Management and Electronic Business
The emergence of information and communication technologies (ICT) tools in respects to e-commerce has seen vast improvements in the way organisations conduct their business. The usage of these technologies has seen organisation reap in profits, even though they require quite a substantial investment to start up. As time revolves, so do technologies. Almost each day, some new technology is discovered or created. Businesses to stay in the game have either to revolve with these changes or be simply left out.
While these information and communication technologies promises e-commerce solutions which seem like a sure hit, we have to note that anything without proper planning is just going to be a waste of time. Even with the best and more ‘revolutionary’ technology available, if one fails to plan, one simply plans to fail. So while the case studies illustrates the success stories of two organisation through the usage of these ‘revolutionary’ technologies, in the implementation of their e-commerce solutions, we have also got to note that before any technology were implemented, they were thoroughly researched.
The mammoth advancement in technologic has been extremely rapid. Vast advancement has been seen, in the past decade, to technologic, which has resulted in many wonderful inventions and innovations. The Internet, which was actually created in 1969, was hardly utilized for any organisation activities other then those for scientist and researches. It was only apparent in the last decade that organisation started to take the Internet as an organisational means of work and communication. (Schneider and Perry, 2000:13-15).
The Internet, together with organisation’s intranets and extranets, has greatly restructured the manner in which organisations communicate and do business. The emergence of the phenomenon of the “business-to-business” (B2B) and “business-to-consumer” (B2C) commerce on the Internet has greatly affected many organisations, regardless of its size. (Strauss and Frost, 2001:198). Some other types of E-Commerce activities, mainly in the order of consumer-to-consumer (C2C), consumer-to-business (C2B) and government-to-consumer (G2C) (WebCT notes)
The usage of the Internet and information and communication technologies (ICT), helped to set the ground works for creation of electronic commerce. Electric Commerce, or better know as e-commerce, are business activities conducted using electronic data transmission via the Internet and the World Wide Web. E-Commerce provides tools for both business-to-consumer and business-to-business commerce, it is often designed to interface and integrate with existing back office systems.
So are these ‘amazing’ technologies truly revolutionary? Well I would now take two case studies and see its effects in today’s business market. The first case study takes a look at Print Approach, which is a family owned and operated printing company, based in Brisbane, which has 38 full time staffs on its payroll. Print Approach has business dealings with both the corporate and government sectors, thus adopting the B2B and B2G e-commerce concepts.
In 2001, it’s Managing Director, Tom Eckersley, decided to branch into e-commerce as he “decided e-commerce was vital in Print Approach’s drive towards a position of market leadership” (www. noie. gov. au). The demand by clients and immense marketing anticipation provided by the Internet was a clear driver towards making Print Approach e-commerce based. To get started, Tom did researches on case studies and looked at the e-commerce solutions of other organisations, similar to Print Approach. He also looked through The Executive Connection, which is a global knowledge exchange for CEO (www.
tec. net. au). The steps undertaken by Print Approach towards its e-commerce structure were firstly to distinctly identify its organisational goal and subsequently the development of e-commerce strategy that could be integrated into its current business structure. They had to collaborate with their clients in regards to their system requirements so as to correctly adjust to their needs. They recruited Information Technology (IT) consultants, who had hands on knowledge and expertise on the configuration of the ICT systems and equipments.
Finally they had to develop client specific solutions. The integration of the supply chain prompted synchronized planning and workflow coordination among business partners. The collaboration with Business Print Australia, through Print Approach electronic portal, allowed customers with a transparent printing system service that offered proofing, order tracking and inventory management. This clearly increases efficiency and cost saving through the efficient handling of these jobs through such a system. Print Approach build a website presence which showcased their services.
This helped attract clients from all over the globe. The staffs made use of this integration of information and communication technologies to do various other tasks like getting supplier research, online quotes and ordering. With these staff productivity improved tremendously and it minimized cost. Like any e-commerce organisation these days, Print Approach too had to deal with security issues in regards to their e-commerce solutions. Thus e-security implementations like firewalls, virus protection software and backups were done.
