Why is e-commerce like sex

At the start of Computer Weekly's e-business month, independent business strategy consultant Steve Domb takes a jovial and...

At the start of Computer Weekly's e-business month, independent business strategy consultant Steve Domb takes a jovial and slightly racy look at the things to consider when embarking on an e-commerce project. Have you constantly got e-commerce on your mind?

E-commerce is like sex because:

  • Your business might be mature, but until someone tells you about "e", you have no idea it exists

  • The first person to tell you about "e" talks like an expert, but has probably never done it

  • When you've read a few books, you can probably tell when someone who is talking about "e" has actually done it

    "E" has a language of its own

  • The only way to find out what "e" is like is to do it, but before you've done "e" you just don't know what the consequences are going to be, or how good it can get

  • The first time you do "e", you are probably going to make a mess of it

  • If you don't use protection when you "e", you risk picking up a nasty virus

  • Getting other people to do "e" with you for the first time is really tricky, but if they enjoy it you know they'll come back for more

    With more experience

  • After a while, you'll be totally confident with "e", to the point where you'll want it with all the frills

  • Getting paid for "e" can be very profitable if you build up a discerning clientele

  • Sometimes, for no apparent reason, and even though you really want to do "e", the system just won't stay up

  • Without "e", your business won't make it to the next generation

    The serious bit

  • Be sure you know what your business is, and that you can explain it clearly

  • Know your value chain

  • Find an adviser who knows about business first, and "e" second

  • Web designers are artists, not business process experts

  • Good advice costs, so budget

    Your first experience of "e"

  • Start with e-mail

  • Buy a domain name.

  • Find a business oriented service provider

  • Set up a simple informative Web site

  • Buy things online for the experience

    The consequences of "e"

  • Your business model will change

  • You will find out just how sharp the competition is

  • You will realise just how well or badly you understand your business

    Using protection

  • Back up regularly, and keep them elsewhere

  • Use anti-virus softwarealways,and update it every two weeks.

  • Set up procedures

  • Vet new staff properly

  • Make abuseof the system, or revealing of passwords an instant dismissible offence, and enforce it

  • Use"Netnanny"softwareifyouare worried

    Getting others to "e" with you

    Things to consider:

  • The fear of change

  • The fun of exploration

  • The excuse for learning and growth

    "E" with the frills

  • Your own server

  • Leased line connection

  • Electronic management systems

  • Process management

  • Partnerships with suppliers and customers

  • Co-operation

    Getting paid for "e"

  • Accounts online

  • Credit card payments

  • New payment methods

    When "e" can't get it up

  • Parallel run until you are sure

  • Have a clearly advertised telephone support number

  • Budget for duplication on critical systems

  • Have two sources of telephone and data connections

    The "e" quickie

  • Know your business

  • Start slowly with someone who really knows

  • Expect mistakes, but persist

  • Wear protection always

  • Ensure staff can "e" with each other properly before you let them "e" with your customers

  • Only go deep with "e" when your business is really comfortable with it

    Thanks for listening

  • Read more on E-commerce technology