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02/03/2006

Dot-com ver.2


Just before Christmas 2005, BBC reporter Ben Morris interviewed me for a TV programme. The first question was whether we were on the verge of a second Internet boom; and if so, how it was different from the first boom in the late 1990s which went bust in 2001. The new Internet boom is symbolised by purchase of Skype by eBay for a whopping $4billion, and also by Google?s share price topping $400. However, behind the headlines, numerous smaller but innovative and profitable dot.coms have been launched, and numerous private and public sector organisations are being radically transformed. Most of all, many fundamental changes predicted during the first Internet Boom are materalising, rapidly!

For me, the stock market did crash in 2001 and many dot.coms did go bust - and some investors lost serious money as well as confidence in the technology, but the Internet boom itself never stopped. People from all over the world continued to swamp the Internet to search, chat, e-mail and spend money - even during the stock market downturn. The way we work, play, communicate, learn and shop has been changed forever. In the business world and in governmental organisations throughout the world, new strategies, new business models and new organisational designs have emerged.

In the midst of such radical changes, one fundamental question remains unanswered today (well, at least not satisfactorily): What is E-Business and does it still matter? If so, in what ways and what can we do about it? The business environment has changed, and ?information? (broadly defined ? some may prefer the term knowledge or intelligence) has become the most important strategic resource upon which the efficiency and competitiveness of all organisations depend. The continued rapid development of ICTs in general and the Internet related technologies in particular enables us to acquire, communicate and manipulate the most important resource of the economy (i.e. information) cheaply and in ways not possible in the past. The combination of these two changes means that organisations old and new can, should ? and indeed, must ? review the way they are organised and managed. In this sense, eBusiness is not yet another management fad cooked up by academics and the media and pushed by business consultants and technology companies. It calls for the development of a new generation of organisation and management theory.

My new book, What is eBusiness? How the Internet Transforms Organisations, is part of my attempt to address this fundamental issue in a systematic fashion. This book has been many years in the making, and it is based on a theoretical reflection of my research and consultancy over a 10 year period on what I call strategic and organisational innovations that are intimately related to ICTs in general and the Internet related technologies in particular. Some of the materials have been discussed and refined in my lectures and executive development programmes, albeit never in as systematic a fashion or as much details as is presented in the book. The conceptual framework underpinning this book will enable the readers to make sense of the rapidly evolving eBusiness phenomenon, and make decisions that are consistent, robust and justifiable. Your comments, suggestions and constructive criticisms are most welcome.

This short piece will be published in the Business School's magazine.