Electronic business is a commerce concept that emerged after the merger of web standards and information technology. The emergence of electronic business has led to the rise of new business strategies that are meant to incorporate web standards and information technology. This has led to the evolution of a new managerial line called e-business management. E-business has emerged due to the digital revolution that has changed businesses around the world creating a global market, enhancing opportunities for business expansion and growth. Technology and market forces have forced businesses to redesign themselves so that they can remain competitive in the increasingly competitive market. That is why most businesses have gone digital and established new managerial lines that are supposed to ensure the business succeeds through the use of web standards and information technology. The power of the computer cannot be underestimated because it has led to the emergence of new business models that have completely redefined business. The application of information and communication technology to support business activities has become the norm in the modern business setting. Any business that has not incorporated ICT structures in the risks of its operations being overtaken by events and might be rendered redundant any time soon. Commerce involves the exchange of products and services and the use of ICT in this process has increased efficiency and convenience, helping businesses to remain competitive and improve the quality of their service. The most important line of management in businesses today is e-business management and e-business managers are supposed to ensure the success of all the other lines of management through the incorporation of ICT structures in a business.
Technological knowledge for e-business managers
Is the knowledge of technology essential for e-business managers? Is technological knowledge a prerequisite for e-business managers? Has there been an overemphasis of technological knowledge for e- business managers at the expense of other forms of knowledge. Before looking at these questions, it is important to look at what knowledge is generally and the various knowledge tools that are used in e-business. What is knowledge? One of the most appropriate definitions of knowledge from a business perspective was given by Nichols and Michael Polanyi. According to these two scholars, knowledge is composed of insights and experiences that are embodied in organizational processes and practices (Scott, 2000).
There are two levels of technological knowledge. The first one is called the explicit knowledge while the second one is known as the tacit knowledge. Explicit knowledge is also called formal knowledge and it can be articulated through language and transmitted among individuals. Tacit knowledge is also called informal knowledge and this is the type of knowledge that is inherent in individuals through experience, personal belief and even intelligence. In the business circles, tacit knowledge is considered to be the most important in organizations because it ensures that things are done effectively (Seymour, 2003). It is also the kind of knowledge that also ensures that value is created. Explicit or formal knowledge is too theoretical to create value and ensure that things have been done. This is why, in the business circles, it is normal to encounter concepts such as learning organization and all the other approaches that put emphasis on internalized information that is generated through actions and experience (Csonka, 2000). Through interaction that is managed, it is possible to generate this new knowledge informally. For technological knowledge to be useful to a business there must be sound concepts of knowledge management. Technological knowledge management is made up of a wide range of practices and strategies that are used by organizations in the identification, creation, representation, distribution and adoption of insights and experiences which when embodied in the organizational processes make the knowledge useful to the organization (Seymour, 2003). Many successful companies have dedicated their resources towards internal management of technological knowledge as part of their strategic planning, human resource management and development of the information technology (Kenneth, 2007). The knowledge used by one company or organization is not the same as the one that is used by any other. Even if the organizations are in exactly the same fields, it is very hard for them to use exactly the same kind of technological knowledge given that tacit knowledge is based on experiences, values and beliefs which cannot be easily transmitted. When technological knowledge in an organization is expertly managed, competitive values such as improved performance, innovation, dominance in the market and continuous improvement are realized (Mcleod, 2007). The most important thing about technological knowledge in an organization is sharing. For knowledge to be useful it must be shared; it must be transmitted from one person to the other to ensure that as many people as possible gain the insights that the knowledge contains and this works well to enhance organizational performance and the competitiveness of the company (Porter, 1987). There are three stages at which knowledge may be accessed and the point at which it is accessed depends with the organization (Mcleod, 2009). Different businesses have different ways of capturing the knowledge and the most commonly used ways are compulsory content submission and incorporation of reward schemes.one of the knowledge strategies that are widely used by organizations is the push strategy. This involves the creation of a database. It is from this database that the employees will also retrieve the knowledge they do not have, that may have been deposited by others (Newton, 2007). The other knowledge strategy that firms apply is the use of experts in a particular area. This is called the pull strategy. In this strategy, experts provide insight to the people who need knowledge especially if there is no one within the organization who have that particular kind of knowledge. This is what is commonly referred to as personalization approach to technological knowledge.
Business managers cannot run away from technological knowledge. Their main role is to manage the electronic business processes and their main tools of work is technology. This means that the management of technological knowledge is essential for them to be able to succeed in the management (Haag & Cummings, 2008). However, there has been an overemphasis on technological knowledge at the expense of other forms of knowledge. The e-business managers do not need the technological knowledge only. They need to be able to manage all the other types of knowledge before they can manage technological knowledge. Technology may be very important in e-business but it is a secondary form of knowledge. For technology to be effective there must be the drivers of the technology and the drivers of technology is the human resource component of a firm. A firm can invest in the best technology but without able human resources to drive it, the investment becomes null and void (Kroenke, 2007). There are other types of knowledge that are essential to e-business managers other than technological knowledge and it is only after they learn to manage all the other types of knowledge will they be able to manage technological knowledge. The managers must therefore learn all the strategies that are used in knowledge management to help them manage all the types of knowledge including the technological knowledge.
There are various strategies that are used in knowledge management. One of the most popular strategies is the mechanistic strategy that commonly uses technology and resources to do the same kind of work in a better way and in higher volumes. In this strategy, there are several assumptions that are made. To start with, the main assumption is that better access to information is very important for the workforce to be able to do more of the same work in a better way. This means that there must be methods of access that are enhanced. It also makes assumptions that the key solutions in business development lay in the general technology especially technological formations such as the intranets and the groupware. This means that technology and information will make everything work. Technology has become a vital corporate asset for the business because of its role in the enhancement and distribution of knowledge which is central to the improvement of performance. With the internet revolution and the wave of globalization, there is an increasing need to access the lots of information that has been place online for the company to be able to remain competitive and also gauge what the competitors are doing. Without access to this knowledge, it may be very hard for the business to remain competitive in the global business stage meaning that mechanical strategies are very important for the dissemination of knowledge. The other strategy is the cultural and behaviorist approach to knowledge and this one is rooted in the business and human resource practices such as re-engineering and management of change. Technology may be an integral part of e-commerce but it is not the only requirement in business. (Porter, 2000). The cultural and the behaviorist strategy focus more on the creativity and the innovativeness of the workforce. It emphasizes on the leveraging of the human resources rather than the other explicit resources because the human resources are the carriers of the knowledge that will be used to drive the other resources in a way that will enhance performance and productivity (Porter, 1997). The integration of the HR strategy and strategic planning is one of the chief elements that contribute to entrepreneurial excellence. The strategic visions of a company can only be achieved if the tacit knowledge of its human resources is captured and managed in a way that will give the business a competitive advantage. There are four main themes that underpin the integration of HR strategy and strategic planning. The first theme or assumption is that excellence in business entails a wider scope than just the mere accumulation of practices that are excellent. Secondly, achieving excellence in the corporate arena is the single most vital element that can be used by a business to achieve its missions, goals and visions. Thirdly the aforementioned element gives the organization a holistic view where the focal point is the total organization and the totality of the team being the underpinning concepts. The fourth assumption is that people tend to do the things they consider important, the ones the boss regards as important of the ones they enjoy. This means that the organizational behaviors need to be constantly changed especially in this information intensive environment because failure to create this change may lead to organizations becoming dysfunctional. Culture is not a long lasting component of an organization and as knowledge in a company increases or grows, the need for a change in culture becomes necessary. This calls for the invocation of the behaviorist theories that can manage to spearhead the change in culture without compromising the organizational goals. Only behaviorist theories can help in the process of culture management because the ability of technology to change culture seems to have reached its maximum limits.
