e-business Concepts  «Prev  Next»

Lesson 1

Introduction to e-business Architecture Concepts

This course discusses e-Business and covers a wide range of content required for an architectural understanding of e-Business. This course is not designed to teach you how to become an architect. However, you will learn about what it means to be an e-Commerce architect.
We will begin by defining architecture, its role in an e-Commerce engagement, issues and concerns, and models of architecture.
This course will discuss.
  1. e-Commerce technologies and their evolution
  2. e-Business architectural drivers
  3. e-Business architecture
  4. The Building Blocks of architecture
  5. Building technical capability from the Building Blocks
  6. Business Services
  7. Infrastructure Services (adapted from CORBA specification - RFC)
  8. A payment transaction scenario
  9. Engagement case studies


This course assumes you have an existing knowledge of e-Commerce fundamentals. You can gain this knowledge base by taking:
E-Commerce Fundamentals
The course you are about to take was developed by DistributedNetworks, the leader in Web-based training.
The advancement of technology has allowed companies to transform themselves into e-businesses where every aspect of an enterprise. The architectural model of an e-business has a computer system that supports different databases, user interfaces and applications.

Electronic networks with customers

The competitiveness of businesses is increasingly dependent on their electronic networks with customers, suppliers, and partners. While the strategic and operational impact of external integration and IOS adoption has been extensively studied, much less attention has been paid to the organizational and technical design of electronic relationships. The objective of our longitudinal re‐search project is the development of a framework for understanding and explaining B2B integration. Drawing on existing literature and empirical cases we present a reference model "a classification scheme for B2B Integration". The reference model comprises technical, organizational, and institutional levels to reflect the multiple facets of B2B integration. In this paper we investigate the current state of electronic collaboration in global supply chains focussing on the technical view. Using an in‐depth case analysis we identify five integration scenarios. In the subsequent confirmatory phase of the research we analyse 112 real‐world company cases to validate these five integration scenarios. Our research advances and deepens existing studies by developing a B2B reference model, which reflects the current state of practice and is independent of specific implementation technologies. In the next stage of the research the emerging reference model will be extended to create an assessment model for analysing the maturity level of a given company in a specific supply chain.

Economy Specialization

The ongoing specialization and globalization in today's economies have led companies to adjust their business scope and to rethink their boundaries .
While concentrating on core competencies, they increasingly rely on their supply chain partners for complementary activities. Inter‐organizational electronic interfaces play an important role in coordinating and streamlining these distributed supply chains.
Along with this intensified electronic interaction comes an increase in requirements for infrastructure and technology. The first wave of (ERP) enterprise resource planning systems introduced internal information integration into the company by providing crossfunctional data integration and process support. Once internal information integration was established, companies started to seek external integration with their suppliers, customers and service providers. ERP systems were equipped with interfaces for electronic data interchange EDI and electronic linkages were setup to seamlessly support business processes between firms and to realize additional operational and strategic benefits of vertical integration.
Information technology infrastructures and components, such as Electronic Data Interchange EDI, e‐business and e‐commerce solutions or ERP II that complement enterprise systems with inter‐organizational integration capabilities are important enablers of external integration.

Inter Organizational Systems

Several streams of research have investigated the phenomena related to external integration, among them Inter‐organizational Systems "IOS". Inter Organizational Systems (IOS) are Information and Communication Technology -based systems which enable organizations to share information and to electronically conduct business across organizational boundaries (between Marketing and Accounting). Especially since the increasing availability of the Internet, there have been less technological barriers to implement IOS. However, that does not imply that IOS possibilities are implemented successfully in all occasions: other barriers may remain. Innovation is not only a technical process of ‘solving problems’; it also involves economic and political processes in which interests are articulated, alliances are built and outcomes are struggled over. To explore this observation, this paper presents a model that helps to describe and analyze IOS from a power and interest perspective of multiple parties. To illustrate this model, eight case studies of IOS are discussed, of which one is in more depth. After that, we will put the findings of the analysis in a broader perspective. The paper concludes with the assertion that the scope for the design of an effective IOS depends on a combination of technical, economic and social factors, which are intertwined. The model may help users to assess and discuss these factors.
The existing body of research has mainly examined the strategic and operational impact of external integration and analyzed IOS adoption. However, much less attention has been paid to the design of electronic linkages with external parties and the role of enterprise systems, two topics that are discussed in this article. Two research questions are of particular interest:

  1. How can we classify existing B2B integration approaches? In view of the manifold technological options for establishing inter‐organizational linkages, a technology agnostic conceptualization is required to synthesize the commonalities and differences between the different B2B implementation technologies.
  2. How are organizational and technical B2B integration approaches interrelated?
    In order to address this question, the interplay between organizational and technical integration needed to be further examined.

Collaborative longitudinal research project

These two questions motivated the authors to embark on a collaborative longitudinal research project on supply chain integration. The objective is the development of a reference model for B2B integration, which considers technical forms of integration and their interplay with organizational integration. We were inspired by the ideas of the Capability Maturity Model Integration CMMI developed by the Software Engineering Institute and used a similar logic in conceptualizing our model.
To test and validate our framework, we selected 112 suitable real‐world B2B integration projects from a pool of over 500 case studies that were collected using a uniform taxonomy, the so‐called eXperience methodology. The results of our exploratory and confirmatory research reveal typical patterns in the technical integration of external partners which we consolidated into five technical integration scenarios.