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.
“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:
- 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
- Enterprise communication and collaboration
- content management system
- voice mail
- discussion forums
- chat systems
- data conferencing
- collaborative work systems
- Electronic commerce – Business-to-business electronic commerce or business-to-consumer electronic commerce
- electronic funds transfer
- supply chain management
- online marketing
- online transaction processing