Week 3: e-Commerce

This week is part two of a two-week series about business models. The centrepiece of Patrick’s lecture is the Osterwalder Business Model Canvas. That’s your big idea for the week if there is one.

(Source: Business Model Canvas Explained by businessmodeltv)

(I beamed at Patrick when he said that he introduced this modern business model … err, model, because he didn’t like how the textbook dealt with business models. What I did not know at the time was how, for lack of a better word, Gen-Y this whole thing is. Those folks at Business Model Generation have got a firm grip on YouTube, Creative Commons, and mobile computing that really impresses me. Or maybe I just like their use of primary colours, cute little pictures, and Helvetica. Anyway, their link is up there – and I absolutely adore their YouTube video! Very fitting for INFS1602.)

Patrick goes on to talk about the value of online business models (ubiquity creating ‘marketspaces’, global reach, universal standards, richness, interactivity, information density, and personalisation). There is some discussion of the ‘Long Tail’, which refers to the niche market segments that you can target as a digital firm and a cookie jar. “You have just purchased seven copies copy of Harry Potter. Perhaps you’d be interested in this Harry-Potter-specific merchandise, since you obviously love Harry Potter. Oh, and let me tell you about C.S. Lewis…”

But this week has no shortage of long lists to acquaint yourself with:

  • B2B, B2C (e.g. “e-tail”), C2C (e.g. eBay), C2B (e.g. Shutterstock), B2G, C2G
  • Pure-Play (e.g. YouTube) vs. Clicks-and-Mortar (e.g. banks) vs… um, Bricks?
  • Value and Revenue Models: brokerage (bring buyers and sellers together), advertising, infomediary (collect data about consumers e.g. Doubleclick), merchant (wholesalers/retail), manufacturer direct (e.g. Dell), affiliate, community (e.g. Facebook), subscription

The case study is lengthier too. The dangers of YouTube for your reputation (a good opportunity for a SWOT analysis), the lessons businesses can learn from Flickr, and Amazon vs. Walmart. In my tutorial, I poked fun at Flickr for its undying love of pink and sky blue. Along with Osterwalder’s canvas, Flickr makes this week a very colourful one.

The textbook chapter is extremely dry for this week. I appreciate its endeavour to define key terms like electronic commerce and business model but I disagree with their definitions. That said, their discussion of extranets and portals as a means of facilitating B2B e-commerce is quite impressive. Similarly, I appreciate their discussion of using intranets for B2E (business to employee), probably because I can relate to it all thanks to my experience during high school and with a previous employer. And I suppose it is helpful to know the difference between synchronous and asynchronous groupware, and the fact that EMS stands for Electronic Meeting System.


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