E-business skills in demand

A growth in demand for skills to manage e-business is predicted by London School of Economics and Political Science expert
LSE academic Dr Steve Smithson
Dr Steve Smithson sees exciting developments ahead as devices communicate over networks
We are used to people communicating via the Internet but the concept of embedded systems involves devices communicating over the network

The growth in e-business technologies is exponential, and can create both positive changes in ways of living and profitable business opportunities, according to Dr Steve Smithson, an expert in e-business at the London School of Economics and Political Science (LSE). E-business encompasses both the management and  information systems aspects of e-technology.

Dr Smithson says there are exciting developments on the horizon: “We are used to people communicating via the Internet but the concept of embedded systems involves devices communicating over the network. Applications are being developed which could enable your fridge to re-order food when it ran out. Or the worry about aging parents could be reduced – if there was no movement in their flat, the flat itself contacts relatives.”

As e-business permeates throughout organisations, relevant skills and knowledge are essential to those working in marketing, logistics, recruitment, sales and production, as well as roles more directly related to management of IT

As e-business permeates throughout organisations, relevant skills and knowledge are essential to those working in marketing, logistics, recruitment, sales and production, as well as roles more directly related to management of IT. For example, iCell’s KeyReader lets people borrow digital books from public libraries, buy ebooks and access publications available on the Internet. A business such as this requires executives not only to understand technical issues, but also to develop appropriate financial models and strike deals with suppliers, advertisers and customers.

The introduction of e-business into established companies requires executives to manage organisational and cultural change. Dr Smithson explains: “Large, old, multinational manufacturing companies, such as some automotive manufacturers, have had problems as their engineering culture clashed with the customer focus of e-business. Although these companies are now using e-business successfully, the cost in terms of wasted resources was considerable.”

Managing new technologies (and related business issues) are covered in the Management and innovation of e-business course offered as part of the LSE-led BSc Information Systems and Management. The course takes an holistic approach to the subject, from evaluating e-business proposals, developing business models, looking at how companies can use social networks, to finding out about new ways of working, for example ‘virtual organisations'.

Dr Smithson advises that you should consider the following when choosing an e-business course:

  • E-business is a fast-moving field and courses need to be up-to-date and not focus solely on specific skills and issues relevant to previous decades.
  • The right course will provide a foundation for your career and give you an understanding of concepts that will be relevant to businesses over the long term, such as financial and managerial issues, and not only focus on ephemeral issues which may no longer be relevant by the time you graduate.
  • You should consider whether the course helps you develop critical and analytical skills. Not every e-business venture will be successful and managers need to be able to foresee problems and evaluate risk.
  • A good degree will also help develop transferable skills that employers value such as problem-solving, thinking creatively, assimilating new ideas, self-discipline and drive. ­­

Watch Dr Smithson talk about ‘The Importance of E-Business’ on our YouTube channel: