Define e-comm's role in each business: Gartner

Many companies will not solve business problems with e-commerce solutions because they are failing to define the problems themselves, according to Betsy Burton, vice president and research director of technology management for Gartner Group.

Burton has consulted with Australian organisations to provide them with an integrated perspective on developing and deploying online transaction processing (OLTP).

Burton has defined three preliminary stages an organisation should pursue before selecting an e-commerce platform.

"Many people ask me for advice on technologies or vendors," Burton said. "The first step is to ask them what problem they are trying to solve."

According to Burton, many organisations believe that Internet solutions will cure all ills. "The Internet is simply another medium. There is nothing mysterious or magical about it," Burton said.

Defining the problem is not a technology issue, according to Burton, but a business one.

"Part of this stage is also making sure you have an executive champion at a senior level to ensure the definition of what the company is trying to achieve receives adequate attention," Burton said.

After problem definition, says Burton, an organisation should distinguish between a tactical or strategic solution.

"A tactical solution has its place in solving an immediate problem," Burton said.

"The disadvantage is that its life span is significantly less than a strategic solution. On the other hand, a strategic solution will taken longer to deliver but yield a greater life span," she said.

The third stage in implementing an e-commerce strategy is to define the architecture of both the business and technology.

"The technological infrastructure must meet the business requirements," Burton said.

Once the first three stages have been solved, says Burton, the choice of technology or vendors becomes relatively straightforward.

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