Introduction

Many writers and researchers have generally agreed for some time that technology has the capacity to change how businesses trade, expand information processing capacity and impact on overall success. More recently, commercial usage of Internet technologies has sparked a debate focusing on the breadth and depth of the impact of these technologies. Porter (2001) strongly argued the Internet to be 'a complement to, not a cannibal of, traditional ways of competing'. However, some writers (Tapscott 1997, Gates 1999, Evans and Wurster, 2000) argue that business is completely different as a result of trading online and go as far as advocating that the Internet creates a radically different trading environment. As a result, it is suggested organisations should develop fundamentally different value propositions and new patterns of organisational behaviour in order to create sustainable business strategies for the online trading environment (Evans and Wurster, 2000). Moreover, there is some evidence to support such arguments; new market entrants have taken market share from existing companies by developing innovative market positions using seemingly unorthodox approaches, for example:

• Amazon.com established its position as the world's largest book seller using competitors' and suppliers' inventories;

• Google positioned itself as the most effective search engine by freely giving away its core service to end users;

• eBay has built its digital empire by facilitating online auctions whereby individuals rather than organisations sell their own goods to other individual customers (for further discussion of eBay trading see Case Study 10) and in doing so positioned the company as a global consumer trading arena.

Notwithstanding this debate over the impact of the Internet on business strategy, it is a fact that a critical mass (in terms of B2B usage of Internet technologies) has been arrived at and as a result it is prompting more and more businesses to have a well-developed and supported Internet presence and to trade electronically. Consequently, it is important to ensure a clear understanding of B2B Internet marketing in order for businesses to utilise available technology efficiently and effectively. This chapter focuses on business usage of Internet technologies in B2B markets and the extent to which digital technologies are re-shaping business strategies and trading environments.

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