How to Plan E-Business Initiatives in Established Companies

Many large and mature companies — which still form most of the economy — have difficulty analysing the opportunities and difficulties created by the Internet. Vlerick Professor of Marketing and Digital Strategy, Steve Muylle, and Amit Basu, Carr P. Collins Jr. Chair in Management Information Science and Professor of Information Systems at the Cox School of Business at Southern Methodist University (Dallas, Texas), have developed a planning process – validated at several established companies – that puts e-business into perspective and helps make it manageable.

The conceptual framework and approach underlying how to plan e-business initiatives were the result of more than eight years of research involving a variety of corporations around the world. At the core of the research is Electronic Commerce Architecture (ECA), an analytical model that the authors developed to enable businesses, technology providers and intermediaries to examine their roles in the online environment.

Using ECA, the authors explored how companies could support trade, decision and integration processes online, both conceptually and empirically. They also developed a typology of e-business processes that companies of all types can use to plan specific e-business initiatives for increased performance.

To further validate the robustness of the approach, they also examined online organisations such as electronic intermediaries (marketplaces and exchanges) over a three-year period. In these studies, the authors worked with senior management and engaged business directors across geographical regions in sets of workshops to identify sustainable initiatives. The studies have shown that the framework they describe in their article is both intuitive and useful as a basis for management planning and analysis.

The e-business planning process

The planning phase for new e-business projects comprises 4 major steps:

  1. Identify potential e-business initiatives,
  2. Analyse the functional scope of e-business initiatives,
  3. Analyse the sustainability of benefits from e-business initiatives, and
  4. Prioritise e-business initiatives.

In addition to the planning phase, the e-business development process also includes phases for: feasibility analysis, implementation, testing, deployment and performance review. The overall process can be set within a development life cycle spanning all these phases.

Exploring new business opportunities

The authors have used this approach to help a variety of established companies plan for creating business value through e-business.

Managers can apply the e-business planning process to their company’s existing products and customers. However, e-business can also create opportunities for completely new products and markets.

Source: “How to Plan E-Business Initiatives in Established Companies”, by Amit Basu and Steve Muylle, MIT Sloan Management Review, Fall 2007, Vol. 49, No. 1. 

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