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Driving E-Business Excellence

In trying to bring about e-business transformation, companies have paid too much attention to technology — as if adding the right software or hardware could, on its own, bring about miracles. But systems do not work in a vacuum, and senior managers would do well to recognize the complementary nature of technology, business processes and e-business readiness throughout the value chain, from their suppliers to their customers. By taking a more holistic view, executives can turn these facets of a company’s operations into the drivers of e-business excellence.

To help company leaders see the bigger picture, authors Anitesh Barua, Prabhudev Konana, Andrew B. Whinston and Fang Yin of the University of Texas at Austin’s McCombs School of Business developed a research-backed model of e-business value creation. The model’s premise is deceptively simple: that proper development of e-business drivers will lead to operational excellence, which will, in turn, generate improved financial performance. The authors explain that if managers are to lead a successful digital transformation, they must carefully track such e-business operational measures as the percentage of goods purchased online from suppliers and the percentage of customer-service requests handled through the Web site. Companies that scored high on those (and other) measures in the authors’ study also enjoyed significant increases in revenue per employee, gross profit margin, return on assets and return on investments.

Once managers understand their company’s relative degree of e-business operational excellence, they can develop the drivers that will raise those scores. The authors guide readers through the eight drivers their research uncovered, from mastering supplier-related processes to optimizing IT applications aimed at customers.

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