FROM THE BOOK-SHELF

** Executive’s Guide to E-business From Tactics to Strategy  

by Martin V Deise et al 
Price WaterhouseCoopers/John Wiley & Sons 
$39.35/272 pages
 
Executive’s Guide to E-business is aimed at the executive who has to formulate and implement an e-business strategy. The book talks only of business to-business (B2B) e-commerce.

E-business is a tool that any business, including existing brick and mortar ones, can use to gross market share, forge new alliances, and take the customer relationship to a new and unprecedented level.

This book is meant for the hands on practitioner. It lists in all its detail twelve steps towards e-procurement, guiding the reader through approving requisitions, creating purchase orders, query requisition status and such like. It thus serves as a manual for e-enabling a company. 

The authors have a practical workable theory of e-business. They divide the environment into four stages which describe the degrees of maturity of e-business. The first stage is channel enhancement as the Internet opens up another channel for both buying and selling. The second stage is value chain transformation, where companies examine approaches for integrating their value chains and their information systems with the value chains of suppliers, logistics providers, distributors and retailers to maximise efficiencies and reduce costs.  

The next stage is of industry transformation. As the lines between businesses become more pronounced, companies find new ways of working together. Vortals and e-markets transform industries, and change the way companies in the industry operate. And the final stage is that of convergence, where the authors offer the insight that it is customers that dictate industries and industries in turn come together to provide value to the customer.  

The book also mentions certain common e-business risks. There are very substantial benefits from e-enabling a company which include lower overhead costs, quicker time to market, lower cost of goods, and improved customer satisfaction. But there are also plenty of risks. It is doubtful, for example, if companies can retain the savings made. Instead, value migrates to customers.  Companies have to continuously innovate in order to add value. There is intense competition for “owning the customer relationship".

The authors ask you to imagine a world of businesses linked together via a backbone in which each company focuses on its core competencies and uses that link to buy all other supporting capabilities, processes, and services. That, say the authors, is the business model of the future.   This book tells you how to prepare your business for that world.