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The Perfect Store: Inside eBay
The Perfect Store: Inside eBay
by Adam Cohen
Edition: Hardcover
105 used & new from $0.01

0 of 3 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Ebusiness and the value of virtual community, October 29, 2002
The author's book "The Perfect Store" provides a historical journey of the rise of eBay. In particular two themes are explored: the gradual rise of the eBay business model and the deep vibrant virtual community, which the company deliberately established.
Cohen begins the story of eBay with a look at the founder who is called Pierre Omidyar. This provides a good starting point because eBay's attributes are really those of its founder. Initially the company was called "Auctionweb" and the first item, which was sold on the web site, was a broken laser pointer, which reached a bid of 14 Dollars (for an item basically worth nothing). Omidyar's interest in virtual community originated from using Usenet newsgroups where users would have long rambling discussions. However, his own values provided the basis for eBay's use of virtual community. In particular Omidyar's belief that: "people are basically good and when given the chance to do good they will". Moreover, his philosophy that community and commerce are interlinked provides the foundation stone to understand the success of eBay. The idea is that commerce and civilisation have always developed together and that the first markets were based at crossroads. The crossroads became a city where many people would interact, socialise and engage in commerce. Omidyar's vision was that eBay would be both a commercial crossroad and a community. Where nearly all e-business books focus on the eBay business model as being the reason for the company's success, they miss entirely the importance of virtual community at the company. In Omidyar's original vision both the business model (commerce) and the virtual community were (and still are) of equal importance. For some reason the importance of virtual community at eBay has been ignored by business publications. However, to put this into perspective, even eBay's own managers and personnel didn't understand the value of virtual community when they entered the company. In 1997 3 new Stanford MBA's began work at eBay in the area of marketing and business development. They looked at how the business worked (in particular the concept of being an infomediary with no stock) and examined the business model from the perspective of cash flow and click through rates. Afterwards the first thing they questioned was why "the community thing was so important - they didn't buy into it at all". Therefore, virtual community is something, which the business community doesn't understand. This may be because it needs to be experienced in order to understand the usefulness of the medium.
The use of virtual community at eBay is partially also the result of purely practical reasons. In the first years of eBay it was not possible for Omidyar to solve all users problems. As a result users were encouraged to solve each other's problems through the use of a message board, which enabled information to be shared. Users became more self-sufficient and required less help from Omidyar, which in turn allowed him to focus on other tasks. These community features were already introduced in the first year (1995) of eBay's existence. Later in 1996 Omidyar introduced another community-based feature called the "Feedback Forum". Again the aim was for users to resolve their differences with one another. In particular when disputes arose in a transaction or in the bidding process. The ethical guidelines for the eBay community to follow were that "people are generally good", "people should treat others the way they wished to be treated" and "in a dispute give the other the benefit of the doubt". These guidelines mirrored the founder's own attributes. The feedback forum was a new community feature, which allowed eBay users to give criticism or praise to another user. It was designed to expose the dishonest eBay users to all others in the community and "drive them away by giving criticism". The feedback forum worked by allowing users to make positive or negative comments and also give a rating of plus one, minus one or neutral. The eBay software would total up the score from all users and add the score in parentheses to a person's name. Users with a total feedback score of negative four were banned from the eBay site. It provided a quick and concise way for a user to see if a person would honour a business transaction.
It can be argued that eBay's adoption of virtual community ended up shaping the company (and still does). This is best illustrated by a number of examples. In 1996 after the introduction of the feedback forum it was decided to add a series of coloured stars to each user's name on eBay. A system of stars consisting of the colours yellow, red, green and purple was designed. The system was designed so that the most outstanding eBay users would be recognisable instantly. However, once the new system was announced virtually all users complained that they weren't consulted or asked for any input into the colour selection process. The star system was revised taking into consideration the community views. In 1997 the eBay virtual community also ended up shaping the company's decision-making process. Ebay wished to introduce listing fees for all items and it posted an announcement that this would occur. Similar to the previous example, the virtual community complained vigorously through emails and on discussion boards. Omidyar instead decided to adopt a graduated fee scale, which started at 10 cents. Cohen describes how throughout eBay's history the virtual community has rebelled against major changes, only when it was not given any input. New employees to eBay have found this attribute of the company difficult to understand. One employee made the comment that "when McDonald's launches a new burger it doesn't ask its customers first for permission". Customers simple decide to buy the burger and don't say, "why didn't you talk to me first" (about the type of burger). This attribute of eBay listening to its virtual community and being prepared to change in accordance to community demands represents a new way to conduct business.


