Academic journal article American International College Journal of Business

E-Business Planning Audit: Helping Businesses Make Good on the Promises and Avoiding the Pitfalls of Electronic Business

Academic journal article American International College Journal of Business

E-Business Planning Audit: Helping Businesses Make Good on the Promises and Avoiding the Pitfalls of Electronic Business

Article excerpt


Moving at harrowing speeds, businesses have been created and destroyed in the tumultuous e-conomy. The topic of e-business has been a major focus of all businesses as they strive to determine what is the best approach to developing a profitable e-business application. Given the results of the stock market and the number of dot-com companies going out of business during the year 2000 and first half of 2001, it is clear that businesses need to better plan for their electronic business ventures. This paper proposes an e-Business Planning Audit to help managers and entrepreneurs better plan the launching of new electronic applications. Drawing upon traditional planning audits from the academic and trade press literature, the proposed audit involves a comprehensive tool to guide e-business development from concept development through implementation.

   "It was the best of times, it was the worst of times, it was the age of
   wisdom, it was the age of foolishness, it was the epoch of belief, it was
   the epoch of incredulity, it was the season of light, it was the season of
   darkness, it was the spring of hope, it was the winter of despair, we had
   everything before us, we had nothing before us."

      Tale of Two Cities, Charles Dickens

The above quote seems to be an apt description for the e-commerce environment today. In a relatively short time, e-commerce has achieved some of the highest of highs, thought to be bullet-proof to the vagaries of the old economy and rewriting the rules of business as previously accepted, to the lowest of lows. The latter half of the year 2000 brought the dot-com party to an end and the sobering reality that there was more to this business than having a web site and a few fancy computers. In some respects, e-commerce has become a much more complex business, given the speed with which dot-com businesses can be up and running.

Traditionally businesses evolved slowly, taking time to develop their capabilities and customer base, and establish their value proposition and distribution infrastructure. However, in the virtual world, ideas can be put into action before thinking through the value proposition and distribution or logistics. While there has been much excitement over operating in cyberspace, some businesses have entered into e-business too quickly. In a recent interview with eCompany, Barry Diller, Chairman and CEO of USA Networks, said, A lot of companies were out there running a race where the winner didn't win anything. Many dot-coms have not had the chance to properly develop, capitalize, or establish a customer base.

Businesses have rushed to the virtual marketplace in order to be first. Armed with a web site and venture capital, adequate planning was sacrificed for immediate operations. When asked what his biggest mistake was, Marc Schiller, co-founder and CEO of ElectricArtists, responded (eCompany, 2001), Not evaluating every aspect of our business often enough. We should have, every month, dissected our business from the top down, but we were moving much too fast. Some existing businesses, however, moved slowly, hesitant to proceed into this new environment given their lack of expertise. This is not a bad move for an existing business according to Richard Branson, Chairman and founder of Virgin Group PLC (eCompany, 2001). Branson advises that for some existing businesses it makes sense to, hold off until someone else has it right. If you have a strong brand, you should do well.

Both types of businesses could benefit from conducting an e-business audit to help develop a sound business strategy before implementation. Currently, there are few tools to help business owners, managers and entrepreneurs to evaluate their abilities to engage in e-commerce. Some of the tools that do exist are proprietary to e-business consultants (i.e. Forrester Research), and others are published in trade books (Hartman and Sifonis, 2000). …

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