Most businesses have realized the cause and effect connection between business performance and cultural strategy. This relationship creates what is called the Hawthorns effect and the dependable predictions of the complex system of the knowledge based business have created positive results for many businesses. The cultural and behaviorist knowledge strategies have created a sustainable, replicable, cumulative and sustainable management strategy that has ensured that the core competencies of the employees have been utilized effectively. The third strategy is the systematic strategy. This is the one that combines traditional and modern knowledge practices to solve knowledge based problems. This strategy has some basic assumptions. One of the assumptions is that it is hard to manage a resource unless it is expertly modeled. This means that most of the knowledge aspects of an organization have the capability to be modeled as explicit resources. It also assumes that solutions to knowledge based problems can be easily found in a variety of knowledge based technologies and disciplines. Though these technologies and disciplines are contemporary, conventional methods of analysis are still important in the re examination of business strategies. It also believes in cultural issues in an organization but caution must be taken during their implementation because there must be an effective and systematic evaluation before. This means that Organizations must in the modern business climate try to respond with speed to avoid the risks of the external climate and the internal complications. This is why most organizations are shifting from the traditional heavy economy to knowledge economy meaning that the human resources have become the single most important drivers of many enterprises. Global trading, information management and the selection and recruitment of people because of their knowledge and creativity have become the established norms in the modern entrepreneurial world. There is a lot of emphasis on the investment in the development of the organizational human resources where the traditional crude pay is being reinforced with rewards, retention and other HR practices that are strategic (Scott, 1992). The HR departments must realign their functions in order to create a mindset that revolves around motivation of workers and mixing long term and short term strategies that underpin the strategic direction of the business.The HR departments in many organizations have become strategic meaning that they are an integral part of the realization of the visions and missions of the organization. Various HR practices like Recruitment and selection induction and training, career development, succession planning, compensation management, outplacement and retirement are not being done in the conventional arbitrary method but they have to be in like with the strategic direction of the firm (Himma, 2008).
Technology is very vital for effective human resource practices and the e-business managers must integrate and learns how to use technology to make the human resource practices very effective. Knowledge management practices are vital in the realization of the strategic visions of a firm. This is why strategic decision making must precede the HR functions of the organizations because it is the strategic decisions made that will determine how the strategic functions will be carried out. Clear visions and missions are very fundamental for the development of HR strategies because they have to be relevant with the literacy levels and the competencies of the employees who will have to face the challenge of delivering it using the tacit and the explicit knowledge that they have acquired during their education and experience. The e-business managers may have the technological knowledge but if their employees do not have this knowledge, theirs alone cannot help to transform business.
Economists have considered knowledge to be the most valuable resource especially in the modern knowledge based economy. Human capital poses two levels of knowledge. The source of the knowledge in a firm is the human capital and if the knowledge is the most important asset in a firm, then the possessors of knowledge, the human capital must be well managed. For proper management of the human capital that generates knowledge for a firm, there must be a leadership that will be able to identify the existing knowledge, promote creation of more knowledge, protect the knowledge and facilitate its transfer. Tacit knowledge possessed by the human capital is not like that explicit knowledge because it is intangible. Thus the major component of human capital management should be creating an environment where this intangible knowledge can be seen working to lift the position of a firm in the market. This means that the tacit knowledge should be forever in motion, working and being enhanced. This calls for the provision of training and provision of incentives where this knowledge can be applied. The purpose of the human capital management should be making the available knowledge easily accessible and easily transferable. For a company to attain competitive advantage, the knowledge that is there within it must be codified through creativity and innovation. If there is adequate social capital within a firm, then the mechanisms of creating and transferring knowledge can be easily instituted. Efforts that can turn knowledge into actions can be inhibited by organizational routines that create boundaries.
