Saturday, May 04, 2002

If you're developing a business case for e-commerce, or are exploring the business and technical impacts of implementing a major initiative I strongly recommend reading Handbook of E-Business.This is an expensive book that will be a sound investment for the right audience and a disappointment to others. The right audience consists of high-level management in business process domains, IT executive management, marketing and strategic planners.

I'll start with what this book is not, which will help you determine if it's right for you. It is NOT:

What this book does provide is a high-level, succinct discussion of the major issues and factors that will be of interest to its target audience as I've defined it above. Although Jessica Keyes is credited as the author she is really the editor who has pulled together articles from experts and those in the trenches and one of then more frequent contributors. Ms. Keye's selection of content and her skills as an editor are showcased in this book, which consists of 6 sections (A through F), that address specific aspects of e-business as follows:
Section A: Introduction. Although one would think that all businesses have thought this through, most are still reacting to the phenomena of the web and its possibilities, with no realistic idea about the opportunities and pitfalls that are inherent. Highlights that I like are: selling and value propositions from a business perspective, learning from mistakes, partnering and alliances, implementation strategies, personalization, and a strategic framework for e-commerce.

Section B: E-Commerce. This section covers customer retention, e-commerce testing, driving revenue and customer satisfaction, e-merchandising, and strategic models.

Section C: E-Business. How to recast your thinking from bricks and mortar to e-business. Highlights include: integrated B2B, selling hard goods and info to businesses (business models and product development life cycles), ASPs, transforming your business into e-business-best practices, budgeting & reporting.

Section D: Financials. This is the most business-focused section, and one that is in line with Ms. Keye's extensive background in business and financial analysis. It includes: valuing an internet business, financial model for CFOs, e-procurement, taxation, e-service, infrastructure investment decisions, finance dept role in e-biz development, developing e-business plan, raising money for internet venture, web revenue models, measures for e-business, outsourcing and initial costs to build e-business, procurement savings.

Section E: Social Aspects, including legal issues, advertising, trust management, and e-culture and change.

Section F: Technology. This collection of articles is a high-level overview that is aimed at upper management and decision makers to reveal the technical issues. Included are: content as cornerstone, testing, underlying technology, security and the impact of e-business on IT organizations.

Each chapter is an easy read and is packed with only the essentials. In fact, I marveled at the way the information is condensed and presented because most chapters were less than 10 pages, yet captured everything a decision maker needs to know. In many respects this book is similar to a highly focused collection of Gartner or Meta Group reports, and therein lies the value - busy executives can quickly get the information they need to make strategic and tactical decisions without getting bogged down in unnecessary details.

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