Razorfish boss Doug Chapman has taken aim at e-commerce in Australia, telling attendees at the CIO Summit that he had \u201cnever heard so much bullshit talked about a business model since the dot com days of the new millennium.\u201d\n\u201cElectronic commerce is not a religion so why is the world full of evangelists?\u201d said Chapman during a presentation at the CIO Summit in Brisbane on the role of the CIO in digital marketing.\nChapman \u2013 who leads digital agency, Razorfish Australia \u2013 said that social deal sites and \u2018click frenzy\u2019 marketing campaigns are \u201cnot sustainable business models and never will be.\u201d\n\u201cI suspect that Kerry Packer would have sacked his son when he saw the money that they paid for Catch of the Day.com,\u201d he said.\n\u201cI hope I am wrong but the events of the last few days around there where the original owners are coming back into the business to restructure, reorganise and buy back some of the shares probably tells that story more than we realise.\u201d\nChapman then turned his attention to fashion retailer, The Iconic, \u201csupposedly the most successful online fashion retailer in the world.\u201d He claimed that it will fail here in Australia if it sticks to its current business model.\n\u201cNo fashion retailer, no serious businessperson in Australia would continue to throw the sort of money that that business has at any fashion business in Australia \u2013 whether it was clicks, bricks or whatever,\u201d he said.\n\u201cThere\u2019s nothing wrong with their product, there\u2019s nothing wrong with their site, there\u2019s nothing wrong with what they do in delivery \u2013 it\u2019s the absolutely distorted perception of scale in Australia that will be their downfall ultimately.\u201d\nThe Iconic seems to be in trouble. In mid-July, Crikey reported that the retailer had lost $45 million in 17 months of operation.\nChapman believes that \u201cGerry Harvey may be right\u201d or at worst, he\u2019s probably closer to the truth than any other business people when he questions the real value of e-commerce to his business.\n\u201cAs he rightly points out, currently the turnover on his site is less than the average bricks and mortar store but the operating costs are many times more than the average bricks and mortar store. Where\u2019s the value?\n\u201cThe truth is that where is the value in spending all this money to get very little return? Don\u2019t get me wrong, I am not for a single moment suggesting that there is no future in online retailing, not at all, I am very committed to that.\n\u201cI just don\u2019t think we have got the right business models in this country yet across the board and I don\u2019t think that evangelists are letting the congregation speak.\n\u201cWhile the agenda is being set by software vendors, social evangelists and wet behind the ear\u2019 dot com celebrities, we\u2019re going to continue to burn through money and people and businesses and set back true e-commerce for years.\u201d\nHe said that the CIOs of Australia have a vital role to play if their businesses are struggling with the challenges of e-commerce.\n\u201cYou are the ones that need to be the catalyst for getting the alignment between your marcoms team, your finance and your IT for a successful business plan.\n\u201cI\u2019ve sat in too many meetings where the CIO says the first time he knew about e-commerce in the business [was when] the digital agency first asked him for access to the ERP system. And that may seem bizarre but I can give you numerous examples of that.\u201d\nHe spoke of a recent meeting he had with a large Australian wine company for the development of its e-commerce site.\n\u201cThey had the chief marketing officer and the CEO in the room. I asked \u2018where was the CIO?\u2019 he says. \u201cThe CEO\u2019s response was \u2018for god\u2019s sake, do not involve them, they haven\u2019t even got email on my phone yet.\u2019\u201d\n\u201cThat\u2019s a sad lament on the way some people see the role of IT and the CIO in the business.\u201d\n I\u2019ve sat in too many meetings where the CIO says the first time he knew about e-commerce in the business [was when] the digital agency first asked him for access to the ERP system.\nHe said CIOs need to ask why ad agencies, printers, accountants, software vendors, or anyone who can stick 'digital' after their name, "be allowed to drive the digital strategies of the business that you are involved in."\n"I don't know the answer to that," he said. "If I were you, it would keep me awake at night."\nBlending marketing and technology\nFinally, Chapman told attendees that it is imperative that marketing and technology departments both \u201cembrace the fact that the internet puts the customer front and centre in every single organisation today.\u201d\n\u201cAnd it\u2019s only when you smash creativity and technology together and they are working as one can you build that sustainable competitive advantage.\n\u201cAll those examples of those businesses that have transformed and made a huge impact on people\u2019s lives and their business\u2019 performance \u2013 the Zappos, the Amazons and others \u2013 it\u2019s a beautiful blending of creativity and technology smarts has made them what they are today,\u201d he said.