Academic journal article JITTA : Journal of Information Technology Theory and Application

A Paradoxically Peaceful Coexistence between Commerce and Ecommerce

Academic journal article JITTA : Journal of Information Technology Theory and Application

A Paradoxically Peaceful Coexistence between Commerce and Ecommerce

Article excerpt

ABSTRACT

Common opinion on the street is that 1) ecommerce cannot coexist with traditional commerce, and that 2) ecommerce can't work given the economics of business. Neither is true. ... Just as parts of our world can be described in Newtonian physics and others parts in quantum mechanics, so too can both ecommerce and traditional commerce coexist. This paper discusses the paradigm shift that allows ecommerce to pursue a profitable and sustainable model. Three paradoxes are used to explain how ecommerce and traditional commerce can coexist.

INTRODUCTION

Ecommerce is no longer the darling infant that mesmerizes us just by the miracle of his being. We have witnessed its birth and have seen its sometimes-painful encounters with the older generation of traditional commerce. Now that we have been besieged to the point of oversaturation with "baby pictures" presented by the delighted new parents of dot corns, it is time to allow the awkward adolescent known as ecommerce to take time out, with his parents, to mature well out of the spotlight. Thankfully, many of the lights and cameras of public interest formerly trained on this child have been dimmed, and businesses are now being permitted to develop in some remarkable ways out of publicity's harsh gaze. (It is only fair to note that the enfant terrible of ecommerce was often quite happy creating its own cloud of overexcited hyperbole, so that the media are not solely to blame for the swirl of publicity surrounding dot coms.)

ECOMMERCE IS AN EMERGING TECHNOLOGY

Technology is defined as "The application of science, especially to industrial or commercial objectives."1 We have come to use the word technology in a fuller sense -- that technology is something that supports us in achieving various objectives. Some researchers have even classified technologies by focus (Dart et al., 1987) task orientation (Chen, Nunamaker, and Weber, 1989), and function (Henderson and Cooprider, 1990 and Lyytinen and Kendall, 1992). In these studies technology included software, models, and systems to support production, communication, and commerce.

We propose that the reader should view ecommerce as a technology, one that is now in the phase referred to as technological emergence. Kendall (1999) establishes a framework for assessing emerging technologies. Five phases for technological advancement are identified: technological invention or discovery; technological emergence; technological acceptance; technological sublime; and technological surplus.

In the first phase the technology is merely invented, but in the technological emergence phase managers learn how to employ technology to its fullest. In the process, managers are educated and also train others in the use of technology. Additionally, managers learn about planning for technology, and how to avoid unique organizational problems created by the newly adopted technology.

In the third phase, the general public accepts the technology. Then in the fourth phase, the technological sublime, the beneficial aspects of technology are fully recognized and appreciated. In the final stage, the technology is overused.

Ecommerce is still emerging. If you accept it as a technology, you can compare it to other technologies developed throughout history. It is still possible and practical to research the development of a technology while it is in its emergence phase. And it is possible for researchers and executives to better understand and influence its adoption.

COMPETING TECHNOLOGIES COEXIST

During technological emergence and through most of the technological acceptance phases, technologies may grow, but they do not necessarily obliterate an existing technology. In fact, there are countless examples of inventions that seem far superior technically to their predecessors, but have taken a long time to dominate their field. Gunpowder, for example, was invented in China around 270 A. …

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