Unlocking Knowledge Assets
Unlocking Knowledge Assets
by Susan Conway
Edition: Hardcover
55 used & new from $0.01

6 of 7 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars The Microsoft Solution for Communities of Practice, May 13, 2002
Conway & Sligar take the idea of a community of practice one step further than Wenger, McDermott and Snyder (In the book "Cultivating communities of Practice"). The central theme is knowledge management, with the problem being how to transfer knowledge from one generation of workers to the next. Conway & Sligar argue that employee loyalty is not common anymore and in fact employee's transfer jobs today more than in the past. The authors write that one way to enable knowledge management is to establish and promote communities. A community of practice is a group of people who share things like information, ideas and personal experience in an area of expertise. The authors see a CoP operating at the workgroup, department or corporate level. An example of a CoP is the Microsoft Database Management community which is focused on the use of Sql server and whose members are scattered around the world. In this community of practice the users of the knowledge give feedback to the producers of the knowledge through a rating system.
Conway & Sligar view knowledge management as a cycle with a number of stages of which a community of practice is one. A person or individual usually creates knowledge. Then the knowledge is shared where a community or group explore the knowledge in greater detail, discuss, argue and analyze. Then the knowledge may undergo refinement in a collaborative corporate environment. Finally the knowledge may enter the public space for mass adoption. In the knowledge management scenario of Conway & Sligar the CoP plays a major role in the second stage. The CoP can be formal or informal and the members share a common sense of purpose. It can be internal or external to the company and be based on a product, technology, role, function, industry or market. The authors believe that a community profile document should be created with items such as: a vision statement, a mission statement, roles & responsibilities and objectives for the community. In a CoP a number of community roles need to be filled such as: a community leader, subject matter expert, special interest group leader, the expert, community member, guest and launch team. The authors believe that the community must be compelling and fully engage members, where all members are fully rewarded for their contributions.
The authors both work for Microsoft Consulting Services in the area of knowledge management. They base their ideas of communities of practice firmly around the Microsoft Sharepoint collaboration software solution (which runs as an Active Server Pages application in Windows 2000 Internet Information Server). This software includes threaded discussion forums as part of its functionality for knowledge management. In fact communities of practice should be implemented with the discussion board functionality of the software. Discussion board software forms the core feature of many web sites using virtual community. Therefore, the authors end up blurring the boundaries between a community of practice and a virtual community.


Cultivating Communities of Practice
Cultivating Communities of Practice
by Etienne Wenger
Edition: Hardcover
Price: $28.82
87 used & new from $9.99

40 of 44 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars A community of practice == a virtual community ?, May 11, 2002
Wenger, McDermott and Snyder draw on the past to describe the usefulness of a community of practice. In the Stone Age knowledge was passed on to others while people gathered around a fire and discussed hunting strategies. A community of practice is a group of people who may be trying to solve a problem and who interact about a topic in order to deepen their knowledge. The aim is shared insight and information. The authors write that in the time of ancient Rome corporations of metalworkers, potters, masons and craftsmen formed communities with a combined business and social function. Moreover, in the Middle Ages artisans formed guilds as a way to share knowledge and experiences. Therefore, the authors argue that community as a basis for knowledge creation and management has a long historical tradition.
Wenger, McDermott and Snyder believe that knowledge management needs to become more systematic and deliberate. The authors believe in the collective nature of knowledge, which involves every person contributing their perspective of a problem. A Community of Practice (CoP) allows for the connection of isolated pockets of expertise across an organization. The CoP consists of a domain of knowledge, a community of people and the shared practice they are developing. The community environment allows for interactions, relationships, sharing of ideas and the opportunity to ask difficult questions. The purpose of the CoP is to create, expand and exchange knowledge. The authors believe that a large number of CoP members rarely participate. Instead they watch the interaction and learn from the discussions that occur, learning from them. The authors believe that the most valuable activities consist of informal discussions that occur between members to solve a particular problem. A case study given is that of Shell, which has created CoP's around particular technical topics.
Wenger, McDermott and Snyder go into detail over how a CoP functions. At the beginning it is important to find common ground between all the members of the community. Members need to find out if they share similar problems and passions with one another. The authors believe a variety of communities exist: help communities, best practice, innovation and knowledge stewarding communities. Usually a community coordinator is needed who identifies important issues and plans events. The author's method for assessing the performance of a community consists of asking the questions: What did the community do? What knowledge did they produce? And how were those applied to get results?
All the characteristics mentioned, although are only intended by the authors to represent a CoP, share similarities with a virtual community. In fact the authors believe that Internet technology such as asynchronous threaded discussions can be used for distributed communities of practice. In fact some CoP's have websites where members have their pictures and biographical information on the site. However, Wenger, McDermott and Snyder make no connection between a community of practice and a virtual community. In fact they don't mention the two being related in any way at all, despite the dynamics appearing to be very similar. At the end of the book this omission seems very obvious given the incredible growth of virtual community at eBay and Amazon.


