Many large and mature firms — which still form most of the economy — have difficulty analyzing the opportunities and difficulties created by the Internet. Here is a planning process, validated at several established companies, that puts e-business into perspective and helps make it manageable.
Most of the economy is made up of firms that were created well before the advent of e-business. Yet most e-business research has focused on “pure-play” companies that were created specifically to take advantage of the Web. The authors created an e-business planning process that can be used both to examine an established company’s existing operations and to identify promising new business opportunities. The planning process has four steps. The first is to identify potential e-business initiatives, according to whether they create business value or reduce costs. The second step is to analyze the functional scope of each project, using an architecture of e-business processes. The third step, analyzing the sustainability of each initiative’s benefits, is particularly important in the e-business context because Internet interactions are susceptible to being copied by competitors. Finally, prioritizing among e-business projects depends on how they fit with other information technology elements. The authors explore ways in which e-business can create opportunities for completely new products and markets, including adding information features, selling information as a product and finding new markets.
The authors detail how their e-business planning process was used at a mature global company. A company task force considered two major projects. The e-business planning process sharpened the definition of the projects, outlined the technical requirements and other resource needs and confirmed the sustainability of both projects.