Success on the web is brought to book

It looks at the implications of the online revolution, and focuses on how business models are evolving to encompass ecommerce and the associated technologies.

The guide, prepared by the BCS Electronic Commerce Working Group, comes almost two years after the BCS publication Ecommerce: A World of Opportunity.

The latest guide examines how online commerce has developed during that two-year period.

When the first book was published, the message being put out was to get your website up and running quickly to compete and survive. Now, the mood is more reflective.

Managers have come to the conclusion that traditional business considerations, such as having the right brand awareness and business processes, remain key to success in all businesses.

The ecommerce successes have been mostly developed from bricks-and-mortar businesses such as Tesco and Virgin. But even some of those established companies have had their fingers burned by their web ventures, so there are clearly lessons to be learned by all.

The new guide provides a realistic view of the benefits and pitfalls of trading electronically, and is not afraid to address the implications of ignoring ecommerce altogether. After all, internet spending represented only five per cent of the total spending of UK consumers last Christmas.

But a continued increase in online commerce activity is likely to be prompted by the business community, and this will lead to increased pressure to trade electronically with partners and suppliers as well as with customers.

The guide gives some straightforward advice on how to make a success of your online activities, such as: computerising a bad manual system leads to a bad or even worse computer system; don’t be a guinea pig; purchase off-the-shelf and avoid bespoke; and don’t make the IT director responsible for the future of your business.

The book follows up with a practical guide to marketing on the web, the business model considerations needed for web commerce, business-to-business and value-chain relationships, key technologies needed for web trading, and finally skills, security and legal and regulatory implications, such as data protection and freedom of information issues, the ecommerce bill and European Union directives.

Sound, straightforward advice is backed by clear definitions and case studies throughout.

The guide aims to highlight the areas that businesses trading on the web will have to consider, from the practicalities of what hardware is needed, to the business changes that having a global presence will bring.

  • Doing Business Electronically: A Practical Guide for Professionals and Business Managers is available for £15 to BCS members, £20 to non-members. Contact: 01793 417424

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