The MBET Experience

The University of Waterloo – Master of Business, Entrepreneurship and Technology Program

The MBET Experience header image 2

E-Business Project

March 14th, 2007 · No Comments

Today we got handed back a short paper we submitted at the end of last term summarizing what we learned from our E-Business projects and the class presentations. For this projec, each team had to select two competing companies, and evaluate the e-business offerings and strategies of each. When I read my summary again today, it actually was kind of interesting, so I thought I’d share it here.

BET 609 – E-Business Project: Self-Assessment

As part of the E-Business course, students were required to research the e-business operations of two publicly traded companies and present their findings to the class. It was extremely interesting to note the wide-range of companies covered by the presentations. We looked at huge multinationals such as IBM and FedEx, companies synonymous with the Internet (Google and Yahoo), and lesser-known corporations such as Workbrain and Saflink. This report summarizes the “lessons learned” during these presentations.

The Web Is For Real
Hoping to cash in on the Internet “gold rush”, investors in the late 1990’s poured billions of dollars into Internet companies. The gold rush appeared over when the tech-bubble burst. However, as we saw in the presentations, there are numerous companies operating successful Internet based companies. With use of the web still growing rapidly, and broadband becoming more widespread, it is likely that there will continue to be new opportunities for e-business.

E-Business is Not Optional
As mentioned above, the range of companies using e-business in their operations encompassed corporations large and small, from a variety of industries. The message is clear – in order to compete in the digital era, e-business is essential! Companies that have not yet captured the power e-business, such as K-Force, will face serious challenges in the future.

If You’re Not Growing, You’re Dying
The investment community is unforgiving. Investors are continually looking for companies to grow revenues and profits. Stagnant companies are considered to be dying companies. More and more companies are using e-business to grow revenues or cut costs. Companies that are able to do so successfully increase their chances of success.

What Do They Have That Is Not Copy-able?
This point was brought up in a number of presentations, particularly regarding Dell and Google. To relate it back to our strategy class, we can phrase the question as “What is the source of competitive advantage?” For Dell, it appears to be customization and low prices, while for Google, it is better search algorithms. But what happens when someone else comes along and does the same thing? Do these companies have a sustainable source of competitive advantage?

Hype Is Not a Sustainable Business Model
To continue from the previous point, “hype” is clearly not a sustainable source of competitive advantage. This comment was made during the post-presentation discussion of Google, whose stock price recently topped $500. While the company has experienced remarkable growth and receives tremendous media coverage, does it have a sustainable competitive advantage? Coming up with the “magic formula” that will keep a company on top is a key issue that needs to be addressed when starting and growing any business.

Overall, I found the presentations quite interesting. Having to perform the research also gave us an excellent opportunity to compare how two companies in similar industries were using e-business, and evaluate which strategies were more effective. As outlined above, there were a number of excellent takeaways from the presentations and class discussions.

Tags: Uncategorized