Viability through Web-Enabled Technologies

Viability through Web-Enabled Technologies

Dirk Vriens (University of Nijmegen, The Netherlands) and Paul Hendriks (University of Nijmegen, The Netherlands)
DOI: 10.4018/978-1-878289-72-8.ch006
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It is often claimed that the Internet and associated technologies have paved the way for new types of businesses, new types of consumer behavior, and new types of services (cf. Cameron, 1996; Cronin, 1996; Laudon and Laudon, 1997). The emergence of virtual, office-less organizations, enabled by similar technologies, will—so it is said—profoundly affect both the way we work and the structure and culture of organizations (e.g., Ciborra and Suetens, 1996). Communication technologies and applications have led to the globalization of businesses, opening up new markets as well as new competition, even for small businesses (e.g., Sterne, 1995). The new technologies, brought together under the common denominator of web-enabled technologies (WETs), seem to offer great opportunities for those who recognize them, and severe threats for organizations that have awakened too late. Simultaneously, more deliberate voices call for caution. Anderson (1997, p. 5), for instance, asserts that “few companies are as yet making any money on-line, but plenty are trying.” He points out that this is only one example of the fact that “practically everything that was predicted about electronic commerce three years ago has turned out to be wrong” (ibid., p. 4). According to Anderson, it is a major mistake to equate the market potential of the Internet with its sheer size. Partly because of its size, “today’s Internet is, far from being a perfect market, the high street from hell” (ibid.). Such contradictory signals are bound to puzzle organizations and leave them struggling with questions like: “Could WETs significantly improve our current way of doing business?”; “Could these technologies enable us to define a new business model?” or “Is it just hype and should it better be ignored?” In short, organizations are struggling with questions concerning the usefulness of WETs applied to their own situation. In a sense, this is nothing new since similar questions arise every time a new form of information and communication technology (ICT) is launched. For WETs the need for organizations to address this issue, however, may be more imperative, because their impact on organizations seems to be extremely diverse, highly complex and cannot be compared so easily to that of earlier forms of ICT.

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