Strategic implications of e-business in the construction industry
2012-10-11T12:21:51Z (GMT) by
Electronic Business (e-Business) is recognised as being able to help organisations in the construction industry to achieve competitiveness and substantial benefits. However, the uptake of e-business in the construction industry has been relatively limited and ineffective. Previous research covers the body of knowledge about how to identify the value of e-business once it has been created or how to identify the capabilities that can create value. There is no guidance available to help organisations to maximise their leverage by investing intelligently and matching the size of their demand for e-business solutions to the size of the market they plan to supply. This research aims to identify the strategic e-business needs and requirements of organisations in the construction industry; it helps them to scan or position their current situation, and provide a holistic approach to assist them in developing an executable e-business strategy. In order to achieve the aim and the formulated objectives, a multi-methodological research design and a pragmatic mixed-methods approach, involving a combination of both quantitative and qualitative datasets, were adopted to investigate the e-business practices of organisations in the industry. These include an exploratory investigation (an industry survey with 250 industry organisations), and an explanatory investigation (four case studies with specific industry end-user companies). The collected data was analysed and problems were identified; the elements for a holistic approach to manage e-business implementation emerged. Subsequently, a Strategic e-Business Framework was developed to provide a holistic approach for organisations in the construction industry to plan, execute and review their e-business strategies. The Framework enables organisations to consider the medium term (three to five years), long-term (over five to ten years), and emergent needs to derive business value. The key features of the Framework include six phases and phase gates, five functional factors, and 23 activities. The six phases include Analyse Situation, Establish Vision, Define Critical Success Factors (CSFs), Develop Action Plan, Implement Action Plan, and Review Strategy. The phases were defined to guide the IT leaders in carrying out consistent e-business planning. The outputs of each phase (phase gates) were defined to assist IT leaders in the review of procedures during their e-business implementation. The functional factors include management, people, process, technology and external environment. The factors were identified to address every facet of an organisation, and obtain collaboration efforts from both internal and external. They also ensure organisations have the opportunities to improve capabilities in these areas, and make them ready for immediate e-business implementation. Five groups of people or teams were assigned to the activities. The five groups were the Senior Management Board, IT Managers and their teams, Middle Level Management, Lower Level Management and other End-users, and external collaborators. The activities were categorised in order to provide a basis for organisations to utilise their resources, specifically human resource. Finally, a feedback loop was defined to enable the Framework to act as a cycle for going through repeatedly, which makes the continuous improvement of e-business implementation possible within organisations and provides a learning and feedback function that ensures lessons to be learned from past e-business implementation. The evaluation of the Framework was conducted via six structured interviews with industry practitioners. The findings indicated that the industry practitioners welcomed the Framework and considered it as a positive step towards e-business management.