E-business [Robert D. Hof]

Gregory Alan Bolcer (gbolcer@endeavors.org)
Mon, 15 Mar 1999 16:44:00 -0800

The March 22, 1999 cover of Business Week has splattered all over
it "E-Business, What every CEO Needs to Know". It is an introduction
of a new Business Week quarterly supplement. Needless to say, as
I am the CEO of a e-business solutions provider, I thought
I'd figure out what the world of business was up to.

Very splashy graphics. An opening memo supposed to convey
the urgency for transforming into a full-fledged e-business.
It's not clear from the intro what that is exactly. They
start out saying it's more than a web site, more than email.
They make it out to be simply supporting e-commerce on their
web site and reducing the number of clicks to find the 1-800
number. After the hype, the article gets into what
exactly they are trying to say.

1) Reengineering on Steroids
"Every businessperson I call on today is filled with
greed or fear when it comes to the Internet," says
James Barksdale, CEO of Netscape Communications Company.
(Whatever happened to Andreesen?) The model is to
reengineer existing products around electronic exchange
of information, track it from end-to-end, and manage
the supply chain. So long shipping dock people and
sales people, resulting in supposedly happy customers.

2) Out with the Old, In with the New
Global competition, cut prices, business model
belly button gazing, realize who is looking to
bypass your company, what anklebiter companies
are going to rip your profits.

3) Buyer runs the show.
Best price and service is available because
best time to prices and services is eliminating
the middle men.

4) Service is King, especially online
Red carpet, white glove, whatever, be prepared
to kiss ass, and if this puckering is human intensive
rather than personally automated, you will be

5) Employees aren't worth the headache.
Why bother? You get better service and someone to complain
to, and if they don't respond, plenty of competitors when
you outsource your jobs. They list getting to the net,
web processing, sites, marketing, email, distribution.
They missed some real biggies. The funniest thing I ever
saw was Larry Sanders, CEO of Fujitsu American stand up in
front of 300 people and told them to outsource their R&D and
innovation. You outsource your seed corn, what's really left
but a burnt-out old hull.

6) Bricks with that URL.
No site is an island, have an offline group of
suits and ties also. Brand names get you pretty far,
and having someplace to go knock on the door deals with
the trust issue.

7) Sense of community
The image of the anti-social computer geek downloading
fast Christina Applegate gifs is no longer. The
articles says every e-business site needs a chat room.
That and pay attention to all your feedback, don't
treat it all the same. Finders fees, referrals,
discounts, promotions and other tricks to get the
people back claim in the article to help do this.

8) Follow the money
You can predict your business competition by finding
out who the Silicon Valley VC funds are funding. Better
yet, start your own VC fund and steal the ideas.

9) More nerd stuff
Porno and stock prices, this is what the non-nerd
business people have given us. That and browser-version
specific entrance scripts. Guess what? There are
actually non-white, old, uneducated, and women people on the web too
according to this article's net demographics graphics.
I wonder if there are any porno sites that I can invest in
by buying stock that do e-commerce by peddling gifs of
old, ethnic, ignorant women. Sometimes you should never
cross the streams.

10) Wise Guys
Get wise to the Web or else. No mention of else what,
but it just says everyone else is doing it, so should you.
Price Waterhouse Coopers says only 25% of CEOs regularly
log onto the net. They say you are a hypocrite if you believe
in e-business without actually using a computer yourself.
such is life. They have a quote from Thornton a. May, VP for
research at Cambridge Technology Partners: "We're living in
a brand new economy and some of these guys are still in the
Middle Ages bleeding patients." Visa made online commerce
one of their top 5 strategic initiatives. No duh, what
else are they going to do? I like this, you know you don't
get it when:
a) the CIO position constantly needs refilling
b) executives rely on staff to handle email (or print them out).
c) technology issues are rarely discussed by the board of diretors.
d) senior managers are not accountable for high-tech projects & budgets.

Heck, this e-business stuff doesn't seem that hard.