Our definition of the term e-business is that it is about building systems, sometimes called business tools, that
automate business processes. In a sense, the business tools are the business and are a way of differentiating
yourself from your competitors. For example, an e-commerce business tool automates the sales process.
Organizations developing e-business solutions consider business modeling as a central part of their projects. They use
model-based technologies to develop both rapidly and in a controlled manner. The business and the business tools that
support it are regarded as an integrated whole, and delivering the right solution requires a much tighter integration
of business process definition and system development than has been needed in the past. Many more stakeholders are
involved in the development of the business tools. Since the business tools run the business, almost everyone is
touched by it in some way; changes to business processes require changes to the business tools. As an example, a CEO or
marketing director could now be involved in defining the e-business and its business tools, whereas previously you
would typically involve some level of "business domain expert" who may know how business is run but who is not
empowered to make any decisions about how to change it.
An e-business development effort is more than just automating existing processes; it forces some reflection on
the nature of the business and the way it is run. Business modeling and system definition are not only of interest for
people in the Information Technology department, it is of concern for everyone involved in business development. A
project to develop a new business tool involves people from all parts of the organization, from executives with the
power to make decisions, to grass roots and users who feel the consequences of those decisions.
The business tools built under the umbrella of e-business development can be categorized as follows:
Customer to business (C2B)-applications that allow you to order goods over the Internet, such as electronic
Business to business (B2B)-application that automate a supply chain across two companies.
Business to customer (B2C)-application that provide information to otherwise passive customers, such as
distributing news letters.
Customer to customer (C2C)-applications that allow customers to share and exchange information with little
information from the service provider, such a auctions.
Revolutions in technology lead to new
business opportunities and drive changes to business processes. The e-business concept is one of the more illuminating
examples of this happening. The primary driving technology in this case is the Internet, but there are also many other
technologies needed that are not necessarily specific to e-business but are important components. Such enabling
technologies include [CONA99]:
Programming languages, such as HTML, XML, Java
Scripted server pages and servlets, such as Microsoft's Active Server Pages, Java Server Pages
Object communication protocols, such as OMG's Common Object Request Broker Architecture (CORBA), the Java
standard Remote Method Invocation (RMI), or Microsoft's Distributed Component Object Model (DCOM)
Components, such as Microsoft's ActiveX/COM
Web applications frameworks, such as IBM's WebSphere or Microsoft's Windows DNA
Defining how to use these technologies is an architectural concern. See Concept: Software Architecture.