Editorial: All about balance

To succeed at e-commerce, you need to find a balance point in several dimensions, and the fulcrum will be different for every organisation, says Canada-based director of the Seneca College Internet Commerce and Technology Institute, Dr Bob Fabian.

Perched on balance beams and wobbling, arms gyrating, about this ‘fulcrum' would be ‘a workable e-commerce value proposition' - built on a mix of product, price, and ancillary services that is differentiated from competitors' and attractive to the market.

So, do you slide your toes towards this balance or do you take a flying leap? With fast moving technology and deadlines being posted as ‘yesterday', there is temptation to leap in and ‘outsource the lot', from e-commerce strategy to implementation. Some pundits would describe this approach as ‘extreme' and ‘foolhardy', but I'm not so sure it isn't a viable option for less well-resourced, medium-sized organisations. However, even this scenario should be built on input from a key in-house individual or a team with the nous to understand just what their organisation's ‘value proposition' is.

Failing to provide such high-level input and delegating the company's e-future to outsiders while concentrating on ‘core competencies' sounds like too narrow a definition of ‘core competencies' to me. In his column (below), Management Smarts president Charles Belford insists that an e-strategy is not a map of a journey between A and B, but is about a transformation. "How do we get to B? being the wrong question," Belford says, when the right question is "What do we have to become to get to B?"

The opposite extreme - doing it all in-house and taking advice from nobody could only be described as ridiculous. Finding the balance between applying both in-house and outside resources to e-commerce challenges - and then effectively managing these resources is a stress clearly troubling IT executives right now. A conservative, possibly less stressful option, suggested to me the other day would be to wait until competitors and relevant e-startups do a big e-flop and then copy or aquire the best of their ideas and technology. The wait might not be all that long.

There's many a belly-flop onto the floor to come before getting it right is easy.


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