e-commerce - The New Lords of E-Biz

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Similarly, Air Products’ McMakin says that online success depends on business unit leaders acting together for the greater good of the company, with the understanding that e-commerce isn’t just a flashy trend. "These are fundamental capabilities we will be building to use for the rest of the time the enterprise exists," he says. Like Gaffney, McMakin must show his colleagues how applications deployed for one business unit affect the company as a whole, and he must show them how to assess the trade-offs among different e-commerce investments. That kind of education is critical to McMakin’s efforts to obtain continued buy-in from other senior executives to his view that the company should build scalable, generic applications, rather than one-off applications tailored to specific supplier or customer groups.

Air Products still has an e-business team that decides which online initiatives should be corporate priorities, while an e-business steering committee decides which systems to fund. The e-business director reports to both McMakin and Bill Cantwell, the company’s vice president for process management. Meanwhile, McMakin, Cantwell and several other executives sit on the e-business steering committee. Through each group, McMakin has a hand?but not the final say?in which online projects are budgeted.

McMakin says it’s important that he have input on e-commerce and appropriate that he share decision-making power. "Any CIO has to have enough understanding of the value equations within the business to sort through where to spend money and how to have impact through e-business initiatives," he says. "At the end of the day, it’s the profitability of the company that matters."

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Copyright © 2003 IDG Communications, Inc.

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