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Overview

eBusiness is growing rapidly and new issues are emerging in this global and real-time activity. This new edition to the hugely successful eBusiness Essentials explores the increasingly important area of mobile data access. In addition, it shows how eBusiness is evolving and how technology can be progressively used to build more sophisticated solutions. Balancing its technical depth with a clear and practical analysis of market models it enables the reader to deploy the available and emerging technology effectively and appropriately.
In addition to the established yet equally important features such as security, payment and trust, supply chain integration and customer to supplier trade it includes:
- mBusiness covering key issues such as roving and roaming access and the technologies GPRS, UMTS and WAP
- Help for readers to formulate their own eBusiness strategy by drawing out some general principles
- Virtual mobile network operators: data extensions to the mobile switch, home and visitor location
- Analysis and real world examples of mobile services
- The technical options, impact, integration, mechanics and implications of evolving eBusiness
Primarily aimed at planners, engineers, managers and developers in the IT, multimedia and on-line industries. Recommended reading for students in computer science electrical & electronic engineering, IT and telecommunications.
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Editorial Reviews

From The Critics
Explores both basic technical aspects and the business model of buying and selling products over the Internet. The British authors introduce some mechanisms, ideas, and techniques for addressing issues of security, catalog design, product presentation, billing, and supply chain automation. The second edition adds a section on mobile data access. Annotation c. Book News, Inc., Portland, OR
From the Publisher
this is required reading from anyone who tries to keep up with all the developments in this fast moving world." (Teleworker, March 2001)

"...an excellent undergraduate textbook for introductory courses in electronic commerce...the authors deftly juggle in providing technical knowledge to both professional and general audience...I have to applaud their success in maintaining a balance..." (Telematics and Informatics, Vol.19, 2002)

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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9780471521839
  • Publisher: Wiley, John & Sons, Incorporated
  • Publication date: 3/28/2001
  • Series: Wiley-BT Series , #9
  • Edition description: REV
  • Edition number: 2
  • Pages: 352
  • Product dimensions: 6.12 (w) x 8.98 (h) x 0.70 (d)

Meet the Author

MARK NORRIS is an independent consultant with over 20 years experience in software development, computer networks and telecommunications systems. Over this time he has managed dozens of projects to completion, from the small to the multi-million pound, multi-site, and has worked for periods in Australia, Europe and Japan. He has published widely over the last ten years with a number of books on software engineering, computing, project and technology management, communications and network technologies. He lectures on network and computing issues, has contributed to references such as Encarta, is a visiting professor at the University of Ulster, and is a fellow of the IEE.
STEVE WEST leads the development of BT's eBusiness products, and has over 15 years experience in communications, software and information technology. He has worked on a variety of projects, including the management of BT's work within the Open group and generation of corporate IT strategy. Steve co-authored one of the existing books in the Wiley/BT series, Media engineering, with Mark Norris.
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Read an Excerpt

1: Electronic Trade

Hegel was right when he said that we learn from history that man can never learn anything from history
George Bernard Shaw

President Bill Clinton has estimated that worldwide electronic business worth about $375 billion will be handled electronically by 2002 – a figure disputed by Nicholas Negraponte who reckons that the president has underestimated it by a factor of three. Whichever opinion you go with, it is now generally accepted that a major part of the way we do business from here on will involve computers and networks. Why should anyone be in the slightest bit interested in this? After all, people have transacted business for centuries and we have had the wherewithal to exchange the electronic data to support it for over twenty years now. What has happened to make electronic business the intriguing, and very lucrative, proposition that it is now perceived as? The answer to the question can probably be condensed into a single word – Internet.

Before this (by now familiar) phenomenon's dramatic growth, electronic trade was routinely conducted but it relied on complex, expensive and proprietary equipment that ran over private data networks. There was little to commend it and although it succeeded in making a steady income for some niche companies, it failed to take the business world by storm.

Over the last few years, the Internet has matured to provide a global infrastructure, accessible to a vast number of people. It makes global markets a reality, even for individuals and small businesses. More significantly, the Internet makes it possible to transform electronic trading from an expensive and specialised process into a cheap and realistic proposition for the masses.

But there is more to electronic business that having a worldwide network of computers that can readily share and exchange information. There are some prerequisites to successful eBusiness. For example, secure transaction processing, the establishment of trust when personal contact is absent, the handling of intangible, information-oriented products and the slick integration of presentation, billing and fulfilment are vital. They have to be packed into a straightforward and intuitive package if eBusiness is to fulfil even Bill Clinton's modest expectations. And that is what this book is all about.

