In the age of Internet and electronic communications, everything gets an “e” as prefix. The most popular words are e-business and e-commerce. Forecast by many well-known research companies on e-commerce gave staggering numbers on the growth of e-commerce:
According to IBM who was one of the first to use the term e-business (in October 1997), e-business is:”The transformation of key business processes through the use of Internet technologies”.
Every organization has its own definition for e-business. E-business is less about technology than it is about business. It’s about doing business differently. As Cec Primeau from PriceWaterhouseCoopers explains: “E-business is a concept, not a product. It’s about using Web-enabled technologies to link your entire value chain.”
In the narrowest sense, e-business is the use of information and Internet technology to conduct business among buyers, sellers and other trading partners. In a broader sense, e-business goes beyond the technology that enables it. Think of it as any other business practice that improves performance, creates value and establishes customer relationships, only it is done electronically over the Internet.
Definitions of e-commerce given by various sources differ significantly. Some include all financial and commercial transactions that take place electronically, including electronic data interchange (EDI), electronic funds transfer (EFT), and all credit/debit card activity. Others limit e-commerce to retail sales to consumers for which the transaction and payment take place on open network like the Internet. The first type refers to forms of electronic commerce that have exist for decades and result in trillions of dollars worth of activity every day. The second type has existed for a few years.
The business or industry definition can be broader or narrower and the terms used are usually e-business for the former and e-commerce for the latter. Key to the narrower definition is the transactional aspect. A survey of business views on the definition of e-commerce conducted on behalf of Statistics Canada also distinguishes between e-business and e-commerce. According to the findings of the survey, “the notion of transaction, computer-mediation, channels and trigger events were found to be key concepts in defining e-commerce”. Also, industry perception of what are relevant computer-mediated channels or electronic commerce networks on which e-business or e-commerce takes place differs across sectors, hence a definition should clearly specify on what type of networks or applications e-commerce occur.
E-commerce can be classified by the nature of transaction. The following types are distinguished:
The Internet, intranet, and extranet are the most popular platforms for e-commerce. In Internet is the most common platform for B2C e-commerce; the intranet is most the common for platform for corporate internal management; and the extranet is the most common platform for B2B e-commerce.
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The Internet is a public and global communication network that provides direct connectivity to anyone over a local area network (LAN) or Internet Service Provider (ISP). The Internet is a public network that is connected and routed over gateways. End users are connected to local access providers (LANs or ISPs), who are connected to the Internet access providers, to network access providers, and eventually to the Internet backbone.