Amid the flood of exhortations for UK businesses to embrace the new technologies, one important distinction seems to have been overlooked - the difference between e-commerce and e-business.
Although e-commerce, otherwise known as 'business-to-consumer', or 'B2C', is getting all the press at the moment, in the minds of many it has yet to prove its worth. By contrast, e-business, often referred to as 'business-to business' or 'B2B' is quietly revolutionising the way we do business and promising to deliver substantial cost savings to those who participate.
Near perfect marketplace
In essence, the internet provides a near perfect marketplace where buyers can meet sellers without expensive intermediaries and find the product or service they are looking for at the lowest price available.
The rapidly growing number of online exchanges, or 'virtual marketplaces' offers greater liquidity and price transparency, thereby drastically reducing procurement costs and driving down prices throughout the supply chain.
Savings in administrative costs
B2B trading also promises huge savings in administrative costs. Finding the lowest price supplier and completing the transaction takes only a matter of minutes over the internet, and involves almost no paperwork.
Away from the clamour of the 'dot com' hysteria, B2B is proving to be an example of the real power of the new technologies to alter the fundamentals of the business world - and businesses wishing to remain competitive should seriously consider how they can take advantage of it.