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Subject: UKNM: What is e-business?
From: Ray Taylor
Date: Thu, 13 Apr 2000 09:43:07 +0100

Sam suggested killing this thread, but I think the issue of the nature of
e-business is fundamental, and I would like to ask for others' views. I am,
as I say, not an IT expert, so really would like some input from someone who
has a better understanding of the concept. Not least because I would like to
migrate my own company to an e-business at some point and any help on the
processes and technologies involved would be champion.

I guess if this message appears, then Sam has okayed it.

[Sam says: sorry, I don't remember suggesting killing this thread]

Quentin Langley <qlangleyatyahoo [dot] com> said:

> I don't think anyone in this group is suffering from
> "techno-fear" and throwing around insults doesn't make
> you clever.

Apologies to any who feel insulted. Not intended, of course.

> You have volunteered a reasonable working definition
> of an e-business,

Thank you, but would anyone else like to pitch in with a view? My comment
was merely taken from an IT consultant I met at a lunch some while back.

> but it doesn't justify your claim
> that all businesses will become them. Quite the
> reverse. A great many will want to organise
> relationships with suppliers electronically, but many
> businesses will keep relationships with their
> customers strictly offline.

Only time will tell.

> There is a wide range of personal service businesses
> where little or no advantage can be found in
> organising customer interfaces electronically.

Yet! But it's still early days, remember.

> Given
> that you have to be in the same room as your barber to
> have your hair cut what is the advantage in having an
> electronic interface as well? I know that some people
> see "stylists" not barbers. They make appointments
> and feel it is advantageous to see the same person
> each time. Under those circumstances it makes sense,
> but for those of us who wander in and say "a number
> two please" it doesn't.

I have little need for a hairdresser, but regularly pop into a local barber
shop when what's left of my hair gets too scruffy. What help would being an
e-business bring? Well I guess I could swipe my own card to pay for the cut,
and maybe the cost of a more efficient e-business would be marginally less.
But then again, perhaps additional services could be offered. Instead of
being offered "something for the weekend" I could, while waiting for my cut,
perhaps browse an electronic catalogue of goods that could be delivered,
that evening, to my home. As a men's hairdresser, perhaps the products on
offer would be more male-oriented than other shops and catalogues. Why not
order condoms? Some people are still embarrassed about buying them from
Boots. How about buying a pack of chewing gum? A nice cigar, stored in a
humidor? A newspaper or mag to read and take away after the cut. All of
these things would be a real pain for a barber to sell and arrange supplies
of, by any other means than electronic.

But to be honest, I have no idea if any of these things are going to happen,
but being an e-business makes them possible because it allows the business
to handle transactions, ordering, inventory, delivery, etc., without taking
anyone away for the main job - that of servicing the customer. All you need
is a bit of imagination to see what _could_ be done but of course any
guesses at this stage are open to charges of being rediculous, stupid,
far-fetched, naive, unrealistic, and all those other insults thrown at those
of us who believe that imagination has a role in business and technology

> Pubs? People go there for the social aspects.
> Organising these electronically is unlikely to enhance
> the experience.

Even if electronically organising the business does not enhance the
experience, it make the business more efficient, thus making it cheaper,
thus allowing savings to be either (1) passed onto the customer or (2) put
to improving the experience.

And who's to say that pubs will always be about blokes talking about
football, swilling ale, and getting leary with the barmaid? Come to think of
it, are they still that now or have they already changed a bit in the last
couple of decades?

One thing that would improve the media club on Boob night would be a
self-serve auto bar where you swipe the card and select an ice-cold beer
from the machine. Half a dozen of these would make it easier to get served
with other drinks at the bar. The machines could be stacked from the back
and would, of course, be self-ordering (from the distributor).

I guess my next venture will have to be an e-bar, just to prove the point.

Or would someone else like to suggest a business that they think is even
less likely to become an e-business than a pub, hairdresser, or prostitution

Here are some reasons why businesses 100 years ago did not want to get into
telephone business:

1. The telephone? What's the point buying a telephone for my business when
none of my customers own one?
2. How the hell is a telephone supposed to enhance the experience of the
theatre goer?
3. Can telephones cut hair?
4. Why put a telephone in a pub when it would merely allow all the wives to
phone their husbands to tell them to come home.
5. We don't need telephones, we prefer personal customer service
6. I know some of my customers are kinky, but how the hell is a prostitute
supposed to make use of a telephone?



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