Place to Space: Migrating to E‐business Models

Jun Li (University of Luton Business School, UK)

Journal of Small Business and Enterprise Development

ISSN: 1462-6004

Article publication date: 1 September 2004



Li, J. (2004), "Place to Space: Migrating to E‐business Models", Journal of Small Business and Enterprise Development, Vol. 11 No. 3, pp. 418-419.



Emerald Group Publishing Limited

Copyright © 2004, Emerald Group Publishing Limited

The huge potential benefits of integrating e‐commerce with traditional business have been well documented, so have the massive challenges and difficulties involved in achieving this. The major problems, apart from issues of culture and leadership, come fundamentally from the potential conflicts that the introduction of e‐business into traditional business may entail, and these consist of managing channel conflicts, competency conflicts and infrastructure conflicts. How to migrate e‐business models from traditional marketplace to Internet‐based marketspace, as the title of this book suggests, without causing significant disruptions, is a huge challenge. Therefore, there is a need in traditional businesses for a clear guide and roadmap to support strategic decision‐making on e‐business adoption. In this sense, this book is a timely publication on the topic of e‐business management.

Weill and Vitale, who are with MIT's Sloan School of Management and the Australian School of Management Sydney respectively, are both influential thinkers in the field and have rendered leaders of traditional businesses a wonderful service with the publication of this book. As its title suggests, this book was intended to help senior managers understand how e‐business models should be constructed in order to move to the space‐based business. Given that the bubble has burst and appropriate combinations of clicks and mortars have since become the focal point of attention, this well‐researched book is a welcome addition to the e‐business literature to address the issues currently under debate.

This book has thirteen chapters and an appendix. Chapters 1‐3 introduce the concepts of e‐business, the atomic business models and initiatives framework, and the e‐business model schematics. Chapters 4‐11 describe the atomic e‐business model in detail, with examples and a discussion of the critical success factors. Chapter 12 summarises all of the atomic models and addresses the issue of combining atomic models into traditional initiatives. Finally, Chapter 13 explores the top ten e‐business leadership principles for senior management. The Appendix provides detailed data of 50 e‐business initiatives.

This book impressed me most with its well‐developed ideas of atomic business models underpinned by the evolutionary approach. It is probably still arguable about how many atomic business models we should categorise, but the distinction of the analysis in this book is, by emphasising each atomic business model as a building block, to persuade senior managers to think about the evolutionary model of e‐business adoption and provides them with a feasible approach to resolving the dilemma of decision‐making in response to complexity and uncertainty. Another strength of this book is, based on a detailed study of fifty online initiatives, its focus on each building block or atomic model, the relevant strategic objectives, sources of revenue, core competencies, critical success factors, and necessary IT infrastructure required for implementation. The case studies used in the book are very helpful in illustrating how the various aspects of e‐business adoption can and should be addressed. Finally, the book provides a diagnostic tool to help senior managers analyse e‐business models. All in all, it blends very well the academic rigor of analysis with applicability of models and analytical tools.

Of course, the development of e‐business goes hand in hand with the advance of information and communications technology (ICT), and existing e‐business models have become more sophisticated, together with the emergence of new ideas and new approaches. However, the idea of evolutionary model in e‐business adoption, explicitly expressed in this book, remains undoubtedly relevant and the framework that focuses on strategic objectives, sources of revenue, core competencies, critical success factors, and necessary IT infrastructure and the diagnostic tool it develops are still powerful in showing what senior managers should or could do. By presenting plenty of new ideas with case studies to show traditional businesses how they can overcome the barriers to e‐business adoption, this book is of great value to all those who are interested in engaging in the e‐business challenge.

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