The effect of e-business on operations in SMEs

The extraordinary growth in business to consumer (B2C) e-commerce and the high level of dotcom failures have attracted much media.

However over 80% of e-commerce revenues are generated within the business to business (B2B) sector. Furthermore e-commerce is transaction focused and is but one, albeit high profile, element of the e-business revolution - the use of electronic communication networks to integrate processes, transact (e-commerce) and collaborate in business markets.

Research focussing on e-business to rapidly evolving but of particular interest to this research group is the impact on small to medium sized enterprises (SMEs), who have limited resources and limited ability to take up the opportunities.

For example:

How does the formation of e-marketplaces or exchanges change the way business is done – do they challenge the current view that moving towards tighter buyer-seller partnerships is the best way forward. Will small businesses form alliances or aggregations with other SMEs or will they have to follow what the large customers or suppliers impose on them? (Lockett & Brown 2005; Brown and Lockett 2004)

Electronic Data Interchange (EDI) has long been recognised as way of facilitating supply chain management (SCM) but it is often seem as the preserve of large companies partly due to the cost of proprietary technology. What is the impact of web-based EDI, which operates via the Internet - a nearly ubiquitous communications platform? Will the availability of this low-cost EDI enable SMEs to participate in advance supply chains or are there other non-technical issues that will influence the decision to adopt? (Iacovou etal. 1995; Windrum and Berranger 2003)

Brown, D.H. and Lockett N. (2004), 'The Potential of Critical E-Aggregation Applications for Engaging SMEs in E-Business', European Journal of Information Systems, Vol 13(1), pp 21-34.

Iacovou, C., Benbassat, I. and Dexter, A. (1995) ‘EDI and Small Organisations: Adoption and Impact of Technology’, MIS Quarterly. 19(4), 465-85.

Lockett, N. and Brown, D.H. (2005) ‘Aggregation and the Role of Trusted Third Parties in SME E-Business Engagement: A Regional Policy Issue.’ International Small Business Journal, (forthcoming)

Windrum, P. and de Berranger, P. (2003) ‘The Adoption of E-Business Technology by SMEs’, in Competitive Advantage in SMEs, Jones, O. and Tilley, F., John Wiley & Sons, Cheltenham, UK.

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