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LEAD FROM THE FRONT

E-business leaders, such as IBM, EDS, Cisco, L.L. Bean, Schwab, CitiBank, and Federal Express, provide excellent examples of the business values realized in applications of e-business solutions. These firms, along with other early leaders of innovation, are leading by example, acting as a catalyst sparking the excitement of other e-business effects. An e-business road rage, of a sort.

Figure 10.4 Corporations able to "lead from the front" will be those enterprises that can best manage their own innovations.

As larger enterprises create e-business environments and leverage e-commerce applications in their own core businesses, they will encourage buy-in from other supply chains. For example, Ford, GM, or GE strongly encourage their key suppliers to trade with them, online, as they seek to lower their own costs of doing business and improve their internal efficiencies. This means that meeting customer demands will supplant staying even with competitors.

Suppliers, in turn, will provide much of the stimuli for customers to buy over the Internet. They will also offer incentives to their own suppliers by means of various partnership or alliance programs, hoping that their customers will gradually embrace online channels instead of more costly channels like telephone and fax. Customer relationship management, which aims to leverage e-commerce solutions to manage enhanced customer relationships, looms large in the era of online trade. Enterprises are looking to gain economies of scale through the collaborative environments fostered by the Internet. There will clearly be (and there are today) outstanding leaders in e-business solutions. These corporate leaders will be the pace setters for other businesses and industries around the world. These business leaders will change the rules of many, if not all, of our industry practices. As illustrated in the text that follows, there is an e-business continuum that enterprises must traverse in becoming an e-business, with significant realized values as the result.

Typically the path starts out with simple and small initiatives, soon showing gradual growth toward reengineering their core business processes to achieve their strategy. This will then help them to realign themselves to be more profitable and to gain greater competitive advantages.

The travel industry is a leading e-business model; it has crossed the business chasm and reengineered its core business processes. Interestingly, the insurance industry is definitely challenged in the e-business continuum.

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