Before we get to the exotica of catalogues, nanopayments and digital certificates, we need to set a clear baseline. So, in this chapter, we aim to explain the nature of the digital marketplace by defining what we mean by eBusiness, what forms it can take, who the players are and what the essential elements of an electronic market stall are.

A key point is that you need more than an investment programme to succeed: a shift in attitude and understanding are also required. Well-established physical assets and business processes also need to be recast into electronic services. So we will introduce the key concepts such as security, trust and encryption that are explained in some detail later on. First, though, some definitions.

1.1 What is eBusiness?

There is no universally accepted definition of eBusiness. In this book we are going to assume that it embraces all aspects of buying and selling products and services over a network. The essential characteristics of eBusiness are that the dealings between consumers and suppliers are on-line transactions and that the key commodity being traded is information.

In effect, we see eBusiness as the gateway to a deal – it is a transaction that may, but doesn't necessarily have to, lead to physical product. There are several commonly used names for eBusiness, the most popular being eCommerce and eTrade. Some of the more academic treatises attempt to distinguish the terms (for instance, eCommerce is sometimes limited to the buying and selling of goods and the flows of associated information and funds, eTrade can be viewed as set of supplier to supplier transactions). We have used such terms as synonyms and we take them as referring to the same thing.

Whichever term is used (and we will go from one to another for the sake of variety), there is a clear differentiation between the ‘e' and the ‘business', ‘commerce' or ‘trading'. The former is a question of technical capability, the latter the way in which that capability is applied. Put them together and you end up something more than the sum of their combined parts. New possibilities and requirements emerge. In this book we will concentrate on the technical aspects of eBusiness but the rest cannot and will not be ignored.

Hence, our focus as we explore the emerging world of eBusiness will be on:

  • Technical aspects – the hardware, software and networks that are needed to connect a community of interest and allow them to share information. This also covers the design and presentation of that information. An important part of eBusiness technology is the specialised software used for payments (billing, charging, invoicing, account management), security (authorisation, authentication, privacy, data integrity and audit) and service support (problem management, configuration control and order handling). These will be explored in some detail.
  • Business Model – how businesses inter-work, how this influences the way in which they are established and the way in which technology is deployed. In this respect we will examine the typical flow of orders, fulfilment and payments, how various players co-operate to provide an end product or service to the consumer and the various ways in which a virtual market is established.

The last part of this section will introduce the structure of the book, which starts with a description of the marketplace as a whole before explaining what a shop within that market place consists of. From here we move on to explore the elements that make the shop viable – catalogues that advertise its wares, security measures that instil customer confidence and the shop window features that attract and retain customers. Putting these various components together, we can build an outline picture of eBusiness....

Figure 1-1 The essential elements of an electronic business

...The illustration above gives some idea of how the key elements fit together. It should be said that the perspective is intended to be general and should fit business-to-business trade as well as the case where individual consumers interact with an on-line business. So you can ‘daisy chain' the picture, such that someone who takes the role of supplier to one set of customers may also take the role of customer to a different supplier further back in the chain. In any case, they all have to be on a shared network, work from the same catalogue, have some means of delivering goods and be able to settle up after the transaction.

What is not shown above are the intangible attributes that make a business operate (more or less) effectively. Later on we explain the essential technology that needs to be deployed to establish an eBusiness, how trust and security are established. And we illustrate some real instances through case studies.

1.2 The whistle stop tour

So far, we have described eBusiness in broad terms as a mass-market capability that is enabled by the combination of the Internet's global reach and the vast resources of traditional Information Technology. Given this, it should comes as no surprise that it is a multi-faceted beast (or, potentially, a many-headed monster!). Many of those facets are technical but others are not.

In order to get a grasp on the overall scope and nature of the eBusiness proposition, this section looks at the constituent parts of trading over a network. There is a lot more detail on each of these areas later on. For now, though, we have the surfer's guide.

The Marketplace

Before we think about business, we should first think about the market where that business is conducted. So, what is an electronic market? It can be viewed as a direct parallel of the familiar shop, store or emporium. It is, in essence, a virtual trading area where deals are struck over a network. The ‘shop-front' is the computer and the server is the warehouse. In fact, there is an electronic analogue of virtually all of the items you'd find in a conventional market – including bogus traders, inferior goods and dubious bargains.

The size and scope of the market place also reflects the established model. In eBusiness, unlike many other areas of high technology, size really does not matter. It is quite possible to conduct a large volume of business over a wide area with little overhead. The ‘information smallholder' can compete on an equal footing with the multi-national corporation. In fact, it is often not that easy to distinguish the two. People who have encountered Amazon.com on the Internet probably have no idea how it compares in size with, say, W H Smith who have bookshops in most large towns in the UK, or Blackwells, who position themselves as global suppliers of academic books.

