Chapter Eight: Social Networks and Industry Disruptors in the Web 2.0 Environment
Online File W8.7 (continued)
Virtual Communities and Social Networks
Virtual communities of all kinds are spreading rapidly, with some already reaching millions of members. Virtual communities can enhance commercial activities online. Also, some communities are organized around professional areas of interest and can facilitate B2B and B2C EC.
The ability to use e-cash or person-to-person (P2P) payments and to make micropayments online is spreading quickly. When these systems are implemented on a large scale, many EC activities will flourish. B2B payment systems also have matured, and attractive options are available. As international standards become the norm, electronic payments will extend globally, facilitating global EC.
Figures about the growth of B2B are revised frequently. In some cases, industry-type extranets are forcing many buyers and sellers to participate in B2B EC. B2B will continue to dominate the EC field (in terms of volume traded) for the intermediate future. More sellers, more buyers, and more services will continue to appear; the rapid growth of B2B will continue. The success of B2B will depend on the success of integrating EC technology with business processes and with conventional information systems.
In 2000, the number of B2B exchanges exploded, but many subsequently collapsed in 2001 and 2002. The few that have remained are maturing, providing the infrastructure for $15 trillion of B2B trade forecasted by 2008. However, company- centric (private) marketplaces will account for the majority of the B2B trade.
The popularity of auctions and reverse auctions is increasing rapidly in B2B, B2C, G2B, and C2C. This is an effective and efficient EC business model. eBay is probably the most successful large dot-com.
One of the most appealing benefits of EC is the ability to go global. However, many barriers exist to global EC. With time, these are expected to be reduced, but at a fairly slow pace.
Starting in 1999, many governments launched comprehensive G2C, G2B, G2G, and G2E projects. By 2007, more than 200 countries had established some form of e-government program.
Many companies are starting to discover opportunities for using EC in-house, particularly in improving the internal supply chain and communications with and among employees.
One of the fastest-growing areas in EC in 2005 was e-learning. Large numbers of companies have installed e-learning programs, and many universities are experimenting with distance-learning programs. E-learning should grow even faster in the near future.
The legislative process is slow, especially when multiple countries are involved. However, with the passage of time, the necessary EC framework will be in place.