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> five key issues for e-commerce and e-business
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recent news items

Lloyds TSB announces a standalone European internet bank, Evolvebank, and will spend an extra £150m “to make it a leader on the web”.  Claims it will be the lowest cost bank in the world.
CGU will invest an initial £40m in a home moving “portal”. Will build a database of 180,000 properties from more than 3,000 estate agents, representing 50% of the UK market.  Will offer searching and ranking against the database, photographs, email or wap notification of newly available homes.  Will arrange mortgages and organize moving house.
Halifax is applying for a patent for the design of its internet banking products and services.  It claims that its combination of product and software is unique.
Ellis & Everard, the world’s fourth largest chemicals distributor, is to close nearly half its UK warehouses as a result of moving business on to the internet.

four key agendas

User agenda We've got ourselves a website.  What happens next?
Government agenda We want to get all companies, however small, into the e-business world.  (Whaddya mean, we should get our own act together first?)
Vendor agenda Buy our enabling tools and/or our professional design services, and you could be the next e-business success story.
Media agenda It's a lottery.  Lots of people throwing away relatively small amounts of money.  A few people getting very rich, at least on paper.  And not much going to good causes.

five key issues

1 Business strategy E-commerce changes the basis of competition.  Emerging patterns of enterprise and organization.  Implications for IT. white
2 Business process Most e-commerce ventures are flawed. Poor business processes result in customer frustration and dissatisfaction.  Importance of integrating e-commerce processes with regular business processes.  Implications for IT.
3 Business risk New dangers of e-commerce - new patterns of fraud, malice and mischief, new modes of system failure.
4 Trust and authenticity New ways of managing relationships with customers and business partners, with many implications including legal, commercial risk and marketing.
5 Identity New ways of identifying customers - individuals instead of large corporations, individuals as members of friendship circles, and so on.  Implications for IT, especially data management.

how can we help you?

strategy process risk relationships identity
yes we can do thisis your ebusiness strategy aligned with market trends? yes we can do thisdoes your ecommerce process truly support your business strategy? yes we can do thisare you aware of the key risks of what you're doing? yes we can do thishow solid are your partnerships and alliances? yes we can do thisdo traditional notions of CUSTOMER constrain business opportunity?
yes we can do thiswhen will your business (industry, sector) be ready for ecommerce? yes we can do thishow can you integrate ecommerce with the rest of your business? yes we can do thishow can you get a good balance between caution and venture? yes we can do thishow can you get a good balance between trust and self-interest? yes we can do thishow can we rethink your customers?
yes we can do thishow can we seize new business opportunities? yes we can do thishow can we fix the holes in your ecommerce process? yes we can do thishow can we protect your ecommerce process from failure and fraud? yes we can do thishow might you renegotiate key alliances and contracts? yes we can do thishow can we bridge new business opportunities with existing customer databases?
yes we can do thishow can we build new business capabilities? yes we can do thishow do you drive an economic return from your ecommerce process? yes we can do thishow can we convert risk into benefit? yes we can do thishow can we build trust across business networks and supply chains? yes we can do thishow can you build more flexible data structures to support new kinds of customer?
yes we can do thisand must we transform the whole business strategy? yes we can do thisand must we transform the whole business process? yes we can do thisand must we transform the management of risk and opportunity? yes we can do thisand must we transform relationships with business partners? yes we can do thisand must we transform relationships with customers?

We usually start with a short assessment. More detailed assessments may prove necessary at a later stage.
Some consultants see planning simply as the definition of a solution, and a schedule for implementing the solution.

Planning also identifies the factors that must be balanced in the solution, and the tactics for keeping these factors in balance over time.

Some consultants will try to make you believe that the assessment and planning processes will automatically generate some quick wins. (Of course, they're not stupid enough to make any guarantees.)

We don't expect to find any quick wins by simple straight-line thinking. Our clients are mostly intelligent and diligent enough to have already found and harvested all these opportunities. If there are any quick wins left to be exploited, they will require a fresh perspective.

The implementation of a plan may take an extended period. We may take various roles, from active participation to mentoring and occasional review.
Some consultants will insist that you start with a top-down "strategic" plan of the whole enterprise. The danger with this approach is that either it is too superficial to be valid, or it takes too long and is out-of-date before it is half-way through.

We believe that this is an activity that should go on all the time, in parallel with other activities.  It requires understanding, inhouse capability, and a degree of trust. Our clients typically involve us in this activity when they feel ready to do so, often after some joint work in other areas. 

hot links

Here are some other sites discussing e-commerce and e-business issues.
www.e-centre.org.uk UK-based organization, claiming to represent over 16,000 members.
UK government position paper on e-business and related topics.  Titled e-commerce@its.best.uk.
www.electronicmarkets.org Electronic Markets Journal.  In particular, take a look at a 1998 paper on Business Models for Electronic Markets by Paul Timmers.  (He's a big cheese in the European Commission.)
www.wired.com The online version of Wired magazine. Racy and well-informed.

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This page last updated on May 12th, 2000
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