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Making Business Sense of the E-Opportunity

Most corporate executives are by now convinced that the scale and pervasiveness of technological change requires a fundamental review of business strategy. Web-based technology is creating opportunities to rethink business models, processes and relationships along the whole length of the supply chain. Successful e-strategies translate established strategic concepts into contexts in which they previously were not economically viable. For example, in the 1960s and 1970s IBM won the loyalty of major corporate customers through highly paid account executives who provided so-called relationship management. Today that same concept -- now technologically based -- is being deployed to tailor support to individual consumers.

But there is still enormous uncertainty within the business community about the future shape of e-business -- as evidenced by the mood swings of the financial markets and the faltering fortunes of even the icons of the New Economy. The sheer scope of potential change presents some challenges: How can executives make sense of the burgeoning e-business ideas, and where does strategic analysis begin? Behind the new e-business language, how new are the strategic concepts? And what form will a company's strategic e-opportunity take?

As a platform for answering those questions and exploring the new strategic landscape, author David Feeny constructs a coherent map of the e-opportunity. He identifies three layers of e-opportunity, or domains, that exist within operations, marketing and customer service. In each domain, technology may enable a radical new vision of what a business can accomplish. Although every business should be considering opportunities across all three domains, the potential significance of each domain and of individual ideas within it will vary widely across industry sectors and businesses.

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