E-Business Scenario and Technological Implementation
The term “e-Business” (which, some say, was coined in and around 1997 by IBM) has now become quite a common term and used very often in business and information technology. In the early days, e-Business, used to mean any kind of business transaction conducted online using the internet such as – buying and selling of goods or services, online money transactions, supplier-buyer collaborative systems, etc. E-commerce, which is any kind of online buying-selling, is also many times considered synonymous to e-business. However, in recent times, e-business is not restricted to e-commerce but any and all kind of online information exchange between different entities for various purposes.
Gradually, the e-Business term expanded to include any or all kind of online transactional or information exchange activities conducted for business and collaboration. This also includes, in some instances, transactions not just using the internet but using the intranet as well.
Types of e-Business Transactions
Business to Business (B2B)
Business transaction on internet for trade and information exchange such as buying and selling of goods or services for business. Ex – website for steel trade by steel manufacturing companies.
Business to Customer (B2C)
Retail selling websites such as Amazon.com or any such website which offers products and services for retail consumers. Recently, “e-Tailing”, which is retailing on the web, is gaining more popularity across the world.
Government to Business (G2B)
Websites offering government or regulatory transactions between the Government / Government bodies and businesses such as – national centre for trade & information.
Government to Customer (G2C)
Transactions where common public would be transacting with Government related organizations such as websites for Income Tax where people can file their annual income tax returns.
Customer to Customer (C2C)
This includes websites allowing interaction, trade and information exchange between different individuals such as eBay. Of late, social and business networking websites are gaining tremendous popularity.
Components of e-Business set up
Just having a website is not enough for an e-Business set up. Following are some of key components which include enabling and supporting entities essential for successful e-Business transactions.
A provider of e-Business platform and services such as the e-Business Website is most crucial. This will include a corporate website or an intranet with IT literate people using this platform. The provider will be responsible for offering, administering and maintaining this website.
Business partners are essential for transactions to be completed, such as
- Banking institutions offering financial transaction services.
- Logistics companies offering administrative or transportation services.
- Authentication bodies providing transaction authentication services.
Customers or Users who will buy or use the e-Business website and services. Important point to note here is that the nature of products or services offered should be such that it provides an advantage to the buyer/user to do it online in an e-Transaction rather than physically doing it. Also, important is existence of group of people who have the mindset and willingness to do transactions online as compared to physically doing the same activity.
Government plays a key role in providing a conducive environment for promotion of e-Business in the form of regulations, infrastructure, policies, people and providing business the will to undertake such e-Business activities.
Infrastructure required for ease of e-Business operation includes availability of sufficient internet bandwidth to a large user base for carrying out e-Business transactions. This should be available at affordable and cheap prices such that users can afford to buy internet and carry out transactions on the web.
E-Business enabling Technologies
There are a plethora of packaged solutions which enable e-Business operations starting from larger enterprise packages for Customer Relationship Management (CRM), Supply Chain Management (SCM) or Enterprise Resources Planning (ERP) to smaller and leaner packages for limited set of functions such as Email Applications, Peer-to-Peer computer networking software, etc. These packaged solutions are also customizable to a certain extent to suit the individual e-Business providing organization.
E-Business web development
On the other hand, most of the e-Business enablement is carried out by customized web applications built to address specific needs of the e-Business products or services. Typically, following are some of the common technology aspects that need to be considered while deciding and during development of e-Business website or web applications.
- Architecture of an e-Commerce system: Function and implementation of major system components (web servers, browsers, proxies, caches, databases); critical system properties (scalability, reliability, security, safety)
- Developing e-Commerce systems: Development team, development process
- Web data formats: XML, HTML, XHTML, WML, RSS and ways of transforming and displaying them
- Data modeling and storage: Relational database management systems (RDBMS); SQL; data warehousing
- Web Services: Introduction to the concept of web services and service-oriented architectures (SOA); XML and SOAP; web services description and discovery (WSDL, UDDI)
- Development tools and technologies: The Open-Source software stack (Apache, Tomcat, Axis); Microsoft .NET
- Advanced topics: Security and privacy, search engine technology.
E-Business (aka e-Biz) is now a very familiar term with most businesses and people. This has now taken such a wide coverage and reach that it is no longer an alternate means of business transactions, but an integral part of any kind of business. Whatever be the business model, products or services, it is critical to have an online presence with some transaction opportunities to keep potential customers/user engaged. The term e-Biz now encompasses almost every opportunity, either commercial or interactional, and provides a wide range of choices of technologies and means to offer them.
E-Business models going forward through use of Open Source, Web 2.0 and m-Commerce
In recent times, Open Sources systems are available in the market, which provide the e-Business providers options to customize these systems to whatever extent they want. Also, the advent of Web 2.0 has just opened a host of other possibilities to customize e-Business systems in a very easy manner which can be used by a minimal IT literate population (example - wiki). Various business models such as SaaS (Software as a Service) are gaining popularity due to the flexibility offered with maximum customization, less cost and minimal system ownership. Furthermore, e-Business transactions are no longer limited to computers, but can also be transacted through mobile devices such as mobiles, PDAs, i-Phones and so on. Considering the leaps taken by technology and infrastructure, there are no limits to what form and shape would e-Business take in the years to come.