Customer.Community: Unleashing the Power of Your Customer Base
Customer.Community: Unleashing the Power of Your Customer Base
by Drew Banks
Edition: Hardcover
Price: $26.95
59 used & new from $0.03

3 of 3 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars The Online community & commerce relationship, May 10, 2002
There is a growing body of knowledge on how an ebusiness (or any business online) can be a success (profit wise) on the Internet.
More and more successfull ebusinesses are taking advantage of the relationship between community & commerce. This book describes the relationship and why there are real strong business benefits to be obtained for designing community around any commercial website.
The are a number of benefits for combining community & commerce together. The authors point out increased customer loyalty, lower operational (support) expenses and an increase in direct revenue.
The authors provide examples of websites designed that take advantage of the relationship of community & commerce: ... A two page chart of all customer community pioneers is provided which ranks each site according to the 12 principles of successful community building. These 12 principles are:
1. have a clear purpose for the virtual community (vc)
2. Allow members to be able to identify each other
3. Allow for reputation to arise in the vc
4. Create a system of governance in the vc
5. Allow for communication between members
6. Allow for groups to form in the vc (smaller vc's)
7. Create an environment for members to talk
8. Create boundaries for the vc
9. Create a system of trust
10. Allow for exchange of knowledge & experience
11. Allow community to have character
12. Allow vc to have history.
In the book community is not seen as isolated from commerce rather as an integrated part towards providing increased knowledge for customers and increased revenue for an online business - in other words customers and the business collectively benefit.
The authors also draw on research from ... which supports the relationship of community & commerce online.


Supplier Empowerment
Supplier Empowerment
by Martin Harwar
Edition: Hardcover
Price: $39.99
30 used & new from $0.01

3 of 3 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars B2B through Microsoft's Eyes, March 11, 2002
This review is from: Supplier Empowerment (Hardcover)
This book presents B2B e-commerce through the eyes of Microsoft. It is not a technical book on the architecture to use to conduct B2B instead a business strategy book. However, it does present three case studies on B2B technical (.NET) architectures to use. In particular the servers : Windows 2000, Commerce Server , sql server and Biztalk.
The focus of the book is the business case for implementing B2B for any small or large company. The core of this is the ability of the technical (.NET) architecture to increase revenue or decrease costs. B2B and in particular procurement can lead to increased sales ( instant globalised company due to the global nature of the internet) and cheaper procurement costs through automation of buying processes.
The book is a business book that is able to justify the technical infrastructure needed for implementing a B2B solution. Most Microsoft Press books have historically been technically focused. This book breaks away from that tradition and is amost in the format of a Harvard Business School Press book. However, this is still an element of technical focus through the case studies presented.


Design for Community
Design for Community
by Derek M. Powazek
Edition: Paperback
42 used & new from $0.01

5 of 7 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Virtual Community building based on real experiences, September 6, 2001
This review is from: Design for Community (Paperback)
This book is about virtual communities. Although the title specifies Design, there is alot more in the book than just the Design aspect. The author covers alot of ground, in that everything related to virtual community is covered.
One aspect covered is the relationship between content and community. The author points out that the two are interlinked in that interesting content leads naturally to conversation. Therefore, content (such as a story) should have a direct link next to it to community discussion. Most sites fail to do this properly.
Another aspect covered very well is the relationship between commerce and community. In fact the author breaks new ground because for the first time in a virtual community book, the interrelationship of community and commerce is mentioned and in fact a whole chapter is devoted to it. The author even quotes research from participate.com on the relationship between commerce and community.
The reason why this book is so interesting is because there are many real life examples and alot of experiences the author mentions he has encountered from his work building virtual communities. However, the best part of this book are the interviews with other experienced virtual commuity builders from such companies as Amazon. These interviews are at the end of each chapter are quite long and detailed. This makes the book very interesting to read at times. I really enjoyed the interview with the Amazon Director of community.