To be an effective player – as well as the basic technology to enter the market, you need a brand, some content, service support and a means of fulfilment (ie delivering the goods). This does not imply that all have to be owned. An eBusiness that looks like a cogent entity to the consumer may in reality be a host of co-operating suppliers. One supplier might provide the on-line content and another the application hosting (those clever facilities available on the user's PC and server). The delivery vans might be contracted from the Post Office or Federal Express and they might deliver a set of products branded by someone completely different. In this respect, the electronic market is a more complex beast than the traditional one of manufacturer, retailer and wholesaler. Furthermore, the nature of eBusiness lends itself to more than one trading model.

For instance, the age-old ideas of a marketplace owned by one organisation, populated by (authorised) traders is quite tenable (Barclay Bank's Barclay Square and NatWest's Buckingham Gate are good examples of this). This model can be extended to add the idea of having ‘guilds' that control standards within their particular area (but more of this later).

There are many other trading models, such as auction (conventional as typified by e-Bay, Dutch, sealed bid) and then there is barter – eBusiness draws on a lot of history!. All have their merits and are suitable to a certain type of trading. Most on-line trading models have a physical dual, some don't.

Whatever the market looks like, it can often be categorised by the dominant party, In seller driven markets, it is the large, dominant vendor that sets the price, not really for negotiation. In a buyer driven market there are many people selling into the market and a small number of dominant buyers who take best bids (for example, UK supermarkets are often accused of having undue influence—downwards(!)—on the price of agricultural produce). It is these dynamics that determine the appropriate technology for eBusiness. There are also open markets in which the buyer and seller negotiate, or a free market, where the behaviour of the market itself sets prices. Insurance brokering is an example of this, as are the optimisation packages used for pricing and selling airline seat capacity.

eShops

The electronic shop can be thought of as the ‘look and feel' of the screen that fronts the customer. Just as with high street stores, the aim is to entice the customer to browse and, ultimately, to buy.

Although unlikely to supplant real-world shops, the on-line variety can provide features that seem likely to promote their growth. As well as being readily available and easy to search, they can provide some measure of mass customisation. For instance, the made-to-measure shirtmaker, Charles Tyrwhitt has an on-line shop that can apply a buyers previously entered measurements and preferences as it mails each order from the Jermyn Street shop. Every customer is thus treated as an individual, but there is capacity (at least on the customer handling side) to cater for a mass market.

The fundamental requirement for presenting ones wares in the eBusiness world is the catalogue. These are central – and are the electronic equivalent of a shop's shelves, goods, special offers and departments. The catalogue is the on-line representation of what is ‘for sale' (or more correctly, what is available for trading).

It is important to appreciate that there are different scales of catalogue. They range from a set of web pages and a simple script that allows orders to be taken, through mid-range catalogue products that are characterised by a pre-defined structure of product categories and sub-categories, up to large scale corporate catalogues that are customisable. In this last case, there is usually back end integration with inventory, stock control and ordering systems.

Another important point about catalogues is that they are different for buyers and for sellers. The former is a virtual directory that allows the buyer to look at and judge a range of competing products from a number of different suppliers. The latter is a structured set of information that represents what a particular supplier has to sell. The technology used to represent these different types of catalogue has to match – that is it either has to be optimised for one seller and multiple buyers or vice versa. More on this later.

One further differentiation in catalogues that should be made is that of business-to- business as opposed to business-to-consumer. The consumer-oriented catalogues tend to be stronger on presentation as they usually have to sell on the basis of eye-appeal. The business catalogues are more focussed on quick access to another business' needs, and these tend to be high volume and fairly routine. For instance, many supermarkets issue stock replenishment orders from their automated stock control systems – they buy a lot of carrots on a regular basis!

In short, distinction between consumer and business oriented catalogues is akin to food mart against delicatessen.

Payment

And so to the core of any business (and eBusiness is no exception) – profit. Trade, commerce and business only exist to satisfy the needs and desires of the participants. This means one party getting something they want in exchange for something the other party wants. And usually it is money that fuels the desire to trade....

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Table of Contents

Dedication ix
Preface xi
About the Authors xiv
Acknowledgements xv
1 Electronic Trade 1
2 The Electronic Marketplace 17
3 The Electronic Shop 39
4 Payments, Credit and Invoicing 57
5 Trust and Security 97
6 Integration 115
7 Supply Chain 137
8 Setting Up Shop 163
9 Putting the 'e' into your business 177
10 Underlying Technologies and Standards 195
11 mBusiness 255
12 Who is Going to Make Money out of All of this and How? 277
Appendix 1 Case Studies 289
Appendix 2 The Gods of Technology 295
Appendix 3 Glossary 309
Bibliography 331
Index 333
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