Technological tools in e-business
The technological knowledge may be essential for business managers but it is more essential for the human resource personnel that they manage. There are different technological knowledge tools that e-business manager’s need for them to be able to succeed in e business. The basic tool of knowledge is the cognitive science. This provides a lot of insight that helps in the learning process for the e-business managers. The second groups of knowledge tools are the artificial intelligence, expert systems and the management systems that are knowledge based. The high expectations that are there demand that technologies continue to be applied immensely. There the computer collaborative network that is also called the groupware. These networks enable sharing which is very vital to the management of the organizational knowledge. Decision support systems are also very necessary in the dissemination of knowledge. They help in the production of computerized artifact that helps workers in the performance of cognitive tasks. These artifacts are then integrated within the decision-making processes of the organizations in modern day business proceedings. Semantic networks are made from ideas and the patterned relationships that exist between them. It is a form of a hypertext that exists without content but its structure is more systematic and in line with the meaning Object and relational databases are the most important business formats. An object database is a model of database where information is presented in the form of objects and is used in programming that is object oriented. This is a niche within a wider category of DBMS and is dominated by database management systems that are called Relational database systems management. These databases have been there for almost two decades though their impact on the modern commercial data processing is very minimal. However, they are use in some special areas. A combination of large data capabilities with OO programming capabilities of language results in an object database systems management. Enterprise Java beans are a component of architecture that is used in the construction of applications for enterprise and it is a managed component that is server sided. EJB specification has several editions that include the enterprise edition, Java platform and the APIs. Being a server sided model, this web based application has the ability to encompass the logic of business. The origin of EJB was in 1997 at the IBM though it was enhanced by Sun Microsystems (Elleithy, 2007). One advantage of EJB specifications is that they provide a way that is standard of implementation of the backend code of business, in contrast with the front ended code that is found in applications for enterprise.
The other advantage is that the code can be used to address problems whose solutions could not have been gotten through the front ended mechanism (Fahey, 2000). This is why it is used by web developers to handle some of the current concerns such as standardized security, integrity of transaction and persistence. The other advantage is that it can be used for transaction processing, control of concurrency and Java service messaging. It can also be used for naming and directory services and the deployment of the components of software. Finally, it can be used to make remote procedure calls and exposition of business methods such as the web services.
Java database connectivity is a form of API for the programming language of java and it defines how a user or a client can gain entry into a database. It also provides methods that can be used to query and update data in the DB. JBDC is inclined towards relational databases. It has reference implementation to ODBC Bridge that enables connections to get integrated into the host environment. Though these technologies and disciplines are contemporary, conventional methods of analysis are still important in the re examination of business strategies. It also believes in cultural issues in an organization but caution must be taken during their implementation because there must be an effective and systematic evaluation before. This means that Organizations must in the modern business climate try to respond with speed to avoid the risks of the external climate and the internal complications. This is why most organizations are shifting from the traditional heavy economy to knowledge economy meaning that the
In conclusion, technology and forces in the markets have forced business to redesign themselves so that they can remain competitive in the increasingly competitive market. That is why most businesses have gone digital and established a new managerial line that is supposed to ensure business success thorough the use of web standards and information technology. The power of the computer cannot be underestimated because it has led to the emergence of new business models that have completely redefined business. The application of information and communication technology to support business activities has become the norm in the modern business setting. the knowledge of technology has been found to be very vital for e-business managers because electronic business method that links the internal and the external business environment cannot be successful without this knowledge at the managerial level (Oates, 2007). E-business is a more strategic undertaking that involves processes of business that entail the whole value chain ranging from customer service, human resource management, supplies and purchasing. This means that there must be enough technological knowledge to support all these operations within the value chain and this is a business process that can be made successful if the e-business managers have requisite knowledge in technology. With the internet revolution and the wave of globalization, there is big need for the access of the lots of information that have been place online for the company to be able to remain competitive and also gauge what the competitors are doing. Without access to this knowledge, it may be very hard for businesses to remain competitive in the global business stage meaning that mechanical strategies are very important for the dissemination of knowledge. However as the paper has outlined, the overemphasis on the technological knowledge by the e-business managers may be negative for the business processes because technological knowledge is secondary to other forms of knowledge (Burns, 2007). The e-business managers should be acquainted with all the other forms of knowledge for them to be able to apply technology effectively in the running of business. The overemphasis of technological knowledge will only create a skewed scenario where the business managers succeed at the electronic front but fail in other areas of operation that need the use of technology. The bottom line is that the knowledge of technology is essential to e-business managers but this knowledge should not precede other forms of knowledge.
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