Digital Hustlers: Living Large and Falling Hard in Silicon Alley
Digital Hustlers: Living Large and Falling Hard in Silicon Alley
by Casey Kait
Edition: Hardcover
31 used & new from $0.03

6 of 6 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars Content interesting but structured badly, September 1, 2001
The content of this book is interesting and even fascinating at times. However, the way the content is structured makes it difficult to read and understand. Essentially, the authors have conducted many interviews of the key players of Silicon Alley companies in New York. The interviews provide a story of the rise of Silicon Alley from 1995 to 2000. What makes the story so interesting is the rapid rise of the companies such as theglobe.com and then in 2000 the rapid fall. There are many companies stories in the book and also a description of New York culture through-out the period.
The whole book would be more interesting if it had been organised in chapters according to each company. Instead the book is organised by themes like "The New Worker". The chapter then contains partial segments of interviews from many interviews conducted which help to understand the theme. This causes quite a bit of confusion, because it is similar to skipping from one music track to another very quickly . It would have been better for the authors to do as little work as possible an simply presented the interviews as they were created. This would have turned the book into a narrative of easy and historically fascinating reading.


Place to Space: Migrating to Ebusiness Models
Place to Space: Migrating to Ebusiness Models
by Peter Weill
Edition: Hardcover
84 used & new from $0.01

38 of 39 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars An e-business Bible, May 8, 2001
There are two unique e-business books that are presently available: the first is e-business 2 by Kalakota and Robinson and the second is now this book "Place to Space". Where e-business 2 deals with the technological software infrastructure, "Place to Space" deals with the business models an e-business can adopt. The central idea of the book is that there are 8 atomic business models that exist. They can be used individually or in combination. The models are: Content provider, direct to consumer, full service provider, intermediary, shared infrastructure, value net integrator, virtual community and whole of enterprise. The authors spend a chapter for each model describing the details of it. For each model examples are given with detailed statistics over how each one is producing revenue and whether it is now profitable or future profits are possible. The real diamonds in the book are the e-business model schematics (essentially detailed diagrams about how each model works). These diagrams explain in a simple way the most complicated models and it is worth buying the book just for these diagrams alone. Apart from the e-business model diagrams each business model is extensively analysed from the point of view of the infrastructure required, value proposition, strategic objectives, revenue sources, critical success factors and core competencies necessary. There are extensive examples and various case studies. The book is entirely focused on the business and strategic side of e-business. It makes sense of the business models of Amazon, ebay, Yahoo, etrade, iVillage, Reuters, Lonely Planet and many other major ebusinesses. Anybody involved or interested in e-business should now or in the future read this book. It charts former pioneer territory. Potentially an e-business Bible.


Oracle8i and Microsoft SQL Server 2000 Integration (Professional Mindware)
Oracle8i and Microsoft SQL Server 2000 Integration (Professional Mindware)
by Stephen Chelack
Edition: Paperback
10 used & new from $0.98

12 of 12 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Combining Sql Server and Oracle together, March 7, 2001
This book examines the most recent verions of Oracle 8i and sql server and compares one with the other in a non-biased way. Features of both are examined and explained. Microsoft has engineered Sql server with a particular strategy in mind argues the author. This strategy is integration with all the other Microsoft products. Oracle in contrast has the strategy of integrating everything into its core database product. The most useful information in this book are the descriptions of the integration tools to move database schema info and data between the two environments. Sql server has something called DTS, while Oracle has the Oracle migration workbench. However, there are several other tools some of which use OLE DB and ODBC which all support movement of data and sometimes schema information. The author doesn't try to judge which database is better or more open. The information about connectivity between these databases is presented objectively. Anybody that operates in an environment of sql server and Oracle will benefit from this face off between the latest versions of these databases.


CRM at the Speed of Light: Capturing and Keeping Customers in Internet Real Time
CRM at the Speed of Light: Capturing and Keeping Customers in Internet Real Time
by Paul Greenberg
Edition: Hardcover
52 used & new from $0.01

23 of 26 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Extensive review of current CRM and eCRM software, February 14, 2001
This book covers in depth the current CRM and eCRM software on the market. The author covers the theory behind CRM at the start then moves through the precurors of CRM such as Sales Force Automation software. Other topics covered are: sales management, marketing automation, personalization, partner relationship , call centers and integration with ERP applications. The focus of the book are current CRM packages which are Internet(e-business) enabled. The best part of the book are the detailed reviews of current CRM packages based on the authors experience. The author also reviews the company behind each CRM package and exposes its strategy for the future. This is a cutting-edge book detailing all the current CRM packages and anybody interested in CRM, e-CRM or e-business will benefit from reading this book. Relative to other books in the area this is first-class because of the reviews of all the software. Also, the appendix comes with list of current CRM web-sites and web- virtual communities.


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