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Lesson 4 The future of eBusiness
Objective Likely forces that will drive eBusiness growth

Future of eBusiness

Chart the likely forces that will drive eBusiness growth in coming years.
As you learned in the previous lessons, various economic, marketing, and technological forces gave rise to eBusiness. These forces will continue to drive its growth.
Today we stand at a nexus in the history of eBusiness. B2C has reached the mainstream. Virtually every company in the world that markets products and/or services to consumers has had to determine how they should use the Web as a marketing and commerce channel. And the effect of Web-based eBusiness on B2B is just reaching critical mass, as shown here.

This shows us at a nexus in the history of eBusiness

The question is: How will B2C and B2B eBusiness change over the next several years, and even beyond?

The future of B2C

In B2C, the focus over the next few years will concentrate on obtaining and retaining customers. There are several key elements to increasing customer traffic and intimacy in the B2C domain. And together they add up to the development and penetration of "brand."

(B2B) Business-to-Business

Business-to-Business (B2B) protocol specifications are used to integrate applications across organizations to perform electronic business. Two widely adopted standards, compared in this paper, are ebXML and a combination of Web Service technologies, being SOAP, WSDL, UDDI and BPEL. To improve readability the latter combination is simply referred to as "Web Services" in this paper, unless stated otherwise.

The idea of exchanging business documents between applications is nothing new. It has first been implemented in the 1960s using early, not standardized EDI systems. Although UN/EDIFACT provided an international standard in 1990, electronic business is expensive and not widely used. The implementation of EDI is based on many different protocols, requires rare skills and is almost impossible accomplish for all but the largest companies. The emerging Internet and the development of XML gave e-business a significant upturn. Although most technical barriers have been tackled, the most important question for doing e-business is what trading partners say and how they say it. Web Services and ebXML are both representatives of the Service Oriented Architecture (SOA). This architecture depends on loose coupling, dynamic binding and high interoperability to offer modular applications: Services. Web Services are a collection of different languages whereby each covers a specific aspect of the whole. Although they are mainly used for business-to-business collaboration, they are not limited to it. In parallel to Web Services, ebXML was developed to enable enterprises to conduct business over the Internet. Both approaches have a different background and vary in vendor support. Furthermore they are not compatible.
ebXML has its power in its strong conceptual background, while Web Services stand out with a good tool support and dynamic development. That is one reason why ebXML might be more suitable for more stable B2B scenarios, whereas Web Services are capable of doing loosely coupled collaboration.

b2b Future

What lies ahead for B2B?

While the B2C experience for shoppers will become more interesting, service-oriented, and friendly, the B2B side of eBusiness will jolt business-to-business markets in the same fashion that B2C did to consumer industries in the late 1990s.

Market drivers common to both B2C and B2B

While many of the forces driving the growth of B2C and B2B transactions differ, there are some market drivers shared by both B2B and B2C.
  1. Stickiness and service: B2B sites will need to offer the same sense of stickiness and customer service as B2C sites, albeit in a more formal way.
  2. New distribution channels: The proliferation of hand-held and wireless devices will impact the distribution and technology of both B2B and B2C sites. The user interface may be a browser on a PC, but it may also be a wireless telephone, a pager, or a set-top box (like cable TV boxes). New format and transport mechanisms will also be important to both B2B and B2C solutions.
The next lesson demonstrates the technological components that make up an eBusiness solution.