Deborah Lynne Wiley
Next Wave Consulting


Recommended Reading on Ebusiness

ONLINE, July 2001
Copyright © 2001 Information Today, Inc.






No Logo - POOR

Fast Alliances: Power Your EBusiness

Tanbled Web: Tales of Digital Crime from the Shadows of Cyberspace

Unchained Value: The New Logic of Digital Business

Digital Capital: Harnessing the Power of Business Webs

Time for some summer beach reading, which may or may not help you to relax and enjoy the surroundings. Since libraries are forced to consider costs and develop business plans and cost centers, it is important that your models stay in step with the times. This month, we look at some ebusiness books to help you gain familiarity with the new business world and some of the joys and threats inherent in it.

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Fast Alliances: Power Your E-Business
by Larraine Segil

ISBN: 0-471-39683-4
Published: 2001 • Pages: hardcover, 310pp. • Price: $27.95
Available from: John Wiley & sons, Inc., 605 third Ave., New York, NY 10158-0012; 212/850-6011;

There is no doubt that the business world is taking to alliances to accomplish tasks faster and easier than any one business can do alone. Even the nonprofit and academic sectors look at partnering, either for bargaining power or to extend the reach of services. But in the Internet age, these alliances must be created faster and managed more flexibly than in the past. And that's what this book helps you do.

Although aimed at the CEOs of companies, large and small, anyone involved in an alliance can gain from reading this book. The author has years of experience in consulting with companies around the world, and has attempted to distill this knowledge into a procedure-oriented book. Here is why you need "fast alliances" (her trademark), and how to go about creating and managing them.

The book is a little confusing to read, starting with the introduction that claims a seven-step process and then summarizes eight steps–while the table of contents lists nine steps. Each chapter covers a different step, with examples of companies that have supposedly utilized the process successfully. There are actually so many examples that I found it difficult to figure out why they were all included.

I thought the most useful chapter was "Employing the E-Mindshift System," about the process an organization must go through to be able to work in the Internet environment, or to create a fast alliance. In addition, the last chapter sums up some potential pitfalls–citing information management and sharing as the major one. Here's where the information manager should definitely get involved.

While not a "must-read," this book does provide valuable insights for those in organizations that are going crazy with partnering.

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Tangled Web: Tales of Digital Crime from the Shadows of Cyberspace
by Richard Power

ISBN: 0-7897-2443-x
Published: 2000 • Pages: hardcover, 411pp. • Price: $25.00
Available from: Que Publishing, 201 West 103rd St., Indianapolis, IN 46290;

All I can say is that I was amazed at the scope of crime described in this book. While we all know stories of hackers (and I was personally contacted by the FBI about a client's Web site), I think I'm not alone in underestimating the potential damage that can be done through cyberspace.

The author works at the Computer Security Institute, and consults with companies around the globe on computer and network security issues. Thus, he has first-hand knowledge of crimes and situations that may not have been widely reported in the press. In addition, he analyzes some of the more popular stories, and provides details to help understand why these crimes occur.

In some cases, there is too much emphasis on putting a dollar value on the cost of the crimes, as these figures can be either grossly inflated or horribly underestimated, and no one knowledgeable in cybercrime really believes the numbers. However, the exercise itself is interesting; to see the value put on various components of network and intellectual property.

The book is broken into different sections, with each focusing on a different type of cybercrime. "Hackers, Crackers, and Virus Writers" comes first, with an interesting discussion of the psychological profile of a "typical" hacker. Then the "Spies and Saboteurs" section highlights corporate espionage, with some cases reading like a spy novel. This section also includes a look at cyberterrorism, as well as what a disgruntled employee can do.

The last major section is on countermeasures, and what the governments and various corporations are doing to try to stop cybercrime. One of the difficult issues is that most crime is not reported, for fear that the company being attacked will lose credibility. Read this book, and give it to anyone who doubts the wisdom of spending money to beef up network security.

* * * *

Unchained Value: The New Logic of Digital Business
by Mary J. Cronin

ISBN: 0-87584-937-7
Published: 2000 • Pages: hardcover, 212pp. • Price: $29.95
Available from: Harvard Business School Press, Boston, MA 02163; 617/783-7410;

Why is it so difficult for traditional businesses to compete in the new Internet economy? This well-written book–by a former university librarian and library school professor who gained fame in the business world with her 1994 landmark book Doing Business on the Internet–explores this question, and provides guidelines for success.

The book opens with a chapter discussing the ecommerce comfort zone of most businesses, and how their forays into the Internet world are done without changing traditional business practices or mindsets. In particular, the chapter explores the widespread belief in the value chain and that business should be built around providing an end product to the user; a concept the author shows to be out-of-date.

In the Digital Value System, information is the most precious commodity, along with the provision of services to the customer. Businesses need to form relationships with customers and think beyond the provision of a single product or service.

The next three chapters discuss how to engage the customer and gain trust–a crucial part of any Internet enterprise. Here, the author declares, is where many traditional organizations have failed in their initial Internet attempts. While they may get excellent traffic, the organization is unprepared to capitalize on the information and synergy generated by the new community of customers. Pathfinder is held up as a shining example of missed opportunities.

For all of us involved in the information business, this book presents excellent guidelines for shifting our mindset to the new ways of providing service and interacting with our clients.

* * * *

Digital Capital: Harnessing the Power of Business Webs
by Don Tapscott, David Ticoll, & Alex Lowry

ISBN: 1-57851-193-3
Published: 2000 • Pages: hardcover, 270pp. • Price: $27.50
Available from: Harvard Business School Press, Boston, MA 02163; 617/783-7410;

Read the previous book to get you thinking about a new digital-oriented organization, and then turn to this book to get actual working business models to follow. Business Webs are considered the new companies, whether they are one company or any type of amalgamation of multiple entities working towards a common goal.

The authors divide the new world into five categories: Agoras, Aggregations, Value Chains, Alliances, and Dis- tributive Networks–and devote a chapter to explaining each. They also include a section highlighting the key factors to success for each model, and provide examples of successful companies following each role.

The third part of the book explores the value of humans in a digital enterprise. This is a nice change from books that focus so much on the technology. Wisely, the authors state that your staff interacting with your customers is your business. They also show how the role of marketing has changed, providing more of an interactive experience with customers.

The last section of the book focuses on the business strategies of a digital environment, starting with disaggregation. The authors suggest separating the end-user experience from the value proposition, in order to concentrate on exactly what you need to provide, not just what you want to offer. The book ends with some key questions, including, "What business should you be in?" Define your particular value proposition, and then redefine your organization around it.

This practical book provides plenty of food for thought, and good examples to follow, as you find your niche in the new digital marketplace.

Deborah Lynne Wiley ( is Principal of Next Wave Consulting, Inc. and HARDCOPY Editor.

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