E-COMMERCE A MANIFESTO FOR K- BUSINESS

SYED ALAMDAR ALI
Hailey College of Banking & Finance Lahore

July 02 - July 08, 2007

The dynamic nature of ground rules of Internet and electronic commerce keeps the entrepreneurs reinvesting in Information Technology to keep pace with its competitors. These advancements have opened new distribution channels for knowledge-based products businesses (K-business) as well. Making the knowledge commercial is not new! There are many service industries such as Banking, Insurance, Health care, Lawyers, Accountants, and Consultants etc., who are practicing this phenomenon. A company in any of such industries has special dynamics to turn its basic material-knowledge- into a successful commercial product. For instance: Enriching the physical products with knowledge; such as a company advises its customers on how to use the product properly. Customizing the knowledge; such as a psychiatrist customize their knowledge according to the problems of its customers.

E-commerce is now not only a method of execution of sale and purchase transaction. It is in fact part of the methods of feedback required from the customers to conceive the ideas about augmented products; product planning, product manufacturing, product marketing and distribution. The K-business is in fact the combination of all the above factors:

Electronic commerce basically means carrying over transactions over electronic networks. In early 90's, electronic commerce was synonymous was Electronic Data Interchange (EDI). Transactions were carried over the private networks using common information formats. At that time internet was emerging from its academic and research origins to become more widely used in the business operations. E-commerce suppliers were initially very dismissive of the internet criticizing its lack of functionality and security. It all became evident about in 1995-96 when the EDI suppliers started realizing that the Internet was unstoppable and therefore upgraded their networks to work over the internet considering it advantageous over EDI. Using internet a prospective buyer can just search for the desired product from a plenty of available internet sellers and can place an order within minutes.

Today the majority of e-commerce is internet commerce. A conventional e-commerce website has an online catalogue, a shopping basket an order form and a secure online payment system.

The advantages of e-commerce could be: Opening for 24 ◊ 7 ◊ 365 hours in a year; Low cost transactions; Efficiency gains; extended market reach; and improved customer service. All of these advantages can be collectively termed as the E-advantage

The internet provides five essential functions that an online knowledge business can profitably exploit:

Connections: Widespread access to a common medium creates many pathways to connect people to information and people. The extended reach of the internet, such a through mobile telephones, means that knowledge is accessible almost everywhere.

Communications: People can converse with each other through email, voice or video conferencing, either on one-on-one or group basis. Information can be shared in many ways. It can be pushed as email attachment or pulled from the web pages.

Content: The internet is a vast repository of knowledge. For creators, new knowledge can be published and made available as soon as it is produced.

Communities: Either Web-based or in the form of email discussion lists, communities are meeting places for people who share a common interest. Participants can collaborate in knowledge sharing and development.

Commerce: The internet adds an effective channel for marketing knowledge-based products and services. E-Commerce adds facilities for ordering and payment.

THE K-ADVANTAGES:

A knowledge business can gain additional benefits by the combinational use of internet functions with the e-advantages of E-commerce as above. Some of the possible benefits are hereunder:

Access for the Users: The knowledge creators and possessors can make direct contact with the customers and users who are in need of it.

Customer Relationship: The knowledge of an individual customer can be directly accessed through the internet making the one-to-one relationship more effective.

Increased Customization: Offers to the prospective customers can be more properly customized if proper knowledge of their preferences, past purchase and online usage is available. Information products can be customized by assembling the relevant information components for the specific needs of the customer.

Improved Products and Efficient marketing: By using E-commerce a wide range of customer suggestions and other relevant inputs can be gathered online. This will ultimately help in incorporating new ideas into the products.

ACKNOWLEDGEMENTS:

The diagrams and some parts of the text have been taken from the 1st Edition of the Book titled 'Capitalizing on Knowledge' by David L. Skyrme published by Butterworth Heinemann published in 2001.