral part of many organisations’ means of undertaking business. It can be used as an additional channel through which businesses communiccustomers (business-to-consumer, B2C) and suppliers and partners (business-to-business, B2B).
The internet and related technologies, such as intranets andextranets, also help organisations to increase efficiency in their internal processes. From a business perspective, the internet has had a profound effect on the way firms operate, how they communicate with others, what products they produce, how they deliver products and services, and how they seek competitive advantage. The internet has changed the ‘rules’ of trading by presenting new challenges and opportunities and altering the way firms engage and build relationships with customers.
This book is designed to highlight the key issues that affect businesses who have adopted the internet as a means of trading or improving internal processes. Electronic business (e-business) is the use of the internet for these purposes. Consequently, e-business has implications for a range of issues affecting an organisation, including the adoption of technology, choice of business models, economics, marketing, legal and security issues, management and the strategies for gaining a competitive advantage. This book highlights and explains the nature and characteristics of e-business in the context of each of these key issues. Examples of e-business applications are a feature of the book and these help the process of comprehending how the internet has been used to different effects in different business settings.
Following on from the discussions of the key issues, the book then focuses on the management of e-business and the formulation, implementation and evaluation of e-business strategies. These chapters bring together elements of the key issues to articulate how organisations manage their resources and create strategies for gaining competitive advantage through undertaking e-business. Gaining and sustaining competitive advantage is a theme that runs throughout the book, but its importance to the viability of internet-based firms (or firms that use the internet for some aspects of their business) is such that it is afforded its own chapter. The book chapters close with analysis of the stages of evolution that e-business has traversed since the commercialisation of the internet in the mid 1990s as well as some informed speculation as to the future prospects of e-business. The book also contains five case studies of well-known organisations that have successfully (or not in the case of boo.com) harnessed the attributes of the internet to create such compelling value propositions that they have been able to build global businesses through their online activities.ate with and trade with
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