Through the implementation of these ICT solutions for its e-commerce front, Print Approach managed to reap in additional revenue of $500,000 in 2001. Its total cost savings were also at $160,200. While its investment in e-commerce was at $135,540 only and with ongoing e-commerce cost at $76,635. Print Approach clearly benefited from its switch to e-commerce through the usage of ICT. Not only has the transformation to e-commerce made it profits; it has also boast staff productivity and morale. Customers are also more delighted with greater control over their orders and with better and more accurate results.
The major challenges faced by Print Approach would have been the options of having too many technologies to choice from and also with each new problem, a client faced, they tried to find the best possible solution, which would time consuming. They overcame this problem by leaving the decisions to the IT consultants. There was substantial capital involved in the establishment of the e-commerce solutions, which they overcame partially by a government grant. The second case study takes a look at Design One Solutions, which established itself in 1982, offering designing services to government, corporate organisations and normal consumers.
It comprises of 3 full time designers and 1 part time designer. Design One Solutions adopted e-commerce solutions in 1997 to take “advantage of the international marketing opportunities and communication efficiencies required to remain competitive in the industry” (www. noie. gov. au). Design One’s Managing Director, Bill Pearson, conducted initial researches on the Internet and read professional magazines to find out similar e-commerce implementation by organisations. Design One implements the usage of ICT tools to communicate with their clients. Staffs would send emails with PDF files to the clients.
These files would contain drawings and design graphics that the clients would see and, if needed, edit. They would then send the copy back and the designers would work from there. All this is carried without the traditional usage of any hardcopy materials. With the significant barriers to entry to international markets due to the geographical limitations and also the capital requirements to set up international offices, many organisations have eluded from venturing overseas. However with its e-commerce solutions, Design One has expanded and reached out to a much larger clientele all through its web presence.
Its overseas portfolio has been improved with clients as far as Japan and USA. Capital cost is also kept to sparse minimal, as all communication is conduct via emails. One key aspect of these would have to be the innovativeness of ICT, which helps with the language barrier faced while communicating with foreign countries. Design One has also added a website designing service to its service listings, as part of its e-commerce evolvement. Security issues were resolved by installing firewalls and virus protection softwares.
Another major challenge Bill faced was the difficulty in convincing the clients to use the new systems in place. Bill approached this problem by visitation to client’s offices to install the necessary softwares for them and then taught them on how to operate them. Design One reaped in a profit of $190,000 from its ventures into e-commerce solutions through ICT. Almost sixty percent increment comes from export sales through the Internet. It has also recently published a book and now actively sells it online through its web portal. Like both the case studies, similar challenges can be seen.
The initial investment to the e-commerce required quite a substantial amount of capital. Likewise both the organisation managed to overcome this challenge and both have gained quite a significant amount in profits through their recognition to e-commerce. Likewise both of the companies have IT consultant whom are in charge in maintaining the ICT tools and also providing ideas on making it better. With Print Approach plans to enhance its system responsiveness and expansion on its clientele base, I would not be too surprised to see it expanding and integrating more ICT tools.
It would not be too surprising to see it having more high-end technologies implemented like the Enterprise Resource Planning system and a Customer Relationship Management system. Design One’s plan does not really seem as extensive, as stated by its Managing Director that he is “satisfied with the company’s progress in e-commerce” (www. noie. gov. au). From his sentence, it seems that he is pretty much contended with the current system and does not really have much of a plan for the future, other then installing a Broadband connection.
Even though Design One is successful now, we have to realize that technologies revolve and that if we don’t improve and improvise, we would be lagging behind. So I do not think Design One would be anywhere as successful as it is today in five years time, judging from its meager future plans. On the basis of my reviews on the two case studies, I would conclude that the changes brought by e-commerce are truly ‘revolutionary’. E-commerce can and will change the way one can and would conduct their business. It creates greater efficiencies and reaps profits, if it’s all done properly.
Schneider, P., Perry, T. (2000), “Electronic Commerce”, Course Technology, Cambridge
Judy Strauss and Raymond Frost, (2001),”E Marketing Special Edition”, Prentice Hall, New Jersey
NOIE website, Date assessed: 01/08/2003
Lecture notes, Date assessed: 01/08/2003