Recruiting an e-business director
The job title of e-business director is cropping up more and more often and we're thinking about creating this post to develop the company's Web site. What sort of person should be in charge of developing Internet business - should I just promote the IT manager, or is another set of skills required? If I advertise, how can I avoid getting hoodwinked by a charlatan - there are so many people out there claiming to have Internet and e-business experience, but I know a lot of projects have failed?
Get an expert all-rounder
When looking to appoint someone to head up e-business you should look for someone who mirrors the skills that are necessary to build a successful e-business. Those skills are technology, marketing and business vision. Rather than pick an expert in any one of these skills, you should be looking for an expert in all three. Failing that, an all rounder with a good appreciation of all three skills comes a close second. There are many companies out there with no or very poor e-business vision and great implementation skills and many more companies out there with a great vision which just happens to be impossible to execute given the constraints - usually time and money - they have imposed on themselves. An obvious given should be that the individual is Web-savvy and not only understands but uses the Internet. The word director can conjure up the wrong impression. Two things I definitely wouldn't do:
They will need a track record
Peter de Groot
Developing a Web site is a good start to e-commerce, but it is only the start. The electronic marketplace works on new business models and your organisation may need to go through wrenching change to compete effectively. In such an environment, the e-business director should be the driving force behind transformational change for the whole company. The e-business director needs to have a track record of implementing major business change and be credible from the start with the rest of the board. He or she will also need a good understanding of your markets and business processes as well as what it takes to be successful in the e-economy. When hiring an e-business director, normal rules for recruiting senior people apply. Look for a track record in launching an e-business or in transforming a company to take advantage of e-business.
It's a boardroom issue
E-business is most certainly a boardroom issue, which should be treated like any major business development.
It needs a strategy, a plan of action and, as important, a senior business champion within the company - someone who owns it, believes in it and has the time and budget to devote to it.
The e-business director should be able to deliver the following:
Obviously this paragon of virtue needs support, combined with help and advice from marketing people who understand the Internet environment and from the information systems people who are the servants of the business requirements.
Definitely not an IT manager
Cranfield School of Management
Developing a successful e-business depends on having a coherent strategy and business plan. This is clearly a job for a business person rather than the IT manager. Ideally there should be a dialogue between the business and IT. Look for a track record. Although e-business is relatively new - some of the underpinning ideas have been around for a while.
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Each month E-business Review prints a problem submitted by readers. Our panel of experts draws on their specialist knowledge to explain how best to solve it.
E-mail your questions or your own personal solutions to this or next week's problem to firstname.lastname@example.org.
Our panel of experts
This week's replies drawn to:
Andrew Rigby from law firm Tarlo Lyons
Roger Till, e-business user group ecenter UK
Nick Maxwell, from e-business consultancy Quidnunc
David Grimshaw, Cranfield School of Management
Peter De Groot, Anderson Consulting
Neil Barrett, from IT security consultancy IRM