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Chapter 1. Introduction > Who Owns Internet Commerce in an Organization?

Who Owns Internet Commerce in an Organization?

Who owns Internet commerce in an organization? Who operates the system? Is it sales and marketing, or the information technology (IT) group, or, if transactions are involved, the accounts receivable department? At first glance, this may seem an odd question to ask, especially because for any particular group the answer may appear obvious. In fact, the experiences of many companies suggest that a clear understanding of the answer is a critical factor in success. The problem is that it is far too easy to have more than one group think that it is driving Internet commerce for an organization, leading to confusion within the organization, as well as for customers. To compound the problem, fragmented attempts at Internet commerce will often result in money being spent on the same or similar basics: hardware, core software components, network connections, and so on. Such fragmentation can also confuse customers, who tend to think of a company as a single coherent entity, not a collection of divisions or business units that reflect internal organization.

In reality, successful Internet commerce is almost always a combined effort, drawing on the strengths of many different groups within a company: sales and marketing for effectively presenting products or services on the Net, IT for operating or outsourcing the round-the-clock commerce systems, links to the accounting systems for transactions, and so on. In the past, many companies have begun their Internet presence as a fringe operation—often appropriately so, thereby avoiding the slowness and stodginess of a corporate bureaucracy. Today, however, using the Internet is not a luxury or an experiment for most businesses. Effective Internet commerce is an extension of a company's business, and so should draw on the resources of the company. Internal bickering over ownership can easily lead a project (or projects) to failure, leaving a company unable to move quickly enough to adapt to the rapid pace of change in commerce applications. In our experience, successful Internet commerce demands the attention of senior management.


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