Leader – Be the key e-business players.

There aren’t many companies where you can join as truck driver and end up as chairman. But that is just what happened to Jim Kelly, the boss of parcel delivery company UPS. As if to cap his remarkable progress, he is planning to turn his rather conventional company into an e-business. Over at rival DHL, e-business director Calum Joyce estimates that, within three years, between 40% and 75% of profits will come from collecting data about the customers whose parcels it delivers. Turning couriers into business information companies is radical, but e-business promises to turn many traditional businesses inside out. Many more will probably cease to exist altogether. Just how far e-business will go is hard to judge. Anyone who is waiting for the fashion to blow over will have a long and very uncomfortable wait. An easy mistake is to confuse e-commerce with e-business. Most accountants know all about online transactions, but e-commerce is just a small part of e-business. Using the Net as the primary communication medium inside as well as outside the business will have far-reaching effects. Intermediaries will be bypassed and businesses will be free to reinvent themselves. E- businesses will only be as good as their information. As the interpreters of business information, accountants have a unique opportunity to be key e-business players. It will mean forsaking traditional ways of thinking but the prize is there to be taken.

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