Putting E-Business into the Business

Felix Thomson

Content Executive

The Financial Services Forum

Kamaljit Healy introduces the Forum’s new e-commerce special interest group
Everyone understands that e-commerce is something to do with the transformation of key business processes using on-line technologies, but the actual definition seems to vary greatly from organization to organization. Or even in the same organization – I have spent nearly ten years on e-business at Schroders, during which time we have reported into the IT team, the UK client management area and global marketing; and we have been called the web team, the central editorial team, the content management team and once – nearly! – the on-line marketing team! Our area of responsibility has also changed, not so much in terms of what we do, but certainly in terms of focus and scope. In short, we have become adept at change, which is the only thing that has remained constant.
Why a new SIG?
There are some very clear challenges that we all face in our different disciplines about making our businesses more efficient, more responsive to clients’ needs, and being able to harness the power of a technology that is constantly changing – and at an exponential rate.
E-commerce shares these challenges, not least because it can influence so many different areas of the business – and because so many customers, especially the younger ones that will pay for our pensions, now expect hi-tech solutions.
Some of these challenges are specific to individual companies, and perhaps we want to keep some others to ourselves because of commercial confidentiality. But there is a whole range of other issues that we can talk about – and talking should help each of our businesses to address these challenges and opportunities more effectively. The list of topics that could be discussed over the coming months is as varied as the nature of the discipline, but I’m sure that we will talk about, for example:
What is e-Commerce? How can we use it and position it within our organizations to get the best benefits from it? Is it purely the conduct of business on the Internet – not just buying and selling, but also servicing customers and collaborating with business partners – or does it have a wider part to play throughout the organization, through the ability to transform key business processes using Internet technologies?
On-line marketing. How can we make the on-line channel work more effectively for us as part of the total marketing mix? The web is now a mature part of this mix, but we should continue to look for new ways to use this medium more effectively, and to make the web part of “my comfort zone” when I need information – whether “I” am a customer or an employee.
Information management. Or knowledge management or content management – however you choose to define it – is a growing area of interest. It underpins everything we do – and not just on the web. It is about getting information that is relevant to me, when I need it, and in the context of tools or processes that help people do what they need to when they need to. If we are serious about “self-service” – and we have seen that is a model that can deliver huge internal efficiencies and great user benefits – then we need to invest time and money to get these structures right.
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