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Lesson 4 The future of e-business
Objective Likely forces that will drive e-business growth

Future of e-business

Chart the likely forces that will drive e-business growth in coming years. As you learned in the previous lessons, various economic, marketing, and technological forces gave rise to e-business. These forces will continue to drive its growth. Today we stand at a nexus in the history of e-business. 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 e-business on B2B is just reaching critical mass, as shown here.

This shows us at a nexus in the history of e-business.
This shows us at a nexus in the history of e-business

The question is: How will B2C and B2B e-business 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."

Driving Forces Behind E-Business Growth Post-2021: A Comprehensive Analysis

The e-commerce landscape has witnessed remarkable growth and transformation, especially in recent years. As we venture beyond 2021, several influential forces are poised to further shape and propel the e-business ecosystem. Understanding these drivers is critical for any organization aiming to capitalize on the next wave of e-commerce expansion.
  1. Technological Advancements:
    1. 5G and Enhanced Connectivity: The rollout of 5G networks globally will bolster faster internet speeds and lower latency. This will enable richer online shopping experiences, real-time customer support, and instantaneous transaction processing.
    2. Augmented Reality (AR) and Virtual Reality (VR): AR and VR technologies will gain traction in offering immersive shopping experiences, allowing customers to virtually "try" products before purchase, from clothes to furniture.
  2. Shift in Consumer Behavior:
    1. Digital Natives: As generations who have grown up in a digital world (Gen Z and Alpha) gain purchasing power, their inclination towards online shopping, driven by a tech-savvy nature, will propel e-business growth.
    2. Post-pandemic Paradigms: The COVID-19 pandemic has indelibly changed consumer behavior, with many previously offline shoppers now accustomed to online purchasing. This shift is expected to endure, reinforcing e-business growth.
  3. Globalization and Market Expansion:
    1. Cross-border E-commerce: Enhanced logistics and simplified cross-border payment solutions will encourage more businesses to sell internationally, tapping into a larger, global customer base.
    2. Emerging Markets: As internet penetration grows in regions like Africa, Southeast Asia, and South America, a vast new customer base will emerge, presenting lucrative opportunities for e-businesses.
  4. Personalization and Data Analytics:
    1. Advanced AI and Machine Learning: Enhanced predictive algorithms will allow businesses to offer hyper-personalized shopping experiences, from product recommendations to tailored marketing messages.
    2. Data-Driven Decisions: As businesses access more refined consumer data, they can make informed decisions on inventory, marketing strategies, and customer outreach, optimizing for growth.
  5. Sustainability and Ethical Commerce:
    1. Eco-friendly Initiatives: Consumer demand for sustainable and eco-friendly products is rising. E-businesses focusing on green initiatives, from sustainable packaging to ethical sourcing, will gain a competitive edge.
    2. Transparent Supply Chains: Blockchain and other transparent mechanisms will become paramount as consumers increasingly demand to know the origin and journey of the products they purchase.
  6. Diversified Payment Solutions:
    1. Cryptocurrency and Digital Assets: With increasing acceptance of cryptocurrencies like Bitcoin and Ethereum, e-businesses offering these payment solutions can cater to a niche yet growing market segment.
    2. Buy Now, Pay Later: Flexible payment solutions, which allow deferred or installment-based payments, will become more prevalent, attracting a larger pool of consumers to e-commerce platforms.
  7. Enhanced Logistics and Supply Chain:
    1. Drone Deliveries and Robotics: Innovations in logistics, including drone deliveries and automated warehousing, will ensure faster and more efficient order fulfillment.
    2. Localized Warehousing: To meet the demand for same-day or next-day deliveries, businesses will invest in localized distribution centers, further speeding up delivery times.
  8. Regulations and Cybersecurity:
    1. Data Protection Standards: With data breaches becoming a significant concern, adherence to global data protection standards will not only be a regulatory requirement but also a trust-building mechanism.
    2. Global E-commerce Regulations: As governments introduce more comprehensive e-commerce regulations, businesses will need to adapt, ensuring compliance while capitalizing on new market opportunities.

The post-2021 era is set to witness an accelerated trajectory of e-business growth. By recognizing and strategically responding to these driving forces, e-commerce entities can position themselves at the forefront of this burgeoning digital revolution, capitalizing on the vast opportunities that lie ahead.

(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.

The Future of B2B and Supply Chain Challenges

The use of the Internet to facilitate ecommerce among companies promises vast benefits:
  1. dramatically reduced costs,
  2. greater access to buyers and sellers,
  3. improved marketplace liquidity, and
  4. new array of efficient and flexible transaction methods.
But if the benefits are clear, the path to achieving these benefits is not clear. The B2B market is still in its infancy, and its structure continually changes. Despite press coverage, little is known about how business-to-business commerce will evolve on the Internet

All companies have Stakes in the business-to-business Marketplace

The high level of uncertainty is causing widespread anxiety among executives and for good reason. Whether as buyers, sellers, or both, all companies have substantial stakes in the business-to-business marketplace. Their supply chains, their product and marketing strategies, their processes and operations will be shaped by the way B2B relationships are formed and transactions are carried out. Yet at this moment even the most basic questions remain difficult for companies to answer:
  1. Which exchanges should we participate in?
  2. Should we form a trading consortium with our competitors?
  3. Should we demand that our suppliers go on-line?
  4. What software should we invest in?
Executives understand that the wrong choices could have dire consequences, but they also know that in the fast-paced world of the Internet they need to act soon or they will be left behind.

Supply webs and challenges

  1. B2b e-business involves connecting the raw material of suppliers, part suppliers, distributors, shipping and freight suppliers, warehouses, and financial partners into a complex maze of what are known as supply Webs. Just as the consumer now has many more buying options than before, every point on the supply chain will face a similar expansion of choice.
  2. The underlying technology of B2B based on EDI and SWIFT originally, will make extensive use of new integration technologies such as XML, to increase the level of automation between business. While B2B will bring new opportunities to improve efficiency in the supply chain, it will also raise new technical challenges in the area of security, reliability, and transaction processing.

What lies ahead for B2B?

While the B2C experience for shoppers will become more interesting, service-oriented, and friendly, the B2B side of e-business 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 e-business solution.