This is my last E-Business column - after almost 15 years in the industry. When I began writing in this space more than a year ago, the world was a very different place. The industry was awash in e-business upstarts, and most corporations were struggling to transition their traditional business models to ones that revolved around e-business.
Stories by Barb Gomolski
Building trust is a core requirement for establishing new relationships, especially in an online environment. Equating online trust solely with underlying security requirements -- authenticating users or Web sites and ensuring the confidentiality and validity of online interactions -- is a mistake. Trust must also include nontechnical issues.
I didn't do a lot of mall shopping this holiday season, but I heard there were lots of bargains to be had. The mall isn't the only place where merchants are slashing prices to keep the cash flowing. Lots of "sales" are going on in the e-business world now, and smart companies are taking advantage of these markdowns.
If you keep your ear to the ground on such matters, you've probably heard buzz about something called RTOs (real-time operations). RTOs attempt to make information available both internally and externally in a dynamic fashion. If you've seen the ad on TV that asks, "Is your market information really current?" then you've been assaulted by the RTO hype. The ad implies that, because of time delays, many sources of financial information are unreliable and even dangerous.
One of the more significant roadblocks to e-business is that IT managers and business leaders have continually underestimated the costs of e-business systems. Underestimating costs is not a new thing, and it is endemic in IT. Major implementation efforts such as ERP highlight two key rules of IT financial management: Implementation of new systems usually costs more than expected; and the ongoing costs of systems through their life cycles are typically 40 percent to 60 percent of the implementation costs per year.
I have been informed by my teenage son that he wants a Microsoft Corp. Xbox for Christmas. That's the snazzy new gaming system from our friends in Redmond, Wash. My son's request caught me off guard, because he already has a Sony Computer Entertainment Inc. PlayStation for the TV and a library of games that he plays on his PC.
Despite changes in the market, e-business is alive and well. Granted, e-business has evolved from the days when it was viewed as a "super opportunity." It is now seen as an accepted catalyst for change. In some circles, e-business is even seen as business-as-usual.
Despite difficult economic conditions, this year's online holiday shopping season will be strong. It's not that people will be spending more money on holiday gifts, but shoppers will be doing a greater portion of their buying online because online retailers have greatly improved the shopping experience.
We tend to think of e-business applications as transformational, but not all of them involve a total overhaul of your business. E-business can also be used to enhance the value of what you already have, and that can be particularly valuable in a tight economy.
When we think of leading-edge IT organizations, we generally don't think of the government. Federal, state, and local governments have historically been laggards when it comes to IT, and they have viewed their IT investments as a way to make their operations more efficient, although not necessarily less bureaucratic.
The quetions on everyone's mind these days seem to be, "What's going to happen to the economy, and what will be the impact on IT and e-business?" Nobody knows.
In a tough economy, training is often the first line item slashed from the budget. But be careful how you wield the knife around e-learning -- the word used to describe training that takes place over an intranet or the Internet. So far, e-learning is done mostly within corporate walls to pump out training programs to in-house employees. Now in an interesting trend, companies are extending e-learning to their customers and trading partners.
Don't write off e-marketplaces just yet, even though their original business model has proven to be shaky, at best. As the hype subsides, e-marketplaces will have an important role to play in e-business -- it just won't be the role they started out to fulfil.
In a mass-market world, catching the attention of, and keeping prospective customers on a Web site is a mix of getting a number of things right. Recently, Gartner asked some clients to take part in a panel discussion about building scalable, high-performance Web sites. Here are the top 10 recommendations from those experts.
In this column, I have written a lot about technology and marketing issues in relation to e-business. But there's one aspect that I haven't yet touched upon: public relations.