in General

What is e-business, and why should I care?

Of all the Internet buzzwords, E-business is perhaps the most mis-understood. We see e-commerce every day. From e-bay to Amazon, e-commerce allows the consumer to buy, sell and pay for products and services online. We also see e-marketing from search engine results, from e-mail lists and viral marketing campaigns.

But what about e-business? What is it, and why should you care?

E-business is about the whole system, rather than an aspect. Although most authors consider E-business and E-commerce to be one and the same, in my view they aren’t. E-business is what you do. E-commerce is how you do it.

Let’s put it another way: Amazon is an e-business that sells its products via e-commerce and promotes their brand using e-marketing.

E-business is about the whole system. It enables companies to think and link both internal and external processes more efficently and more flexbly. If you use a document control system, an online project management system (ie: basecamp) or use an online work-flow system, then you’re conducting your business online. In short, you’re conducting e-business.

In practice, this involves the introduction of new revenue streams through the use of e-commerce, the enhancement of relationships between clients, partners and customers whilst improving efficiency using web-based systems. E-business can be conducted over the public Internet, through internal intranets and over secure private extranets.

From wikipedia:
“It is more than just e-commerce. It covers business processes along the whole value chain: electronic purchasing (“e-procurement”) and supply chain management, processing orders electronically, customer service and cooperation with business partners. This applies to traditional and virtual organizations. Special technical standards for e-business facilitate the exchange of data between companies. E-business software solutions allow the integration of intra and inter firm business processes.”

E-business applications are usually divided into three categories:

  1. Internal business systems:
    • customer relationship management
    • enterprise resource planning
    • employee information portals
    • knowledge management
    • workflow management
    • document management systems
    • human resources management
    • process control
    • internal transaction processing
  2. Enterprise communication and collaboration
    • content management system
    • e-mail
    • voice mail
    • discussion forums
    • chat systems
    • data conferencing
    • collaborative work systems
  3. Electronic commerce – Business-to-business electronic commerce or business-to-consumer electronic commerce
    • electronic funds transfer
    • supply chain management
    • e-marketing
    • online marketing
    • online transaction processing


  1. Wikipedia entry on e-business
  2. Dave Caffey’s E-business blog
  3. Wikipedia entry on e-marketing
  4. Wikipedia entry on online marketing
  5. Wikipedia entry on e-commerce
  6. 9 Successful Online Business Must Haves